by Brenda S.
Six years ago, I started having tremendous pain in my legs and had a great amount of difficulty walking. My temp agency which placed me in State of Texas offices doing accounting, secretarial, and professional work refused to let me work for them anymore. I was doing my work at my desk well while crying in pain. I used my savings to pay my rent as long as possible. Eventually I was evicted and lost everything. I have been homeless for 5 1/2 years living in the streets, a storage unit, sleeping on the bus and on benches and sometimes staying at the Salvation Army – always broke, but with food stamps having been denied Social Security Disability Insurance payments twice.
While I have written for the Challenger Newspaper for over two years, recently I have been able to sell it to earn some money. As I was sitting on a median selling my papers at Braker and Parmer, several police officers came by in two cars and told me I could not be there. One officer ask me numerous questions such as how long I had been there that day, where I lived, how many papers I had to sell, how long I had been selling them at that intersection and other questions. He told me I needed a permit and then backed down when I showed him the letter that the COA sent stating that non-profits do not need permits. He kept mentioning the Sit/Lie ordinance which made no sense to me because it only concerns the downtown area. Other officers there ran my Driver’s License and found it totally clean. I was very intimidated even though I was totally innocent.
Eventually, he told me that the chair I needed to sit in because I am disabled and can’t stand for long periods of time, my merchandise which was in a bag on the ground, and my backpack containing my purse which they said were all my belongings and was on the ground holding my chair down to keep from blowing away in the wind, constituted camping. Have you ever camped? That is not camping as I did on family vacation when I was a child. I was working my job selling papers while living in the Salvation Army, but he said it was “camping”. He did not give me a camping ticket, but did give me a verbal warning, so I left.
Some time ago there was a man who was a double amputee in a wheel chair just trying to make some money selling flowers downtown at night to couples and they ran him off. I haven’t seen him since.
An old woman I know in her 70’s sitting in her walker dozed off downtown while waiting for a bus got a ticket from APD.
Old people doze off.
We, and others like us, are not Shoplifting, Robbing a store or a person, Breaking and Entering, committing Arson, Assault and Battery, Rape, Kidnapping, Extortion, Embezzlement, Fraud, Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, or anything else. We are just living and trying to make a living.
Unbelievably APD says they do not have enough officers and need more. I think that APD needs some changes to redirect their attention from people trying to survive while hurting no one and not really doing anything wrong ethically or morally to some really interesting crime. FOR REAL – I have asked God to do whatever it takes to put their time to something useful so they will stop harassing innocent people.
PS – The money I made selling newspapers has allowed me to get a walker which has been a tremendous help in ambulating and reducing my pain. When I sell my newspapers, I can sit in it and hang my belongings on it to prevent me from being accused of camping. My thanks to Kerring Group, A Medical Equipment Provider, at 4000 Medical Pkwy who made it possible for me to acquire the walker.
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