With the recent attack of local resident Isla Sarver, it is even more obvious that Southern Humboldt is basically on its own when it comes to law enforcement coverage. The day that Sarver was assaulted while taking photos of vehicles down below Renner, the only deputy was out by Petrolia on what was described as another serious call. Unfortunately, this did nothing to help Sarver at the time of the attack. Later when a deputy was finally able to call her back, she missed the call and did not realize she was supposed to call the sheriff's office back. One unfortunate experience led to another and the issue was not handled in a timely manner.
Sarver said she does not want any kind of vigilantism and asks people to be patient and justice will be done. Different photos have been circulated of people who had nothing to do with the attack and she doesn't want harm to come to anyone.
When the photo of Sarver covered in blood with five stitches above her eye was posted to Facebook local residents became enraged, and rightly so. This was a young woman who has lived here her whole life and was merely taking photographs of what we have been told are abandoned vehicles down on the river bar. One of the many misconceptions is that all of these vehicles have been dumped there. Some have, but others have not.
A local self-described homeless woman came in to talk to the Redwood Times about this subject and the attack on Sarver. Her story is not unlike many people living on the streets due to circumstances we could all face in our lives and some have and still are. She has lived here for over 20 years, and still doesn't really consider herself a "local," although she calls this home.
Her connection started when she was ordered by a Southern California court to come up here to Singing Trees Recovery Center after a drug arrest. After her stay there she decided to make this her home where she worked and lived until things starting spiraling downward and she turned back to drugs after being clean for 17 years.
She ended up losing everything and was living in a car down on the river bar with her dog, who provides her with some comfort and safety. The car was running except for needing a battery, which she did not have the money for. Unfortunately, someone broke out her windshield and back window making it illegal to drive, putting her in an even worse situation.
When she came into the office she wanted to make it very clear that the local river bar residents had absolutely nothing to do with the attack on Sarver. She said the woman who hit Sarver was with a group of men, had been asked to leave more than once and that the locals living there wanted nothing to do with them. There are rules in some of the camps and those who break them are asked to leave, the local woman said.
She also wants people to know that the "bums" who are hanging out in town and blocking the sidewalks and causing problems for local businesses are not the local homeless. And the so-called travellers are taking the trimming jobs away from the locals because they work for less.
When asked why she doesn't find a job she said, "I am not working for minimum wage and besides I'm too old and no one will hire me. And, you can't afford to rent anything around here working for minimum wage, so why bother?"
The first day she came in to talk to me it was apparent that she was well educated and she was very articulate. The second day was a different situation. She admitted to having just done meth and she had a hard time focusing and putting complete sentences together. When asked various questions, she wouldn't or couldn't answer. She said she has no problem working while she is on drugs. She doesn't drink alcohol and marijuana makes her sick.
When I asked her how she thinks she functions while taking meth, she said, "I am different. I don't go a hundred miles an hour and I can sleep when I'm high. When I come off being high I sleep it off."
I asked her if there was just as big a problem with heroin here as meth she said absolutely, you can get it everywhere.
She said rather than getting into confrontations with others she walks away down the beach and collects rocks. Her purse and pockets were full of them, which she showed me. She said she is an artist and likes to draw and finds the beauty in the different rocks on the river bar. She also said she doesn't steal or panhandle and she's not on welfare or Medi-Cal and in fact she's not in the system at all.
She said, "It's not against the law to be homeless and we aren't all bad people. We live here just like you."
She wanted to thank Mike Miller for leaving trash bags for them and said she has been trying to clean up the river bar and has been picking up glass and trash as best she can, and she encourages others to do the same.