Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Situations like this may be the thing that gives Dallas its sterling reputation nationwide.
Ignorance & Bigotry: 10 / Tolerance & Compassion: 0
Homeless man upset at being called a ‘bum’ by council member Hunt on Twitter
By KIM HORNER
Published 08 July 2011 11:24 PM, Dallas Morning News
A homeless man who was photographed downtown and called a ‘bum’ in a recent tweet by Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt spoke out on Friday, saying that he has been demoralized by the incident.
‘I’m not a bum,’ said Julian Arredondo, 72, whose photograph appeared on the Internet, in the newspaper and on television news this week after Hunt expressed her frustration with the presence of homeless people at the Main Street Garden.
‘I don’t steal from nobody. I don’t bother nobody,’ Arredondo said.
The council member, who posted the photo link on Twitter last Saturday, raised concerns about camping, loitering and a ‘threatening environment’ at the downtown park. One of her tweets read: ‘I’m tired of bums in Main St. Garden. Counted 12-many sleeping. Where is DPD’ Where is Bridge”
Hunt said in interviews this week that she wanted the city to address how to encourage homeless people to use shelters and services. She could not be reached for comment Friday.
City Manager Mary Suhm said this week that police have received other complaints about the homeless at the park and that the city is working to address those issues.
Arredondo said he only visits the public park to sit on a bench or buy a sandwich at the cafe. At night, he sleeps on a mat in the unair-conditioned pavilion at The Bridge, Dallas’ homeless assistance center. The former construction worker said he cannot afford an apartment on his roughly $10,000 annual retirement income.
The great-grandfather also has a felony conviction, which makes it especially difficult to find housing. He became homeless for the first time in his life a year ago after serving two years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon. A Dallas police report from the March 2008 incident states that the victim was stabbed with a pocket knife. Arredondo said he was defending himself during a robbery.
The self-described ‘loner’ regularly meets with caseworkers at The Bridge and The Stewpot, hoping to find a place to live one day.
Arredondo said he was at the Main Street Garden last weekend when a man asked if he could take his photo but would not explain why. Arredondo said he was surprised later when others at The Bridge told him they saw him on the news.
‘They said, ‘Hey, you’re a movie star. You’re on TV,” he said.
Arredondo, who never learned to read after leaving elementary school to support his family by picking cotton and other crops, asked someone to read the news article to him. He says he feels ‘slandered.’
‘I can’t go nowhere. They say, ‘There he is,” he said, adding that he has not returned to the park.
Trina Taylor, a caseworker at The Stewpot, said she has been helping Arredondo rebuild his life for a year. She said that Arredondo does not panhandle, get into trouble, do drugs or drink.
‘Anything we’ve asked for, he’s done,’ Taylor said. ‘He’s a good guy.’