SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A prominent San Francisco leader in the African-American community is calling for more action to curb violent behavior by homeless people after a beloved nonprofit director was severely beaten by two allegedly homeless men on Friday.
James Spingola, manager of the Ella Hill Hutch community center in the historic Black Fillmore neighborhood, was beaten with a plank of wood after he asked two men to move away from the front door of the organization, said the Reverend Amos Brown, President of San Francisco. NAACP and pastor at the Third Baptist Church.
The beating took place around 11 a.m., Officer Kathryn Winters, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Police Department, said in an email Friday. She said officers arrived to find one of the suspects being held by Spingola and others. The police are looking for the other suspect.
Winters did not have the names or housing status of the suspects.
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Spingola is recovering in a hospital. A GoFundMe page shows a photo of Spingola’s bruised, purple and puffy face. He was trying to protect children and building staff, according to the fundraising post.
“The homeless situation has been out of control for too many years,” Brown said in a statement Friday.
He said the Fillmore had “been besieged in recent weeks by crime, robbery, drugs and danger” as homeless people were driven from nearby neighborhoods including the Tenderloin, City Hall and the downtown.
The Mayor of London Breed and other officials have made stopping outdoor drug dealing and illegal drug use in these areas a priority. San Francisco has a very visible homeless population, and it struggles to help homeless or poorly housed people who suffer from serious psychiatric disorders or substance abuse.
Homeless people smoked drugs on the roof of his church and last week a catalytic converter was stolen from a church van used by elderly people, Brown said.
“Our streets are littered with needles and excrement. They smell of urine and degradation. We need to help these people, we need to help our city, and we need to hold homeless people and our leaders accountable,” Brown said.
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