One recent afternoon, while walking along 400 South in front of the City-County Building, I was approached by a man wearing dirty clothes and an angry drunken demeanor. Being a recent transplant from Atlanta, I didn't consider him unusual. He asked me for money. He didn't know that I almost always carry change in my purse for such an occasion but unfortunately, this time, I had none. He also didn't know that I volunteer my time at homeless shelters. He only knew that he wanted money, and I appeared to have it. When I told him I couldn't help him, he got mad, yelled at me, grabbed me forcefully and luckily for me, he turned and stormed away.
This random act of violence left me shaken. I looked for a police officer, thinking I was in the vicinity for one to be near. I immediately walked to the courthouse to ask for help catching him before he left the park. To my surprise, the officer I spoke to handed me the phone and told me to call the city police department. He said he worked for the county sheriff and there was nothing he could do. And then he said "it happens all the time." I then watched from the courthouse window as the man walked through the park and away from being responsible for his actions.I am writing you in hopes that the end result will be public awareness of the danger that is right outside the "halls of justice." It seems so odd to me that an immediate response was so close yet unattainable. My unsettling experience was mild but extremely frustrating and if left unnoticed, I fear something far worse could happen to someone else.
Holly M. Harris
Salt Lake City