A homeless man as this is written is in serious condition.
What we know so far — beyond speculation — is general.
The homeless man was in the parking lot that serves the Manteca Food-4-Less and other nearby businesses.
Nothing unusual there.
It is so common, in fact, it is a rarity when you don’t encounter one while shopping there.
This time, the individual was being belligerent.
Others minding their own business felt threatened by his aggressive behavior..
A security guard becomes aware of the situation.
She approached the man and asked him to leave.
Witnesses say the man then shoved her.
It was clear he was being aggressive.
And it was also clear she was in physical danger just because she was simply trying to keep the peace.
The security guard used a Taser-like device in a bid to incapacitate the man.
The man fell backwards, striking his head on the pavement.
Belligerent people — a.k.a. homeless individuals with severe mental issues or addiction issues — are a problem in Manteca as well as any other community entangled in the web woven by mental health laws, court rulings, and the homeless.
How often antagonistic behavior on the part of homeless people occurs in Manteca is only an educated guess. But if you judge by the calls Manteca Police get it may not be a daily occurrence but it happens a lot.
*Someone walking down the street yelling, acting in an aggressive manner, and dropping the f-bomb with every other word.
*Someone that appears to be having an episode of some sort in front of a store, along the street, or in another public space compete with sudden movements and seemingly talking as if they are possessed.
*Someone stomping around other people — either in cars or walking — making threatening pronouncements coupled with threatening movements.
You get the picture.
None of what was listed is a hard-core crime as most of us would define it.
To be clear, usually someone isn’t touched per se but it happens.
I can attest to that.
I’ve been intentionally shouldered twice by the same homeless individual.
It happened when I was jogging on the sidewalk on North Main Street near Golden West School after dropping my car off for servicing at Manteca Ford.
The other time was on Yosemite Avenue in front of the ARCO station as I was jogging home from a group exercise class at InShape.
The first time it stunned me and I kept going
The second time I turned around given that I had ran out of room as I was at a red light at Main Street and Louise Avenue.
I saw that he had stopped perhaps 20 feet away.
He was standing there with his fists clinched and a grin on his face that would have made Jack Nicholson proud.
I was in no mood to get into an altercation.
At the same time, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea that the guy was giving off vibes that he was aggressive enough to attack me.
I happened to be wearing Bolle wraparound sunglasses — think Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator”.
In a split second, I decided my best move was to clinch my fists as well and put on the most menacing scowl face I could.
In a matter of seconds, he turned and continued on his way.
In retrospect, that may not have been a smart move.
I found out later in talking with a homeless person that he was a guy that other homeless individuals had nicknamed “Popeye”.
It was due to his stature, wiry frame, and the fact his jawline somewhat emulated the spinach craving cartoon character.
After both incidents played out, I never felt they rose to the point of requiring a police report. It was just two unfortunate moments with the bottom line that no harm was done.
It wasn’t until I happened to mention the encounter with the guy nicknamed “Popeye” with a police officer a few months after, and was told he was well aware of the guy, that I realized either encounter could have turned out differently.
For whatever reason, Manteca Police after years of trying were able to successfully get him off the street at some point without violating his rights.
I was told — surprise, surprise – that he had mental issues and that in his younger days he reportedly was an amateur fighter.
Knowing that, I wouldn’t have done anything different that morning back in 2019 on North Main Street.
I had no idea what was going on in his mind.
And I wanted to make it clear I wasn’t afraid of him, just like I have done on the three times I have had encounters up-close with black bears while hiking in the Sierra, as well as a fairly close encounter with a mountain lion while hiking with another in Death Valley.
Showing fear in such situations is not an option.
Nor is acting stupid and escalating the situation.
I’m not going to lie. If the North Main Street encounter had gone south, I would have ended up on the losing end just like if one of the bears had felt provoked. I believe what I did in each case was a measured response.
Since then I’ve encountered more than a few homeless people strung out, yelling at the top of their lungs, or walking around aggressively as I’ve gone in and out of stores — primarily convenience stores.
I always keep an eye on them. I always stay on guard. And — mainly because it us so common anymore — I act fairly nonchalant.
I also worry when there are others around — especially children — who may react in a frightened manner that provokes the antagonist to suddenly become aggressive.
If I perceived someone else to be in clear danger as in being attacked, I’d like to think I would react in the right way to de-escalate the situation.
It needs to said that virtually all physical attacks in Manteca committed by the homeless are against other homeless
But it does happen to people who are minding their business. Just ask Mayor Gary Singh, who a few years back took a bottle to the head outside his store that was wielded by a homeless person a few years back.
The attack left a mark on Sigh’s forehead.
Singh’s response to that moment has been measured — and responsible — by anyone’s standard.
Realizing the bind the city is in with court rulings and the laws and that the homeless are degrading the quality of life and public safety in Manteca, he pushed hard to secure a $15 million state grant that is allowing the city to build a homeless navigation center to accelerate efforts to work to get the homeless off the streets including those with mental issues.
It stands as the best and most promising course of action given the legal straightjacket cities have been put in and the need to respect rights.
Keep in mind rights aren’t absolute.
They are a balancing act.
They always have been.
And for the sake of this nation’s future, they always need to be.
The homeless don’t have the right to roam Manteca when their behavior is elevated to nothing short of being a street terrorist.
In the case of the security officer, from everything we know, she acted in the right way.
A civilized society needs to retain some level of decorum to avoid a collapse into chaos. And that includes people not being allowed to roam parking lots aggressively intimidating people whether they have all of their faculties or not.
There may be some who believe the fact she asked the homeless man to leave was a provocation.
But if we’ve come to that line of reasoning, then it’s time to call it quits on civilization, pack it all up and retreat to the caves.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com