To the editor:
I recently witnessed a very disturbing situation at the Delaware Arts Festival that, as an artist and member of the Delaware community, I was appalled by.
An autistic girl and her father were set up next to the J. Gumbo’s restaurant. She was selling some computer art she had done. Suddenly a man approached them who apparently was with the festival. His demeanor was loud, angry and confrontational, as he ordered them to get off the sidewalk. The little girl was visibly shaken and upset, yet he continued.
Richard Upton, the owner of the restaurant, came out to see what the disturbance was. Now, I know Richard to be involved with many community events and involved with Creative Foundations, a center for physically and mentally challenged people. He was trying to help the little girl out.
The man in question immediately got less than a foot away from Mr. Upton’s face and continued his bullying. When Mr. Upton calmly explained that he believed he was within his rights to have her there, the man shouted (loud enough to turn a few heads in the area), and I quote: “You’re ruining my festival! Now get the (expletive) off the sidewalk!” Mr. Upton showed what I consider to be extreme restraint and told the man to leave the property. He had to be told several times before he complied.
I saw the same man confront a young artist who was sitting on the curb the day before, drawing pictures. The same attitude was exhibited as he drew attention to the situation with his shouting and was actually pointing his finger in the young man’s face, again within a foot of his face.
Whether or not his “victims” were within their rights is not in question here, but the way in which it was handled is. I would hope the organizers of the festival would want to convey a more community-oriented, family atmosphere. There were young children and families who had to witness this thuggery, for lack of a better word.
I am a proud member of this community and found this to be embarrassing for the city, not to mention traumatic for the young autistic girl.
I would hope that this issue is addressed before the next community event.