A mentally ill, homeless man assaulted my neighbor a few nights ago. Jackie wandered onto our property, as he apparently has numerous times before, because our front gate is unlocked. He looks for a hidden place to sleep after the sun has gone down, the tenants are likely asleep, and the police will not interrupt him for a few short hours. Unfortunately, that place is right outside my neighbor's backdoor. She has created a beautiful little oasis with a seat of pillows, a small fountain and lights among the many plants. Jackie, forgetful in his disease, has visited this haven before, and been chased or escorted out by an armed officer. This night my neighbor was alone, it was late, and a noise a wall away, frightened her. She swung open her back door and came face to face with the trespasser. "Get the fuck out of here!" She pushed him. He grabbed her by the hair in, what I'm sure was, an automatic reaction by a not-well mind, and threw her to the ground. Then he ran out, the only way he could, backtracking through the narrow alleyway, round the corner to the courtyard, and back to the entrance, where he was thrown to the ground by my other neighbor, armed with a baseball bat. An officer, already patrolling the neighborhood, joined the tackle. Held down, I heard him wail, "she hit me first."
This heartbreaking incident is yet another reminder of our backwards, disgraceful healthcare system that forgets the mentally ill while lining the pockets of the rich and powerful. Jackie did not chose mental illness, and he shouldn't have to look for a place to sleep. He should have a place to sleep. In a hospital. Where he could be properly medicated. Instead he is in jail where he will, yes, have a place to sleep and 3 meals a day... until he is released and this whole cycle repeats itself.