Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Homeless Men Attacked by Cowards With Baseball Bats.


First, the facts of the story and below that - some personal comments:

Two Inglewood men were arrested today for allegedly attacking two homeless men with baseball bats while they were sleeping on a street in downtown Los Angeles, Police Chief William J. Bratton said.

The suspects, William Orantes and Justin Brumfield, both 19, told officers they had recently seen the DVD "Bum Fights" -— in which homeless people are videotaped fighting each other ‚— and wanted to do some "bum bashing" of their own, police said.

... and...

About 1½ hours later, a private security guard saw two men beating a homeless man, Ernest Adams, with bats near 3rd and Flower streets. The guard followed the suspects, who had gotten into their car, and Los Angeles Police Department officers soon caught up with them.

Officers recovered two aluminum bats and a replica firearm from the car.

Adams, who was described as "elderly," was in critical condition at County-USC Medical Center with severe head trauma.

First, working on the problems of those living on the streets is one of the reasons I moved downtown. And, as an all too rare successful example, a week ago a person I have been working with for a long time, finally accepted the transitional housing I arranged for him until his post-drug rehab parole is up and he can move back with his brother in the Midwest and re-start his life.

But another person I have been working with for over six months has some mental problems that make it hard for him to accept the help he needs. So in a homelessness services meeting at the Union Rescue Mission yesterday, I spoke with the BID outreach team that has been trying to get him off the streets (at my request) so we could meet with him together later this week to convince him to move into the offered housing and he could be eligible for job placement.

Then, during a meeting at Jan Perry's office today, I obliquely mentioned him to two of Jan's aides since Jan was not there since she was at a press conference condemning the senseless attacks of the previous night.

I mention this because the man's name is... Ernest Adams. The man in the LA Times story now in critical condition in a hospital.

And I can only wonder if I had just pushed him a little harder, done a little more arguing with him over the past few months, that I might have persuaded him to move into the room that was already waiting for him.

But it also demonstrates that (as Steve Lopez has finally discovered), it is not the lack of housing that creates the majority of chronic homelessness. It is drug and substance abuse along with often serious mental and emotional problems. And it is only by dealing with these individuals as individuals and by taking the time to deal with their very specific and unique problems that we can help them.


geri wilson said...

A horrible story, obviously. However, if our commuity wants to do something to assist those who are homeless, how about starting with homeless veterans, of which there are an estimated 16,000 in Los Angeles alone.

U.S. VETS opened its first site in Inglewood in 1992. Among its 10 sites across the country are sites in Los Angeles (Inglewood), Riverside, Long Beach, and just opening -- Compton.

In fact, I invite anyone and everyone to stop by U.S. VETS - Compton, 5116 E. Compton Blvd., between Harris & Butler streets, for the second annual Veterans Stand Down, Aug. 27 & 28, from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. An array of nonprofit organizations will be there to feed, provide services of every kind, hygeine kits, referrals, and much more to homeless veterans.

U.S. VETS, the largest nonprofit provider of services to homeless veterans in the country, has a fantastic success rate providing transitional and permanent housing (it's not a shelter), employment assistance, case management, substance abuse, and the only program in the nation for women veterans suffering from sexual abuse. The organization is already seeing Iraqi & Afganistan veterans.

U.S. VETS needs support. You can make a huge difference here. I hope you will.

Please forgive the rant -- I care.

Brady Westwater said...

US Vets is a superb organization and I have toured your facilites in Inglewood and will try and amke it to the opening of your Compton facility.

Kate N said...

First, I just want to say that what those two little boys did is disgusting. What outrages me even more is that they then blame their heartless actions on the fact that they "saw it on a DVD". Does anyone ever take responsibility for their actions anymore? Bottom line is that those two are cold hearted punks who actually think that another human beings life is worth nothing. Grrrr...i'm going to stop there because i'm so mad. I wanted to add to the other comments about causes of homelessness. I agree that drugs/alcohol/mental disability are reasons why some are homeless but there's also gentrification to blame. It's the raising of rent in lower income housing so that the tennants won't be able to pay which leads to them being evicted. Once the building is empty the owner then sells it to a developer or the city so that they can in turn put up expensive condo's. This wouldn't be such a problem if the city was providing additional low income housing but they aren't. This causes hard working people and their families to be put out on the street because there is no where else to go. People tend to jump to conclusions that people are homeless because they are just lazy, drunk, stoned or mentally retarded....yes this is the case sometimes but there are good people out there who are just unfortunate. And Brady don't feel responsible for the injured homeless man. I know how it feels to just want to help everyone, but unfortunately it's just not possible. It sounds like you were making a great effort to help this man help himself but unfortunately two people decided one day to go out and decide who is worth something and who is not. I truly believe that things happen for a reason, though it may be hard to see that right now. All you can do is pray for the innocent victim and continue on helping those who are less fortunate than you. You are a good man and we need more people like you. Take care.

Anonymous said...

This is truly saddening. Justin Brumfield was my ex boyfriend. We had been dating for a while. All of this comes to a shock for me. I have never even seen one bit of violence from him. He is a coward. This all took place in a bad area in LA. He could not stand up to someone who is in the same mental capacity as him. Justin is a small guy about 5'6 140. So , he definitely is a coward. But, unfortunately from what I am hearing the charges may be dropped. He has a good lawyer and this is his first offense.

Patrick Minnow said...

Kate N writes: I agree that drugs/alcohol/mental disability are reasons why some are homeless but there's also gentrification to blame.

I think Brady's and the LA Times Steve Lopez's observations indicate that self-destructive behavior is THE big reason there's so much homelessness. If it were just as much because of gentrification, or a lack of enough cheap housing, then the Main Street area wouldn't have had huge numbers of homeless people 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, etc.

Loren said...

Brady, I have been thinking of you since I realized that the horrible attack on a harmless, elderly man who happened to be homeless was the man you have been trying to help (one of the ones you've been trying to help, I should say).

All I can say is, please don't torture yourself with understandable but fruitless speculation on "what if I had tried harder..." type thinking. There re reasons why people are reluctant to accept such help, including fears of being attacked in shelters or low-income housing. Sometimes I think there may be an element of claustrophobia or something involved, as I alluded to on the new downtown group recently when replying to a "what do we do?" post and referring to the musician Steve Lopez has been writing about so eloquently, and his preference to remain on the sidewalk. I REALLY THINK WE NEED TO APPROACH WITH A MORE OPEN MIND THE REASONS THOSE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS HAVE THE NEEDS THAT THEY DO. In other words government and mental health experts need to "think outside the box" more and not resort to conclusions that would apply to most of us but clearly do not to the minds of those who need the assistance. (That is the reason I suggested that possibly some of those who sleep on the streets -- and I stress, SOME, there are many different "populations" involved here -- might be receptive to outdoor, open-air treatment facilities initially, in order to initiate treatment.)

I don't know that anything you might have done differently would have changed the outcome of Mr. Adams' case. I thank god that you tried to help him. The fault here is with the impairment of those who attacked him. I am concerned that anyone dangerous enough to be okay with doing something like that not be freed to harm other people. I doubt that it was Mr. Adams' homelessness so much as his vulnerability by being elderly that pur him most at risk. Women have been aware of such dangers for a long, long time. You don't have to live on the streets to be aware that to certain people you are perceived to be an "easy target" even if you have a nice safe home.

The fact that people who injure and rape children and adults and are routinely turned loose after serving time but having no change in whatever flaw causes them to have no conscience regarding harming others, while people who are a public "nuisance" and need drug or other treatment but are not intrinsically violent are locked up, their problems going unsolved while they take up space that should be used to protect society from the truly dangerous, horrifies and frightens me. We have far fewer mental health facilities and let violent criminals out of jail sooner than was the case when I was young, even though the state's (and city's) population has greatly increased -- do the math. There are a lot of people who condemn the entire homeless population, including those like Mr. Adams, every time the subject comes up, but do not speak up about the truly dangerous violent criminals WHO USUALLY HAVE HOMES, as the men who attacked this gentlemen probably did.

We need to get our priorities straight and get back to helping those who can be helped, and protecting society from the truly dangerous, who can and do attack anyone they perceive as vulnerable, and prevent the rest of us from living our lives without being in danger of random violence. Those who commit crimes because they are desperate for drugs, not because they are innately dangerous, are dangerous but need true treatment/rehab with follow-up, VERY OFTEN MENTAL TREATMENT SINCE THEY ARE OFTEN DUAL DIAGNOSES AND JUST DETOXING DOES NOT ENABLE THEM TO FUNCTION IN SOCIETY, vocational counseling, and above all HOPE in a society where the disparity between rich and poor is growing greater and not everyone is by nature a "go-getter" but nevertheless may fill a valuable function in a society that values all work.

People like you do so much, but as I see it our government and society has values that are propelling us even faster in the other direction, where the elite are privileged beyond measure and those who in past times filled valuable human services (i.e., the village tailor, farmers, shoemaker, chimneysweep, etc.) have been displaced or often cannot even properly provide for their families, while developers who build McMansions, corporate executives who conceal dangerous pollution and health hazards, and drug dealers and such can. And young men who beat a helpless elderly man into a coma with a baseball bat, but who themselves have homes, will probably go free.

A revolution in thought on many levels is needed. Soon.

Best regards and thank you for your help for this gentleman,

Loren (L.A. Woman)
citylights.la @gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is interesting. I just read the whole thing about justin brumfield's girlfriend. that was not me. I am his girlfriend and this is the first time i went to this site. this is interesting. hmm. must be one of my friends.

Anonymous said...

hmm intersting, i am justin brumfield's girlfriend and this is the first time i went to this site. that was not me.. intersting... wonder who it was.

Anonymous said...

How about fuck all of you and those two guys are nice.....they may be cowards but people make mistakes in there lifes. If you would have been the one that was bashing the bum and he went crazy on you and there was a baseball bat there you would probably do the same. It was dumb of them to do it in the first place, but these two guys dont deserve like 10 to 20 years in jail. Im terribly sorry about the bum but he prolly doesnt even or didnt even have 10 to 20 in his life left anyway. Screw jail thats the worst place you could be and because of this one incident these boys lifes are ruined forever. They have more then jail ahead of them in life. Jail is how you make people turn from a good person to a bad, its all about survival fuck that thats not how life should work being stuck in a stupid cage having people tell you how to live. That shit is wack. i hope that both of the boys get out soon. much love to both of you. peace

ps. jail is prolly worse then being dead in my eyes. dont believe me try going to there then say somethin.

Anonymous said...

I have a father who is homeless in the LA area. He was beaten randomly by some guy who showed up in a white truck. He didn't want to report it because he didn't feel the police cared and he was afraid because of his drug addiction. It is interesting to me how little people know about these homeless people and yet they have so much to say. My father is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He grew up in a middle class family and was the second youngest of four children, all of which are passed except for him. A few choices took him down a road he probably never thought he would go down. My dad spent a large amount of time in prison but when he was home, he was a great dad. He took us fishing, played baseball with us, took us camping, and did all sorts of dad things. He is very passionate and caring. It is true that he lives on the street due to an addiction to heroin. Other factors may play a role in his situation now because he has been on the streets for a number of years. I have offered to come get him and help him get into a shelter. We have talked about getting him to report to his parole officer. Every solution we discuss, he has an excuse to turn it down because he is afraid of withdrawals from heroin. I have offered to pay for his treatment but he finds ways to duck out. He has talked to me about the other people he lives with who are also homeless. They all have unique personalities. I have even had phone conversations with some of them. Most people look at homeless people like "it's their problem, they chose their life", and then shrug their shoulders and go the opposite way. They are people too! Some with families who care very deeply about them and some without. I live out of state and I still have found a way to help. There is a pizza place by where my dad stays. I have occasionally called and ordered food for him to pick up. They are cool about it and take my debit right over the phone and my dad goes there and gets his food and leaves. I am sad to see that people in general would rather go on living and ignoring the part of society which is less enjoyable to look at. Who are the cowards? All of you who choose to ignore that there are people out there who need support and caring just like you. I realize that you can't help someone who won't help themselves however, you can show them that you are there for them, should they decide to take that unbearable step towards helping themselves. One person can make a difference. Doesn't anyone know the children's story about the lion and the mouse? By the way, I got my caring from my dad, who I am sure you would like if you only took the time to get to know. And to the guy who went and beat my dad up, run and hide little little man. You will pay for your choices. You are the saddest coward of them all.

Brady Westwater said...

Please call me about your Dad at 213-804-836 and I will see if we can get him off the streets. You can also e-mail me at bradywestwater@gmail.com