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Citizen makes panhandler uncomfortable; she moves on
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It might not be the most unique approach at making a stand. 

Some might even say that it’s dangerous – putting oneself directly into what has become a hot button issue that has swept the community and become a major talking point for everybody from the Manteca City Council members to the people who themselves are affected. 

But when it comes to homeless, Linda Larock said that she felt like she couldn’t stand idly by any more and read story-after-story about how people are brazenly walking into the yards of private citizens like there are no repercussions because for the most part, she said, there aren’t. 

So on Monday afternoon Larock drove to the corner of the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream store in the Wal-Mart parking lot where she found a young woman who was panhandling with her young kids, and told her that she was there to keep her company during her adventures.

What transpired next verged on scary with a slight disregard for her own safety, but Larock was steadfast. 

“I told her that I was there to keep her company, and she told me that she didn’t want any, to which I replied that it was obvious that the kids baking in the heat do – especially the one in the stroller. I said, ‘look – one of us is going to leave.’ And there were a few choice words thrown my way and some people stopped to stare but that’s exactly what happened – she left. 

“There was a lady that jumped out of her car and screamed, ‘more power to you. It’s time we as citizens take the streets back.”

Taking a stab at non-violent vigilantism is not what the Manteca Police Department would advocate when it comes to figuring out how to cooexist in a community that has begun to mirror some of the big city problems that were typically only found elsewhere. Manteca’s relative affluence and laidback demeanor has made it a target for vagrants searching for a quick score, and seeing that rise has people like Larock worried.

It wasn’t, however, until she opened the paper and read a story about how a homeless man walked around the side gate to longtime civic leader Jack Snyder’s house, disconnected the water hose from the outdoor swamp cooler, and took an impromptu shower and using Synder’s California flag as a towel. 

“I think it’s been building for a while and that was it – Jack was a good friend, and he didn’t deserve to be treated that way. He’s not a young man anymore,” she said. “He’s given a lot to this city and this has gone on long enough. What is wrong with a police chief that says I won’t go on private property to protect that private property?

“Do you think that Dave Bricker would have done that? It kind of leaves it up to the citizens to take the streets back.”

She also says she’s been warned by other civic leaders that know how dangerous the precarious situations that she’s interjecting herself into can actually become. 

Larock said that Mayor Willie Weatherford reminded her that it wasn’t smart, but she says she told him that she didn’t feel like there was anything else that she could do.

“I love our police department but I just feel like the leadership is letting us down,” she said. “We don’t need a police chief that will stand back and watch these men tear this community apart and destroy somebody’s home while talking about protecting their rights. 

“What about our rights?”