Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monday Night Mission

Monday Night Mission
By Mel Tillekeratne
Last Thursday night we arrived on Skid-row to see a fight in full motion. 3 women punching, kicking and stepping on a 4th woman on the ground. When I got to where it was the fight was over. The woman who got beaten up was lying on the ground with blood dripping down her face.

Her lips were cut up and one side of her nostril was split open, her eyes bruised purple. The other women complained of how she randomly approached them and started attacking. More people told me that she was the aggressor and even how she had punched a pregnant lady.

She wasn't a stranger to me. I remembered her as clear as day. This was the same woman who tried to punch me the very night before for telling her she needed to wait in line for food.

She wasn't drunk and neither was she high. She was just a person who was sick. She had no idea who she was or where she was, and she was at war against the whole world. I have seen enough people just like her to know what was wrong. She was severely mentally ill. She didn't want any help from us or anyone. She just walked away into the darkness, another lost soul on Skid-row.
This week the San Francisco city attorney filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Nevada on behalf of all California local governments where patients had been bused from a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital. This wasn't 20 or 30 years ago. The Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital was caught after dumping 48-year-old James Flavy Coy Brown in Sacramento in March of this year.

James didn't have anyone or didn't even know anyone in Sacramento. That didn't stop the hospital. They just put this poor man suffering from severe mood disorders onto a Greyhound and shipped him off of their hands to Sacramento. Just call 911 when you get there they told him.

James sadly wasn't the only one. They traced around 1500 more patients to this hospital. But then again this is all they found. Hundreds of people treated like trash and tossed away.

Honestly I don't know what angers me the most. The people who treat mentally ill people this way or the people who choose to ignore helping people like this calling them drug addicts. Because that's what people tell me. "I don't want to waste my time and money helping people on Skid-row. They're all drug addicts and they choose to be there."

500 of the people who were sent from Rawson-Neal were sent to Skid-row. This is without the thousands, yes thousands who have been dumped from mental hospitals all over California because Rawson-Neal wasn’t the first and sadly won't be the last. Around 60 to 70% of the people on Skid-row suffer from mental disorders. Some very apparent but most only visible when you get to know them.

No one chooses to live on Skid-row. The mentally ill don't decide one day that "Oh I'm going to spend the rest of my life on Skid-row". It's easily one of the worst places I have ever visited and I come from a country you consider poor. If the rats, cockroaches and diseases doesn't get to you then the violence surely will. Most people there turn to drugs because they were forced to by gangs or because it's a form of self-medication for their mental illnesses. Look it up if you don't believe me.

If you're still not sure about the people of Skid-row then come with us and we'll show you what Skid-row really is. You owe it to yourself if you ever considered yourself fair and just. If you don't care and still choose to ignore helping the people of Skid-row saying they're drug addicts then you are no more heartless than the bastards at Rawson-Neal.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Mel Tillekeratne

Monday Night Mission


No comments: