They were quietly folding freshly cleaned towels in a vacant lot behind a large for sale sign in downtown Orlando, FL. Damion told me, “The police harass us something awful here – they told me that they would charge me with grand theft larceny because of the shopping carts. They treat us like we are stupid, I got the shopping carts from a dumpster.” I took a look at the rusted carts, it was more than obvious they had not been used by any store in years.
“I have PTSD,” he told me. I asked for more details and he said, “I was stationed in Italy and one of our own guys accidentally ran over me in a military truck – he hit a bump and I was the next bump. [sarcastic].”
“You may want to stick around, I’m sure the cops will be here just as they always are,” he told me with a slight chuckle. “We are nothing to them,” he sadly said.
Within 10-minutes of my conversation, five Orlando Police Officers rode up on their bikes surrounding the two. “We ordered you to move yesterday. You cannot be on this lot. This is private property,” one of the officers said in a deep tone. The property owner then showed up while taking photographs on his phone. The property owner would not make eye contact with the two homeless individuals and told the police he wants them gone, which is his right.
As an onlooker, I did not see the point in mandating the two leave. The property was totally vacant and was simply a concrete slab with two for sale signs that were put up in 2011.
"Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment." - Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – Assassinated in 1948, Civil Rights Leader)