Outrage follows video of homeless man’s bed set on fire during George Floyd protests in Austin

Internet responds by donating mattress Joseph

Internet responds to viral video by donating mattress to homeless man identified as Cale (Twitter)

AUSTIN, Texas – A homeless Austin man had his bed set on fire during weekend protests in the state capital, but viewers are skeptical that the suspects were actually part of the nationwide George Floyd protests.

The now-viral video, which is trending across Twitter, shows the man grabbing a mattress that has been thrown onto a fire on the streets of downtown Austin, near Interstate 35.

UPDATE: TikTok video shows happy ending, donations for homeless man whose bed was set on fire in Austin

Two people can be seen at the beginning of the video pulling the mattress toward burning debris and throwing it onto the fire. The man can be seen chasing the pair up to the fire and then he tries to grab the mattress and falls backwards.

He can be heard shouting “No" and “I live here” several times in the video, originally uploaded by Infowars, a right-wing conspiracy website with roots in Austin. He also asks “what are you doing?” to the person who is filming the incident.

ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman tweeted the video Sunday and said the man’s name is Cale and that he lives in front of her building.

“These protests are happening on top of a homeless encampment. People’s actual homes have been destroyed. I spoke to Cale this morning, and he was covered in vomit and ash," Huseman said in a Twitter post.

KSAT reached out to Huseman via email on Wednesday and she clarified saying, “The man screaming at the camera is named Joe. The man putting out the fire on top of the mattress is Cale, and I spoke to him. I speak to him most days. He lives in front of my building.”

Please be advised that the video below contains graphic language.

The social media storm surrounding the video calls into question whether the pair who threw the bed onto the fire are really affiliated with Infowars, a website founded by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones has made headlines recently after the FDA warned him to stop pitching bogus coronavirus remedies.

Many Twitter users shared explicit tweets accusing Infowars of the crime and Huseman backed that up on Twitter as well saying, “Is this infowars? Yes. Did this happen as depicted? Yes.”

Huseman’s tweet has since vanished from the platform but she also clarified in an email to KSAT that “The video was shot by infowars. I do not know if Infowars started the fire.”

KSAT has not been able to identify whether Infowars was responsible for the burning of the bed.

There have been several GoFundMe’s set up for Joseph, however, KSAT has not been able to determine the validity of their origin and whether or not the money donated will go to Joseph.

“We have been paying for [Jospeh] to stay in a hotel and purchased him a phone until we can help him secure an apartment,” said a spokesperson for the nonprofit United Way in Austin.

Huseman tweeted Monday morning that someone donated a mattress to Cale and that she will deliver to him.

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*Editors Note: A previous version of this story misidentified the man’s name as Cale. It’s Joseph.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.