On February 27, 2018, Wednesday morning in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; an elderly homeless man with sunken-in eyes and protruding cheekbones, donning a well-worn, stone washed jacket was seen standing in a parking lot near a McDonalds by a kind-hearted, man whose Facebook name is Yossi Gallo (herein out referred to as Gallo).
Gallo offered the scrawny, man who appears to be in his 70’s a hot meal at McDonalds. What happened next was heartbreaking.
A McDonald’s employee apparently phoned the police as soon as the man arrived. His mere presence in the restaurant was enough for this employee to think that the police should remove him.
Gallo was outraged as soon as the officers arrived. The homeless man’s meal was barely touched as an officer informed him that he was barred from entering the establishment and needed to leave. As Gallo informed the staff of McDonalds and the officer that “they sucked” and spoke loudly to draw public attention to this horrific display of inhumane treatment to our senior citizens, the officer claimed that “several people” complained about the man asking for money. Gallo attempted to explain that he offered the man the meal and the man had not asked him but his words fell on deaf ears.
Gallo was also informed that he needed to leave immediately and was not welcome to ever come back.
The footage of the confused, embarrassed, sad, upset and beaten-down looking man just trying to eat would bring a tear to anyone’s eye.
Gallo gladly took the man elsewhere for a meal and posted the video to his Facebook page. The video went viral in less than 12 hours.
Aside from the fact that whichever employee who called the police on this man clearly needs to learn a lesson on empathy and humility (since when does working at McDonalds make a person so much better than a homeless person?) also disturbing; is how discriminatory the situation is.
Kicking a homeless person out of an establishment is not exactly within McDonald’s rights. Civil rights laws dictate that all people have the right to “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination”.
An establishment is within its rights to ban or remove a person for being a shoplifter or various other types of disorderly conduct (creating a scene, harassment etc.). The establishment cannot remove or ban a person based upon bias against a class of people. Federally protected classes of people include race, religion and people with disabilities.
A civil rights violation case could easily be made in this situation. In fact, McDonalds may have released a statement giving ammunition to this effect.
The franchise owner, Joel Pellicci, of the Myrtle Beach McDonalds released a statement claiming;
“At my restaurant, the goal is to provide our customers with a positive and welcoming experience each time they visit. Unfortunately, the individual in this video has a history of disruptive behavior and has been asked to leave by management and police on several occasions. His unpredictable behaviors have created significant concerns for the safety and comfort of our employees and customers. Whereas we are compassionate [sic] of the individuals [sic] situation and admirable of the customers [sic] generosity, the restaurant acted to remove an individual that has a long history of disruptive and unacceptable behaviors which have negatively affected customer experiences.”
First, one would think that a person with a history of disruptive behaviors would have reacted as such when an officer tried to remove him. The video clearly shows NO disruptive behavior.
Second; if, indeed, the man has a history of such behaviors; a mental health evaluation may prove a host of issues such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or (very likely) dementia. The man could even have diabetes with uncontrolled sugar fluctuations that also create mental instability. The man may even already be declared disabled.
As of yet; no evidence of such a “lengthy history of disruptive behaviors” has been presented. It seems to be pretty clear that these employees (and perhaps some customers) simply did not feel comfortable with seeing a homeless man on a regular basis.
Maybe he did ask for money and food in the past. People who are uncomfortable with this REALLY need to think about how uncomfortable this elderly man is to have to beg for food and money. What is his story? Is he a veteran of foreign war? Was he laid off from a job without a retirement and unable to get another job at an old age? Does he have health and mental health issues? This is a human being and just because people don’t feel comfortable with seeing homelessness does not make it okay to treat a human like trash. After all, in this day and age, that could be any one of us someday.