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All of Us Are One

Ronnie Barbett’s personal response to attacks on the homeless

A recent email to Dane County Board reads as follows. Disclaimer: All punctuation and mechanical errors are the original writer’s. "The warming shelter is turning into the same type of situation that we had last year. Dozens of police calls, open air drinking and drug use on East Washington and directly in front of the Rainbow Project. Every day there are drunks buying alcohol at the Cork and Bottle Liquor Store and wandering around my block drunk. None of the promises made have been kept. The staff are very nice people, perhaps too nice. You just cannot let drugs and alcohol be part of the mix. I would suggest that you learn from this poor choice of locations. In the future put the warming shelter as far away from neighborhoods as possible and certainly do not have a liquor store near by. Most importantly, keep it away from me."

Ronnie Barbett’s personal response when he saw the email:

The attacks on the homeless people continues with the Day Warming Shelter the center of attention…no pun intended. I care about people so I’m like all the church going volunteering public who likes to look out and provide for people no matter what their problem is.

Most programs around this city are for problem people (alcoholics, drug-addicts, cons, PTSD vets, mentally and physically challenged and ex-abusers) who, with counseling, agree to turn their lives around.

They are helped with classes, seminars, supervision, self-help books, meetings after meetings, etc. Can you envision that little hamster on a treadmill going around and around? It’s not that the poor animal doesn’t want to stop. He keeps going. It’s what he does at the time!

Promise you this…all good things come to an end. People say to me, "How can you put a stop to something going on?" [Name of emailer] scares me. He doesn’t want a crowd of 130 people around him if twelve are misbehaving in a negative way.

[Name of emailer] will not cast a vote to close down the Cork and Bottle Liquor Store since he’s not a drunk. Maybe he only drinks on special holidays and sports events. Keep in mind that he has a house to drink inside. The homeless don’t. [Name of emailer] will cast a vote
in support of the idea of temporarily housing the homeless inside a huge building complete with rehab, counseling and other services.

The owners of the Cork and Bottle Store profit from the drunks coming to their store so we really can’t keep these people away from the perfect outstanding human beings that inhabit the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood. I’m not sure that I agree that this is a poor choice for
a location since discrimination, racial profiling and any accusation can be dealt with. A meeting can help, yes!

I know that your group has been here before! I admit to all
reading this: A person who is dependent on alcohol and/or drugs should be allowed an inside space. Thank you for putting up with us. We will work out a solution.

Ronnie Barbett

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About Operation Welcome Home

OWH is a group of homeless people in Madison, WI and their allies organizing around the root causes of homelessness- racism, poverty, and criminalization. We are fighting for housing, jobs, and an end to the criminalization of poverty.

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