I never knew 47-year-old Ralph Greenleaf.
I don’t hang out at Carolina Sports and Spirits, a bar tucked beneath the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge in Bangor, though I did spend some time there many years ago when it was called Legends and I was a busy news reporter working the night shift.
I’m familiar with the area.
And I’m certainly aware that murders and other acts of violence occur in this small city. We all read of the occasional strong-arm robbery, the bank robbery, car and home burglaries, the multitude of drug arrests.
I know the city has changed. I know the level of drug abuse has played a part in that.
But I must say it has never really dawned on me that there could be parts of the city that I wouldn’t feel safe walking — a part of the city that would pose a true threat to my safety.
And I wonder whether Greenleaf thought he was safe enough as he stood outside the bar early Sunday morning, waiting for his girlfriend, who was inside.
He had been drinking and officials at the bar did not want him inside, but they said he was very polite, was allowed to speak with his girlfriend briefly and tell her he would wait for her outside.
But while he waited a group of “kids” or “young people” — depending on which witness is describing the scene — apparently began to yell at him. Reports indicate Greenleaf turned and walked toward the group, and “they smashed his head.”
The doormen from the bar started pulling people off him, according to published reports, and one of the band members playing at the bar called 911.
Ralph Greenleaf’s friends called him “Greenie” and spent the last couple of days saying goodbye to their friend, who remained in a coma until his death late Wednesday night.
There is still not a lot of information being released about the events that occurred under that bridge Sunday morning.
I trust that police are busy putting together the pieces that eventually will offer prosecutors the full picture of events that led to Greenleaf’s death.
Through that series of interviews and reports, decisions will be made as to whether someone should be charged or more than one person should be charged, and what those charges should be.
It could, I suppose, be aggravated assault or manslaughter or, of course, murder — it all will depend on the circumstances and the intent of the “kids” or “the young people” who took after him.
Groups of “kids” or “young people” can be intimidating depending on the circumstances. Wisecracks made to those who pass by are humiliating. Loud and obscene language is generally ignored in order to avoid confrontation.
Such things have been going on in towns and cities across this country for generations. To some level it is simply tolerated. Perhaps the groups get moved from one parking lot to another, but they are generally around any town or city.
What happened to Mr. Greenleaf beneath that bridge last Sunday morning is something else again.
If groups of “kids” or “young people” are upping the violence, upping the risk, then the community, along with the police, business owners and residents, need to step up and shut them down.
Quickly and without question.
This city is changing — no doubt about it — but that’s a change that cannot be tolerated.
E-mail Renee at email@example.com and listen to her and co-host Dan Frazell from 7 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on the radio at 103.1 The Pulse.