You can support the author with a donation on Patreon or PayPal! Articles started surfacing on Oct. 27th from far-right media outlets about a homeless black woman in California. The woman was holding up signs supporting Trump with concerns about undocumented immigrants and the often ignored homeless people. Her station happened to be in front of Donald Trump's star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame which was recently vandalized in an act of protest.
But it wasn't until last night when video started making the rounds on social media with claims the woman was attacked.
The video itself can be found on the YouTube page of a person alleging to be the one filming the altercation. Embedding has been disabled by the uploader so here's a direct link.
What transpires is pretty appalling; a couple dozen people are surrounding the woman while a few reach into her cart to grab her pro-Trump signs. Slurs such as 'b***h' are tossed out pretty rampantly from men and women of all races. One of the men in the forefront comments how the woman must need a crack-pipe, and telling her he told her this would happen. He goes on to say the woman asked him if he'd protect her because he's black as well, but that he told her he wouldn't.
The signs she was carrying can be seen in other videos from the uploader as well as pictures in some of the first articles released. After the woman falls down while moving her cart, someone in the crowd comments that if paramedics are called, they'll probably be hispanic like the immigrants she hates. Others in crowd mockingly ask her if she'd accept help from hispanic paramedics.
It should be noted that nobody physically assaulted this woman. At one point, as a man grabs one of the signs from her cart, she can be seen throwing a hand at the guy but no escalation occurs. When she falls down, the same man is holding the handle of her cart. Nothing in the video indicates he shoved, touched, tripped, or otherwise directly caused her to fall down.
It doesn't really matter, though.
This was an absolutely disgusting event for anyone who is anti-Trump. Two other videos exist on the uploader's account and neither show the woman doing anything more than holding signs or talking. By all reason, this was a peaceful public protest against policies the woman believes have been or will be instituted by Obama and Clinton. Regardless of whether her concerns were founded on facts, there was no indication she was threatening the crowd or attempting violence; thus, there was no excuse for anyone to invade the space immediately surrounding her or reach for her belongings.
Also contained in this video are examples of outdated and hateful stereotyping we on the left rarely like to admit exists within our ranks. Insinuating a homeless woman must be a drug addict reinforces a lot of terrible garbage which tries to blame the homeless for bringing their plight upon themselves. Misogynistic slurs hurled by several people—repeatedly—normalizes this language, potentially enabling abusers who take things a step further into sexual assault.
Outside of the video, we have the uploader's explanation of what happened. You'll find a rather long defense of what occurred by looking in the description section of the YouTube video. In it, the uploader makes several accusations regarding the woman's mental health—another harmful stereotype against homeless people, while ableist to boot. Yes, mental illness does affect many homeless people. But someone possessing an illness justifies neither belittling them or discounting their struggles.
The uploader reiterates accusations regarding drug usage while attempting to show concern for the plight of the homeless through several ableist slurs. For some inexplicable reason, the uploader makes a seemingly transphobic comment about the gender and appearance of someone in the video.
Nothing in their explanation should give us any sympathy for the uploader or the crowd in the video. These were, by and large, people engaged in mob mentality against a vulnerable woman. While one person on video does approach the woman to ask if she needs water, they are heard mocking her seconds later by repeating the line about hispanic paramedics. Another phrase throughout the video has the crowd asking why Trump isn't saving the woman.
There's nothing redeeming here.
We have to accept that this happened. There's no conspiracy, no staging, nothing to deny this very real and vulgar situation. Many of us have refused to admit that yes, we on the left have some of the same problems we criticize the right for possessing. We must also accept that this was propaganda handed on a platter to Donald Trump. His special counsel, Michael Cohen, has already reached out for information and location of the homeless woman.
What should our response be? Not denial, not a statement of how the people in the video don't represent the left. These are our problems, the ones we've swept under the rug for decades.
If we're really interested in being #StrongerTogether, it's imperative we address these issues head on. We must strive for a left wing truly as progressive as it claims to be. Call out this rhetoric wherever it's expressed; work with educators and creative industries to counteract toxic stereotypes; stand firmly against misogyny even when it's against someone you disagree with.
We can do this. We can be better than this. Because nothing positive is coming from ignoring it.