This Jogger Was Busted Raiding A Homeless Guy’s Camp – And The Community Knew It Was Time To Act

One of the advantages of possessing a camera phone is that you can capture an incident while on the move. Californian John Harris can certainly relate to that, as he filmed a jogger rummaging through a homeless man’s camp in June 2018, dumping his belongings into a nearby lake. However, when the video went viral, the community decided to take action.

A resident of Oakland, California, Harris walks past the beautiful Lake Merritt on a regular basis. As a result, he’s very familiar with the homeless man who set up an encampment in that area. His name is Greg Markson, but those in the community call him by his nickname, Drew.

Image: gofundme/Team Help Drew

Drew’s camp was located at the side of a footpath near the lake, backing on to a couple of stone pillars. However, on the evening of June 8, 2018, his life was turned upside down by a passing jogger, who appeared to take exception to the encampment. As things started to escalate, though, Harris was on hand to capture the incident on his camera phone.

ADVERTISEMENT

The video opens with Harris walking down the footpath towards Drew’s camp, capturing the jogger rummaging through his belongings. “It’s disgusting, it smells like p***, it’s nasty,” the apparently irritated runner says after a female passer-by questions him. When the Oakland native then presses him further, he responds “I’m not taking any of it, he can pick it up.”

However, according to the lady, the jogger threw some of Drew’s possessions into the lake, to which he replies “No, that was an accident.” With tensions rising between the pair, the runner then says “I’m picking up the trash. Throw it in the trash.” As he grabs a bundle of items and walks off, Harris pans over to the lake, confirming the woman’s claims.

ADVERTISEMENT

“He’s taking a homeless man’s stuff, and he’s throwing it in the lake,” Harris says. “That’s our beautiful lake, with his stuff in it now.” The Oakland native then turns his attentions back to the jogger, who had appeared to throw the previous bundle of items into a trash can. With the camera trained on him, the self-appointed garbage man walks back and attempts to justify his actions once again.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m picking up trash, what do you want me to do?” the jogger tells Harris. “Look at this, it was going everywhere. It’s already way over here. If you want to help, help.” Despite the continued pleas of the growing number of onlookers, the runner then picks up another armful of items and walks off, adding “I don’t know this guy.”

ADVERTISEMENT

As the anger among the onlookers continues to grow, Harris speaks up when the jogger comes back from the trash can. “What you’re doing right now doesn’t make sense, man,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense. Now you’re spreading it out everywhere! What are you doing?” Ignoring him, the shirtless runner then grabs more of Drew’s possessions, sparking a furious response.

ADVERTISEMENT

“So stop dude, just stop!” Harris shouts at the jogger as he walks off to the trash can again. “Stop taking his stuff!” With the camera still pointed at him, the video ends with a shot of the man throwing more of Drew’s things away. Following that incident, the impromptu cameraman then uploaded the clip to his Facebook page.

ADVERTISEMENT

Unsurprisingly, the video provoked a very angry reaction from online users, earning over 320,000 views since being posted on June 9, 2018. “I am still stunned that yesterday I captured this video of some guy throwing a homeless man’s belongings into Lake Merritt and around the area,” Harris wrote on Facebook. “The police showed up soon after, as the guy ran away to continue his workout.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“They said they couldn’t do anything because the homeless man’s possessions are considered ‘debris,’” Harris continued. “Only possibility is he ‘may’ get a fine for littering. This is ridiculous that these are the kind of people who are living in Oakland now. Please share. This bro needs to go down.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: gofundme/Team Help Drew

The video soon went viral, with the man in question being dubbed #JoggerJoe. As for Drew, his community quickly rallied around him, with Harris and another local man setting up a GoFundMe page to improve his situation. However, there was an intriguing twist.

ADVERTISEMENT

The local man’s name was Kenzie Smith. He had featured in a previous viral video taken at Lake Merritt just weeks before, when a woman called the police on him and his friends for hosting a barbecue. Much like #JoggerJoe, she soon earned an infamous moniker herself, #BBQBecky, as online users across the globe condemned her seemingly racially-motivated actions.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: gofundme/Team Help Drew

After addressing that incident on the GoFundMe page, Smith then shared his views on what happened to Drew. “Like the thousands of other people in the Bay Area without homes, Drew is one of our neighbors,” he wrote. “We’re disgusted that someone thought that it was OK to treat Drew in this way, and want to show him through our care that what happened to him is unacceptable.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s not OK to destroy someone’s things just because they are homeless,” Smith continued. “Help us show Drew that his community is here for him and that we care.” With that in mind, the page has earned over $14,000 in donations, as Bay area residents looked to replace everything that Drew lost that day.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, this story took a peculiar turn a day after the incident. Jogger Joe returned to the lake and attempted to pull some of Drew’s possessions out of it, with another onlooker filming him on their phone. The person then claimed that the now infamous runner assaulted them and stole their phone when he noticed what they were doing.

ADVERTISEMENT

Off the back of that, Jogger Joe was eventually arrested on June 11, 2018, and held on charges of first degree robbery at the Santa Rita jail, about an hour from Oakland. His real name was revealed to be Henry William Sintay. According to jail records, his bail was set at an eye-watering $100,000.

ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, Smith offered an update on Drew’s situation on June 26, 2018, suggesting that there was some good news. “We have been dealing with housing issues, and we have been looking for an apartment for Drew,” he wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We think this week that he will have one.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“We will be meeting with a landlord this week to see when Drew will move in, or if he will be on the list to move in,” Smith added. As for Harris, he praised the people of Oakland for their response to the incident, applauding their treatment of Drew in the immediate aftermath.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: gofundme/Team Help Drew

“It has been phenomenal to see the community step up and really being vocal and saying that this kind of treatment of people will not be tolerated here,” Harris told CNN in June 2018. However, his part can’t be forgotten either. The resulting campaign to help Drew could’ve been very different if not for his camera phone and quick-thinking.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT