Battered Neighborhood Syndrome Using intimidation and violence, a homeless drunk named Red rules the streets of Brookland. After 15 years, his neighbors have given up hope of ending his reign of madness.

Last Christmas Eve, Red was raging drunk by 4 in the afternoon. He blocked the entrance of the CVS drugstore at 12th and Newton Streets NE, cursing and threatening any customer who dared enter the store.

“Bitch, give me a quarter or I’ll get you!” he screamed, stepping within a foot-and-a-half of a plainly intimidated middle-aged woman. She dropped her purse as she tried to maneuver a baby stroller through the glass doors fast enough to prevent Red from getting any closer. “Bitch, give me a quarter now!” he bellowed as she attained the safety of the store. In the seconds it took for the door to close behind her, a quarter-stanza of “Jingle Bells” mingled with his curses and wafted out into the night.

It wasn’t surprising to find Red drunk on Christmas Eve. For at least a decade and a half, Red (real name: Robert Parrish) has been getting drunk on 12th Street NE nearly every day the liquor stores are open. He flies below the radar of law enforcement, regularly disrupting traffic, vandalizing property, terrifying children, stealing from 12th Street merchants, and when he’s in a really bad way, menacing people with fists and knives.

His complexion used to be what black folks called “mariney,” but now Red’s face is almost the color of his nickname. When he’s on the bottle, he looks like about 160 pounds of strong, nasty drunk. Red can be charming and even helpful if he isn’t lit up, but those times are few and far between. Most of the time Red can be found charging up and down 12th Street in the Brookland neighborhood, sometimes striding down the middle of the road, acting the fool and raging against everyone in sight.

Red has been arrested at least 35 times since 1980. He remains at large because the cops assigned to that sector of 12th Street don’t really know what to do with him: His MO—drunk and crazy—has tied the criminal justice system into an endless loop of impotence. There are people like Red in nearly every neighborhood in D.C., but few display his durability and disruptive power. Sensing that the police cannot or will not protect them, 12th Street merchants and residents have made self-defeating accommodations to Red. Neighbors have stuck their fingers in their ears and hoped he would go away. He hasn’t. Red has been a feature of the social fabric of Brookland for more than 15 years, and his campaign of neighborhood mayhem shows no sign of abating. Part of the problem is definition: Red lives in the cracks between criminality and craziness.

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Red may be homeless and broke, but in ecological terms he’s found a habitat that provides him with everything he needs to thrive. He faces few effective predators, and there are wooded areas to sleep in and lots of public spaces where he can beg and hang out. By using just the right amount of intimidation, Red has structured an environment where he can enjoy the company of other drunks and procure a constant supply of food, cash, and alcohol.

When he’s in the mood, Red pretty much runs the show in Brookland.

Red’s lawless presence has a profound effect on the entire neighborhood. People who live there know his habits and curve their lives around him so they don’t end up encountering him. Merchants have learned that they have to play defense against Red if they want stay in business.

The merchants find themselves victims of a narrow vision of crime. If Red was in the habit of holding them up with a gun, he’d be gone. But every year, Red indirectly steals thousands from the merchants through lost sales. Red is like a man who batters his wife occasionally: If he doesn’t hurt her too badly any one time, he can get away with it forever.

Not surprisingly, many of the merchants’ responses to Red closely mimic the tactics used by women trying to cope with a violent drunken husband—try to anticipate his mood swings, be nice when you can, and hope he’s not in a bad mood. And although Red may be crazy, he obviously knows Brookland can’t do much about him.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on 12th Street to find out that Red is a major stress for businesspeople. Ms. Zandra Henderson is the manager of the Citibank branch on 12th Street. A customer came into the bank sometime back and told her there was a naked man behind the bank. “When I went out to see what was going on, it was Red, totally drunk and completely nude, taking a bath with our hose,” Henderson says bitterly. “I signed up to manage a bank, not be a cop.”

Donna Sanders works at the Michigan Park Cleaners on 12th. She says Red is capable of a lot worse than drunken foolishness, recalling that several years ago he walked into the store drunk and suddenly hit her from behind.

“When I turned around and saw that it was him, I just ironed him like he was a pair of pants,” she says. “I burned him with the iron and he went screaming out of the store.”

Red has also attacked other people. Alfred Buckley, who operates the Brookland Senior Day Care Center, is a trim, solidly built man with a no-nonsense attitude. Back when the center’s building was the Brookland Co-Op, Red and the drunks he hangs with set up lawn chairs and drank in the parking lot. When Buckley took over the property, he fenced in his parking area. Red responded by throwing junk over the fence at night, according to Buckley.

On Sept. 26, 1994, Buckley found Red drying his clothes on the fence. When Buckley told him to take them down, he says Red attacked him with a tree branch. Buckley pulled the branch out of Red’s hands and threw it away. “I wasn’t looking for a confrontation,” he explains, “but then Red came at me with a knife. As he tried to cut me, he just barely grazed my arm and I knocked the knife out of his hand and called the police.”

The cops took Red downtown, but he was out by that afternoon. He only served 90 days in connection with the attack, and that sentence was meted out for jumping bail and missing his trial—he was punished for his crime against the court system, not against Buckley and the neighborhood.

Red’s perennial ability to create chaos has neighbors doubting whether anybody can do anything about him. Bill Johnson is an older entrepreneur who formerly served as the president of the Ward 5 Businessmen’s Association. He and his wife own the 3610 Boutique and several other businesses across the street from the CVS. He says that Red has been hammering on the quality of life in Brookland for 15 years.

“One day I looked out of the window and here was Red tearing up some flower beds, just ripping the plants right out,” Johnson declared. “But the police don’t do anything, and I didn’t think it was worth fighting over. I can’t go out there and confront a man like that empty-handed. And if I do have to defend myself, I’m the person likely to wind up getting in trouble.”

He’s right. Former Brookland resident Deborah Steinbach found out the hard way that defending yourself against Red can have unforeseen consequences.

Steinbach’s problems with Red go back to last summer, when she and her roommate, Graciela Berkovich, were renting a pleasant single-family house at the corner of 12th and Randolph. Steinbach is a graduate student at New York University who was working on a doctoral thesis on the history of women in sports. Both she and Berkovich were working at the National Museum of American History. Their landlords, historian Barbara Smith and her husband, Dan Bluestone, who now live in Virginia, for several years rented the house to a series of Smithsonian fellows and interns attracted to its convenient location near the Brookland Metro.

Bluestone knew Red when he lived in the neighborhood. Years ago, Bluestone was working on some repairs around the house and Red literally took a circular saw out of his hands, saying, “Let me show you the right way to do it,” and skillfully finished the job of building the wood stairs leading up to the porch. After that, Bluestone and his wife tolerated Red and his friends’ drinking on a corner of their property.

But when Steinbach moved in, she brought her 6-month-old German shepherd puppy, Roxy. The dog began to bark whenever Red came into the yard and Red became obsessed with the noisy puppy and its owner. Steinbach says that throughout the summer of 1995 Red would stalk her whenever she walked Roxy through the neighborhood. And because Red’s prime territory was just yards from her home, she encountered him almost every day.

“I was really scared. Everywhere I would go, he would be following me and threatening to kill me,” Steinbach says.

Things escalated last Oct. 4 while Steinbach was at home writing in a back room. Because the weather was hot, she had left the front door open with the screen door locked.

“Roxy was inside and began barking frantically. When I came out I saw that Red had come onto the porch and had ripped a hole through the screen door. He was totally drunk and raging that he was going to kill me and my dog,” Steinbach says.

“Then he threw a rock into the house and I screamed that I was calling the police. Then he went off the porch to look for something else to throw.” Steinbach says that she locked the front door, dialed 911, and told the dispatcher that Red was trying to break in. The police never responded. Perhaps a half-hour later, Red came back into the yard, and Steinbach called the police again, but once again they ignored her call.

Steinbach’s roommate knew about the confrontation, so when she came home the next night expecting to find Steinbach and found herself locked out, Berkovich was worried. She knocked and knocked, but the dog didn’t bark and Steinbach didn’t answer.

After a long wait, Berkovich walked over to a friend’s place, left messages for her roommate and spent the night. In the morning she got a locksmith to let her into the house. The lights were on and Steinbach’s books were open. Roxy was gone, but Steinbach’s pickup was still in the driveway. It was clear to Berkovich that Steinbach had gone out to walk the dog and not come back.

Berkovich decided to file a missing-person report. She says that when she arrived at 5th District headquarters on Bladensburg Road NE, she told the officer at the desk that she thought Steinbach had had an incident with Red. The cop began to laugh. “Red?” he said. “We arrest him almost every week. In fact, we’ve got him here now.” The officer told her Red’s real name was Robert Parrish and that he had been a problem for years. The police didn’t give Berkovich any information about what might have happened to Steinbach.

Fearing that Steinbach had been assaulted by Red or someone else, Steinbach’s friends called local hospitals, but they couldn’t find her. In desperation they called the Humane Society to look for her dog and learned that Roxy had been impounded after the police had put Steinbach in jail.

After Steinbach was released that afternoon, she said she had ended up in jail after trying to defend herself against Red. The incident had begun when Roxy was tethered out in the front yard. While Steinbach was working in a back room, she heard Roxy begin to cry and howl. She came into the yard and says she saw Red beating the puppy with a metal pole. When Steinbach ran out to save her dog, Red began swinging at her, but one of Red’s drinking buddies disarmed him and told him to leave before the cops came.

Steinbach says she called the police, but they failed to respond. About an hour later, Red came back into the yard. Steinbach called 911 again, and says Officer Nelson Brockenborough took 50 minutes to respond. Red was long gone. Steinbach says the cop seemed very reluctant to take a report until Donna Sanders and two other women from the dry cleaner’s told him that they had seen Red torture the puppy for no reason. The officer told Steinbach he would put out a warrant for Red’s arrest and that the police would probably pick him up the next day. He added that he didn’t think it would make much difference.

Steinbach took Roxy out for a walk later that day. She looked out on 12th Street to make sure Red wasn’t around. According to several witnesses, she went to the corner of Quincy and crossed 12th, heading west toward Catholic University, when suddenly Red appeared. He was standing next to a bus shelter that sported a large poster that had blocked Steinbach’s view. “As soon as I crossed the street, I heard Red cursing at me,” she recalls. “Roxy was just going wild barking at him, and he was threatening to kill me.”

Steinbach says that she screamed for him to leave her alone and that he then started to look around on the ground. Terrified that he was looking for a stick or a bottle, she pulled out a canister of mace she had on her key chain and sprayed him in the face. He started screaming and fell to the ground. Instantly, a police officer ran up to the scene—Officer Caroline Kelly, who regularly patrols 12th Street, had been standing several yards away in a doorway. Kelly asked Steinbach what had happened. When Steinbach tried to explain that Red was going to attack her, Kelly asked why she didn’t ask for help before she maced him. Steinbach replied that she had been surprised by Red and that she hadn’t known Kelly was there.

Kelly called the paramedics to wash out Red’s eyes and interviewed two of Red’s friends, who told her that the day before, Steinbach’s dog had run out of the yard and bitten Red without any provocation. Kelly impounded the dog and placed Steinbach under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon, a felony. Though pepper spray is legal in D.C., only police officers can defend themselves with genuine mace, which is what Steinbach used.

Steinbach couldn’t believe she was the one being taken into custody and told Kelly that there was a warrant out for Red’s arrest. Kelly confirmed the warrant, but instead of releasing Steinbach, she arrested Red as well. After spending the night in jail, Steinbach was released with a warning to stay away from Red.

The situation became more surreal when Steinbach tried to reclaim her dog. The Humane Society would not release Roxy because Kelly’s police report described Roxy as a dangerous animal that was out of control. A Humane Society cruelty investigator interviewed Donna Sanders along with the other witnesses, and they said Red had attacked the dog and not the other way around. But the Humane Society then decided not to release the dog because it determined that Roxy was now in danger from Red. Steinbach was told her dog would not be released until she could prove that she was moving someplace where Roxy would be safe. A lot more energy seemed to be going into making sure the dog would be safe than to ensure that Steinbach would not be in danger. Steinbach and Berkovich quickly moved out of the house, which was empty for months. Now Red is free to drink in the yard whenever he damn pleases.

Red is allowed to perpetrate in part because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the urban bogeyman. Even though he is dangerous, he is outside the system’s definition of a threat, which is a young black man with a gun. Because he’s almost 60 years old, Red gets away with behavior that would seem much more threatening in a younger person; if a 25-year-old black man had been found naked behind Citibank, he would have been immediately jailed or committed to

St. Elizabeths.

Red’s alcoholism also gives him status as a victim, and the District is so rife with drug problems that people are generally sympathetic to the problems of addiction. Since Red’s primary drug is alcohol rather than crack, and his preferred weapon is a knife rather than gun, the police lack the leverage to charge him with possession and hit him with a stiff mandatory minimum.

The American legal system responds best to economically motivated crimes such as robbing and selling drugs; Red represents psychologically motivated violence and disorder. Robbing and drugging are presumed to undermine the whole society, while Red’s crimes seem, on the surface, to be less corrosive. But the economic view of crime misses the truth about how violence really operates in society: Americans stand a much better chance of being victims of interpersonal violence, such as shootings over traffic accidents, spouse abuse, or getting cut by some neighborhood crazy.

Brookland’s relationship with Red is further complicated by questions of race and class. Years ago, most communities had better tools for dealing with guys like Red. Prior to World War II, it would have been hard to imagine a known drunk getting away with terrorizing a neighborhood for more than a decade. White cops might not have cared if he disrupted a black neighborhood, but if he was ripping up the flower beds, a solid citizen like Johnson probably could have chased him off with a walking stick without worrying about winding up in court.

Loitering, public drunkenness, and vagrancy were illegal, and cops cleared the streets of “undesirables” pretty much at will. But enforcement patterns were so racist—loitering laws gave white cops the authority to arrest black people for just standing around—that the laws were legitimately assailed as oppressive. When African-Americans gained political power in D.C. in the 1960s, they successfully rubbed out the laws that had been used as tools of subjugation.

What’s more, blacks and liberals fought to reform bail laws that imprisoned the poor but let the wealthy go free. The reform effort was particularly effective in the District, where virtually any suspect—even the most violent repeat offender—has the right to be released on bail while awaiting trial.

These “reforms” have proved to be a double-edged sword to the residents of D.C. The same changes that make it harder for racist cops to harass honest black citizens have also made it harder for neighborhoods to rid themselves of problems like Red.

Brookland and the District might want to peek over the shoulder of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who declared a much publicized war on the city’s ubiquitous squeegee-wielding panhandlers. As soon as he took office, Giuliani attacked “quality of life crimes” in the belief that if you restore a feeling of order, there will be less chaos to hide real perpetrators. New York cops busted a lot of guys for drinking beer or beating subway fares, and many neighborhoods subsequently saw dramatic declines in violence.

Putting Red away would be tough, but not impossible. You don’t find well-known guys like Red roaming around Georgetown. There are specific reasons he’s loose in Brookland.

But the problem isn’t poverty. Brookland may not be flush, but it is a stable and integrated neighborhood of single-family homes and small apartment buildings buttressed by Catholic University, Providence Hospital, and Howard Divinity School. Some of Washington’s foremost local businesses, like Riggs Bank, CVS, and Murray’s Steaks, have a presence on 12th Street.

The problem isn’t expertise. Brookland has several institutions that manage people with psychiatric and behavioral problems. Five days a week, dozens of patients peacefully come and go at the Anchor Mental Health Services Workshop for recovering alcoholics and people with serious mental disabilities.

And the problem isn’t drugs. The community has had some success in fighting drug-related crime. For several years an orange-hat patrol took on a crack house at the corner of 12th and Hamlin. With the cooperation of the police, the neighbors battled the dealers to a standstill. A few young men seem to be doing business, but the lines of customers buying from their cars is a thing of the past. A few blocks north on 12th Street, the community fought dealers by successfully pressuring the phone company to block incoming calls to public phones. Brookland can organize to solve some problems, but the community has a unique ambivalence toward Red that has allowed him to carry on.

The Brookland community is conflicted about coming down on Red the criminal because he is also Red the poor homeless man. As a liberal city with a black majority, Washington is already skeptical about the use of police power to achieve social quiescence. As a community, Brookland is even more uncertain about using the police against the homeless. Many of the neighbors, black and white, work for nonprofit organizations, support liberal causes, and consider themselves urban environmentalists who prefer cities to suburbs. Brookland is also permeated with more than a dozen Catholic institutions, which have a history of tolerance and support for the homeless. These social, political, and religious beliefs help explain why Brookland has raised little opposition to accepting new treatment facilities. It is a self-consciously socially conscious place.

And Red himself complicates the picture further. Unlike his friends, Red will sometimes pitch in and work. “During the last snowstorm, Red stole a snow shovel and cleared off the entire sidewalk,” says Citibank’s Henderson. “I didn’t ask him or want him to do it, but I did give him a few dollars.”

Jim Podoley owns the State Farm Insurance office at 3818 12th St., where Red goes all the time. Podoley knows Red’s alcoholism is out of control, but he still likes to treat him as a human being. “When there are no customers, we’ll let him come in to talk to us,” Podoley explains. “We often give him clothes, or a bar of soap so he can get cleaned up.” But the humane gesture of giving Red soap might be one of the reasons Henderson was forced to confront a naked alcoholic bathing behind her bank. If you feed the bears, they come back.

“Red can suddenly change,” says Marilyn Beckwith, who also works at State Farm. “One day I asked him to leave and he told me, ‘Don’t speak to me like that. I can have you killed. I can have this place burned down, I can have this window smashed out.’ A few days later he came in with two cans of salmon and very nicely asked if I would cook them for him, and I did.”

Red can be endearing. He has an affecting vocal delivery, and his rantings come off as the urban equivalent of the medieval “holy fool.” For example, when someone asked him why he eats trees, he said, “Why pay for drugs when nature provides the best medicines for free?”

The urban context in which Red exists makes him appear much less menacing than he really is. Given the escalating level of violence in the District, a white graduate student freaking out because an old black drunk is hassling her dog doesn’t really sound like a major police matter. But Red has a capacity for escalation that the people in the neighborhood have come to fear, if not respect.

Chris Niosi, who owns the Viareggio Deli on 12th, says that last summer he saw Red with seven heads of lettuce and a large butcher’s knife that was probably stolen from one of the other restaurants. But when Niosi told the police, he says they laughed and said, “Oh, that’s just Red.” “My God,” says Niosi. “What do we have to do? Wait until he’s actually killed somebody?”

Some neighbors believe that when the cops respond to calls about Red, they make a big show of handcuffing him and putting him in the back seat of the police car, only to let him go a few blocks away.

Asked why the police often don’t charge Red for his capers, one cop replied, “It doesn’t do any good. We’ve locked him up dozens of times, but the people downtown in the U.S. Attorney’s office refuse to press charges.”

Red’s immunity to severe legal consequences has the neighborhood suspicious that there are forces at work it cannot see.

“There has to be some reason that they continue to coddle this man.” says Bob Artisst, a former ANC commissioner who is the president of the Brookland Civic Association. “It seems that many of them are trying to do as little as possible, like they’re avoiding him because they don’t want to be bothered with the paperwork.”

Officer Haydee Carter, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department, says the police in the neighborhood are as powerless as the residents.

“I know how the [cops] in 5D feel. They do their job, but the judges and the U.S. Attorney waste their efforts by turning these guys loose. Once we make an arrest, it’s out of our hands,” Carter says.

Some neighbors suggest that the cops have a financial incentive to allow crime to fester, because it will increase demand for their services as private security officers. But it’s more likely the police share the neighborhood’s ambivalence toward Red. Washington was the first city to have a police department that was more than 50 percent black, and the current force would like to think that it can keep the streets safe without cracking the head of every wino in town. And in the eyes of the average District cop, black neighborhoods are so overwhelmed by gunplay that a drunk like Red seems like comic relief. Which he may be—unless, of course, he’s happening to you.

Throwing out a case against Red may be the U.S. Attorney’s way of expressing moral priorities. Should the authorities really devote resources to prosecuting Red for pissing on Murray Steaks’ air conditioner when it takes months to try a guy for rape? The answer might be yes. Letting Red expose himself whenever he wants makes a lot of people feel they’re being raped a little bit every day.

Niosi has both a house and a businesses in the area. He resents what he sees as a double standard: Police will neither protect him nor allow him to protect himself.

“People like you and me, who go to work every day, would never be allowed to get away with doing what Red does,” he complains. The Steinbach case bears him out. Dozens of charges against Red have never been pursued, but the U.S. Attorney’s office thought it important to prosecute a graduate student with no police record for aggressively defending herself. When Steinbach’s court appearance came, the judge threw out the charges because Red failed to show up.

If the community, cops, and prosecutors chose to focus on getting Red off 12th Street, they could probably get him committed to St. Elizabeths or get him jailed for bail or parole violations. The Rev. John Kuhn, who lives in the neighborhood and manages the Anchor Workshop, suggests that “if he’s disrupting traffic or assaulting people, the police have clear grounds to arrest him and take him to St. Elizabeths, because he’s a danger to himself or someone else.”

Kuhn believes that the police should petition the D.C. Commissioner of Mental Health Services to have Red committed for detoxification. But for that to have a chance of succeeding there would have to be a spot in a treatment facility waiting for him as soon as he left the hospital, so the effort would require careful coordination between the police and the mental health system.

Dr. Martin Jones, an admitting psychiatrist at D.C. General and St. Elizabeths, says having an alcoholic committed isn’t as simple as it sounds.

“Someone may come in raving but be OK six or eight hours later, when their blood-alcohol level falls. So we let them out,” he says. Jones believes people like Red are bound to fall through the cracks of a system stressed beyond viability. “We don’t have a lot of room. There are violent patients who come in saying they want to kill someone right now, and we give them priority.’’

Every once in a while, Red gets so out of hand that he ends up in the criminal justice system. In the middle of February, Red was reportedly picked up for assaulting another homeless man with a knife and released two days later. After that he vanished for six weeks, leaving the streets of Brookland blessedly calm. But on Easter Sunday, he made an almost biblical appearance in the middle of 12th Street, full-blown drunk and raving. Three police officers who regularly patrol 12th Street, Charles Robinson, Carlton James, and Richard Skirchalk, all say Red was behind bars while he was away from the neighborhood, but nobody at Lorton or the D.C. Jail could confirm that he was in custody.

For some time a homeless advocacy group has run Metrobus ads proclaiming, “The homeless are not faceless.” The layout features clear images of poor people staring directly into your face. The ads are aimed at people who prefer that the homeless remain anonymous, stripped of any biographical details that would anchor their humanity to a personal history. Red is the opposite. He has become mythologized. People have come up with a variety of legends about his past, perhaps in an effort to understand how a homeless drunk has attained the power to take over a neighborhood. The 12th Street merchants spend a lot of time discussing Red’s legend.

“Red grew up in Virginia,” says Beckwith. “He has five children and was a Virginia state trooper before he started drinking.” Dr. Cheryl Lee, whose dentist office is directly across from State Farm adds another detail to the story: “His drinking began to get out of control after he shot and killed a man in the line of duty.”

Several 12th Street sports fans report that Red has an amazing memory for baseball statistics—this attribute has also been incorporated into neighborhood folklore. “Robert’s nickname, ‘Red,’ comes from the Cincinnati Reds,” explains Greg, one of Red’s drinking buddies. “Before he became a cop, Red played minor-league baseball for Cincinnati. Red was an athlete—that’s why he looks so strong.”

Communities invent myths as a way to make sense out of a situation like Red’s. The neighbors see that the normal rules don’t apply to him and that he continues to get away with intolerable behavior. Their explanation is that there must be something special about him—that he must be a brilliant guy who was a cop and a professional athlete before he started drinking.

Wrong. Red’s mother, formerly Mrs. Ethel May Parrish of Chase City, Va., tells a very different story. According to her, Red was never a police officer of any kind. She also says that he may have played organized ball but that he never made it anywhere near the Cincinnati Reds. Parrish says Red was a very skilled carpenter and had a brother who was a brickmason—together they built her a house from the ground up. “But,” she explains, “both he and his brother have ruined their lives with that drinking. Red moved to Washington after his wife divorced him because she just couldn’t take it anymore.”

Red’s mother has a much less romantic assessment of him than many people in the neighborhood. “I know Red is very sick, but when they pick him they never hold him long enough for him to get any help. They just let him back out. I pray to God for him and I cry over him almost every day,” she says. “I’m so afraid that he’s somewhere freezing to death.”

She will be relieved to hear that last week Red was alive and well, running his game and his mouth up and down 12th Street. When I asked him how he was doing recently, he said, “Oh, I’m troubled, youngster,” and took a long pull of a bottle of malt liquor. “I may be drunk, but I’m not a robber.”

Red may think he’s not a robber, but the people of Brookland know he’s stealing their quality of life and ripping off their peace of mind. Convinced that no justice or protection is in sight, many basically good-hearted people in the neighborhood are hoping he dies before he kills someone. CP

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Darrow Montgomery.

Our Readers Say

MY NAME IS LAAVERNE I AM ROBERTS OLDEST DAUGHTER HE HAS THREE GRANDCHILDREN AND SEVEN GREATGRANDS HERE IN NJ.POP IS DOING WELL THANK GOD!AFTER SO MANY ATEMPTS IN THE PAST IT FINIALLY WORKED.I BROUGHT HIM HERE AGAIN TO LIVE WITH MY HUSBAND AND MYSELF.BUT HE LEFT AGAIN AFTER ABOUT TWO MONTHS,HE WENT BACK TO HIS OLD STOMPING GROUNDS,HOME,HE HAD TO CHECK INTO A REHAB HE WAS THERE ABOUT TWO YEARS.HE COMPLETED IT SUCESSFULLY,HE HAS HAD HIS OWN PLACE,PAYING HIS OWN BILLS,AND TENDING TO HIS GARDEN. HE IS LIVING HIS LIFE AS A REGULAR MODEL CITIZEN.CAN YOU PICTURE THAT! I CAN BECAUSE MY GOD CAN DO ALL THINGS BUT FAIL! NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR LOVED ONE.I WENT TO SEE HIM ON LAST WEEKEND 8-21-11 HE IS DOING WELL.STILL TALKING TRASH,BUT I LOVE MY DAD, LAVERNE
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Laverne, I'm so glad to hear about your father. I'm 39 and grew up in Brookland. I remember your father as do my brothers and all the friends I grew up with. He never seemed like much of a threat to us although most of us had quite a different type of upbringing compared to the folks who came into the neighborhood to study. Not that aggressive behavior is ok, but we had a different take on Mr. Red. He called all of us Gangbusters, and told us to stay in school, then he would ask for change for a drink! He always asked about my brother after he went away to college, I think my brother finance a few drinks for Mr, Red, LOL I for one will spread the good news about Mr. Red being on a good path. Reading your update made me smile from my heart. I will never forget his rough and sometimes for some pushy exterior, but I never found him to be simply put, unkind.

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