Home > Personal > Ottawa Citizens to the Rescue: Yes, I said “Ottawa”

Ottawa Citizens to the Rescue: Yes, I said “Ottawa”

16-Sep-07 09:27 pm EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

I complain about this city a lot.  A lot more than even many fellow citizens; and this is a city with a lot of people complaining about it already.  There’s good reason to, although my complaints with it stem from a surprising, almost apartheid-like segregation of anglophones and francophones (thanks in part to the geography of the Outaouais), city politics that are, at best, bizarre and being Canada’s federal capital, federal politics that are, at worst, pathetic.  But humanity and good Samaritans suddenly appeared out of nowhere when an old man was suddenly accosted with a flurry of rude insults and spitting in food he was carrying by another random, middle-aged hoodlum, probably "of no fixed address" – meaning the Shepherd’s of Good Hope shelter less than a block away.  It was a scene that greeted me as I biked home from shopping in Ottawa’s Byward Market near where I live this afternoon.

At the corner of Cumberland and Clarence Streets shortly before 2:16 p.m (when my cell phone indicates the ‘911’ call was made) I arrived to see the initial altercation, quickly turn violent when another man got out of his yellow hatch back, seeing the incident with the 1st elderly man got out of his car to intervene.  This resulted in the assailant turning violent suddenly, stricking the man from the car 3 or 4 times about the head.  As he fell to the ground 8 or 9 passers by (myself included) came from all over the busy intersection to pull the homeless man off the guy from the car.  During the effort of separating the two men, I decided it would be best I call ‘911’ and I ended up giving a play-by-play to the operator, who’d eventually suggested (wisely) that I put a little distance between myself and the homeless man.

Those who remained to help the victim of the assault had to be pretty brave.  The homeless guy was appearing extremely irrational – literally frothing at the mouth mad, and sounding both puzzled and upset that so many people were taking issue with his assault of the guy from the car.  He seemed to be asking why he should stop when the other guy hit him first (which isn’t want happened), and generally confused.  It seemed likely he was on drugs – perhaps a methamphetamine induced rage….tough to tell.

Regardless, within 2 or 3 minutes, police were on the scene and within 5 minutes 3 OPD units were present taking statements from the crowd, and arresting the homeless man turned assault suspect.

Quite an exciting afternoon.

What surprised me was my own response in a way.  10 or more years ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to treat the homeless man to a round or two about the face from my own fists to gentle him down some.  Not because I’m a violent fellow, but because I believe in justice and minimizing harm – actively.  At the moment, I’m not in any physical shape to conduct myself that way with any probability it would turn out well, and I found myself hesitating for a few seconds to take in the scene before deciding the best course when, again, earlier in life the pause to consider my action would have been much shorter.

I guess I’m getting older…and maybe wiser, or more cautious anyway.

A policeman took my statement today and advised there was a small probability I may be queried further about my testimony and statement.

Categories: Personal
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