Homeless Man Burned to Death on LA's Skid Row; Advocate Again Calls for Federal Intervention

Earlier this month, as reported at RedState, longtime Los Angeles homeless advocate Rev. Andy Bales said that the scope of the public health and humanitarian crisis in Los Angeles is now beyond what the state and local government can handle and that only a FEMA-type intervention can solve it now.


(Note, readers, that the paragraph states “FEMA-type” and not FEMA. There seemed to be some confusion in the prior article.)

Bales is sounding the alarm again after a Skid Row fixture, Dwayne Fields, was killed Monday night – burned to death when his tent was set on fire. According to the LA Times:

“Fields, 62, was inside his tent around 11:30 p.m. when, prosecutors allege, another man set his living quarters ablaze. Responding officers found Fields walking down 6th street, his body still burning, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case candidly.”

Deon Joseph witnessed the horrific scene.

In reply to Deon Joseph’s tweet, Bales said that “gang control” of Skid Row has gone on for too long and that more help is needed.


According to an LA Times report, there has been a recent spate of violence around Skid Row.

Four people, including a social worker and a security guard, were shot in San Julian Park last week after a dispute erupted on the sidewalk. Earlier this month, a 59-year-old homeless man was beaten to death with a pipe during a robbery.

Fields’ chronic homelessness exposed flaws in the current bureaucratic response to homelessness in Los Angeles, according to Pete White, Executive Director of Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN). Fields had found a home multiple time over the last five years, but wanted to stay with his partner, who had “mobility issues.”

“The problem was his partner who was still out there. They could never find accommodations for a couple, which is one of the big problems with our … system of providing services,” White said. “There are very limited opportunities for single individuals and even less so for partners.”

Another homeless advocate, Gen. Jeff Page, said:

“You’ve got a lot of families that are stuck on the sidewalk because they want to stay together,” he said. “There’s situations like this where, to me, the skid row infrastructure is to blame, because it’s not accommodating the needs of human beings and natural human family systems.”

Fields, a street musician, had a large network of friends in the Skid Row area, and they gathered Wednesday night to celebrate his life and to comfort Valerie Wertlow, the partner he left behind.


The group held a candlelight vigil, walking from LACAN’s office to the corner of Sixth and San Pedro streets, where Wertlow and Fields’ tent had stood.

“What two nights earlier was a crime scene became a living memorial to Fields.

“Alongside Wertlow’s belongings were three pictures of her companion of two decades. Paper printouts of Fields’ smiling face were attached with paper clips to the chain link fence that backstopped her home.

“Speakers were set up. A keyboard was plugged in. And Fields’ friends sang ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’ ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Amazing Grace.” Wertlow led the group in singing ‘Lean On Me.’

“Wertlow said mutual attraction helped start their relationship, but it was Fields’ kindness that kept them together.

‘If you needed anything … he had it,” she said. “He had you.’

“And now, Wertlow said, she has him.”

Another homeless man, 38-year-old Jonathan Early, has been charged with capital murder in Fields’ death.


What supposedly compassionate progressives don’t understand is that their “compassionate” policies regarding vagrancy, mental health treatment, and homelessness are leading to record numbers of deaths among the homeless population. In 2018, 918 homeless people died on the streets in Los Angeles County. Of course, this is in addition to the public health crisis and increases in crime fueled by the astronomical rise in the homeless population.

When compassion is misguided, it leads to rule by those with no compassion at all.

Jennifer Van Laar is Deputy Managing Editor at RedState and Executive Director of the Save California PAC. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.


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