Thomas Harris, a one-legged homeless man who lives near a park in Brooklyn, says that NYPD officers and sanitation workers took his belongings away on Jan. 4 (video below).
Neysa Malone filmed part of the incident, which included a police car and a truck from the sanitation department pulling up at 1:30 a.m. Malone said in the video that she wanted to get Harris away from the police so that he would be safe.
"The whole thing, to me, it was disturbing," Malone told the New York Daily News.
"They treated me like a piece of s***,” the 59-year-old disabled man told the newspaper from a local hospital emergency room. "I was crying like a baby. It was humiliating."
Harris said the cops and sanitation workers took his crutches, blankets, clothing, bicycle, and backpacks. His wheelchair survived the sweep because a woman named Kasia Bednarska grabbed it, and returned it to him at the hospital.
Bednarska brought Harris some food, and started a GoFundMe page for the homeless man:
Thomas Harris is a homeless man who has been living on a bench facing 239 Ocean Ave in Brooklyn for quite sometime now. He lost his legs when he got struck by a subway train. Many people know him as the Drum Man.
He always sells beautiful authentic african drums that he creates himself near the drum circle in Prospect Park. In the cold, the drums serve as a shield to keep him warm.
On the night of 1/4/2017, 11 police officers forcefully grabbed him as he then fell on the ground injuring his [reconstructed] hip.
After the sweep, the police sent Harris to the ER.
"They tried to put me in the pysch ward but there isn’t a damn thing wrong with me," Harris told the New York Daily News.
He said that the police and sanitation workers have targeted other homeless people.
"You can see it in the Daily News," Harris said while holding the newspaper. "They’re taking homeless people's stuff and throwing it in the trash. I’m just the latest."
Harris was referring to a $1,515 settlement (taxpayer money) that New York City recently paid out to three homeless men who threatened to sue the city after police and sanitation workers took their belongings in October 2015.
District leader Geoffrey Davis witnessed the police taking away Harris' property:
It's not your call to say what's valuable and what isn't. Those are his belongings, they shouldn't be tossed in the garbage. He’s a very nice man. Very independent, doesn’t bother anyone. He'll have a conversation with you, but he just wants to do his own thing.
An NYPD spokesman denied that the cops tossed away most of the homeless man's belongings. The spokesman said that Harris' 23 drums, 14 wall fans and other possessions were placed in safekeeping.
It's not clear how placing a disabled homeless man's possessions in safekeeping, which the homeless man will now have to retrieve, benefits the homeless man.