At 10:20am this Tuesday morning, I was en route back to my place. I had bought grapes from Sproul and multivitamins from Walgreens. I walked towards the Asian Ghetto food court and witnessed a scene.
There was a clipboard filled with voting ballots on the concrete floor and a supply truck emergency-parked on Durant. A homeless black man was yelling at two Latino workers dropping off supplies to Gypsy’s. They were right at the entrance of the Ghetto. As I walked past them, the older Latino started yelling back and the two exchanged hefty, vulgar, and hostile words. Asian Ghetto was pretty empty at this time, and both men challenged each other to fight.
At this moment, I turned around to step in. Which proved to be perfect timing.
While I stepped in, the black man stepped towards the older Latino. I got in between them and started exclaiming, “Guys, it’s not worth it!” I extended my arms to stop both men from fighting. The black man did over half the yelling. He shouted threats here and there, urging the Latino man to fight, and said that he was disrespected while minding his own business. Meanwhile, the Latino man was telling him to walk the walk, telling him to actually fight.
It was hard talking in between their verbal exchanges. Moreover, the younger Latino man revealed himself to be the son of the older man. He said that he won’t stand hearing the verbal abuse his father was taking. To make matters worse, a white homeless man walked from across the street and immediately supported the black man. It was now a 2-on-2 situation. Tempers quickly heated up as the son took off his sweater and said he was ready to fight.
Against my hopes, I soon became physically involved in the dilemma. I stayed in between both parties and gently shoved the black man and both Latinos away from each other; the white man was on the side, clearly crazy/intoxicated/high and very unstable, so I resisted having physical contact with him. I remember wondering if/when I was going to get hit by any of the four men. The two Latinos kept their feet planted on the ground so I diverted my attention towards the black man who was trotting forward and side to side. I put my hand on his chest and shoulders to stop himself from advancing; I’m glad I served as an invisible barrier, as he didn’t seem to take notice.
Everyone took their respective turns shouting. The black man shouted threats of what he would do to the two. The white man yelled that he would back him up and that the two Latinos were in the wrong. The Latino father kept his words brief and only urged the two on, while the son stood supportive and yelled back. In the meantime, I was yelling for the two Latinos to just walk away. I said “It’s not worth it. Both of you two are working right now. You’re professionals. It’s not worth your job. Walk away.” To the black man, I told him to forget about it, that this wasn’t worth his time.
It was impossible keeping four people stationary. I was soon pushed back to the inside entrance of Gypsy’s. I yelled for the two Latinos to walk away, and they eventually did. They entered Gypsy’s to do whatever their job required. In the meantime, I was able to drive the two homeless men back to the sidewalk. He was shouting threats and wouldn’t take his eyes off the two inside Gypsy’s. The white man kept shouting 101, in which I realized that the black man was a veteran from the 101st airborne division. The white man also said that he was from the 82nd airborne, although I felt he wasn’t much of a threat.
The two Latinos were inside Gypsy’s for a while. I spent the entire time in between the black man and the restaurant, as he remained unstable and upset. He continued shouting, said that he was mindlessly doing his own job. That his boss was going to be there at 11am to pick up the ballots. That he was trying to pick himself up and out of the streets and that the two Latinos had no right to knock his clipboard down. He also talked about his crates that he was sitting on being taken away from him. He started crying, although he was still very angry.
He asked why I only chose to restrain him, in which I offered to talk to the Latinos. I walked inside Gypsy’s and begged them to handle their business and leave. I reminded them that they were professionals, and that this wasn’t worth going to jail for or getting injured. I told them that I would be present until they drove off. They agreed and thanked me for staying around.
Back outside, the two homeless men were still shouting threats and beckoning the two to come out and fight. Once again, I completely ignored the white man (I was very annoyed with him – he was only making matters worse by saying that they were veterans who were trained to kill). I did everything I could to calm the black man down. I introduced my name to him, in which he eventually replied that his name was Warren. Warren explained how he wasn’t in the wrong, in which I consoled him about how he was right, but should be the bigger man and let things go. At one point, he said that they should buy him breakfast. I used that momentum to ask if he was hungry, in which he replied that he was starving. I offered to buy him breakfast, but he wouldn’t let me. This process repeated for 15 minutes.
Eventually, the two Latinos came out. With my back turned to Gypsy’s, I didn’t know they had exited and was barely able to restrain Warren by bearhugging him. Even then, he almost successfully reached them before I was able to regain my footing and hold him in place. The two Latinos drove off, and Warren continued crying. I spent more time consoling him and telling him that he’s okay. He was extremely unstable and was shouting threats of closing Asian Ghetto with the people he knew, boycotting Gypsy’s, saying how the Latinos’ actions were set up and how they were racist.
After what seemed like a long, long time, he allowed me to buy him breakfast. For some reason, he told me to hold onto his ID while I ordered his food; in the meantime, he went across the street to see if his boss had arrived. It was 11:10am at this time. I ordered a steak sandwich from I.B.’s Hoagies with some water. I looked at his ID, which was a veteran’s health care plan with his full name and portrait. When the order was ready, he had calmed down a little bit and was no longer crying. However, he was still upset. I eventually got him to hold his food and water and told him I had to go. He thanked me and said he was very grateful, that I didn’t have to buy him breakfast, and blessed me with his faith.
At 11:28am, I walked away. Okay, let’s take a breather as I’ve documented an extremely detailed, exhausting 1 hour 8 minutes of my life.
First off, street fighting is never worth it. Warren was trying to make some money to work towards sustaining himself. The two Latinos were in the middle of their jobs delivering supplies to a restaurant. Getting in a fight could have had drawbacks on both parties. It’s not worth going to jail for. Nor is losing their jobs. Nor having a stained record. Nor their pride.
Avoid conflict when you can. It’s okay to swallow your pride and let a troubled person feel better about themselves. Being a man doesn’t need to involve fists.
Fighting. It’s not worth it.