A freshly shaven California man pulled up to a food bank in a fancy limousine, helped himself to food, deodorant, and toothbrushes, and posted a video, bragging that he'll do it again.
Mark Roen, 47, may be better known as "Bong Rip" to his hundreds of thousands of subscribers, who he affectionately refers to as his "Stoner Army" on his online channel. He told The Huffington Post that even though what he does "might not be 100 percent morally correct," it's important for his audience to see how "bums" at Huntington Beach are supposedly exploiting the system.
For the past eight years, Roen has gained a following through what he calls "marijuana activism," bringing attention to legalizing the drug, and was even featured in a 2008 LA Times profile.
A video posted Thursday, however, appears to be anything but activism.
In a live stream later captured on YouTube, Roen brags about the haul of goods he's gotten from a local food bank in the Huntington Beach area while sitting inside a limousine and smoking marijuana.
"They were f**king full on bums," Roen says in the 13-minute video. "Look at me, dressed...nicely shaven, hair washed. The lady's asking me if I'm homeless...I had to say yes. I wasn't really prepared for the whole scam."
The video continues with Roen showing off all the goods he has taken from the kitchen.
"They're hooking some bums up," he says. "They hooked this box up fat, you guys."
In an interview with The Huffington Post on Monday, Roen defended his actions, first claiming that the video was an attempt to show the high-sodium products the homeless are given.
"I didn’t really want to eat any of that, 2,000 grams of sodium in each can, they’re killing the poor bums," he said. "I think they’re literally trying to kill the bums with sodium."
The video shows that, along with canned food, food bank clients were also being given fresh tomatoes and bread, as well as toothbrushes and deodorant.
Roen later said his actions were warranted because he, himself, is homeless.
"I live in my music studio, my limo, and my parents let me crash out at their pad," he told HuffPost. "Technically, I am homeless."
The self-described entertainer said he wanted to show his audience how the homeless live.
"We’re looking at how the bums live by the beach. They don’t look like they’re living that bad, really," he said. "They’re literally driving in with cars picking up food."
Roen declined to comment on the name of the food bank he took goods from, saying only that it was at a church.
Shannon Santos, executive director of Someone Cares, a soup kitchen and tutoring program based in Costa Mesa, said she found the video offensive.
“It’s very disheartening that someone was making a mockery out of someone’s position in life,” Santos said.
When asked if this video takes away from his message of being an activist, Roen said it was important for his audience to see.
"There is an aspect of my show where I seem like a criminal, where I either seem like I’m stealing or I’m robbing or doing something bad," Roen said. "Think about it, [my] audience is a bunch of wannabe thugs and hustlers...there’s always gotta be a bad boy effect."
According to court records obtained by The Huffington Post, Roen was arrested in 2005 on felony drug charges by Huntington Beach police. He later pled guilty to possession of concentrated cannabis and was given a two-year probation.
Lt. Mitch O'Brien with the Huntington Beach Police Department said that, while the video is distasteful, Roen hasn't committed a crime.
"The 'soup kitchen' appears to be a food bank that, although rude and disrespectful, it is not a crime to lie about your homeless status. They give away food. Therefore, there is no loss and no apparent crime depending on the circumstances (which we don’t really know)," O'Brien said.
Roen said he feels no remorse for his actions.
"As a human, you’re gonna do some stuff you might regret later or might not be 100 percent morally correct," he said. "But once it’s on film, it’s a done deal. What I did is what I did. I don’t feel I did anything bad because I always give homeless people money."
Roen said he will go again on Thursday to once again live stream himself taking food from a food bank or soup kitchen.
"I'm going to get some bags this time," he said. "Last time we got the box, I heard the bag was better. We’re gonna show everything in the bag this time."
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