The Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) has declared it is leaving no stone unturned in its bid to ensure that a man who was recorded on video assaulting a homeless person is prosecuted.
BAEH president Kemar Saffrey said he was fuming after viewing a viral video showing a man at what appears to be a club in The City throwing a liquid on the homeless man who was asleep but immediately struggled to his feet after being drenched.
As the homeless man who has a limp tried to get up and walk away, the assailant proceeded to wash the elderly man in abusive language.
“Get to **** up from there man. You feel that here is the Salvation Army or what? Hurry up man, get to **** man,” the man said in the 23-second video which was recorded by another individual who could be heard laughing in the background.
Eventually, the homeless man, who shook his body to get some of the liquid which appeared to be water off, limped away.
Saffrey said his organization will not allow the attacker to get away without facing the consequences of his actions.
He said his aim is to work with law enforcement officials to get justice for the elderly man who has been living on the streets for many years and is known to the alliance. He said the alliance has reported the matter to Central Police Station.
Saffrey said: “We don’t even know if this liquid was water, if it was bleach water, or it could have been some other type of liquid in that bucket. If it was, it could have gone further in terms of what damages it could have caused to the homeless man. We have to look at this more in depth, in terms of this could have escalated and also we don’t know what liquid was thrown on the person.
“We are calling for the Royal Barbados Police Force to intervene and to bring charges against the person. Now homeless persons are not known to get up and go to the police station because they think that their case may not be handled. But we have reached out to the Bridgetown Division of the Royal Barbados Police Force ourselves and we have asked them to assist in bringing this person to justice for this inhumane act.
“From what I gather in the information I have received, the man who did the act is a worker of the establishment and not necessarily a resident. We are still investigating the matter so that we can hand as much information to the police and some persons are cooperating with us.
“We don’t even know if this person is accustomed to this sort of behaviour against homeless persons, so we can’t allow for this to just go by. In my opinion this was premeditated.
“You have a guy who is skinning his teeth, videotaping the exact time that a guy is going to be throwing liquid on a homeless person. This was not called for. If you wanted him to move, I think the simple thing to do was to go downstairs and tell the person ‘look, you can’t lay on my property, move on and that would have been the respectable thing to do.”
Saffrey said he was pleased to see that thousands of Barbadians who viewed the video were against what he said could only be described as an inhumane act on a vulnerable member of society.
He said other members of the homeless community are also angry about the situation because for too long they have been mistreated and abused by those who do not seem to, or care to, understand their plight.
The head of the alliance which operates a shelter in Spry Street, said the organisation has embarked on a number of initiatives over the years to urge the public not to trouble or be violent against homeless people.
He said: “When I did my calculation, there was over 50,000 views for this video. This has gone viral and I haven’t seen any comment in support of this act.
“No matter what is their situation and no matter what you may think caused them to become homeless, at the end of the day, that person is still a human being.
“That person is still a part of our society and must be treated with the same respect you would treat anybody else.
“You see a helpless person that has a disability, in the video you see the guy who we know cannot walk properly limping. But this by no means gives the person the right to go and throw a liquid on the homeless person who was doing nothing to him.”
Saffrey said that he is aware that some viewers of the video inquired why the homeless man is not at a shelter.
But he insisted that not everyone is going to use a shelter for the homeless. He said regardless of whether the homeless man is in a shelter or on the streets, it does not give anyone the right to abuse him or any other homeless person because “we have the upper hand”.
He said: “I heard some people asking why he is not in a shelter. That is not the question to ask. If he wants to use the shelter it is there for him to use and he knows that.
“But if he wants to freely roam the streets, he also should be safe to roam the streets and not have fear of somebody throwing water on him, or somebody abusing him because he is disabled.
“ He has been on the streets for a while. If you see him, he is limping and normally pulling a suitcase.”
Saffrey thanked all those who condemned the actions in the video and called on society to continue to protect the vulnerable, including homeless folks.