Plaza, etc.

In Sunday’s E-R, Laura Urseny once again delivers a lengthy, one-sided version of the Teri DuBose, take-back-the-plaza lunches: http://www.chicoer.com/business/20170722/biz-bits-chico-businesswoman-getting-pushback-from-lunch-dates

My LTE response is copied below. Sadly, not enough people care about the public space and the implications of the legal and cultural battle going on there. This applies to criminalization of sleeping, restroom access, etc., as well. Chico citizens, across the political spectrum, fail to grasp the significance of these seemingly small issues–and this will haunt us in the future. Not to mention the painful, day-to-day alienation of people living in our public spaces.

Friends on the Street will be in the plaza every Sunday at 12:00 and we will try to be present for as many of the Wednesday and Friday “take-back” lunches as possible.

(There are also the ongoing issues of how to get restrooms open, criminalization reversed and exposing the presence/influence of homeless hater Robert Marbut–on retainer, at unknown cost, by the Jesus Center).


Dear Editor,

For a year-and-a-half, with the help of donors, Chico Friends on the Street has gone to the plaza, on a weekly basis, to distribute food and clothing.  More importantly, we’ve befriended those who live in the public space.

(Having done this “experiment,” it’s possible we may actually know something about homelessness in the plaza.  Might Laura Urseny join us for a few months, before writing another hit piece on “transients?”  Please contact us at [email protected]com )

Contrary to the picture painted–as Urseny describes the experiences of Teri DuBose–I’ve never been verbally abused, nor have any of the dozens of people I’ve worked with. The abuse I’ve witnessed has come from passing motorists, screaming at people struggling to survive. 99% of the time, people living on the streets respond to respect with respectfulness. And, when they don’t, it doesn’t take a genius to see they are wrestling with demons I’ve met only in nightmares.

If DuBose is genuinely interested in inclusion, she might reach-out to the homeless and make them feel more respected and more welcome. It’s not that difficult. They can tell whether they’re being embraced or judged. Lastly, Chief O’Brien is a public servant.  He is, in theory, sworn to protect and serve ALL citizens–not to fan the flames of demonization and hysteria.  I have to question how well O’Brien knows anyone DuBose finds “threatening.” Let’s meet in the plaza and talk with the “offenders.”  We might learn a lot.

Lastly, Chief O’Brien is a public servant.  He is, in theory, sworn to protect and serve ALL citizens–not to fan the flames of demonization and hysteria.  I have to question how well O’Brien knows anyone DuBose finds “threatening.” Let’s meet in the plaza and talk with the “offenders.”  We might learn a lot.

Patrick Newman

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