Despite living a life of crime, homeless on the streets of Melbourne, Australia, when push came to shove Michael Rogers felt compelled to “do the right thing” and help to stop an ISIS terrorist from stabbing police officers.
Rogers, who has been called “trolley man” for ramming his shopping cart into the knife-wielding terrorist, has also been dubbed a hero by many for his brave actions. He also has a great opportunity to turn his life around for the better as a result of his courage.
Rogers sent social media into a virtual meltdown after footage was posted of him ramming terrorist Hassan Khalif Shire Ali with his shopping cart. While his actions were brave and a little reckless, many feel that Rogers did exactly the right thing in the face of a terror attack and should be commended for it. His actions could have stopped police officers from getting stabbed.
Soon after Australia’s National Homeless Collective saw the footage, they made contact with Rogers, wanting to reimburse him for his mobile phone that was smashed during the attack. They launched a campaign to “get [him] back on his feet,” and have raised more than $100,000 for the homeless man. But not everyone is so thrilled with Rogers, as some claim his actions could have led to potentially dangerous consequences.
While Rogers deserves the title of hero for his actions, Victorian Police’s commissioner Graham Ashton, said that things could have been a lot worse. “I don’t like to criticize people in that situation, he’s acting instinctively about what he’s looking at in front of him,” Ashton said according to a 3AW report. But that trolley could have hit a cop, and that would have been devastating, according to Ashton.
Despite his criticism, Ashton feels that Rogers was brave to tackle the terrorist. “But if a trolley had hit a police member and knocked him over and then this offender got on top of him, we could have had a tragic consequence,” he noted. “I think he was trying to support the police in his own way, so I haven’t been jumping on him over the weekend,” he said.
One commenter on Rogers’ GoFundMe page that was set up after the terrorist incident recognized his braveness but also considered his move to be a “stupid” one. “I think that this guy was incredibly stupid. Brave maybe … but basically very stupid, and could have caused more harm by getting in the way,” wrote the cynic. Another person also posted a comment about incidents like these that end up raising huge sums for random people from fundraising websites.
Well in Excess
“I hate these things that raise money for a single individual well in excess of what is needed because it always comes at the expense of people giving generously elsewhere to address systemic problems that lead to the situations he was in the first place,” wrote one person. “You don’t fix homelessness (or this man’s life actually) by throwing $50k at him personally,” they added.
Then again, many people think that Rogers did exactly the right thing when he tackled the terrorist head on. Professor Clive Williams, a terrorism expert and visiting professor at the Australian National University, told reporters “If somebody can help a police officer, then it’s a good thing,” he said. “The police are part of our community, and I feel sorry for them because in a lot of environments they are seen as the enemy, and it shouldn’t be that way.”
Lack of Training
Williams pointed out that while Rogers may have had his intentions in place on that day, his actions could have threatened his own life as well as the lives of the officers on duty. “They are only young people (the police who tackled Ali), and they’re put in difficult situations sometimes. The danger is that, if somebody’s not trained and doesn’t know what they’re doing, they could become a casualty themselves – but I wouldn’t want to deter people from helping the police if they possibly can,” he said.
Another person weighed in to praise Rogers for his actions. Donna Salzberg, National Homeless Collective CEO, told The Australian: “He got up to protect two police officers … we don’t see that much; he just jumped up without any thought of concern himself,” she said. She also noted that dozens of bystanders watched on as the terror attack played out and Rogers was the only one to do something about it.
Life at Risk
It’s noteworthy that despite his very checkered past, Rogers had no regard for his safety when tackling the terrorist. “There were dozens of people standing around, and he was the only one who jumped in there and put his life at risk for strangers … he is the epitome of being a hero,” said Salzberg. But he had reasons for doing what he did on that day, apart from his instincts.
Whatever one can say about Rogers’ attributes, high self-esteem is not one of them. Having been homeless for many years, turning to petty crime and shoplifting just to eat on some occasions, Rogers recognizes that he just wanted to do the right thing for once. “I just wanted to help and do something right for the first time in my life,” he said.
Having been in prison for burglary, Rogers also had a long history of drug abuse and addiction. Despite having a public housing apartment to live in, Rogers chose to live on the streets. For that reason, Salzberg said, she is working closely to ensure that the money raised for Rogers is spent properly and not on drugs.
Salzberg noted on the organization’s website: “All funds donated to this campaign will go directly to Mr. Rogers to help get him back on his feet.” He is considered to be a hero by so many that the money is deserved, according to Salzberg. “He’s a hero in our eyes, and he can do what he feels best with any funds he receives. He risked his own life that day for nothing in return, and you can’t put a price on that.”
The charity has been overwhelmed with support for Rogers. They expressed that they have been “blown away” from all the donations which have come pouring in to help “trolley man get back on his feet.” The charity has seen such unprecedented support that they have removed any targets from their fundraiser, claiming that the “sky’s the limit” for Rogers.
The charity also noted: “We don’t actually have a set target to reach, but due to the incredible generosity we’ve seen so far we’ll keep increasing the total accordingly,” they wrote.”We’ve far surpassed our original goal. Let’s aim for the sky. Our hero absolutely deserves it.” And the help for Rogers is making a massive difference as he attempted to turn his life around for the first time in years.
Having been involved in shoplifting on occasion when he needed to eat, Rogers was put in jail for stealing a bike from the street as well as for aggravated burglary. But thousands of adoring fans have sent him more than $136,000 in donations. That amount of cash helped Rogers to get back on his feet.
While Rogers’ lifestyle cannot be considered decadent, he did spend $500 that was handed to him by the charity who are helping him. With that money, Rogers decided to buy a mobile phone to replace the one that was smashed when he accosted the terrorist. He also binged out on a feast of spaghetti marinara and pizza from his favorite restaurant – La Porchetta.
Despite handing Rogers $500 in cash, Salzberg from MHA told reporters that she would be putting the rest of the money into a trust for the hero. This is to ensure he doesn’t blow the cash on drugs or on things he doesn’t need, having been homeless for so many years. For his part, Rogers wants to do more good and to donate some of his money to charity.
Share the Wealth
Having realized that the donations coming in well exceeded what he even needs to live, Rogers told the Daily Mail that once the dust has settled, he intends to donate $15,000 to charity to “share the wealth.” “I want to be a good guy,” he told the publication. “I’m going to try anything to do the right thing because I just wanna get a place to settle in that I like, and set it up the way I want it,” he said.
Despite all the good news for Rogers, there is also some bad news too. Rogers was in court for a spate of burglaries he took part in, as well as for breaching his bail conditions. Having handed himself into the police, it’s expected that his bail application will be opposed due to the circumstances. The police even released an official statement about Rogers.
Before he handed himself in, Melbourne police released the following statement on their website. “Police are seeking the whereabouts of a 46-year-old man of no fixed address in relation to a number of recent burglaries in the Melbourne CBD and St Kilda areas and breach of bail conditions,” they wrote. Rogers handed himself in the very next day.
Despite being Australia’s most recent unsung hero, Rogers must face magistrates for the crimes he committed in the past. He faced charges for two counts of burglary, two counts of theft, and committing an indictable offense while on bail.
Rogers spoke to reporters about his deceased grandmother who he said he “loved dearly” but who he disappointed constantly. She died while Rogers was serving a five-year jail term for aggravated burglary. “She would have been exceptionally proud,” Rogers said about his grandma. “God bless her, she lived to 92,” he added.
For his part, Rogers said that he wants to put his life of crime behind him and make something of himself. When he was asked what he would do with all the donations he has received, Rogers said, “To be honest, I don’t know what I am going to do,” adding, “I’m 46 mate. I’ve got to get my act together.”