A Philadelphia barber who has been providing free haircuts for the homeless in his community since 2017 was almost shut down by a local police officer on Wednesday in an encounter that was caught on camera.
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Brennon Jones, who goes by B Jawuan Jones, has received viral fame and praise multiple times since he began his initiative called “Haircut4Homeless” a few years ago. But a recent incident involving Jones has gone viral on Twitter for a different reason as users claim that an officer tried to “criminalize” the man’s good deeds.
Philadelphia Police trying to shut down a black man giving free haircuts to the homeless.
THIS IS INFURIATING. THIS IS SO OUTRAGEOUS.
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) April 14, 2019
In a video posted to Twitter by activist user StanceGrounded, Jones is seen being approached by a police officer as he’s giving a haircut. Jones tells Yahoo Lifestyle that it was his first encounter with the police — and a confusing one at that.
“A police officer approached me and told me I had to shut down immediately after receiving a call from a sergeant,” Jones explains. “I asked for the sergeant’s name and badge number and a legitimate excuse why. He didn’t give me any information of why I had to shut down, he just told me I had to.”
Jones didn’t waver and told the officer that he had permission to give his sidewalk haircuts — something that he was sure of after years of doing just that. Still, the officer went ahead and placed some phone calls and seemingly argued with Jones through the duration of the two minute Twitter clip.
The man responsible for posting the video wrote, “This is infuriating. This is so outrageous,” before adding, “criminalizing a man who treats the homeless as human, tries to alleviate their suffering is evil.”
Many others agreed and shared their support for Jones. One person even offered legal representation.
Why do we continue to interfere where we don’t belong? This isn’t a police matter. Furthermore, he’s doing something that brings our community together. Let the man help others.
— Ethical Society of Police (@ESOP_STL) April 14, 2019
I’m providing free legal representation to any barber giving free haircuts! Attorney Michael Coard. MichaelCoard@msn.com 215-552-8751
— Michael Coard (@MichaelCoard) April 14, 2019
Thank God for video cameras! No one would believe what’s happening here was real if s/he didn’t see it. Now trying to help someone down on his lack is a crime? We should applaud men like this barber! God bless him... & the homeless people to whom he’s showing compassion.
— Waithira M. Protano (@In2TheSunshine2) April 14, 2019
In the end, however, Jones explains that he didn’t actually have to stop cutting. Instead, he just had to make sure that he was cleaning up the hair.
The Philadelphia Police didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. But it did confirm that Jones “was not shut down, not cited, not moved,” with a reply on Twitter.
We learned this happened on Wed 4/10 at 8th & Market. The officer approached the barber and initially asked him to cease due to complaints from businesses about loose hair on the street. The barber agreed to sweep after each cut. Barber was not shut down, not cited, not moved.
— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) April 15, 2019
Still, Jones is looking for direct communication and an explanation from the police department, as he still doesn’t understand why they wanted him to shut down in the first place.
After years of providing his service, this encounter won’t slow him down.
“I try not to let anything stop me from the mission and the mission is bigger than myself, and it’s all about those people who are forgotten, who are looked down on, who are talked about and mistreated,” Jones says. “Lives are literally changed, there’s a rebranding of humanity and it’s all cause this initiative. So I’m gonna keep going and I won’t let nothing get in the way of the goal and that’s to spread love.”
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