Tunes vs. Tents: Store’s Trick to Clear Homeless Hangouts

( – Homeless people hanging out in parking lots and begging for money are a problem in big cities. Since confronting these people rarely ends well, the most effective solution is to drive them out by making the stores unattractive in some way, which is just what a Los Angeles 7/11 gas station did. The store owner played an endless loop of the song “Africa” by Toto.

Sound torture is permitted under U.S. law and is a type of psychological warfare. In 1985, a group of Canada’s 7-11 stores played Mozart and Beethoven to disperse crowds of teenagers in their parking lots, and this method was credited with discouraging criminal behavior.

Homeless people in West Palm Beach, Florida, are being deterred by kids’ songs like Baby Shark and Raining Tacos at one venue.

Toto’s song, “Africa,” gained popularity when it was released in October 1982. In an undisclosed location somewhere in the 1,200-mile-long Namib Desert, “Africa” will play on an endless loop as a sound installation. The song pours out of multiple speakers attached to a single MP3 player powered by solar batteries.

Closer than the Namib Desert is the Los Angeles 7-11, on Santa Monica Blvd. and Sawtelle, west of the 405 freeway. It’s an area where the homeless have set up their encampments with tents and boxes.

A man named Damon Packard, who lives near the store, wrote about this on his Facebook page, saying that “Africa” blares out of the loudspeakers 24 hours a day. His post went viral, and the store attracted attention for its creative problem-solving.

Other 7-11 stores have played loud classical music in the past to deter the homeless. Store owners stated that the music annoyed homeless individuals, who bothered and attacked their patrons.

One store owner claimed studies showed people find classical music annoying. Research has shown that playing classical music in London Underground stations reduces violence by 33%. It’s yet to be determined if “Africa” has the same effect.

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