Wednesday, April 30, 2008
While My Hammer Sits Silent This Crack House Is Across From Little Hmong Children And (Pictured) A Mentally Handicapped Man Who Can't Speak English
Photo by John Hoff
As a dog returns to its vomit, I returned to The House That (Almost) Made Me Barf to see if my 311 call had resulted in the door being secured. I brought my hammer. I had boards and nails in my vehicle.
But as I explained, I am waiting. Waiting for some kind of official response about giving citizens authority under the legal doctrine of "necessity" to do what must be done, openly without any need to skulk, to secure houses with doors kicked in by crack heads and wide open to trespass.
In the yard next door, a man who appeared to be Hmong was...
...preparing to haul off an old broken chair, making things tidy on that property where I had seen all the small children a few days before.
I walked up to the crack house (the one with the word "Death" written on the Sheetrock just inside the doorway) and confirmed it was still open to trespass despite my 311 call of a few days ago. I took a moment to photograph the pile of phone books. I walked back to the Hmong man and waved. He smiled broadly and came over.
He stood there behind the fence, smiling and nodding. He said nothing.
"Sir, do you speak English?" I asked. "The house next door...have you seen anybody going inside of it?"
He opened his mouth and began speaking in Hmong. He spoke at length, pointing and gesturing, looking me in the face as though I could understand him. I realized he was mentally handicapped. I asked, again, if he spoke English. He walked away, but then came out through the fence gate...he walked funny, as though his hips weren't quite right or he couldn't make big steps...and crossed the street, ambling toward the crack house.
Standing in front of the crack house, he pointed. He gestured and spoke passionately. I tried listening to his tone of voice for clues. I heard moral outrage, anger, helplessness. At one point he pointed toward the pile of phone books.
"Ah, yes," I thought. "They bug him, too."
He acted like he was going to WALK INTO THE CRACK HOUSE, perhaps to say in perfect Hmong, "Look, they wrote a word on the wall. But what does it say?"
I stuck out my arm like I was a railroad crossing signal. I shook my head, and poured concern into my voice.
"No," I said. "Don't go in there."
I held up my camera.
"May I take your picture?" I asked. He smiled. He posed. I snapped the picture. He went back to the menial labor in his yard.
I was frustrated. I wanted to board this one badly. But I knew it was bigger than one unsecured crack house, or even two. I needed to document my case, and make my point. I hoped nothing would happen to that man or the little children while my hammer sat silent, and I blogged to make my case.