Video shows California jogger throwing homeless man's possessions into a lake

Video shows California jogger throwing homeless man's possessions into a lake

You can tell a lot about someone's personality by the way they treat the less fortunate. It's easy for us to be nice and polite to our peers and betters; a bully will target someone who is down on their luck. Someone weak, someone powerless; the less recourse they possess, the more likely they are to end up the unhappy victim of violence and abuse. It's sad, but it's true.

But there is a positive side to all this: the universal prevalence of smartphones has empowered ordinary people in a remarkable way. Now, when we witness injustices in public, you can bet that, somehow, footage of the incident will make its way to social media, where attention will be drawn to the issue.

The latest example comes courtesy of Oakland, California, a community which only weeks ago provoked controversy when a white resident of the area called the cops to arrest a group of innocent black people who had been barbecuing nearby. This time, a jogger was captured on video destroying the lakeside encampment of a homeless man, while helpless bystanders begged him to stop. The man can be seen rifling through the vagrant man’s possessions in a public park, throwing blankets into the lake and dropping his other property in the trash. He can be heard saying: "I’m picking up trash, what do you want me to do? It’s disgusting. It smells like piss."

Local residents JJ Harris and Kenzie Smith recorded videos of the incident and promptly posted them to Facebook that evening. Harris and Smith can be seen trying to intervene while the jogger picks through the man’s belongings and starts throwing them into a trash bin. Allegedly, the same individual later attempted to attack the homeless man, who has only been identified by the name Drew. Drew has reportedly lived in the area for several years.

In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Harris stated: "I was just completely taken aback ... This is a homeless man’s stuff – a guy who is always peaceful, never causing trouble, always giving you a smile. That he would do this to another human being, the lack of compassion is astonishing ... His stuff is in the corner, not blocking the walkway. I see somebody just throwing huge amounts of blankets into the lake. I was just shocked."

Smith later stated: "When [Harris’] video broke, I was outside at the lake, I found Drew and I talked to him, gave him food and water. I went back out that night to make sure no one messed with him again."

The Oakland police department has been alerted to the video and officers are allegedly investigating the incident. In the meantime, other members of the community have rallied around Drew, and residents have taken it upon themselves to donate blankets, food, clothes and other provisions to him to replace what was lost. It's sad to see someone act so cruelly to someone who has almost nothing, but it's it's equally inspiring to see people rally around. If you want to help Drew out, please visit this fundraiser.