WWL>Topics>>4-14 2:10pm Angela, gutter punks

4-14 2:10pm Angela, gutter punks

Apr 14, 2014|

Gutter Punks make a comeback—and they’re fierce! You may have seen them in the French Quarter this past weekend at French Quarter Fest. They’re accosting and menacing tourists and locals. They travel in packs…and these predators and their dogs have permeated the Quarter much to the alarm of residents, businesses and tour guides. As New Orleans becomes one of the biggest vacation & convention cities in the world, how do we handle this? Our guests: Edward Bonin, Nurse Practioner & Director, Tulane School of Medicine’s Drop-In Center; Elizabeth Jones, Program Director, Tulane School of Medicine’s Drop-In Center; Dianne Honore, French Quarter Tour Guide and Officer John Dobard, Crime Preventio Unit with NOPD.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

I really wanna thank doctor Melinda southern again not the action that's her second trip over here and I think we're gonna continue to do this because clearly parents. Do you care about the health of their children and and what she's saying is very frightening. And just -- a frightened she really wants to educate that there is a very serious health problem going on with young children. And they're already having diseases of adults not just diabetes but -- in the liver heart issues. And this can be changed this can be controls so will come to chip away at it. We are going to eventually shift our gears. If you walk through the quarter -- the marinate BC groups of young people many called gutter punks. But they're also known as Christie's in Google's. They are homeless often squatters an empty buildings. They are dirty and according to some who work and live in the area they're becoming more aggressive. Diane honoring a French Quarter tour guide recently had a bad experience. With a trio of the gutter punks. She has much to say about what is for her a growing concern. And we're also joined by Edward -- And Elizabeth Jones who are from the tooling school of medicine's drop in center which provides both medical and social service cell. To homeless young people. And we -- as a nurse practitioner and director of the center. Analyst with Jones is the program manager and I appreciate all of you being here thank you I read the incredible story and Diane that was written. In the uptown messenger. About what you went through and for people who didn't I would like you just sort of relive it. Yes thank you thank you for having me today Angela. This topic is -- a growing concern in the gutter punks in the French Quarter. -- on April 2 -- about 9:30 in the evening. I had a group of five young people 1617 year old we had just we're just about to complete our tour. And we were walking along Jackson square when we were approached. By three gutter punks. One of which came that my group with open arms and I came at the front in my group. He actually grabbed about three or four of the kids and they quickly got away. He continued. To try to grab at the rest of the group as they passed finally the chaperon at the back of the group Tom he did grab -- hold of him. From they had a short fist fight of sorts. Tom you know finally he got away and the group fled in 1 direction as -- -- all this time. Yet because as soon as it is started I got on the phone with 911. On and the whole time I'm on the phone with them trying to get someone to come out. You don't describe what's going on at the same time you know making sure my group is okay. So anyway we're walking. Just -- -- in -- -- when they were grabbing the kids when they -- for their. Wallets their phones -- just grabbing them no they would just grabbing at the kids themselves by the shoulders the arms. You know wherever he could grab ahold of them. I just basic harassment. You know is all I can say it was it had nothing to do with robbery. OK -- an erupting John sorry so you call the police yes I called the police. And as I was walking away you know my group had made it to the front of the cathedral. But at some walking away I -- I'm standing there and you know looking back. And there's just standing in the same place around that right around the 1850 house the last thing all three of them. You know they're very bold. So finally I go to approach my group in here comes a policeman on horseback. We basically quickly explain the situation to him. And then he went on two approached them and we moved out of course to safety in the opposite direction. And so did they arrest of three. Now. As I was walking back to my car may be five minutes or so later. I received a call from the police office. And the lady asked me to give her another description. Of what the gentleman who looked like it -- well you know he's almost six feet tall dreadlocks and she said was -- a black man. I said no he was a white -- homeless look like a daughter punk. And she said we will call you back if necessary. So they never made an. So you saw the police on -- go over to them yet and talk to them but nothing -- Nothing happens. And I quickly moved away after that point. I did see two other policeman on horseback going to the scene after I was leaving. But I didn't states to see exactly when it happened. But like I said they called me back from the office to get a description of him so treated at that point he had gotten away. You are a guide in the quarter frequently. Yes quite frequently several times a week and -- have you seen this. These young people increase in numbers. Yes yes quite a bit. And there are more and more aggressive I've had them in several cases just walk up to me as I'm giving a tour. And ask for money. I've had been asked for drugs for myself. And my groups. Literally on some streets having to step over them. Tourists are constantly. You know talking about them to meet. It is certain streets that I have to avoid Decatur street. Sometimes the river itself and how can you avoid that when you're on a guided tour. I don't know. But they're making it almost impossible. In fact I just candidates who wore in there was a large group of them on the steps making noise and you know calling out to us I had a group of five. Teenage girls with me today. But it's a constant problem. I remember it I don't know -- -- the date was but let's say fifteen years ago. Can -- power walk along the river and I would see the young people and and I would -- -- gutter punks such they were labeled that time. And I -- had dogs. And so I got to the point because it was hot and I was concerned about art that that the dog's getting in the water. And and didn't look -- collected I don't mean that but they didn't look like they were paying a lot of attention. So I just would go up and say you know I can renewable if you on the water for the dogs. And they were known a world OK but I'd never got them the sense of aggression that I'm hearing from you. Yes day you know -- fact. I found they were a lot quieter. Over the past you know so many years. But within the past two or three years. They've gotten very aggressive. I'm not sure why. But they're very aggressive. To the point where they'll come up and touch you in grand view and it's repeated you know wasn't just one instance of this. So when that happens on on April 2 actually wrote a letter. -- the said the mayor and to all but councilman can I haven't received a response. But I'd just quite had enough. You know these people -- or you know they're under my protection at the time I'm giving a tour. It's very disheartening. An alarming. And have you talked at the tour guides. With that experiences yes yes quite a few of them especially since this happened I've gotten a huge response from the tour guides. I just from the general public you know people that live in the quarter. People that visit the quarter. Infected gentlemen yes today I sent me a message. He lives around Baton Rouge you know they visit every once in awhile and he was accosted by somebody not a few weeks ago. On the riverfront. So you never communicated with the police -- And about the final outcome of that particular event -- it is we just heard from Diane honoring who has two tour guide. Some very bad experience and scary experiences. We're now joined by Edwin Bowman analyst with Jones who -- from the Tulane school of -- drop in center. Which again provides medical and social service to these homeless young people. I guess I just point blank who are these kids. But then -- thank you for having us by the way Angela. These kids -- there a couple of different subgroups that the local homeless kids. And they have traveling kids kids who travel the country. And start probably in the fall like in October starting come down here. And this is really the height of that season for for those kids because of the festivals that we have this time a year and the whether it's pleasant. So they tend to flock down here it's easy for them. To obtain alcohol. Drugs. Spare change they dig around space because it's changing where they where they ask for spare change. We don't typically see a lot of violent behavior from the -- from that group because I'm not saying that it doesn't exist -- -- we don't see it that much in our in our settings. Because they come to you -- -- and meet that price point -- so okay India when they come to the San. They all are they come for supportive services alleges a safe haven to get up the street in -- day. We provide them with snakes then it's ours wants indicted things like that. It's I was supportive services that they present with at that time but mostly just -- placing get out the she'd done a day on and be able to arrest them bene. Appropriate more appropriate types that. You understand what Diana's sang that time. Whether it's a homeowner in the quarter or somebody who works in the quarter or so -- -- who's leading -- tour and is feeling very responsible for those in that tour. To this is scary. Well absolutely and you know I've lived in the French Quarter for a long time now and the -- sort of working at the drop in center back in 97. I never saw homeless kids it was a bit we had to we had a lot of people that back then that they were kind of invisible. I don't see that's see that the numbers have increased since then and certainly since Katrina we -- an influx. But I don't feel. I don't feel like there aggressive aggressive to me it -- -- maybe because they know why am. -- is -- known you -- but on yet is also an emphasis that I have ever gotten with that population even prided to. -- worked at the drop in sales have been -- about although continues now so. They. For animals -- -- pretty welcoming and you know. -- function as any other person would that to a come in contact with. This situations I just a little different in -- of the H is so live their lives in a different week. Om and then maybe would society in my dean is on normal -- the standard of living. An Aladdin has to do with basically maybe when they come from mom aren't basically would they wanna be associated with and things like that. Mom they had been. Pleasant. Bomb. Overtime but it doesn't mean it anyone you know people don't like. Capabilities of -- violent tendencies that's not. The issue. And I feel like they -- misunderstood population and I feel like maybe sometimes people go in with the notion that deal. Aggressive may be drug uses an alcoholics. Alone pool or just busily salute you expect not to let that from a person uses the you can't see what you would the person really it's. Let me let me ask you. They're certainly we're all aware of the really the tragedy of homeless people that live under the bridge you know a little older than what you're saying is this is more choice on their part. Sometimes on sun sun times and yet I think a lot of these kids we have a large number of these young people young adults and teenagers. Who are aging out of Foster care. It's a generally when they turn 1819. There are no longer Foster care and they just put on history -- they don't have the where were thought to navigate to different systems. That are available to them and that's how they a lot of times in the on the streets. Some some of these kids are traveling the country they may have taken a couple of years off between high school and college or right after college just to see with the the in the country. And that's not to say that these kids can't be violent I'm not you know but we just I just don't see that as much. You know it's are aggressive -- that their their outfits are almost cost him right and and they're making a statement. The differences. You know sitting on the sidewalk with a dog in the group and -- -- and among themselves if they make that choice. Or can't navigate that that's one thing that's another thing to jump into a crowd of. I definitely agree right I totally agree with that I wouldn't staff party. And so what is the answer. -- I don't know it's just like any other person we have a violent -- a violent city for wondering. There's a lot of gunfire all over the city and I don't think all of those issues kind of tied together. Violence is vile doesn't matter where it's coming fun and in this culture in the -- -- to see that the cultural violence and I don't have an answer for how to how to fix that. I wish I did -- win a Nobel Peace Prize problem yeah but I think that. Giving young people. The opportunity to. Our access to. Our programs for instance I think helps them in a way. Also we can always try to get them into housing through Covenant House because they have an emergency shelter. Some kids are ready for that. Even those limited rules -- and is also also transitional housing available but it's hard then there's not enough place places to put these kids. So that's how they end -- -- basically. You know it's again sometimes it is choice a lot of people look at it and where their aggravated -- you're young people. You're young people and you may not want a live by the norms and that your choice because -- America. But you can contribute. And not take. And that they what did you call that that changed things and -- to Spain -- -- assign rights -- just making a living begging. What does that have. One you know the -- because it was such a big tourist town. They it it's easy for these kids to ground score we could they -- ground scoring you know picking up a drink that's half that's half empty my -- because the beer is hot that you know torso but does big. Appears down and the kids or pick him up and drink and are. You know that's our food container of food that's half eaten. It's put on top of a trash can -- in the trash can -- eat that too. So you know there's a lot of opportunities here for dentists have to survive and and just kind of be. And it's I see that it's. Tourists have a tendency to give them spare change more so than local people like I never gets changed to her people or bad but I've seen a lot of our visitors to that. Again we want to better define what Diane went through price scary and it wasn't begging for change. No no absolutely it was not begging for change in fact it wasn't even a robbery at that point I mean we've. You know I've been apple lock down a street before they ask for PCP. And a lot of them -- this obviously high. And I don't necessarily think it's I'm also a nurse by trade and I don't necessarily think it's also just a matter of them being misunderstood. Their violent they're aggressive. And it's it's a problem that yes we all need to work on unsolved. I think the police department needs to be more involved as -- the owners. Businesses in the French Quarter. I had a friend come to me she worked for Red Cross a number of years ago and they raised all these bonds. -- housing for these young people and they refused it. Some sort of gearing. You had two different sides and I can certainly understand. You know when they come to you guys in need. But there's this whole other. The side bets. It's not healthy for anyone involved when they were in smaller numbers it was OK you know they were homeless. But now they've they've sort of multiplied which we have to deal went. We now have on the phone however John -- barred. Who is a young police officer with NO PD and -- we certainly enjoy and appreciate you joining issue or the crime prevention unit. Yes. So I guess first I'd like to ask I don't know if you heard -- story that. The police did come on horseback. Talked to the people that Nolan was ever arrested after the group that she was touring with. Really were up more than harassed grabbed etc. -- should something have been done should someone have been arrested. Don't look good cook and on individual you know I ended it didn't have commencement that has on anyone. Then is is cost of that launch of the arrests that. Well when will we see these young people in the quarter and they do start coming towards you. What do you do. Well first -- you have to understand that Libya -- whatever you do you should always be -- just around and make sure that you can't. But don't treat. So contact bill to conduct such as are most latency and you'll coast want these people that you sit. Should be can continue the war can't make sure that you grab people that have audio well protective. And keep guys aren't they in the position -- -- It almost sounded from what Diane was saying that it wasn't so much about robbery it was a really. -- a true harassment. And then you know of sort of a mini fist fight with one of the chaperones. So aggressive. Yet did you know -- aggressive because this -- they didn't make apparently kitten would still looking. So ethical use of late so bad. If you -- got one -- you'd speak. You well you know -- -- Leo I am reaching key people and and contact the police thought. What would it take for them to be arrested. Or at the same thing that took place -- that would. That bankers in it a bit and volume. And you believe -- item quickly and going at it in -- look Dubai are you know -- will be subject are to be arrest. That they were not arrested. And they were grabbing a bunch of people. But again what we're not gonna go back in time you your message is very clear that. Just keep moving and called the police. Right you don't triangular and that's physical and -- the script manager can. Are -- individual and give it the goalie so that they can you know do they have to them make an arrest -- locate it and there's no. Well I really appreciate John -- that you called and very very much thank you for NO PDU. We have some callers let's go to. Joseph in shell met. -- The year ago. Don't correct it crop comment about -- to -- that tradition that minarets are the same token -- on all -- at all to all the time. And it got me that they don't know owner don't know more undercut most of them -- And get me out drugs and -- is down about debit dolls. Eric -- the ports and other that well -- -- unit proper speech here and built Obama won. Propelled that network today. Bad idea to -- global call to -- Obama. And -- -- -- bit beat GA camera the perpetrators. And you want -- call to keep them out could be a nuclear program as it. -- -- -- -- -- -- Let him answer that lamented that well that age of majority -- say Louisiana is eighteen years old and in bed because of their life circumstances that they're developmentally delayed intellectually. And so what we do at Tulane and what most other adolescent programs do is we'll continue -- seen them until they're 24. That pat down that bounced around like a bandit post bop bop problem where there's a -- problem. Problem is we don't we have to get out your one stop giving them money and aloha -- alternate -- You just -- on the -- and them. And I am that the law does a cigarette being coached. No I think that I think you're absolutely correct. I really appreciate your comments and you bring up some very good good issues thank you so much Chris I mean Joseph let's go to Christian man to -- Crist. I don't have a good. Where people call a taxpayer that put him to announce today in sixty we don't pan handle. And I don't concern me than just you know. Borrowed it and where we -- -- I can actually I'm wondering. If -- -- tax money go into the program for two lane and restored ten years ago. It actually was started more than ten years ago is we started in 1991 as an outreach program but to answer your question yes. We get federal and state funding as well as. Yes that's exactly don't want well -- wish news that then. They would have voted in because it's young it's part of my. -- lifestyle change outlet to stop working 60000 week. Where costume I'm a graduate of college alone go to the French Quarter played with a taller. It can handle everyday and when I got to go Ogletree. I just don't think the taxpayers built it didn't want it to. Chris thank you -- really appreciate this he brings up some some good point I mean I I think we are compassionate society I really do I don't think we'd like. To kick people when they're down. I understand his issues. You know these are young people they can be if they would choose. Through the help of people like you get oriented on a healthier route. And life and be productive. And that's and that's who we try to do that you can't you can get a mall you know you can touch some of them. And it's very difficult for us to measure success -- you measure success in very small increments. If we can approach that young person on the street who looks like he's homeless. And they don't talk to us but then the next time we go to that corner they talked to us that's a success and rise gradually gay engaging these youth. They have a hard time with trust issues and because I 'cause we talked -- there was that a lot of these people have been victims. Not saying that they're not victimize there's as well but they have been victims most of their lives. A lot of them not all of them and I think that they're damaged a lot of these kids. And so many ways that doesn't excuse their behavior. But it's something that we had as a society have to think about just like the mentally ill we have a lot of these kids are mentally ill or substance abusers. Coke co morbidity is both mental illness and substance abuse we see -- in the adult population as well and we have things and places to help those adult people. We need things in place to help the younger people as well but it covenant how she mentioned don't they have programs where they help. Kids to get jobs they do actually we're really have. We rely on -- house a lot they actually give us the clinics base to provide the medical care we see all their kids. They do have emergency shelter available for kids who are willing to go into emergency shelter. They also have transitional housing so that they can transition someone from. From emergency shelter and two independent living and they also have programs for we what we call permanent supportive housing. Well that have -- case manager with a young person has got a disability. And help them navigate living by on independently. So you make sure they get to their appointments an -- stuff so they had and they have a lot of other programs that outreach. -- anything. And coming -- yes yet they have outreach and with the bars would have -- and I think -- -- attitude you have to want to do it yet -- want to do it. -- a lot of time signing -- and some pro and I just didn't come out as the common house is one of the easier com. Oh -- Dave begins this message is they serve analysts and listen -- understand it needs and then level function and but there are a lot of very sick can you trying to service on the analysts and Bob they said just a homeless population in general -- ties because you do get. A lot of funding from government dole in state funding is a lot of you know things that common a -- -- then a lot of being able to approve need a law in two gave to receive beneath the is not as Blake and why it is. The house is there so go in it is not that simple and then you know I guess play devil's advocate in. Some political both -- the putt that population. Is because I'd still like you can't force people and see you'll bubble on just because do you feel like that if a view. Live on the street on because -- -- as far as -- is an illegal and is not a crime on -- they have done some is Diane Wood was done on anybody else that. While on the street no -- -- Mom but they need to pay the piper if they are but anything you do have -- actions have consequences. But I feel like at what point tell us public and at exterior of the person as a figure now why this happened to begin by while my wise this person living like this to begin with and what has society contributes to -- this situation. To make this Grohl and awaiting its -- Because a lot of young people. And I feel like you can't you didn't you can blame the person to some extent. But as human as we all have responsibility for -- of an -- my -- is -- let's go to Joseph in New Orleans -- It's a gap of tape micro. Work out it and -- arrest RD. Don't they can't do seven cuts without. Your older you about a quarter. In the quarter. And our well know each year that the guys you guys don't you would be to fall because. Date equity connected in any terror training. And it just respectable people when they're trying to help out. I think that's sort of -- that in that's in in a nutshell people. I think most people wanna help. But they don't like that kind my attitude they don't like being harassed you don't like being cast doubt they certainly don't like being grabbed -- -- -- -- there's -- penalty for that which is what happened -- -- that's a problem. -- I totally agree -- that do you think that in advance the cost -- are harass or should have been dealt with them that more than a better way. That the things that we provide these kids are a safe place to be up to street during the day medical -- services as they need him. Which includes you know medications that you know whatever. It's a social worker we have a site that's medical psychologist on staff we have. Case managers so we we you know we try to meet the kid where they are and try to work -- them so that we can get into the next. Place I mean. Have there been cases where the people we know is gutter punks have decided I'm not going to be gutter punk anymore and I'm trying to. Yet if that -- he had that happens more often than people think it is we have. Clients who want a traveler succumbed to the city and who might decide that you know they won a transition from this street and so you know -- housing and. And my stay in -- city on globex when he came from a -- at the someplace that they game when he traveled that they. What my live Annette and I'll function in society just as you know normal as everybody else bullet. Without a problem and I seen in a lot of times -- out clients. -- when -- -- -- a certain age in the life or certain position in life for something happens -- -- get tired of being on the anti you know an -- that big eventually most most people probably good -- out of the united street. I get the drop and said no wind we had there in the clients and -- travelers do come for services especially the ones who. All want from -- which would be -- the majority of bent bent population. We tried to educate them all on how to be key in the city especially because we know. It big goal once -- a French Quarter -- looks different squad and -- music that's fine. But don't want a French Quarter and do this this then -- you cannot like. Harass people you know blocks I walks in all these all these are the things I mean. On -- giant says walking over him alone Kendall Williams and if you feed a dull gold big if you for money is is it being like you -- -- on some side. A very interesting conversation and I I've learned a lot I think we've all agreed at this table though. That is totally unacceptable for their behavior to -- Diane or anybody in the quarter who lives works plays there. That's not what it's about they exist they're going to be here are always going to be here but the got to play by the rules. Exactly -- -- any place and -- in the cities that absolutely. Oh no ads everywhere yes but we do see them and you know they make the decision to either accept your help or not but we don't have to put up with. Bad behavior. My -- like an old mother knows little about not at all I concur concur a 100% and Diane I hope you get a letter from City Council person of the mayor. And the thing in fact are paying attention to their constituents yeah okay now I'm really sounds like them. Stay with us we'll have much more on that and stay with -- the next hour Morgan talked to Jackie Clarkson thanks for your calls everybody.