The man appeared to be drunk. His face was bruised. Asked if he were diabetic, the man said yes, prompting one of us to go inside in search of food and another to call 911 for an ambulance.
That's when we screwed up. Seeing a police officer on a bicycle at Race and Ninth streets, one of us got his attention and pointed out the distressed man on the sidewalk. Walking up behind the man, the officer yelled, "Jackson!" This startled the distressed man. The officer then pronounced Jackson drunk and ordered him to get up and move along. We learned the officer's name -- confirmed by his police name tag -- when Jackson said, "Meadows, I'm sick."
But the two men disagreed over the diagnosis.
Jackson said he hadn't had a drop and had just been released from jail. He again mentioned his seizures and said he needed to go to the hospital. Officer Meadows said he knew all about the seizures but insisted Jackson was merely drunk.
We heard an ambulance approaching. To our surprise, the officer used his police radio to cancel the ambulance call. Jackson again said he needed to go to the hospital. Officer Meadows, perhaps motivated by a zeal for the plight of taxpayers, announced, "We're not taking you there. If you want to go to the hospital, call a cab or take the bus."
He ordered Jackson to get up and leave. When Jackson started to stumble on, the officer got on his bike and rode down Race Street.
The co-worker who'd gone in search of food finally came back outside with a package of snack crackers and two pieces of chocolate. But by now the hungry, possibly drunk man who might have been having a seizure had gone.
One of us followed Jackson to Piatt Park, found him lying on a bench and offered the food. He accepted it eagerly but couldn't open the wrappers without help. He asked, "Where did you come from?" When the food wrappers were opened, he kept saying, "Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir."
Perhaps there is some subsection in the police department's manual of procedures that directs officers to cancel ambulances when a possibly drunk man is possibly having a seizure. If so, that policy should be reviewed. Instead, maybe officers could carry snack crackers and pieces of chocolate for such occasions. It somehow seems more humane.
Meanwhile, we're hoping Jackson didn't die from whatever ailed him.
When Gays and Radicals Come Out
Cincinnati celebrated its gay and lesbian community last weekend with the annual Pride Alive Festival in Hoffner Park in Northside. The grand marshals for the parade from Burnet Woods to Hoffner Park were Marian Weage and Ronn Rucker.
Weage, 73, is the mother of four children, three of whom are gay. Under her leadership, the Cincinnati Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) went to gay bars to distribute condoms to raise awareness about AIDS and encourage the practice of safe sex. She was PFLAG president for six years. Rucker, retired from the Cincinnati Health Department, helped establish Cincinnati's response to HIV. He was a member of the national organizing committee for the first and second National Marches on Washington for Gay and Lesbian rights in 1979 and 1987.
Brian Garry, candidate for city council, marched in the parade with campaign volunteers. That's no surprise, as Garry has long supported equality. But someone might want to tell him that his name for the group, the Brian Garry Brigade, doesn't quite mesh with his new campaign strategy of de-emphasizing his radical history. So far that strategy has worked -- Garry won the endorsement of the Hamilton County Democratic Party this year.
But if he keeps using words like "brigade," Republicans are sure to start highlighting his anti-war arrest, his participation in an anti-globalization march (in which he was Maced by police) and his leadership of the civil rights boycott of Cincinnati a few years ago. It won't help make him more palatable to moderate voters.
For outbursts of blatant radicalism, incipient curiosity and news about political developments, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at blogs.citybeat.com/porkopolis.
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