Thursday, August 09, 2012

Guest Blog : Loitering Wars of Middletown!

Fred Carroll, photo credit Middletown Eye article from July 2012
Last week NEAT held it's monthly meeting and the prominent topic of discussion was the on going problem of people being ticketed for loitering in North End of Main Street. Various businesses had spurred this as a result of their complaints to the Middletown Police Department. Among complaintants were the Community Health Center, The Buttonwood Tree, Wharfside Commons Apartments, & 8 Liberty. Citizens at the meeting accused police of targeting the poor and giving them $90 tickets for loitering, a fine those who spoke felt was unjust when the definition of loitering has never been clearly defined to the community. Nor was it defined at this meeting. Community activists and employees of St. Vincent DePaul Place and NEAT spoke on behalf of citizens and expressed concerns over perceived targeting to those receiving social services at the soup kitchen, health center, and various other North End enterprises providing them. Liberty Commons is owned and operated by St. Vincent DePaul, and many residents utilize use the soup kitchen. NEAR (North End Arts Rising) operates the Buttonwood Tree. The Community Health Center provides low and no cost health care on a sliding scale based on income and or lack of insurance and has a variety of programs offered to the at-risk neighborhoods of the North End. Observers of the meeting soon realized that branches of the same agencies were complaining about behavior of each other's patrons, yet these patrons were likely the same people. Izzi Greenberg, director of NEAT, and Ron Krom is Executive Director of St. Vincent DePaul gave charged testimony summarizing complaints they had received from people receiving loitering tickets. Krom said that patrons of the soup kitchen had received tickets. Mayor Dan Drew and Chief William McKenna were invited to the public meeting at the Green Streets Arts Center on August 2, 2012 but did not attend. Lt. Paul Maturo was present and defended the police actions.

North End Citizen & social activist Fred Carroll has written a guest blog detailing his thoughts on what he calls "Loitering Wars" and also appeared last week on the Comcast Channel 15 cable access show "The Variety Hour" hosted by William Wilson and Jon Pulino to discuss his thoughts and express his desire to get art back on the community-at- large's agenda. 
Carrol's essay below alludes  (the Insider's interpretation we could be wrong) to the fact that perhaps the issue with loitering has a wider impact and is in itself a commentary on the socioeconomic paradigm being the current state of the economy the country is facing. Is class warfare happening around us? Are we witnessing a shift in who uses social services and the identity of the "new" poor? What happens to the "old" poor, where do they fit in and what is it to be considered "poor" anyway? 
Carrol is a Middletown  intellectual icon (we at the Insider certainly think so!), a humanitarian, artist, chess player, founder of the Bums with Brooms social movement to clean up the streets of the city,  secretary of the Realist Balance Party of Middletown, and by traditional definition a practitioner of the "nomadic" lifestyle and  has been at times what most would consider, and by his own definition as well homeless.

How To Know If You Are "Loitering" In Middletown's North End...If you can afford a five dollar cupcake, then you're probably not loitering....okay? Is that simple enough for all you confused, cop dissing, bum loving, "Liberal" minded, ACLU types, is that "clear" enough for you?

"But Fred"; I can almost hear you saying; "What if I can afford a five dollar cupcake but don't like cupcakes, or, for one reason or another have simply never bought one in Middletown, how about me, am I loitering?"

 And to respond to such a query as this in one word or less I would say simply "Well....", and then continue by saying that I personally have known people who never smoked pot, never voted, never married, never drove, never had children.....but someone who doesn't like cupcakes?! ...I'm not at all sure that such a person would be welcomed anywhere in Middletown, never mind the newly ever so groovy North End!

But seriously folks, speaking as one of Middletown's most loved and hated Bums I would like to offer my own ultra- simple "formula" for making a "loitering/not loitering" determination and it's this: If the area where you are standing, sitting, leaning, lurching, pimping, dealing, begging, stealing, WHATEVER is....wait for it.....dirty? Then you are loitering, period. If it was filthy is how you found it when you got's not "your mess" in other words, then just very simply "get it clean" before you "get comfortable", or else don't park it there, period.

"BUT FRED!" I can surely hear you thinking, "That would never translate into a legally enforceable code, statute, or "ordinance" "....Right.
 The "Cupcake Rule" it is, then.

Fred Carroll


  1. You gotta love Fred and his "cupcake" rule. I had the pleasure of meeting Fred several weeks ago. In fact, I had hired Fred for a difficult moving job then and he performed magnificently without a moments loitering.

  2. When this happened in east haven he Feds where called in and the mayor there decided he was going to have tacos for dinner. Middletown is so much more classy. We have cup cakes! And extremely intelligent homeless people.

  3. Lovely article Fred! Bravo to you and the Insider! Keep'em honest!

  4. Fred, love it and love you. One correction. When this first happened several activists convened to determine why it was happening. Complaints did not originate from The Buttonwood,CHC, St. Vincents... The original complaints came from a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Police were contacted who then interviewed the above about loitering. I do not know who brought it up at the Chamber of Commerce, or what meeting that was. Maybe you can track that down. The police confirmed the original complaints came from the Chamber of Commerce.

  5. Susan, We would like to extend an invitation if you would like to submit a letter to the editors here. This is a important dialogue Middletown needs to have. We hope to Fred will grace us with another essay in the future as well- Thank you both.


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