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Charity leader beaten by two homeless men with plank after asking them to leave community centre doorstep

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The leader of a San Francisco charity has received an outpouring of support after he was attacked by two men outside the building in the city’s Fillmore District.

James Spingola, executive director of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, said he was attacked after he asked two homeless men to move away from the centre’s front doors on Friday.

He told The San Francisco Chronicle how he witnessed the men climbing over a fence and were trying to set themselves up on the property before the attack.

Reports said the two suspects were homeless, although their identities have not been released and one remains on the run.

Mr Spingola, who also works as a juvenile probation commissioner for San Francisco, said he was beaten repeatedly by the two men with a wooden plank, causing minor injuries that required a hospital visit.

Police say one 24-year-old man was arrested at the scene on assault with a deadly weapon and other charges but had not been booked. A second suspect was not located and fled the scene.

Rev Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and a local pastor, said the attack on the popular charity worker was a sign that the city had failed to deal with homelessness, which had “besieged” the local Black community in the Fillmore District.

“We’ve been besieged in recent weeks by crime, theft, drugs and danger,” said Rev Brown in a reported news release. “The entire black community is under siege by the homeless issue”.

Outside the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center in San Francisco

(Google Maps)

“We have been besieged in recent weeks by crime, theft, drugs, and danger,” he continued in comments reported by KTUV. “For those who refuse to take services, we feel we should not tolerate their bad behaviour”.

A resident of the city, Allister Wright, told the news station that the homelessness situation in San Francisco was “really bad”. He added: “If you go down this street there’s a park right down here. They have a lot of people that’s being homeless just hanging out in the park right there”.

Nearly $50,000 has been raised to support Mr Spingola’s recovery on GoFundMe, where pictures of the injuries sustained by the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center executive director were shared.

“James – we know how much you mean to this community and the tremendous impact you have on all you serve,” wrote one contributor on the GoFundMe. “Our friends at Jewish Community High School are thinking of you and wishing you a full and speedy recovery!”

James Spingola said he was attacked by two homeless men last week

(Both Sides of The Conversation / James Spingola / GoFundMe)

Another wrote: “(The) Parents for Public Schools of San Francisco wishes you speedy recovery as a result of this horrible attack. We believe, value and support the mission of Ella Hill Hutch Community Center and its vital impacts on the community. Thank you for your service and please let us know how we may be of support to you doing this time.”

Police and other city leaders are due to meet with community members and Rev Brown this week to discuss issues around homelessness, according to reports. Levels of people living without shelter in San Francisco are among the highest in the US, with nearly 5,000 people counted in May by the city.

San Francisco mayor London Breed said although more than 7,000 people were homeless in the city, overall levels of homelessness had decreased by five per cent since the last count in 2019, and those living without shelter had fallen by 15 per cent.

The Independent has approached San Francisco police and NCAAP for further comment.

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