A disabled man in Indianapolis is speaking out after vandals targeted his van over a parking spot.
On Dec. 2, after spending the evening at a restaurant watching college football with a friend, Dustin Gilmer returned to his van to find vandals had covered it with rude comments on his parking and drawings of male genitals, according to WRTV.
Gilmer, who has brittle bone disease, is in a wheelchair and drives a modified van with a ramp.
When Gilmer arrived at the restaurant, he found all the handicapped parking spots were taken, leaving him with few options.
"So I drove around the parking lot probably three or four times looking for a space that would allow me to deploy my ramp," he told WRTV.
Unable to find a spot that worked, Gilmer parked near the restaurant's patio, trying to make sure his makeshift parking spot didn't block other cars.
But despite his best efforts, Gilmer returned to find a vandal had covered his van in insults and comments on his parking.
"Handicapped or not don't park like a ****," one message read.
"I came out, and there was all this profanity written on my vehicle," Gilmer told WRTV. "I didn't understand why."
"Even if I was blocking someone in, all they had to do was come in and say 'Hey, would you mind moving your vehicle? You're backed up a little too close to my car,'" he added. "I would have gladly come out and moved my car."
Gilmer says he isn't seeking to press charges but just wants to let others know that people with disabilities don't try to take advantage of their situation for special treatment.
"Sometimes when people with disabilities do things, it's not to be mean or a hassle to other people," he said. "It's because we have to. These are the things we have to do in order to have the things everyone else does."
Helping to improve the lives of people with disabilities is a full-time job for Gilmer, who works in the Indianapolis Office of Disability Affairs.
"I never saw myself as much of an advocate," Gilmer told Ball State Magazine in August. "There are enough people out there doing those jobs, so I always thought, why does the world need one more?"
"But when this job came along, I saw how being a person with a disability meant I could better understand the struggles of the people I talk to," he continued. "It makes me feel proud to know I'm making a difference in my city."