When Arthur Carlson lost his job he never assumed he would be
living in a tent somewhere in the woods of Wilmington, homeless.
Perhaps too proud to take a handout from the many helpful agencies
in town, he took to fending for himself in a campsite adjoining
Wilmington’s exclusive Country Club and Golf Course.
Reacting to a call to remove Carlson and the others camping there,
Sheriff Sid Causey called the media to alert them of his response
to the complaint. Because Carlson was on County property the campsite
fell under Causey's jurisdiction and he wasn’t going to permit
these vagrants from camping there even though the property was not
posted against overnight trespassers.
The problem of homelessness is all too familiar with the residents
of just about any community south of the freezing northern part
of the Country. And yes many of these people have lengthy criminal
histories, mental illness, substance abuse issues and sorted pasts.
But also many of them are just down on their luck and need a break.
Perhaps Arthur Carlson is just one of those down on his luck souls
in need of a break.
But does this particular problem pose direct intervention by our
Sheriff? You would think that a man so busy trying to find and hire
staff for our overcrowded jail, or the man in charge of the plague
of illegal video poker speakeasies would have little time to walk
through the woods to roust a vagrant.
When neighboring County Sheriffs have recently posed for the media
of marijuana plants, seizing
over $700,000 worth of cocaine and $60,000 in cash in a small
rural farming town, at Congressmen’s sides to discuss the
problems of illegal
immigrants and standing beside Federal Prosecutors after a major
gang is arrested for trafficking in cocaine you would think
that the Sheriff of New Hanover County would have picked a bigger
issue than someone pitching a tent in the woods on the front nine
of the country club. That is unless he is raising funds for a re-election
Like so many politicians who are indebt to the wealthy campaign
contributors and react to whims of supposed community needs, Causey
has time and time again shown that he is little more than a lackey
to some of the area's big spenders, even protecting some of them
from news reports of their indiscretions of domestic violence and
other misdemeanor offenses. Rather than using his time to effectively
combat a surge of drug crime and the resulting crimes associated
with illegal drugs, Causey instead bullies his way into a campsite
of derelicts and not only that, but has the mistaken belief that
this ill-advised PR effort will prove that he is on the job.
Didn’t he assist his church in obtaining the old Law Enforcement
Center to turn it into a homeless shelter? You would think his compassion
for the homeless would have shamed him into going into the woods
and would instead have sent one of his deputies to do the dirty
work. The Star
News article reported that he offered the man some money, as
if he was extending some sort of compassion, but that is what he
is legally obligated to do. According to law when removing a vagrant
from unposted public property you are to offer shelter or aid to
the individual you are to evict and not threaten them with arrest.
Years ago the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back
was when then Sheriff Joe McQueen ordered Lt. Marc Benson to remove
a couple of homeless vagrants from the bushes of the courthouse.
Marc asked what he was to do if the vagrants refused to vacate and
he was told to arrest them. Marc refused, the land was not posted,
it was public property and there was no reason to arrest anyone
sleeping in the bushes back then, so he protested the order. Marc’s
retirement from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office soon
So why come out with the media for a walk in the woods when there
is a fire burning taxpayers money by the truckload out at the jail
on Blue Clay Road and a terror threat in the quiet homes of the
parents of this community that fear that the illegal drug trade
may have ensnared their susceptible children. There are sex
offenders that have failed to verify their addresses, video
poker places involved in shootouts as they rob those addicted
to gambling, warrants needed to be served, businesses with illegal
hiring practices and elderly homeowners scared to go to sleep at
night in fear of waking to a burglar ransacking their home.
On one side of the fence you have Arthur Carlson, down on his luck
and struggling to survive, whatever the reasons. On the other side
of the fence you have golf tournaments with illegal calcuttas,
day and night poker games and staff serving alcohol to underage
kids with tragic results. Both sides are breaking the law, one side
has the attention of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the County.
We at the Blue Line fail to see the justice and we are not the