Friday, June 21, 2024

Part ||; Have a Book and a Beatdown…

September 2, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( Part II of the series looks at corporate exploitation of the homeless and some of the reasons why the homeless are targeted for violence.


Oenyamaechi assured me that it was not the library’s policy to pummel its patrons and that he would look into the incident and report his findings to me.

Approximately thirty days went by before I emailed him inquiring about the outcome of his findings. He assured me that he was still investigating and that he would get back to me with his conclusions.

Another thirty days went by without word from Mr. Oenyamaechi; I decided not to contact him, but to give him another 30 days.

Finally, one week short of 90 days after the incident, Mr. Oenyamaechi contacted me via email to report his findings.


Mr. Oenyamaechi informed me that he found no wrongdoing on the part of the guard in the incident of March 7, 2009. He stated that he found no impropriety in the way the incident was handled and that he had concluded that the guard did not kick him, that she only tapped his shoulder and that he fell getting up out of the chair on his own (presumably under his own power).

After playing “Blame the Victim” (supposedly the man made subsequent visits to the library where he was drunk and disorderly and had to be escorted out again), the library director claimed he had videotape of the incident which did not show the officer kicking the man. His investigation complete, he thanked me and encouraged my continuing being “an advocate for the less unfortunate” (his exact words), and sent me on my way.


I explained to Mr. Oenyamaechi that his investigation was flawed because he had not interviewed me, the eyewitness. I pointed out that no one confesses to something like assault, and that since the other guards arrived after the fact, they are flawed witnesses.
The other witness, the victim, was unconscious at the time he was assaulted; to this day he has no idea the guard kicked him out of that chair. He never got out of the chair, as the DPL director claimed in his email to me, because he was unconscious at the time. He fell out of the chair and went straight to the floor from the momentum of the security guard’s kick.
He explained to me that the videotape confirmed no wrongdoing.

I argued that I did not believe he viewed a videotape, because he would have seen what happened and contacted me to confirm what he saw. I offered to view the tape with him and show him how and where this happened. He claimed to have seen me on the videotape attending to the man, but claimed that he did not see the officer kick the man from the chair. I find that odd, very odd indeed.

As of this writing, I have not been interviewed by anyone at Detroit Public Library regarding this incident, and I am the eyewitness to the assault on this man. I have been available to make a formal statement regarding this matter since the day it happened, and continue to be available for interview. However, I doubt if I will be called; the Detroit Public Library feels it has concluded its investigation, glaringly obvious flaws and all.


Michael Stoops, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless explains: “Homeless people are the newest minority group in America that is ‘OK’ to hate and hurt,” he said. “It’s as though, somehow, they’re viewed as less deserving, less human than the rest of us.”

Some homeless advocates say that city ordinances that restrict where the homeless can sleep, beg, congregate or bathe unintentionally reinforce the negative stereotype of homelessness and contributes to violence. It is this criminalization of homelessness that encourages the abuse. They are perceived as having no rights (because they are outdoors), which, in the mind of a social deviant, means they are unprotected under the law (since laws target the homeless specifically) and are therefore easy prey.


The CBS News magazine “60 Minutes”, in a story about the upsurge in violence against the homeless, reported on the phenomenon called “bum hunting”, in which teens stalk the homeless and hunt then down to be savagely beaten, sometimes to death. The NCH estimates that as many as 500 homeless people have died as a result of this “sport” since 1999. The popular video series “Bum Fights”, in which the homeless, some of whom are mentally ill, are bribed with liquor and small amounts of money to fight each other, light their hair on fire and hurt themselves on camera, has been named as the inspiration for many of these attacks by the actual perpetrators in court proceedings.

The exploitation of the weak, powerless and homeless has become genuine home entertainment.

End of Part II. In Part III, we look at the underlying reasons we as a society tolerate and contribute to homeless abuse.

Patricia Calloway writes Citizen Pat’s Blog at She lives in Detroit, Michigan.

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