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Cause of death of homeless man still under investigation

A dead body was found this morning, Tuesday, January 24, outside the doors of the City Council Chamber, where the Occupy Claremont protest currently resides. Gregory Toliver, an Occupy Claremont participant, found the body at approximately 8 a.m.

The Los Angeles County Coroner arrived around 11 a.m. to transport the body for further investigation. The cause of death is unknown. Though police have yet to release a name, Mr. Toliver has confirmed that the body is that of 50-year old Phillip Greene, a prominent Claremont homeless man.

Mr. Greene had stopped by the encampment Monday evening to share good news with the Occupiers, according to Andrew Mohr.

“Things were looking good for him,” Mr. Mohr said. “He was getting a hold of a social worker, he had gotten medicine, and was going to get housing and therapy.”

“He was crying he was so happy,” Mr. Toliver noted.

After chatting with the group, Mr. Greene laid down by the chamber doors with his bedroll and fell asleep. Mr. Toliver woke up around 3 a.m. to check the encampment and while walking about he noticed Mr. Greene move about and mumble. He pulled up a cushion to place under Mr. Greene’s head and went back into his tent to fall asleep. That was the last time Mr. Toliver saw him alive. Mr. Toliver walked out of his tent to find the body around 8 a.m.

“I noticed something was wrong,” Mr. Toliver said. “I felt his artery and realized that he had crossed over.”

Mr. Toliver then dialed 9-1-1.

Mr. Greene, though not an Occupier himself according to the men, had frequently visited the Occupiers over the past several months, stopping to chat or share a meal. The group allowed him to sleep in an empty tent on a couple different occasions for safety. Mr. Greene shared that he had been troubled by a stalker for the past several months, according to Mr. Toliver.

“[The encampment] was somewhere for him to be safe,” he said.

A suffering alcoholic, Mr. Greene seemed sober Monday night when he came to mingle with the Occupiers, according to Mr. Toliver, though he noticed that Mr. Greene had an unusually prominent stutter.

“I’ve seen Phil drunk, I’ve seen Phil sober. He was very sober, but he normally doesn’t have that stutter,” Mr. Toliver said.

Despite recent controversy over safety issues related to the Occupy Movement, Tuesday’s death is unrelated to the safety of Occupy Claremont, the Occupiers stated. 

“Phil had been here 5 years before us,” Mr. Toliver said of Mr. Greene and the homeless population here in Claremont.

Mr. Toliver did note that the Occupy movement helps give a voice to people like Mr. Greene.

“They are why we are here,” he said. “Phil is one of those people the system has known about for years, but somehow fouled up on the paperwork,” Mr. Toliver said. “The sad irony is all that was solved yesterday.”

—Beth Hartnett

COURIER staff is currently working to get more details and will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

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