Tag Archives: homeless

Phoenix Support Camp for Homeless Veterans Faces Eviction

A group of volunteers calling themselves the Camp Alpha Project have been camped around Phoenix, Arizona for the last six weeks. The group says its goal is to “help homeless Veterans and Civilians in Phoenix by utilizing available resources.”

Fox 10 reported last month that Camp Alpha “started in October and keeps growing as it reaches out to get the vets off the streets one step at a time,” and that “the community and other veteran organizations have stepped up and dropped off tents, food, clothing, and supplies.”

Following complaints from neighbors, the city of Phoenix investigated the encampment and is pursuing a solution to relocate the camp. The Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department met with the organizers of Camp Alpha and has told the organizers they cannot stay at their current location.

“Those are complaints. That’s the challenge we’re up against. People in the neighborhood don’t know what we’re all about,” Camp Alpha’s Eric Smaltz told Fox10 in Phoenix. “They just see the encampment growing and wonder what’s going on and they apply a negative connotation to homeless people and encampments.”

12 News in Phoenix reported that city leaders say the “tent city” is violating city code. Aaron Pomrenke, who founded the camp back in October, told 12 News that the city had not communicated anything about a violation. Pomrenke previously told 12 News he started Camp Alpha as a way to give homeless veterans a safe place to sleep while also connecting them with much-needed services.

Moises Gallegos with Phoenix’s Human Services Department told Fox that the city cannot allow the camp to exist because “there are rules that say it’s not okay, it’s not legal. There are many others that would say if we’re going to let this be, why can’t we have tents and camps on every vacant lot, corner, anyplace people would want to do that.”

The city also told 12 News they support Camp Alpha’s goals “but it is an obvious code violation to set up a tent encampment in a vacant lot.” The city says they do not have a building for Camp Alpha but hopes they can “develop a plan for a solution.”

Interestingly enough, in early 2014 Phoenix was declared the first city to “end chronic homelessness among military veterans.” At the time, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton spoke with USA Today and said “the city went from 220 vets on the streets a couple of years ago to virtually none today.”

Despite Phoenix’s declaration of eliminating homelessness among veterans, there remains a multitude of veterans in need of support. Camp Alpha serves as a reminder of the unfortunate reality that the men and women who fight in the United States military often return home battling a number of ailments and are faced with failed bureaucracy and apathy.

NYPD Union Introduces Campaign Asking Officers To Take Photos Of Homeless

A memo from the the Sergeants Benevolent Association has revealed an initiative calling on NYPD officers to take pictures of homeless people around the city.

The campaign outlined in the memo, written by SBA President Ed Mullins, appears to be fueled by frustration over local politicians, proposed leniency on quality-of-life offenders and other police reform proposals.

Mullins requested that “as you travel about the City of New York, please utilize your smart phones to photograph the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality of life offenses of every type.” Mullins asked that the photos be emailed to SBA so the union can publish them on the SBA’s Flickr account. The SBA’s “Peek A Boo” album has already published over 200 photos of homeless people.

“Today we hear the loud cries of the naysayers and critics who call for change simply for the sake of self-interest, self-promotion and self-aggrandizement,” Mullins wrote. “Yet, they offer no solutions- absolutely NONE! The naysayers are our inept and spineless public officials who sit amongst the City Council and propose legislation that can only be described as preposterously disingenuous.”

Mullins expressed frustration with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city council, who have been discussing the decriminalization of quality-of-life offenses, according to CBS New York. “I want them to stop with the phony policies that exist,” Mullins said. “What they are doing is they are jerking the public around.”

In the memo, Mullins described proposals that he appears to have identified as unfavorable to police officers, including a proposed Right to Know Act, which would require officers to identify themselves stopped suspects by showing their business card and gaining consent before searching a person without a warrant or probable cause.

Mullins wrote sternly about other proposed reform bills, including one to require reports on the location of officers who have been identified by the Civilian Complaint Review Board; one to create annual reports identifying the city’s top high-crime areas; one to require the NYPD to “issue quarterly reports on the use of force and how often it is related to quality of life offenses”; one to require the NYPD to “publish annual reports on how often officers use force”; one to allow officers the use of “injurious physical force” only when there is a need protect themselves or the public from death or threat of injury; and one that would federally ban the use of choke holds. Choke holds are currently prohibited in NYC under department policy.

Since on-duty officers are not allowed to take pictures of the public, the memo specifies that officers should take these photos in their free time or when traveling to or from work. Family members and citizens are also encouraged to take pictures in the letter.

Mayor de Blasio has expressed support for arrests stemming from quality-of-life offenses but has also expressed support for a limit to those arrests. “There’s no law in this country against sitting on a park bench. There’s no law against standing next to a store asking for spare change. But there sure as hell is a law against quality of life abuses that bother a lot of us in this city,” said de Blasio.

LAPD Officers Caught on Video Killing Unarmed Homeless Man

Controversy has erupted from downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row as police officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were caught on tape fatally shooting an unarmed homeless man during a physical altercation on Sunday. The above-linked Reuters video notes that police have yet to release the name of the man who was shot, but bystanders told Los Angeles Times that the man goes by the moniker “Africa.”

According to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, officers arrived on the scene that morning in response to a 911 report of a robbery. Bystander Dennis Horne said that, when police arrived, Africa was fighting with another individual in the tent in which he had been living at the time. Police then ordered the homeless man out of his tent, and, when he refused, officers deployed a Taser and dragged him out into the street. Africa then began struggling with the officers, throwing punches and kicks. The video below, which contains extremely graphic footage and language, shows what happened next.

At the beginning of the scuffle, six officers appear in the video, with four seen overpowering Africa as two others break away to respond to a female bystander who attempted to pick up a police baton that had been dropped. Africa drops immediately to the ground, and four officers hover over him, pinning him down. Then, a sound consistent with a Taser being fired can be heard in the video.

Moments later, an officer reportedly said, “Drop the gun. Drop the gun.” A single shot rang out, then four more, and Africa lay dead in the street, prompting uproar from angry bystanders who immediately noted that the homeless man was unarmed when police shot him multiple times. An unidentified eyewitness told Los Angeles Times that Africa had reached for an officer’s gun.

Others painted a different story. Bystanders in the above-embedded raw video can be heard immediately protesting the shooting, commenting on the fact that Africa was unarmed. Another witness who goes by the name Booker T. Washington told Los Angeles Times that the initial altercation had actually broken out over the illegal placement of Africa’s tent, rather than a robbery, contradicting police accounts of the incident. He said that police would frequently come by and evict Africa from his tent, which was not allowed to remain there after 6 AM each morning.

Ceola Wadell, who witnessed the incident, said it began when police shook Africa’s tent and deployed a Taser on him, prompting him to become violent. Bystander Ina Murphy said that Africa had been living in the area for several months following his release from a ten-year stay in a mental health facility. In response to the shooting, a spontaneous protest erupted at 9:30 PM on Sunday at the scene of the altercation.

Two of the cops on the scene were reportedly treated for injuries, and the female seen picking up the baton in the above video is expected to be charged with a crime.

Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said that it is unclear based on the video as to why the officers used deadly force. Said Soboroff, “To me, [the theory] that [Africa reached for an officer’s gun] would be the only explanation that something would happen that quickly… It escalated right in front of our eyes.”

LAPD Commander Smith says that the district attorney’s office and an independent inspector general will be investigating the case and noted that two surveillance cameras and at least one police body camera also caught footage of the incident. LAPD investigators are asking eyewitnesses to come forward and provide any additional videos that could help with the investigation. Said Commander Smith, “It’s not an incident taken lightly by any police officer. But we are committed to everyone involved and to the public to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”

Exclusive: America Has Now Become a Nation of “Tent Cities”

Listen to the interview below about Greenville, S.C.’s Tent City.

Homelessness and hunger are spreading across America, according to a new survey. America’s homeless are not just the mentally ill or drug addicts. They are college graduates, veterans returning from the war, and middle class families who have fallen on hard times.

U.S. cities like Greenville, S.C. are experiencing rapid growth of new homeless communities forming as the economy takes another downturn. Those who cannot find new homes can find shelter in a “Tent City,” a community of homeless people who live in tents and makeshift homes made from tarps.  These new “tribes” can be found throughout the city, under bridges and in nearby woods. For many, Tent Cities have become  America’s new norm.

greenville tent city-photo
Tent City – Greenville, SC / Photo credit Facebook.com


A local group recently visited Greenville’s Tent City to help the residents prepare for the winter.  Someone asked a member, who was called “Lt. Governor,”  what they could do to help.  “Give me a job,” said the Army veteran.  The man explained that several years back he was in the Army where he learned to cook. He came back home from the war and worked in the same restaurant for years as a cook, but after the restaurant went bankrupt he was out of work. He later lost his wife to sickness, and he was broke, alone and unable to find work. He said he wasn’t sad or bitter; he just wanted to work to “feel like a man again.”

Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook spoke to Brooks Agnew at a Tent City fundraiser and asked him about his thoughts on the plight of the homeless.

“There is just no room for them anymore. Whoever is in charge has spent all the money that would finance the companies who could put these people to work. While the dogs are fighting for the media pork chop in Washington about who is going to be the first one to extend unemployment benefits for the next 6 months, they can spend the same money to give to these small businesses to put these people back to work,” said Agnew.

Americans are wondering when will the government put America first again. The U.S. gives over $50 Billion dollars a year to countries all over the world in foreign aid. Yet, veterans are coming home from wars with serious physical and mental challenges only to find that the VA cannot help them. According to CNN, every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That’s a suicide every 65 minutes.

Many veterans cannot find work and are forced on the streets, but they find refuge in the Tent Cities and from the kindness of the local community.

Robin, a concerned Greenville resident, told Cook, “I really feel that this country owes veterans so much. There shouldn’t be one veteran who needs to look for a job or should live in Tent City.”