An unlikely friendship yields a gritty look at life on the streets

Kemal and Amos in Pershing Square
Kemal and Amos in Pershing Square

Los Angeles native Kemal Cilengir, 28, was one of many people attracted to Occupy LA a few years ago. The protest movement brought him new, like-minded friends, and a desire to tell stories that aren’t typically heard in mainstream media. To tell those stories, Cilengir partnered with a 49-year-old homeless man named Amos, and launched a YouTube channel they call StreetwiseLA.

Amos typically sleeps on the streets in downtown LA. He prefers to keep away from nearby Skid Row services offered to the homeless because, he says, of the dirt and the drugs that dot that particular landscape. Most days, he hangs out in Pershing Square with the tiny video camera Cilengir gave him.

Cilengir works as an accountant and at the end of his day, a few times a week, he’ll meet up with Amos, retrieve the video, and post it online. The two hope not only to shine a spotlight on a way of living that most of us choose not to dwell on, but also to  make enough money from advertising to get Amos off the streets. “I’ve tried a lot of things in life,” Amos says. “My thing is this, I’ve been doing so much bad in life, so now I think I’m doing something good.”

I sat down with the two citizen journalists and friends in Pershing square:

 

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Below, a recent Streetwise LA video: