A few days ago, as I was leaving Five Points Shopping Center, I saw a man whose face was covered with abrasions and a black eye. When I asked him what had happened, he responded that the night before somebody had “tuned him up.” I wouldn’t have known what that term meant had I not heard about the “tuning up” of a man who is known on the streets by the name of “Captain.”

Deep in sleep one night, Captain was suddenly awakened when someone picked up his wheelchair and crashed it down on him. When asked if his assailant had said anything that might identify him, Captain answered, “‘Bum.’ He simply said, ‘Bum.’” About three months ago, a gentle person named Gregory Ghan was also deep in sleep on the streets of Isla Vista but he was not “tuned-up.” Gregory was beaten to death. At this time, his murderer has not been found and it’s quite possible that he is still roaming the streets at night … a thought
that spreads panic among the people who live there.

Throughout the ages, people have used a variety of insults, such as the insulting word, “Bum,” to create space between those whom they consider to be different from themselves. These words are used to express hate and, as in the case of Gregory Ghan, even to kill.

I respectfully urge our law enforcement officers to apprehend Gregory’s murderer as soon as possible and bring him to justice. I also suggest to our city leaders that in honor of Gregory Ghan we set aside a day or a week in Santa Barbara and Goleta every year, for adults and children to be particularly mindful not to use any hate words, signs or gestures that put distance between us and other human beings.               

Sharon Brownett
Santa Barbara

[Editor’s note: For more information on the Gregory Ghan case, call homeless advocate and Noozhawk contributor Ken Williams at 805.681.4508.]