Reader: No good deed... 


Over the years I have seen the homeless problem here getting worse and I thought I could help. Recently I was scouting locations for a documentary that would have entailed on-street interviews with homeless people, with the idea that their stories would help my audience understand how they came to be in this situation. It would follow these people as they got help.

A friend and I decided to go to Catholic Charities' downtown Marian House. Across the street in Monument Valley Park we noticed several people sleeping on the ground and we decided to see if we might briefly interact with them.

I had my camera with me to document locations for future reference and at different times throughout the day. At times, I would ask people if I might take their picture. Some refused, which I understood, and some did allow me to take their picture.

We started to approach a man lying on a wall. He immediately jumped up and yelled curses and said "stop taking my picture." I replied that I was not. He continued to yell at me, cursing and even kicking me. I walked away toward the park exit but he followed me, pushed me, grabbed my camera and ran. I chased after him but he hurled my camera into Monument Creek and ran away.

This experience makes me realize that it is really not a good idea anymore to feel safe around this subject and that there are people in this situation who really do not want help. I observed cliques or clans that have formed that are perfectly content with this lifestyle.

My new approach is to document people who actually want help, especially struggling street-corner musicians, videotaping their performances to provide exposure that could help them. The working title is "Almost Homeless, Not Helpless."

— Richard Panure, Colorado Springs

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