Vernon Price appeared in Madera County court Wednesday, but he's more often found at the nearby government center. Price is homeless and frequently speaks at board of supervisors meetings about homeless issues. But the county's CAO says Price has become increasingly aggressive toward some employees, including himself. So the county filed for a restraining order.
Madera County Administrative Officer Eric Fleming said, "The fact that I've got increasing reports over the last year or two about increasing hostility, interactions with the employees, concerns they came to me with. They really escalated to a level that I felt I had no choice but to take this action."
Court documents claim Price talked to employees about "someone getting hurt," "someone getting killed," and "throwing Molotov cocktails." But Price insists those words were all taken out of context, and that he's not a threat to anyone.
"It may be perceived as that because a lot of times we say things and it can be interpreted a different way," Price said. "But there's also willful ignorance where people twist and manipulate words to say what they want it to say."
Despite the divide, both sides managed to reach a resolution in court. Price agreed to a restraining order that will keep him away from the government center for the next three years, except during board meetings. In exchange, the county agreed to quarterly meetings with Price and other homeless advocates.
Price's attorney Steven Geringer said, "The main thing is to take care of the homeless people in Madera County, we've had numerous attacks, we've had some murders."
Fleming says the county is committed to helping the homeless, and now everyone involved wants to focus on the future.
Price said, "I think this is a win win situation today."