VENICE- A disturbing video of a woman who is visibly struggling in an alley near 3rd Avenue is getting a lot of [virtual] attention. [Due to sensitivity of the video--the Venice Current is providing a link to access].
Rick Swinger filmed the video around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 14, in an alley down the block from where service provider St Joseph's Center has a facility.
The woman recorded is scarcely dressed, has paint on her body, and what appears to be a shirt on her head. She was first seen by nearby neighbor Craig Ribeiro who said he witnessed her wandering around in the alley. Ribeiro said the woman was trying to get into cars and neighbors' gates; one of them was Swingers.
Swinger said he took the video because he wants to raise awareness about what is taking place on the streets of Venice.
Swinger said both he and Ribeiro called the Saint Joseph's emergency hotline to get help. From here, the story has different versions—those of Swinger and Ribeiro and that of Saint Joseph's Center.
According to Swinger, he was told by a Saint Joseph's Center security guard that they didn't have staff to send because COVID 19 created a staffing shortage. Swinger said he became upset on the phone begging the guard for immediate help.
According to Saint Joseph's Center, Swinger's version did not happen. In an email response to a request for information a spokesperson for Saint Joseph's Center said: "As an agency committed to being a part of the solution, we take this situation very seriously. We are not short-staffed and are providing outreach services every day."
According to an email exchange at 12:03 p.m., the head of security sent the following: "Wil - please send out a guard to address this concern, you may need to involve the outreach team, Angela - please give the neighbor a call back to let them know we are sending someone out."
A log of calls provided for this report shows that Saint Joseph's called Riberio to get a description of the woman. Ribeiro said no one called him back--and that he was in the alley with the woman for more than 30 minutes waiting for help.
Swinger said if the version of Saint Joseph's took place, he would not have gotten so upset, adding that the woman was struggling for more than 30 minutes.
The Saint Joseph's spokesperson also provided an email sent a little before 2:00 p.m. that stated: "We were able to get somewhat of a description of the woman from the caller. At the time of response, the individual had left the area. The Venice-C3 Team was advised of the incident in the event it is an unhoused neighbor that they've engaged in the past. Security will continue to keep you abreast of the details as they develop."
Swinger and Roberio say they are sticking with their version of the story. Swinger said that: "At the end of the day, there is no evidence the woman was found or helped. I posted the video to raise awareness of the situation. We need more mental help, and an incident like this shows--we have to have to demand responsive actions from agencies who are paid to assist these people."