William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 17 Aug 2005 03:08:02 -0400


August 17, 2005

Sleeping Homeless Attacked With Bats

Two men arrested in the downtown assaults say they'd just watched
'Bumfights' on DVD.

By Amanda Covarrubias and Rong-Gong Lin II, Times Staff Writers

Two 19-year-old men, allegedly inspired by the "Bumfights" video, roamed the
streets of downtown Los Angeles early Tuesday hitting sleeping homeless
people with aluminum baseball bats, leaving an elderly man in critical
condition with severe head wounds, police said.

The suspects, William Orantes and Justin Brumfield, later told officers they
had just watched a controversial DVD in which homeless people are videotaped
fighting each other and wanted to do some "bum bashing" of their own, Los
Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton said.

"This was a vicious, cowardly crime that even veteran officers such as
myself find hard to believe," Bratton said during a skid row news conference
attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and homeless advocates. "This
happened to one of our most helpless communities because they're not only
homeless but often mentally ill. These dehumanizing crimes will not be

Villaraigosa also expressed outrage.

"Why anyone would want to attack anyone who's sleeping in the street is
inconceivable to me," he said.

Authorities know of two homeless people who were beaten but suspect there
were other victims who have not come forward.

The first victim, Gerald McHenry, 38, was attacked at 2 a.m. while sleeping
on a sidewalk near 9th and Wall streets. His attacker fled in a car before
police arrived.

About 90 minutes later, a security guard saw two men beating a homeless man
on the head with bats near 3rd and Flower streets, authorities said. 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 in the car.
Orantes and Brumfield, both of Inglewood, were arrested on suspicion of
attempted murder.

The second victim, Ernest Adams, was in critical condition at County-USC
Medical Center with severe head trauma.

The beating spread concern among the homeless community in downtown.

"This is plain meanness," said Ronald Caldwell, 57, as he camped out on the
south lawn of City Hall, near where he sleeps every night. He said he had
also been the victim of beatings and kickings. "I'm concerned.. I have
nowhere to go."

Caldwell and others said it could be dangerous living on the streets of
downtown. One homeless man, who declined to give his name, said he had heard
of transients being beaten or robbed for 50 cents. But the assailants, he
said, tended to be fellow homeless people rather than outsiders.

Others said they were trying not to get too upset.

"I don't worry about it," said Curtis Davis, 54, as he paused from lugging
two full plastic bags of cans and bottles at the corner of 2nd Street and
Broadway. He said that at night, he slept near five or six of his buddies.
"You have to be aware of your surroundings. If you're not aware, you're
going to get hurt."

The "Bumfights" video became something of a sensation a few years ago. Three
young filmmakers in San Diego shot the video, which sold on the Internet for

In the video, two self-described alcoholics punch each other and ram their
heads into walls. They later said they agreed to be in the video in exchange
for liquor.

The filmmakers were later fined $500 each by a judge after pleading guilty
to a charge of conspiring to stage an illegal fight.

City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who represents the downtown area, said she
hoped the videos wouldn't inspire more attacks.

"It made me angry to think this senseless act was perpetrated on our must
vulnerable residents," Perry said. "I'm glad they were caught."

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

William Charles Tinker

New Hampshire Homeless  / Founded 11-28-99
25 Granite Street
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640  USA
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.