In this feature, the Club introduces you to people you see every day, but you might not know who they are. The Club reminds you that we all have names and stories to tell.
This month’s “People We See” was conducted by Club CEO John Hawkins Nov. 9, 2018 at the corner of Stanford and Fifth Streets downtown Los Angeles. John gave Groove sustenance and $20 for expenses.
Latrelle “Groove” Manning is 50 years old, has a 27-year-old daughter and has been living on the street for 35 years.
He said his homelessness began when he got out of prison for selling drugs to an undercover officer. He said that when he got out of prison, he was basically dropped off on Skid Row, where drugs are sold … and the cycle continued.
I asked him how he began selling drugs in the first place. He said that as a kid living in South Central, as soon as he stepped out of his front door all he saw were pimps, prostitutes and gang bangers. But he acknowledged that there were other people in situations similar to his who didn’t end up on the streets.
He said he knows he made bad decisions. I asked him if there were a defining moment in his life that turned him on way or another. He said it was the first time he smoked a cigarette, when he was 11. He did it to be cool around his friends. From there he started doing other things that his friends were doing. Drinking, then smoking weed, and other drugs … and “there I went.”
Where does he want to see himself five years from now? “Anywhere but where I am now.”
He said he doesn’t have too many more years left. “A ‘tornado’ is coming and they’ll be walking poodles down this very street soon. The tornado will remove the homeless and I’ll be able to take advantage of resources to help me.”
He said with the situation now most of the people living on Fifth Street are spoiled. “You have everything at your fingertips down here — food, clothes and drugs.”
What would have changed his path? “If I were a parent I’d drop my kid off on Skid Row at 1:30 in the morning. I’d have them see what life is really like” down on the street.