Homelessness seems to be a rampant problem in cities such as LA, a problem for those that don’t like looking at homeless people or can’t make money off of them in property taxes. There are many homeless in LA’s skid row that set up tents as a way to give themselves some sort of shelter against the elements at night.
Many of these homeless are people with mental illnesses’ or a history of mental illness; some with drug problems and others that simply had a lot of things go wrong all at once and have no other support system to get back on their feet. Being homeless can happen to anyone and the amount of resources devoted to helping get people back on their feet is severely lacking.
LA has been kind enough to “allow” the homeless to set up their tents between the hours of 9pm and 6am. However should a homeless person be sick and unable to get up before most of us even wake up in our own warm and comfy homes, they will be summarily harassed and moved by the long arm of the law. There may be many reasons why homeless people don’t move by the 6 AM deadline, I mean can you imagine setting up a tent every day and taking it down every morning? Hell I can’t remember the last time I made up my bed in the morning. The law doesn’t seem to care; they treat these people like a plague on the city, despite the fact that many are not violent unless they feel threatened.
Can you imagine everything you own is in a backpack or a sleeping bag and you have to protect yourself day and night because you lack the basic protection of a home? How good can you really sleep at night when you are outside in the cold, hungry and wearing the same crusty socks you have walked around in for a month? Let us say that you have it even worse and have been in a mental hospital, people have snatched you away from your home, potentially family and friends and locked you up for 10 years in a mental facility where you have been tied down, force-fed medication and isolated in a small “room” roughly the same size as a prison cell.
Now imagine that after ten years you are released and you have to face the world with nothing. You no longer have access to the medication that may have “earned” your release or you may simply not have any family left that can help you. You are left homeless and potentially fighting your own mental demons while trying to survive by a societies set of rules that you do not understand and that doesn’t understand you. Then suddenly you wake up one day surrounded by men in uniforms, much like your days in the mental facility where uniformed men and women were the ones who controlled every aspect of your life, and they initiated force against you. What do you do? What is going through your mind?
On March 1st this is what happened to a homeless man in LA known now only as Africa. Police claim they were called to deal with an assault or a robbery suspect matching the victim’s description, at this time the police can’t seem to make up their minds what happened to cause them to show up and harass the man yet I am sure after a self-investigation they will get their story straight and find the best sounding answer to this question. Other homeless on skid row claim the officers were there because of the tent. They have claimed in interviews that officers were there to harass a man who did not comply with the 9-6 city ordinance. Witnesses have stated that this is not the first time officers have come out to harass Africa for his tent. Witnesses have also stated that Africa may have been involved in a fight inside of his tent and this is what prompted police to show up on this particular day.
From witness reports police pulled up to Africa’s tent and got out and “shook his tent like a rag” demanding that Africa come out. When the homeless man failed to comply with the officers obviously aggressive demands, he was tazed and dragged out of his tent.
This is not shown in the recent video that has gone viral. The video begins with the homeless man getting up off the ground and spinning like a helicopter at the four police officers that were surrounding him. Yes you heard me right; four police officers had surrounded a man who had just been hit with a Taser and dragged out of the only home he has. As the homeless man spins wildly around in a helicopter motion, clearly wanting to get some space and move the people back that had just assaulted him, police close in and tackle the man to the ground.
One of the officers, who had dropped his nightstick to the ground, starts to call for other officers to get his stick while a homeless woman picks it up. Two other officers that were nearby rush the woman and obscure some of the altercation briefly, so yes there were over 6 police officers at this scene for one man in a tent.
At this point the homeless man has 4 officers grabbing him, punching him and is seen on his back struggling with police. Police are heard yelling at the man to stop resisting while the black officer swings at the homeless man’s head. Let me say that one more time, four people are on top of this unarmed man who has already been hit with a Taser once, he is on his back and one of the officers is punching at his head instead of controlling his arms. He is literally straddling the homeless man’s chest, I don’t know about you but I only have two arms and two legs, if 4 people each grab one of those parts and effectively quarter me, then I am pretty much subdued. But instead they choose to fight with the homeless man and throw punches at his head. In the video we see officers struggling with the man and hear a Taser going off while we hear the same officer punchy saying “he’s going for my gun”.
This man is being tazed and the police officer is yelling that he is going for his gun so one officer shoots the homeless man, as he is being tazed, and within a second later two other officers peel off the homeless man and shoot him as well. You can clearly hear a pause between the first shot and see the officers back up draw and fire at the man. Five shots are heard in the video although it is not known at this time how many shots were fired.
So we have 4 “trained” police officers who can neither subdue a suspect nor maintain control of their own weaponry who have now been involved in the death of a homeless man. The worst part is one of these officers is a Sergeant. Is this the kind of training and law enforcement we have on our streets?
The fact that the homeless man was reaching for a gun is probably going to be the department’s justification for why this man was shot. They will say the officers feared for their lives and force was justified. They will probably use that as the reason there was no wrong doing and every officer will be cleared. We have seen this same scenario play out over and over across the nation.
On the surface it may seem reasonable, until you gather more information and realize something about police officers duty holsters. They are designed for retention, meaning they won’t just slip out during a fight and they need manipulation by the police officer to be drawn from the holster. Anyone who has worn or even seen a retention holster knows that unless you are familiar with that holster from the beginning drawing the weapon from another person’s hip will be difficult, especially if the officer is concentrating on using his Police retention training instead of trying to punch you in the face.
What we have here is at the very least a lack in training for the police officers if not the entire department and at worst a systemic failure in the use of sound judgment and restraint when shooting your firearm in the line of duty that led to the murdering of a citizen.
We are seeing more and more officers who are so afraid of their own shadow that they discharge their firearms against a perceived threat instead of a real threat. Why is it that an average citizen who feels threatened and shoots a person has to prove it in court in front of a jury but an Officer of the Law who has plenty of training devoted to preparing them for a job that includes potential interaction with violent people, isn’t held to a higher standard?
In fact we hold them to a lesser standard and allow self-investigation by their police department (friends) and let them hide behind grand juries when they kill a member of the public. They are put on paid vacation while “it all gets sorted out” while a citizen would either be sitting it out in jail awaiting trail, or would have to pay to be out on bond until trial. It seems police officers no longer seek Justice and instead are looking out for Justus.
A first generation American raised in the states of Colorado and Texas. Emmanuel now lives with his wife in Nebraska. Middle child in a household of eight children, Emmanuel's patriotism for the American dream of freedom and equality stems from the same place as many immigrant families. His love of the free market was fueled by the small businesses his father owned and made all his children a part of as well as his studies at Northwood University where he received a Bachelors in business administration with an emphasis on small business management.
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