A prominent community leader who runs a nonprofit service in San Francisco has been brutally attacked by two homeless men wielding a wooden plank.
James Spingola, the executive director of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, was assaulted on Friday morning after he asked the men to move away from the entrance to the nonprofit, which was hosting children’s activities.
Spingola, also known affectionately as Uncle Stank, is a well-known figure in the historically black Western Addition neighborhood that the non-profit center serves, and the attack drew immediate outrage in the community.
Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, called on the city to finally deal with soaring homelessness and crack down on those who refuse the plethora of available services and shelters.
‘For those who refuse to take services, we feel we should not tolerate their bad behavior,’ Brown said in a statement following the attack.
James Spingola, the executive director of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center in San Francisco, was assaulted on Friday morning by homeless men wielding a plank
Spingola is seen recovering from head injuries after the attack, which shocked the community and prompted the local NAACP president to demand a police crackdown on homlessness
The attack took place around 11am outside the community center (above) after Spingola asked two homeless men to move away from the entrance to the nonprofit
‘The entire black community is under siege by the homeless issue,’ he added. ‘We have been besieged in recent weeks by crime, theft, drugs, and danger.’
Brown said the attack on Spignola unfolded when two men ‘jumped him and hit him with a 2×4 on his head.’
Police responded to the community center on McAllister Street shortly after 11am, an SFPD spokesman told KTVU-TV.
Cops found one suspect being detained at the scene by Spingola and witnesses. The 24-year-old male suspect was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon but has not yet been booked, and police have not released his name.
Police are still seeking the second assailant, who fled the area. Spingola was transported to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where Brown said he is recovering from head swelling.
A photo posted to GoFundMe shows Spignola in the hospital with a bloodied a bruised face.
‘I’m both disheartened and livid that James, a senior leader in our community, advocate for our children and activist, was viciously attacked today,’ the fundraiser page states.
A photo posted to GoFundMe shows Spignola in the hospital with a bloodied a bruised face
Spingola (right) is seen with the late Rep. John Lewis, a legendary civil rights activist
Spingola poses with prominent intellectual Cornell West. Spingola is an ex-con who turned his life around and devoted himself to helping his community and mentoring children
‘James, lovingly known as Uncle stank, was simply trying to keep transients from standing around the center in an attempt to protect both the staff and children occupying the building,’ it added.
Spingola is an ex-con who turned his life around and devoted himself to helping his community and mentoring children, according to a bio on his charity’s website.
Photos through the years show him posing alongside prominent black activists and leaders, including the late US Rep. John Lewis, and intellectual Cornel West.
‘We are shocked and saddened about what happened to James Spingola earlier today,’ District Five Supervisor Dean Preston said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.
‘We have reached out to James and wish him a speedy recovery. This should not happen in our community.’
Brown, the leader of the local NAACP chapter, demanded more police action to crack down on the proliferation of homeless people in the city.
Rev. Brown, the leader of the local NAACP chapter, demanded more police action to crack down on the proliferation of homelessness and crime in the city
Spingola is seen at one of his group’s charity drives. He is well known in the community as a mentor and advocate for children
‘The homeless situation has been out of control for too many years,’ he said.
He said that Western Addition has been ‘besieged’ by homeless people being driven out of other neighborhoods including the Tenderloin, City Hall and downtown.
“Our streets are littered with needles and feces. 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.
Both San Francisco Mayor London Breed and new District Attorney Brooke Jenkins — who replaced the recalled Chesa Boudin — have vowed to crack down on soaring crime and rampant open-air drug markets in the city.