Homeless residents harassed by former addict(s)
There is a theory in the recovery community which suggests when a person begins to use drugs or alcohol his or her emotional maturation stops. They remain at that same emotional age until they stop using. What this means is if a teenager begins to abuse drugs at the age of 17 and quits ten years later the therapist who works with him/her will be dealing with someone with the emotional maturity of a 17 year old even though the chronological age is 27.
Unless and until a chronic user gets into and does the internal work required in recovery, such as the famous 12 step program, they will ever remain the same emotional age. At least that is the theory.
This may explain why some of the members of a nascent group calling themselves “Our Town” reportedly harass homeless residents whom they perceive are using drugs.
Allegedly, some of the “leaders” of Our Town are themselves former users who presumably are now clean and want to vilify others who still use drugs.
According to statements made by some of the homeless residents Our Town leader, Adam Chamberlin has a habit of harassing homeless people even up to the point of accelerating toward them in his truck and swerving at the last minute. Police are currently investigating a complaint he sprayed pepper spray into a car hitting the family including a man, woman and a six year old child. Victims say he followed them for a while in traffic, when they stopped to visit a friend Chamberlin lay in wait. When they left the friends house he drove up to their open window and sprayed into their car–hitting everyone in the car with pepper spray.
According to reports Chamberlin has a rap-sheet in at least three states including North Carolina, Florida and Washington. Charges include Use/Deliver Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Dangerous Weapon, Harassment, Malicious Mischief(2 charges), Residential Burglary (multiple charges), Simple Assault, (2 charges), Eluding Arrest (2 charges), DWI, Reckless Driving to Endanger, and Disorderly Conduct. Sound familiar?
Our Town has a facebook page where they post photographs of homeless people and call the police whenever they photograph someone whom they think may have warrants out. Chamberlin once operated a website called “Mugshots” running photos of people with whom he had some beef. Recently Our Town posted a message to one particular woman saying, “I am going to ruin you.” Their facebook account is closed to the public. Facebook allegedly took down Chamberlin’s first website labeling it a “hate site.”
Another ploy allegedly employed by Our Town is to raid the urban campsites along the creeks, steal the blankets of the homeless, wash them and give them to another organization. Sometimes they pretend to provide blankets to homeless individuals while others photograph the uninitiated who come to get clean blankets. They then post these photographs onto their facebook page.
Our Town operatives took photos of Port O Call interviewing homeless individuals and posted them on their facebook page.
When Port O Call interviewed Chamberlin outside the recent meeting at the Vern Burton Center Port O Call asked Chamberlin if he had indeed pepper-sprayed the family. Before he could answer, the founder of Our Town, Chelsea Ward, a police volunteer, stepped up and stated 3 times, “there’s no record of it, there’s no record of it, there’s no record of it.”
After interviewing a half dozen homeless residents with eerily similar stories about Chamberlin and a few other vigilantes harassing them, the stories add up including brandishing a pistol numerous times at a makeshift campsite inside city limits. Some say dogs were set upon them as they slept.
The pistol-brandishing incident is one of the few complaints made by the homeless that is actually getting a thorough investigation. Ward seemed pretty sure when she said “there’s no record” because there are very few comprehensive investigations being conducted to see if these vigilantes are victimizing homeless when they come into town for a meal at the Salvation Army or to fly a sign in town seeking donations.
According to one young women, the victim of the pepper-spray attack who stated the law enforcement officer initially refused to take her complaint because she had no telephone by which he could call her if he needed more information. On another occasion her phone was confiscated by police as “evidence.” It has since been returned.
Port O Call attempted to obtain a copy of Gilbert’s latest complaint and was refused as “active investigation.”
Jesse is another who lives outdoors. He too claims to have had a gun pointed at him and was ordered to “get out of town.” One of the stories that kept popping up within the stories of the interviewees was that of being threatened with vehicles attempting to run them over on the street.
Port O Call has in its possession a video showing a white, late-model SUV actually speeding toward the video maker and swerving only at the last second passing within inches and shouting profanities. There are stories of vehicles running up on the sidewalk to scare homeless people walking on the sidewalk.
All these stories could be taken with a grain of doubt except there is currently a months-old unsolved death where a homeless man was victim of a late night hit-and-run. Port Angeles police discovered the car and driver after a day or so and sat on the case for two months before referring it for prosecution.
As of this week the alleged hit-and-run driver is identified as J.P Smithson who was driving his parents car. It is believed Smithson struck Robert Edward Simmons, went home, washed the car, concealed it behind the garage until his parents discovered it. The parents questioned him about the damage and then called up Attorney Karen Unger who contacted police and offered to bring the driver in for questioning–in her presence.
Simmons, an unemployed pipe-fitter, died on the scene.
Another baffling matter: The woman who complained of being pepper-sprayed by Chamberlin, Darci Gilbert was one of the first upon the scene of the hit and run. She called 911, and stuck around until the ambulance arrived. This seems to be pure coincidence.
Self-described Viet Nam Veteran, Bill Hosel showed stitches in his hand where he said he had to ward off a knife attack by vigilantes. Hosel and his wife are living in an ancient RV in town and say their vehicle is constantly vandalized whenever they leave it unattended. Windows have been broken out of it and their personal possessions strewn about the street.
Teri says she has lived in Port Angeles all her adult life and has been employed, or run her own business, up until two years ago when she says she was robbed and carjacked in Port Angeles. She lost everything she had including money, identification and all her personal effects.
When the police found her stolen car they had it towed to an impound lot where the storage costs ballooned to a point where she could not afford to retrieve it. Since then it has been a struggle to get back on her feet, replace all the identification papers stolen and getting back into an apartment. She says she is, “constantly in crisis mode.”
One young man, a Port Angeles native who did not want his name used said he worked 5 years at Platypus Marine until he got into a fight with a fellow who had worked there longer than he. Because he was the least senior employee he was asked to leave. Since then he has been on the street and unable to find another job. He too has been victimized by vigilantes from Our Town.
Of the half-dozen interviewed so far by Port O Call all of them are Port Angeles natives having lived here for most of their adult lives. Most have had jobs that went away for one reason or another. None are choir boys and girls. Some use drugs. Heroin has become a nationwide epidemic. It is a treatable disease yet there’s no treatment available.
A lot of local residents are two missed paychecks away from being homeless.
Port O Call suggests there is a powder keg about to explode if the homeless are not protected and the vigilantes are not brought to heel.
Port O Call does not suggest all the members of Our Town are into this vigilante mode. Some came to the organization because they thought Our Town was all about helping the homeless instead of harassing them.
Port O Call published stories in support of Our Town in the early days of the organization.