When Judy McClaver went to McKinley Park Saturday she did not expect to be brutally attacked. “I was picking up trash when I was assaulted from behind. My T-shirt was ripped half off and I was knocked to the ground.”
McClaver is an advocate for the pond. She cleans up and organizes volunteers and education days and works with the city to get the pond cleaned up. Her assailant was a homeless man who frequents the park.
McClaver is accustomed to street folk. “I talk with some and acknowledge others. I show them where I put recycles. All of them are bedding down or bedded down when I get there. I have been there at sunrise and it appears most are arriving for the day. Some have even pitched tents on occasion or couples are blanketed together. One allows his dog to run loose but the dog is small and friendly, while the bigger dogs are usually leashed.”
The man who attacked Judy has been in the park the last couple of weeks. His police record includes charges for two felony accounts, assault and elder abuse.
The attack was fast and violent. “I hit my head on cement. I got up and he came at me again so I hit him with my trash reacher but he sent me to ground again, hard on my coccyx. I spent 6 hours in emergency getting CTs, X-rays and waiting. I also got 7 staples to a laceration on the back of my head.”
Five police officers responded to the incident and subdued the man. However, there is no guarantee that he will not return to the park when he is released.
Under her care McKinley Pond is finally getting the attention it needs from the city. She’s identified the water pollution, broken equipment, animal care mismanagement and human behavior problems in relation to the pond. More than anyone, she knows the critical state of the park and pond and she calls for action.
McClaver’s final words to CM Cohn and the city regarding the attack were, “What can be done or what can you do to make this pond and park a safer place.”
The homeless deserve our compassion and help. They are our brothers and sisters with mental health, drug abuse or economic problems. We are not helping them by allowing illegal camping and loitering in our parks and on the American River Parkway. We are looking to the city to help us. We need to get people the help they need and not degrade our parks and nature areas.
Contact East Sacramento Preservation to learn about the various grassroots efforts to help the park and reduce crime. McClaver is an East Sacramento Preservation board member.