Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling and title of Laramie Griffin, founder of Evolve Louisiana.
BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Community activists and a store owner addressed a video circulating online showing water being tossed on a homeless person outside a Baton Rouge convenience store on the morning of Monday, Dec. 26.
The incident occurred during Baton Rouge’s freezing cold weather outside the Triple S Food Mart on North Foster Drive.
Muflahi did explain that homeless people loitering was affecting his business. He says “We did ask them to leave a couple of times, I know that there are many times before where she has called the police on them.”
In a Tuesday press conference, Abdul Muflahi, the store’s owner, said that the employee involved was fired immediately. He says the employee reacted in “the worst” way to handle the situation.
“When I got the news, I didn’t speak to the employee too much,” said Muflahi. “All I told her was to leave the property because we do not handle situations like that.”
Muflahi apologized and said his business does not tolerate what happened. He added that he’s looking to make sure it never happens again.
The employee’s name was not released.
“That type of action inside of our community is totally unacceptable,” said Dadrius Lanus, executive director of 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge.
Activist Walter “Geno” McLaughlin said responding Baton Rouge police officers gave resources to the person who was allegedly assaulted. McLaughlin reminded people about 988, a hotline for those in crisis.
“For someone to get ice cold water thrown on them in these below-freezing temperatures is just disrespectful,” said Laramie Griffin, founder of Evolve Louisiana. “It also could’ve hurt this person physically.”
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has promoted an initiative aimed at finding a solution to homelessness in Baton Rouge. The Homeless Prevention Coalition includes services, programs, and initiatives to combat homelessness.
The mayor’s office issued the following statement:
“An incident over the holiday weekend involving a person who appears to be homeless has caught the attention of our community. This incident emphasizes the continued need for our outreach efforts. In this case, several community partners worked together to locate the individual, bring them to the Bridge Center and connect them with additional services.
“The Behavioral Health Homeless Outreach Team, better known as the HOT Team, also visited the business where the incident occurred. The business was made aware of the support offered by the HOT Team to residents experiencing homelessness and crisis. We hope something like this never happens again considering the available resources.
“The Mayor’s HOT Team is a citywide joint effort between Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD), East Baton Rouge Sherriff’s Office (EBRSO) and Behavioral Health Specialists designed to conduct comprehensive assessments, care coordination, and clinical intervention to the homeless persons in the community. The HOT Team connects with people who struggle with mental illness or behavioral health concerns and are experiencing unsheltered homelessness, living in encampment areas or involved in panhandling.
“If the public needs to connect to HOT team, they may contact the Mayor’s Office at 225.389.3100.”Mayor Broome
BRPD says the incident is still under investigation.