A ceremony in West Beverly Hills to honor a group of derelicts ended in controversy Sunday after police had to be called to break up a melee between the derelicts and attendees.
The “Life in Touch with Nature” award has been handed out the last two years by a group of prominent citizens, and is meant to honor those who “help keep our planet clean by controlling consumption, emission, and reproduction.” Past honorees include Madonna and Al Gore.
This year, though, organizers decided to honor homeless people. “Only homeless people live a life that Emerson or Thoreau would recognize as being in touch with nature, taking only what they need from the land,” said organizer Michael Ducarty. “We wanted to honor that, so we rounded up fifteen of them from the streets of LA to give them a hot meal and present them with an award.”
The fight started when one of the homeless men, who identified himself as Napoleon Bauer, discovered that the wine being served was non-alcoholic. In a symbol of protest he stood up on the table of honor and urinated on Mistress of Ceremonies Bea Arthur.
A fight then started, which raged until police arrived to tear gas and separate the two groups. Reports indicated that the citizens, who outnumbered homeless three to one, were next to utter annihilation when riot police intervened.
Bauer told police that “civil disobedience is necessary when somebody using a hobo to feel better about themselves refuses to provide booze. We have feelings too, you know.”