Murdered homeless man mourned by peers/Chico, CA, USA fwd

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 22:20:45 -0400


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FWD  Sacramento Bee [Calfornia, USA] - November 19, 1998


DEATH OF A HOMELESS MAN

Peter H. King of the Sacremento Bee


CHICO, Calif. :  In the back rows Brown's contemporaries congregated. They
wore old flannel jackets, ill-fitting jeans, a few nervous tics, and the
little blue lapel ribbons that have been distributed around town in the two
weeks since Brown was beaten to death, allegedly by two Butte Community
College football players. A few of the homeless mourners wobbled a bit in
both speech and gait, their breath lending a distinctive bouquet to the
spacious, softly lit chapel of the Newton-Bracewell funeral home.

   A non-affiliated minister in a black suit opened the service, reciting,
inevitably, from the 23rd Psalm: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death."

   He was followed by a burly street musician named Thor. As he strapped on
a well-worn guitar and pushed back a mane of long, graying hair, Thor
addressed the rear guard.

   "This could have been any one of us," he said. "The blessed hope is that
Lloyd went home to Jesus. There ain't no homeless in heaven."

   This was the third service for Brown, a slight, bearded man with a
fondness, said his friends, for fortified wine. Chico has a "homeless
problem," but so do many California cities and burgs. Often, the response
is simply to look the other way, to hope it -- that is, "they" -- will go
away, disappear. The brutal nature of Brown's demise, however, was
impossible to ignore. Hence, the candlelight vigils and blue ribbons of
homeless supporters and hopeful talk about changing hearts.

   While admitting they beat Brown, the two suspects have pleaded not
guilty to charges of murder by torture. The motive of the attack remains
unclear. Dereck J. Phillips, 20, and Trevor M. Bird, 19, may or may not
have been drunk Nov. 6 when they happened upon the homeless man sleeping on
cardboard. Brown may or may not have complained after they urinated near
him. In any case, a dispute ensued.

   "As they watched from their upstairs bedroom windows," stated a police
summary of witness accounts, "they saw the subjects kicking the man in the
head as he lay on the ground. At one point, the person identified as BIRD
obtained a full five gallon water bottle, (approx. weight 40 pounds) raised
it above his head and forcefully threw it down onto the man. This was done
repeatedly by BIRD. PHILLIPS was also seen raising the bottle above his
head and throwing it onto the downed man.

   "During the frenzy, Bird was seen with a fence board, (4" x 1" x 36"
approx) and repeatedly struck the downed man about the upper body with it.
Phillips was also seen obtaining a spare tire and rim from the bed of a
nearby truck. He stood over the downed man, raised the tire/rim above his
head and threw it onto the man."

   The attack lasted almost five minutes.

   "It took some time," as the district attorney would later say, "for this
man to die."

   Despite an occasional, boozy outburst, the funeral was a melancholy
affair and not without dignity. One by one, Brown's friends rose to provide
testimonials. They told how he carried a broom, to sweep up after picking
through Dumpsters, or how he shared profits from collected cans, or how
once he scrounged a pump to inflate a sick woman's wheelchair. Thor
returned to the pulpit and got everybody weeping with a rendition of "Free
Bird," the Lynyrd Skynyrd ballad:

   "I'm as free as a bird, now, And this bird you cannot change."

   Next the singer dropped to his knees: "Lord, I'd like to pray for them
boys that did this to him. Life is gonna be rough for them from here on
out. And I pray that you can be with each and every one of us here today.
... It gives us all something to look forward to when our number rolls up
and you call us home. And I'd just like to thank you for the life that we
all have. Such as it is, and such as it may be, we still have to thank you
for it. Amen."

   Finally they followed Brown's coffin to a back corner of Chico Cemetery.
Thor sang the "Old Rugged Cross."

   Two mourners laid cigarettes wrapped in blue ribbons on the coffin.
Goin' home, Lloyd, someone shouted as the box disappeared into the ground.
And then, one by one, those who knew Lloyd Brown best ambled away into the
cold, damp afternoon, staggering back to their lives. Such as they are.
Such as they may be. Amen.

END FORWARD
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** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.net>
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FWD  Sacramento Bee [Calfornia, USA] - November 19, 1998 



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>DEATH OF A HOMELESS MAN


Peter H. King of the Sacremento Bee

</paraindent>


CHICO, Calif. :  In the back rows Brown's contemporaries congregated.
They wore old flannel jackets, ill-fitting jeans, a few nervous tics,
and the little blue lapel ribbons that have been distributed around
town in the two weeks since Brown was beaten to death, allegedly by two
Butte Community College football players. A few of the homeless
mourners wobbled a bit in both speech and gait, their breath lending a
distinctive bouquet to the spacious, softly lit chapel of the
Newton-Bracewell funeral home.


   A non-affiliated minister in a black suit opened the service,
reciting, inevitably, from the 23rd Psalm: "Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death."


   He was followed by a burly street musician named Thor. As he
strapped on a well-worn guitar and pushed back a mane of long, graying
hair, Thor addressed the rear guard.


   "This could have been any one of us," he said. "The blessed hope is
that Lloyd went home to Jesus. There ain't no homeless in heaven."


   This was the third service for Brown, a slight, bearded man with a
fondness, said his friends, for fortified wine. Chico has a "homeless
problem," but so do many California cities and burgs. Often, the
response is simply to look the other way, to hope it -- that is, "they"
-- will go away, disappear. The brutal nature of Brown's demise,
however, was impossible to ignore. Hence, the candlelight vigils and
blue ribbons of homeless supporters and hopeful talk about changing
hearts.


   While admitting they beat Brown, the two suspects have pleaded not
guilty to charges of murder by torture. The motive of the attack
remains unclear. Dereck J. Phillips, 20, and Trevor M. Bird, 19, may or
may not have been drunk Nov. 6 when they happened upon the homeless man
sleeping on cardboard. Brown may or may not have complained after they
urinated near him. In any case, a dispute ensued.


   "As they watched from their upstairs bedroom windows," stated a
police summary of witness accounts, "they saw the subjects kicking the
man in the head as he lay on the ground. At one point, the person
identified as BIRD obtained a full five gallon water bottle, (approx.
weight 40 pounds) raised it above his head and forcefully threw it down
onto the man. This was done repeatedly by BIRD. PHILLIPS was also seen
raising the bottle above his head and throwing it onto the downed man.


   "During the frenzy, Bird was seen with a fence board, (4" x 1" x 36"
approx) and repeatedly struck the downed man about the upper body with
it. Phillips was also seen obtaining a spare tire and rim from the bed
of a nearby truck. He stood over the downed man, raised the tire/rim
above his head and threw it onto the man."


   The attack lasted almost five minutes.


   "It took some time," as the district attorney would later say, "for
this man to die."


   Despite an occasional, boozy outburst, the funeral was a melancholy
affair and not without dignity. One by one, Brown's friends rose to
provide testimonials. They told how he carried a broom, to sweep up
after picking through Dumpsters, or how he shared profits from
collected cans, or how once he scrounged a pump to inflate a sick
woman's wheelchair. Thor returned to the pulpit and got everybody
weeping with a rendition of "Free Bird," the Lynyrd Skynyrd ballad:


   "I'm as free as a bird, now, And this bird you cannot change."


   Next the singer dropped to his knees: "Lord, I'd like to pray for
them boys that did this to him. Life is gonna be rough for them from
here on out. And I pray that you can be with each and every one of us
here today. ... It gives us all something to look forward to when our
number rolls up and you call us home. And I'd just like to thank you
for the life that we all have. Such as it is, and such as it may be, we
still have to thank you for it. Amen."


   Finally they followed Brown's coffin to a back corner of Chico
Cemetery. Thor sang the "Old Rugged Cross."


   Two mourners laid cigarettes wrapped in blue ribbons on the coffin.
Goin' home, Lloyd, someone shouted as the box disappeared into the
ground. And then, one by one, those who knew Lloyd Brown best ambled
away into the cold, damp afternoon, staggering back to their lives.
Such as they are. Such as they may be. Amen.


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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