Rehashing the death of Robert Patricks

posted by Mike on January 23rd, 2006

According to an article in Sunday’s T&G, Bill’s Place is closed, but Bill McNeil continues his solo efforts to aid the homeless locally.

The article starts off at a dramatic and sordid moment, with the death last winter of Bobby Patricks, a hard-core heroin addict and homeless man staying in the garage at St. John’s Church with his friend Joe Hickey.

This was last winter, and the situation frustrated Mr. McNeil. He called code enforcement officials, who cleaned out the garage and referred Joe to a social service agency. Church officials called Mr. McNeil a bully for ratting out one of the few places homeless people could find refuge. Yet it was nothing new to Mr. McNeil. He’s been called a bully before, but it’s all part of his efforts to advocate for the homeless. No one should have to sleep in a garage. No one should die in one. And if he was being called a bully, so be it.

“I don’t think fighting for the homeless is being a bulldog,” he said. “I’ve shown the city I ain’t scared to stand up for people freezing to death. Someone has to stand up for them.”

This article is the phoniest I’ve ever seen in the T&G. I’d just like to address the two parts that are quickest to debunk.

First, this article, and the T&G articles that appeared at the time, imply that Mr. Patricks and Mr. Hickey weren’t already in touch with social service agencies, which is complete crap. They were and Mr. Hickey still is. Mr. McNeil’s intervention, and the city’s intervention, changed nothing. Last time I saw Joe, he was still drinking and his life was still a terrible mess. (Too bad he wasn’t interviewed for this article.)

Second, the entire article gives a misleading impression of the situation in Worcester. The tone is summed up by this quote:

“I’m fighting for the homeless and I feel I’m the only person fighting on the street,” he said.

There are at least a couple dozen people doing their best to help the homeless “on the street” in this town, and not just publicity hounds like my Catholic Worker community. I’ve never felt alone when fighting for the homeless in Worcester.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a comment