Homeless Victim Of Videotaped Beating Gets Support (Update)
A homeless New Jersey man beaten in a video that appeared on YouTube has received an outpouring of support from outraged members of his community since his plight became public Monday.
By Tuesday, a Facebook page was set up to connect those who wanted to assist David Ivins, and police were coordinating with a nonprofit group to accept donations.
The 50-year-old Ivins, with his thick beard and layers of clothes, was a familiar sight in Wall, Belmar and Lake Como. He could often be seen riding his bike around the Monmouth County towns and inside their bars.
He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was preparing to move into a donated hotel room and that he wanted to take advantage of the help he’s getting.
“I’m going to sober up,” he said as he spoke to a reporter in the lobby of the Belmar Police station. He had just had a meal of spaghetti and salad, and his backpack and two shopping bags were bulging with other food he’d been given.
Ivins doesn’t remember what day the attack happened. Police, judging by a YouTube time stamp, say it was more than a week ago.
In the video, a young man tells the camera, “About to go beat up this bum.” Then it shows him punching and kicking Ivins in the face, bloodying his nose, before telling him, “Merry Christmas.”
The cameraman, heard but not seen in the video, laughs along with the attacker.
Twenty-year-old Taylor Giresi, of Lake Como, was charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit assault, robbery and theft. He was jailed Tuesday on bail of $111,000.
Police say the 17-year-old cameraman, whose name has not been released, will be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and theft. He’s already charged with conspiracy and has been released to the custody of his parents.
Ivins said he’s only faced an attack like the one on YouTube — it has since been removed — once before, about 2 1/2 years ago.
As Ivins spoke Tuesday, he rubbed his chest where he was still sore from the most recent beating. He said his back was also aching.
“I probably would have been KO’d and dead if I was drunker,” he lamented.
Ivins says he’s been homeless on and off for 18 years. Some locals say they believe it has been even longer than that.
He said he’s had a number of jobs, including construction work, working on the floor of a clothing factory, cleaning out toilets in boardwalk public restrooms, working for a die-cast company and working in a pizzeria. But he says injuries and minor legal charges like trespassing and alcohol have always kept him from sticking around.
Ivins said he has found places to keep him out of the elements at least. He said that before moving to the hotel, he would need to swing by a garage where he has been staying to pick up a couple of pairs of shoes and a tool set he’s stowed there.
He said he had scrounged money to keep his batteries in his radio.
And for food, sometimes he’d eat sandwiches from a convenience store garbage bin.
Crystal Gil, who works at Smoker’s Paradise in Lake Como, said Ivin always seemed harmless when she saw him on the street — though you wanted to steer clear if he was in a bad mood.
She was so upset about his attack that she decided to collect money to help him at the smoke shop — and posted her intentions on Facebook.
She’s been heartened as she’s followed messages on the social networking site from people pledging a new bicycle for Ivins, along with other donations.
“Poor guy,” she said. “He didn’t do no harm to nobody.”
Wall Police Lt. Walter Pomphrey said the department could tell by the volume of calls it received that people were deeply troubled that someone could be so hurtful to one of their own.
“Anyone has to feel some sympathy for the guy,” he said.
He said the relief group Wall Helps Its People had a fund for monetary donations that will be used to provide services for Ivins.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)