Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tragedy Upon Tragedy

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, that of the death of a homeless man apparently beloved by many, and that of the communities surrounding that portion of the American River Parkway who have long lost the ability to safely recreate or otherwise venture into it, as it has become unsafe as a result of the long-term and large-scale illegal camping by the homeless that has been allowed to continue for many years.

An excerpt.

“Jason Johns helped convict the murderers of a Sacramento homeless man, but he felt like that wasn't enough. Since he couldn't help the victim himself, he turned his attention to helping the man's community instead.

“Johns was foreman of the jury that convicted two men of the murder of a homeless man – Michael Wentworth, more popularly known as "Gremlin" – in 2008. But one month after the trial ended in early June, Johns couldn't forget Wentworth – or the Sacramento homeless community he had learned about during the trial.

“Johns called Heath Patterson, a volunteer with Christian homeless outreach group Project 61 who had been a close friend of Wentworth's. He learned that Patterson was organizing a barbecue to honor Wentworth's life and contributions to the homeless community.

“After talking to other members of the jury, Johns discovered that he wasn't the only one who wanted to help.

“So Saturday afternoon, Johns and four other jurors rolled up their sleeves and served hot dogs and hamburgers to approximately 250 homeless people under the 12th Street bridge.

“Barbara Prewitt, another juror, also said that she was inspired to service by the story of Wentworth's murder.

"The trial itself was heartbreaking on one hand, but very eye-opening on the other hand," said Prewitt. "It just touched me as far as who these people are."

“Patterson, who had been friends with Wentworth for five years, began the barbecue with a prayer circle. He then read a poem he had written, titled "The Saint of the American River Parkway," in which he described Wentworth as a man who would "toss you a sleeping bag and a tiny ripple of hope."