Group easily raises over $500 from individuals and a local business
■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
The city’s entrenched establishment may be witnessing the emergence of a youth movement that symbolizes increasing frustration with the problems of the homeless and the city’s anemic response to a growing national crisis.
Punx in the Park, the group of Hemet’s young adults who has decided they have something to say about how the city’s homeless are treated have determined they won’t be silenced by their older, more powerful, elders. Squelched by police in their efforts last month to feed the homeless in Weston Park, the group easily raised the $500 necessary to pay for a park permit to distribute food at its next event.
“We raised $540 in a matter of days using a Go Fund Me account,” says Ariel Garcia, a spokesperson for the group. “We’re very thankful to the Harvard Street Music Exchange, who donated $200,” she says. “The music store is talking about incorporating their drum circle with our event,” she says.
The Harvard Street Music Exchange has sponsored a number of musical events downtown that appeal to the younger generation and have held drum circles, or mini drum festivals, in Weston Park where people bring their African drums and play them in unison. The practice is perhaps one of the oldest forms of communication ever devised.
Punx in the Park is a local branch of Food Not Bombs, a loose-knit group of independent collectives that believes corporate and government priorities are skewed since they allow hunger to persist in the midst of abundance.
The group had announced an event in December similar to ones they had held in the past where they gave away food and clothing to the homeless in Weston Park. But the publicity aroused the alarm of Hemet City Council, some of whom called the police to stop them by enforcing the city’s ordinance against food distribution without a permit.
The proposed event also incensed a number of mothers in town who are angry that the homeless and drug addicts have turned Weston Park into a haven for degenerates so their children can no longer play there. They posted some two dozen comments on various Facebook pages, including Hemet Eye News, objecting to the group’s plans to feed the homeless in a city park.
Punx is hoping the city will tone down its opposition and grant the group a permit to hold an event in the park next month. They cite the permissions that local iconoclast DJ Gibbey of San Jacinto has obtained for his “Party in the Park” music events, which routinely operate under the city’s radar but always proceed with the necessary approved permits.
Garcia says that, so far, the city has been evasive in telling them exactly how to go about getting a permit. “They originally told us that we couldn’t get a permit to feed the homeless,” says Garcia. “So we’re now trying a slightly different approach. I feel it will happen that we eventually get a park permit.”
Three of the members were scheduled to visit the Parks Department offices in person at press time to begin the process.