07 April 2010

You Your Beer and How Great You Are

Good weather means intoxication in Washington Park. Oftentimes it is the kind of drinking that leads to much bravado and shouting. A group of 5 or six people are sitting on a park bench quietly, when all of a sudden, one of them will start yelling, cursing and sometimes slugging one of the others. These fights are usually just one person hitting, and the other person just crouching down covering their head with their arms. The hitting will end, but then the real yelling begins. It is usually something like "why you walking away?" ... " You come over here and say that.." "No, you come over here.." "Don't you give me no %##.."

From my sober perspective, it is all very pitiful. If someone spends all day drinking and doing a lot of nothing, then they aren't likely to feel very good about themselves, and thus their ego is easily bruised.

As I type this at 1:30AM, another loud fight is erupting. This time it is two completely belligerent woman yelling at a cop. I think he stopped to tell them the park is closed and they are saying that they are outside the park now on the sidewalk, "so leave us the f**k alone". They're calling him all types of curse words and getting in his face, getting real worked up and emotional. The cop is alone and stays pretty calm. Eventually, he drives away and they curse at him some more. Now the heavier woman is sitting down with her head in her hands crying. Her friend lights a cigarette and sits down quietly next to her.

Talking with a new neighbor last week, he asked why alcohol was legal in the parks here. He is a transplant and asked the question honestly. "Its not!" I said. "Then why is it allowed to occur so blatantly?" I couldn't explain at the time, but the recent scene outside is a clue.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very sad. I day dream about moving my family to OTR but I just can't bring myself to exposing my family to all that.

I realize how awful that makes me sound but it’s the truth...sigh.

Radarman said...

When the money has been spent on the re-work of Washington Park and when SCPA opens, there will probably be political pressure to move the drunks to the area around the Crossroads Church project, where they will plague the residents of Brighton and the West End, but where they will be less conspicuous, and the anonymous family will find it safe to leave Montgomery.

Great entry, Mike.

Anonymous said...

Not trying to start a fight Radarman but how many young children do you have in your household? I don't pretend to know anything about you but life changes a little when your no longer single and childless.

Don't be so quick to judge.

justforview said...
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justforview said...

Great post.

I like that we tolerate drinking in public despite the laws.

There could be more enforcement of public intoxication for the belligerent out there, but for a society that emphasizes social drinking so much it seems bizarre to prohibit it in pubic spaces.

CityKin said...

justforview, the cops used to go around the park and make them all dump out their beer, but it never really changed anything.

CityKin said...

@Anonymous, it really doesn't affect the kids negatively at all. It is interesting to see them growing up watching some of this stuff. My son for example is fascinated with vacant buildings right now.

Radarman said...

Two daughters, now grown, first home was on Broadway across from what is now SCPA in the 1970s. 1980s and 1880s were in Northside. Cincinnati Public Schools all the way. They turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

McEwan said...
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McEwan said...

Warm weather does crazy things down here, doesn't it?

I've wondered about the "drinking in public" issue since when I starting working at Kaldi's 5 years ago and couldn't figure out why the laws weren't enforced. All I can come up with is that a) these folks don't have money to pay fines, and it would be a gross waste of public time and money to prosecute them; b) putting them in jail is an even bigger waste of public money.

Also, if they're drinking in public spaces, they're at least not causing any trouble in dark alleyways like lower-class addicts or victimizing people at home like upper-class addicts in the Suburbs. They're actually fairly harmless to everyone but themselves.

And if idiots visiting downtown would stop giving them their pocket change, maybe they wouldn't have the money to drink said alcoholic beverages.

A better question: why don't the police stop the guys from dealing drugs on my stoop around the clock.

These are much bigger issues than just enforcing public intoxication laws...

5chw4r7z said...

I've always wondered about this too, whats going on in the background.
You have the Drop Inn center on one corner and that Bar at 12th and Race. If one of those move many problems will too.
Plus I think theres pressure to keep the problems there, I don't know why but I always get upset when I see suburban churchs there feeding people. Makes them feel good then they can go home where its "safe" never mind there have been 3 brutal murders in the news over the last few days, none of them in the city.
If the churches really cared, why not scoop all these people up in one of their buses and run them out to the church to feed and preach to them?

gene said...

The only thing I've noticed police respond to is when the people in park get violent. Usually there are 2 - 3 police cars parked just watching the drugs and alcohol peddling. I question this tactic only because alcohol and drugs only lead to violence. The dealing and drinking is going on in front of the same place they are supposed to be treating these people. Question if there were no drugs in the area, would they need these facilities? How much do the church groups and the drop inn center stand to lose in grants if the police just did they're jobs? This a multi million dollar industry. It pays to keep these poor people down.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the area and was exposed to that sort of thing for years. Couldn't wait to get out and I can't imagine ever going back. Growing up in OTR was the most dismal and depressing years of my life. Perhaps it does not affect some kids negatively but it certainly affected me. I "turned out well" but it is not something I would like to do over, believe me. And I certainly wouldn't want to risk raising my children there. My dreams were of finding a way out. Even now I sometimes have nightmares of having to live there again.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea for enforcing good behavior without Cincinnati or Hamilton County's having to spend money to arrest, prosecute and imprison public drinkers and drug-users: Have the cops simply take the booze and drugs away and drop it into the nearest sewer. No harm, no foul. Simple and efficient. Sooner or later, the offenders will get the idea and move on.

Anonymous said...

I'm up for giving it a shot but your going to have more people getting tazed and roughed up by the cops.

"You can take my 40oz out of my cold dead hands!" ;)

Quim said...

I have had police tell me to pour out my beer while drinking in a park (many many moons ago). Not in Cincinnati, tho.

catherine said...

One of my favorite responses to the drinking in the park that I heard a few years ago was, "Just give them a stein and call it a festival". It is interesting how our tolerance of drinking in public changes if there is a profit to be had. No one complains about drunks at Oktoberfest. I agree with the earlier post that for the most part the drinkers are only a danger to themselves and their drinking buddies. I am frequently in the park and have not felt threatened by anyone drinking.

Julie said...

Yes, sometimes I have to close the windows on a nice day/evening so my 5-year-old daughter won't hear what our drunk neighbors have to say. On the other hand, I know she won't grow up glamorizing alcohol the way we suburban kids did. For me, that's a fair trade-off.

I'm afraid social pressure -- not a more aggressive police presence or even a multi-million-dollar rehab -- is the only thing that can permanently change Washington Park. It will take a critical mass of people, of all ages and races but especially families with kids, in the park on a daily basis, enjoying themselves legally and setting a standard of behavior, language, etc., that's in line with other area parks. Drunks won't hang out where they feel ashamed to do so. Right now, there is no shame factor in being drunk and loud in Washington Park. Only we city residents can change the culture, by getting out, using the parks without fear, and quietly demonstrating how people in a civilized society are supposed to interact.