Springfield woman’s petition targets drug dealers
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | June 29,2014
Photo by Len Emery
Kimberly Bombria, right, persuades Tasha Bailey and her son, Samuel, to sign petitions (there’s one for children) seeking an anti-loitering ordinance in Springfield. Bombria says drug dealers and users intimidate residents.
SPRINGFIELD — Kimberly Bombria loves Springfield, and she hates what is happening in town.
Bombria, 50, has been on Main Street every day last week, collecting signatures for an anti-loitering ordinance she says is targeting drug dealers and gang members.
Bombria, who recently returned to Springfield after working out of state for a few years as a caregiver for the elderly, said she was startled at the changes she saw, both in the downtown area and the Springfield Shopping Plaza.
Bombria was collecting petitions outside the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street at noon Thursday, when Alexander Jillson-Corbosiero, 18, of Springfield was arrested nearby in connection with a downtown shooting two weeks ago involving a group of alleged drug dealers.
Bombria said there are two street gangs with members in Springfield: the better-known Bloods and the gang known as Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13.
So far, Bombria has collected more than 600 signatures. Her goal is 3,500 signatures, which she plans to submit to the town and the state demonstrating a strong voice that people want change. She said she even got 10 signatures from people who are known drug users and gang members.
She has even created a special petition just for children to sign, and that has garnered more than 60 signatures.
“Kids know what’s going on,” Bombria said.
“I’m listening to people,” she said, and she’s heard that people have been blocked from going into businesses, and in one case, a woman was pushed into the street, causing an accident.
She took the wording for her petition from the Chicago anti-loitering ordinance, which she said, passed a court challenge.
Bombria, who is legally blind and walks with a special long cane, has been getting an earful as well as a tan in her days in front of the cafe. She said her niece, who works at the Jenny Wren Café, and others who work in the downtown area have been intimidated by groups of men who gather at the corner of Main and Park streets, and also at the shopping plaza, near the Shaw’s supermarket.
“I tell people, ‘This isn’t about you, this is about the kind of town you want for your children,’” Bombria said.
People are fed up, she said, and some will no longer shop at the Springfield Plaza or come to the downtown library because of the loitering groups.
The police aren’t doing enough, she said. “It’s the people of the town that need to step up.”
The reaction from people has been supportive, but Bombria said she has also encountered intimidation.
“One guy yelled at me, ‘Are you looking to get yourself shot? Better buy yourself a vest.’” she said.
But Bombria, the mother of adult daughters and the survivor of spousal abuse, said she won’t be intimidated.
“This is my town, and I love it,” she said.
She said she has 11 copies of the petition placed around town, including the town library, and after the Fourth of July, she said, she plans to park herself outside the town hall and collect signatures there.
According to Bombria, “80 of the people who live in the Woolson Block” are involved with drugs.
“The whole building is mostly trafficking,” she said, but she added some “nice” people who don’t do drugs live on the downtown block.
Bombria has her ear open for street happenings. Before Vermont State Police released a statement about Jillson-Corbosiero’s arrest, Bombria knew it was a teenager named Alex.