In Washington D.C. Wednesday, Grace Maria (McKinnon) noticed a homeless man in a potentially deadly encounter with police who were ordering him to the ground. She began to record. But more than that, she encouraged the man named Anthony, who pleads with her for help as he believes police will kill him, to follow police commands and even helps him to do so.
“I literally think I just saved someone’s life… I’m shaking y’all…”
Her recording of the incident opens with a view of an officer pointing a gun at the man named Anthony telling him to get on the ground. Anthony tells Grace “You see him trying to shoot me? You see him trying to shoot me? I ain’t doing nothing to nobody. You saw me sleeping, right?”
The officer is repeatedly directing him to “get on the ground.” Then the cop tells Grace to move away. She declines. He says Anthony has knives. Anthony shakes open his jacket and claims not to be armed and tells the officer that. Grace pans the camera to what appears to be a knife in the cross walk. The officer tells Anthony again to get on the ground. That’s when Grace goes from documentarian to participant. Anthony begins to get on the ground as Grace says, “This is not worth dying for, this is not worth dying for. Just listen to him, this is not worth dying for. They’re killing us out here. This is not worth dying for. This s*** is not worth dying for.”
Anthony gets down on the street and as officers with guns still drawn again command him to get on the ground and then, “roll over, roll over” and to “put his hands” behind his back saying “relax, relax,” Grace takes his arm and helps him saying “It’s not worth dying for.”
Anthony, said to be in his early 20s, was profiled on Invisible People. He became homeless after his mother died of colon cancer. He was alone but wound up on the streets. He sleeps in Union Station in Washington D.C. When he gets older, his dream was to build an orphanage. And a food program for homeless kids. All his dreams, he said, in helping other kids. He said if he had three wishes he’d wish for a house, he’d give back daily to others and have “a nice job.”
Grace started a GoFundMe page to help Anthony.
“Please consider donating whatever you can to help out the young man in this video. He is in his early 20s and is homeless. He sleeps in union station and his mother passed away from colon cancer. His name is Anthony and I saved his life today while I was coming back from work. Anthony wants his own place and hoes to open up an orphanage one day and to also start a feeding program. Anthony almost lost his life today but I’m glad that he didn’t. His life matters. All humans lives are precious. I used to be homeless and having people to support me literally saved my life. Please if you can, donate. Anything you can donate is enough. Love, Grace”
The goal is $6,000. As of Thursday at noon, that goal was surpassed by 350 people with mostly small donations.
Thousands of people have commented on Grace’s original post opining that had she not intervened, Anthony may have been shot. Some ask why he didn’t comply initially. Others suggest he may have mental health issues. A number of people asked why he had a knife. Grace said he since he lives on the street, he likely had the knife for self-defense.
For her part, Grace remains humble and encourages people to embrace compassion and kindness.
A graduate of Howard University, Grace works as Assistant Director, Health and Welfare at American University, according to her LinkedIn.
“In honor of my brother who died by suicide, this page will raise awareness of suicide through telling my story. ⠀⠀
My goal is to inspire healing and hope and decrease the stigma associated with suicide by promoting compassion, understanding, and sharing personal knowledge that has helped me deal with the trauma and loss of my brothers death. Be on the lookout for more content and please feel free to reach out with any questions.”
Grace shared that she too was once homeless in an interview with Circa.
Invisible People founder Mark Horvath explains its mission.
“I’ve seen amazingly good things happen when people who are homeless get the chance to tell their stories. You should see someone’s face when they realize another person actually wants to listen to them.
It should not be unusual for any of us to be seen, acknowledged, heard, or helped. But for people used to being invisible, it can be a big, big deal.”
Invisible People is in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.