On Sunday, July 12th, the New York Post put an article on the front page of the paper showing a man semi-clothed being handcuffed by police with the title "URINE CUFFS!" The article then went on to demonize the homeless man who goes by "Monk" by talking about how the whole neighborhood loathes his presence and that everyone wishes he would be either put in an asylum or given a harsh punishment. As someone who lives on 83rd street, this whole story really bothers me.
I've seen Monk plenty of times on the street, and this article had a lot of missing pieces from what I can see. There was one time I walked by him while I was walking my dogs, and he saw one of them eat something off the street. I tried getting the random chunk of food out of my dog's mouth, and he walked up to me and said "Hey, you should get a muzzle, you don't want them getting really sick from eating random street garbage." I said thanks, but he immediately began walking away after he gave me his advice. I have plenty of stories of him cleaning up glass to make sure my dogs didn't cut their paws, him cleaning up big piles of garbage and putting them in the garbage, and muttering to himself constantly. I've never seen Monk aggravated or upset, except for one time my mom tried to give him a dollar.
When she held out the dollar, he recoiled and refused to take it saying, "I can't take that, it has serial numbers and they can track me. It's very dangerous." This line from him is very telling in terms of why he's on the street. Perhaps he's someone who isn't on the street due to a bad economic situation, but because he chooses to be there. Monk is a man who may not be totally healthy mentally, but he is harmless. Does he smell foul? Does he pee in the street? Yup. Is he a menace to the neighborhood and to the lives of the people who pass by him? Absolutely not.
The Post also told a story of Monk brandishing a broken Snapple bottle saying, "Wanna come to me? Wanna come to me? Get away from my property!" Consider the idea that this man, who seems to want to remain completely anonymous in the public eye, is photographed and put on the front of a big newspaper and made to look like a fool. As it is, some people in the city already treat the homeless like they aren't people, so if someone agitated him for the sake of a reaction, getting one was easy. The lead-up as to why he brandished the broken bottle is not told, and I think that is very important as to why he would threaten someone. I'm not condoning the notion that threatening someone with a sharp object is ok in any situation, but this is a man who was made a public fool and is likely dealing with other problems already.
I believe the city, as a whole, needs a better attitude towards the homeless. I see people just look right past subway panhandlers like they aren't even there. I have even noticed people who decide that they are allowed to reprimand a homeless person and tell them to get a job and be useful instead of begging. There are plenty of people who sit on the streets and ask for money, and when they think no one is looking will pull out a cellphone and text, or others who will use the money they receive for substance abuse; that is an undeniable truth. What people need to realize is that everyone who is homeless has his or her own unique stories and issues that come with it. To treat them all of them like they're one lying, lazy, dangerous, drug abusive vagrant who society can put down and make fun of publicly is to take their humanity away from them.
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