In 2016, a police officer in Lexington, Kentucky noticed that a trespassing homeless man had a hospital bracelet attached to his wrist. Rather than move him along or arrest him, the officer decided to buy the man a pizza and have a conversation to see if he could help. The officer was white, the homeless man was black, and it was noticed by someone who posted it to Facebook.
The story went “viral” and was covered on news reports. Not, as one might expect in the midst of widespread Black Lives Matter protests, because of the racial makeup of the pair but because of who the homeless man was. While the officer didn’t recognize him, others did (including the person who’d originally posted to Facebook), and the images of the cop and Henry Earl spread like wildfire.
Henry “James Brown” Earl is a legend in Lexington, Kentucky. He’s had a song written for him by local band The Dangels, and a video about him has had more than 21,000 views. The people watching haven’t only been locals, either; he has followers from all around the globe, and it’s because of his somewhat questionable world record. Henry Earl, alias James Brown, is the most arrested man in the world.
First apprehended in 1970 at age 20 for carrying a concealed weapon, he quickly abandoned a life of violent crime… for a life of nonviolent crime. Specifically, public intoxication and creating a public nuisance. Since his first day in jail, roughly every third day of Henry Earl’s life has been spent behind bars. He has on rare occasions ventured into hard drugs, but overwhelmingly his failing has been alcohol. He gets out, finds some friends or some money, gets drunk, does something stupid in public, and gets arrested again. Because of the minor severity of the crimes even when judges have given him the maximum sentence he’s been out in three months, but typically his sentences have been only a week or less.
He’s friendly enough, and he’s often claimed to wish for rehabilitation.. but he always finds his way back to the bottle, and back behind bars. That was what inspired the video, which consists of nothing save images from his more than 1500 mug shots:
For the record, both Earl and the officer seemed to genuinely like each other…. and Earl was back in jail a few days later.
Question of the night: Who is someone with whom you’d like to share a pizza and lunch conversation?