Cops v. Homeless Guy

After I dropped Isabel off at school this morning,  I had to go to the Post  Office to  send a registered letter, and decided  to go to the main branch  because it was just as much on my way as any other.  I got  out  of  the Metro at Mustek, but went out the  exit at  Na Přikope instead  of Jindřišska, and  there was  a moment of disorientation.

One of the  beauties of living in a great touristic city  is that you see all these amazing sites at all times of  day and night, in all seasons.  Early mornings  are lovely, because there are almost no people about and,  as  all the shops are just  opening up,  it is both as  clean and  uncrowded as Wenceslas Square ever  gets.

As I walked  up toward  Jindřišska I saw a gaggle of  police harassing a homeless guy, which is  nothing  unusual.  He was obviously drunk, leaning on  some kind of post, and his hand slipped  and he  went sprawling on the sidewalk.  He hurried to scoop up the meager, and humiliating, contents of his pockets – a few wadded up tissues, some scraps  of paper -as the police chuckled.

On the one hand, that’s one thing  I hate about  cops.  If you are  in their clutches, it’s quite clear you’re having a horrible day, and they’re enjoying it.  I feel the same about  dentists.  On the other hand, it  was funny, and I chuckled, too, as I walked on by.  The guy was plastered.

But the scene stuck in my mind, and it made me think:  the law, in a kind, tolerant society, cannot be black  and white.  Sure, nobody wants filthy (oh, yeah, he  was filthy), drunken people sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk, certainly not there.  On the other hand, he  was probably not breaking any specific law.  He certainly wasn’t hurting  anybody.

I don’t know what they did in the end.  Probably just chased him away to someplace else.  That’s about all they can  do.  The homeless problem is never going to be solved by the police – or, for that matter, by laws.


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