PEOPLE WE SEE: Meet Luther Johnson

Shelterless in Los Angeles.

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 August 30, 2018 by Capt. II Matthew Gatewood, LAFD, Club Member (shown left, above).

Luther Johnson
, 60 was born in Watts and raised on a farm in Perris. He’s been married four times and has five children – three girls and two boys. He is a great grandfather. He is sad to say that he has never seen any of his grandchildren.

Luther is a graduate of Pasadena City College with a degree in the arts. His focus was on drawing and sculpting. He served in the United States Army for six years and was the Army’s All Army Basketball Center for three years. He still loves to watch basketball on TV and would love to play again, but his age and physical condition have limited his movement. When given the opportunity, Luther likes to make his way over to the La Brea Tar Pits, watch sci-fi movies or the TV show Criminal Minds. His favorite actor is Samuel L. Jackson; he really loved him in Pulp Fiction. Luther also liked several Bernie Casey movies.

Luther worked as a security guard all over the City and then became an in-home care provider for six years. He says he would like to get back to work as a security guard in the near future.

Luther sleeps close to City Hall with a few friends right now but has a dream of retiring, living in his own home and relaxing all day. When asked about staying in a shelter, Luther indicated that he would not move into a shelter because, he says, the people who manage them have no compassion and don’t care about people.

Capt. II Matthew Gatewood, LAFD, Club Member (left), with Luther Johnson (right).

Luther wanted to send a message to the parents and children of today. Parents, he advised, stay together, love your children, and love God. Children, do what your parents tell you and stay in school. Luther said that if he could change one thing about living on the streets of Los Angeles, it would be get all the drugs out of Skid Row.

During our interview, I noticed that Luther was wearing a pair of cheater glasses that had been taped together several times. Luther was provided $20 for a new pair of glasses and something to eat. At the close of our conversation, Luther and I prayed for his health and well being.