Anybody who lives near Charles Street is familiar with a large, black bag forever hooked onto the door of the Charles Street Synagogue. But not everybody knows that it has, for years, contained a living person who is profoundly captured by mental illness that demands “living” in a black bag.
I called the police, and they referred me to the rescue services contracted by the city to offer shelter to homeless people. But unless the person is a threat to themselves or to others they can do nothing, and the person stays on the street, or in this case, in the black bag.
That is, until I mentioned it to Jessica Berk, who has had a long, long, contentious history with the Sixth Precinct.
As Jessica tells it, she went to talk with the bag lady who called the police, saying that she was being beaten with a cane by a man with gray hair (which of course is supposed to be me), so the police came and apprehended Jessica. But let Jessica tell it…
Recently, Mr. Capsis sent me over to interview the person living in a sealed black tent/bag on the steps of the Orthodox temple on Charles Street. I brought Angelina, my Chihuahua with me. George told me this exclusive residency had been going on for about seven years—with no police intervention. As head of R.I.D. (Residents In Distress), I’m frequently called upon to convince the cops to both enforce the law and/or find some help for these numerous lost souls. On this particular occasion, I became the victim of both another false arrest, and a deranged street loafer.
Instead of removing what clearly was a dangerous security risk to a landmarked Jewish synagogue in these troubled times, some particularly vindictive cops decided to charge me with a hate crime and cocaine possession. Were it not, once again, for our district leader, Arthur Schwartz, riding to the rescue (as he did with my Mom, Ruth), I’d probably still be in lockup!
Interestingly enough, I learned that day that the rights of the homeless supersede us regular folk. Even though my mother wanted to remain at home, she was forced into a nursing home (by A.P.S.), and she is not alone.
This “bag boy” (although he identifies as trans) gets to stay where he chooses—regardless of the circumstances? If not for the valiant efforts of Sgt. Corchoran (new to our Sixth Precinct) we’d still be at risk. Hopefully, those that are entrusted with caring for many New Yorkers who can’t do it themselves will step in now and make a difference. Leaving humans to rot on the sidewalk like trash is not the best way to operate.