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Joel John Roberts Headshot

Bashing the Homeless: When Pinkberry Becomes Punkberry

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What is this country coming to when a guy in a car chases down a homeless man and pounds him with a tire iron, just because they exchanged angry words? Sounds like the old Wild West where guns were the primary mode of justice, or today's drug cartels terrorizing their people just south of America.

You would think the guy in the car was some young, angry teenage male wanting to harm homeless Americans just for the thrill of it, a sad trend in this country.

But, no.

Six months ago, the man in the Range Rover who used a tire iron as a violent weapon was the co-founder of Pinkberry yogurt company. A few enraged words at a Los Angeles freeway off-ramp, and the Pinkberry founder imparted his own savage injustice with an iron rod.

This furious act of wrath doesn't make sense. Could you imagine the CEO of Starbucks, or Nike, jumping out of their Range Rovers to brutally beat a homeless person?

How could the founder of Pinkberry leap to such rage? Did he down a cup of frozen yogurt, and plan to plead guilty by reason of "brain freeze"? Or perhaps he will use the "Twinkie Defense" because excessive sugar made him violent?

In a society that promotes sick entertainment like Bum Fights, that pits homeless persons against other homeless persons, no wonder violence against the homeless is tolerated.

The 2006 grainy video images of young men swinging baseball bats against homeless men sprawled on the ground still haunt this country's sense of compassion. Five years later, hurting people on our streets still endure violence, to the point of death. Stabbings in Orange County, and a tire iron beating in Los Angeles.

The Pinkberry beating is such a stark contrast with the product they market. That soft and sweet frozen concoction makes you feel good inside, especially during those warm days. The pink and green, almost retro-looking interiors of their stores transport you to a time when hanging out with the family on a weekend summer evening to share a cup of ice cream was the norm.

I wish the founder of Pinkberry embraced the same soft and sweet feeling in his own life, especially in his perspective on homelessness. Instead, a few angry words turned into a soured, hardened act of vigilante violence.

The only commonality between Pinkberry's product and its founder is that they are both cold. One is a delightfully frozen dessert, and the other contains a cold heart.

The founder of one of America's favorite summer-time desserts may be a creatively successful businessman, but to me he is just a punk, like the other sick men wielding baseball bats against hurting homeless Americans.