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The Ocean Club (Whose “Property” Is It?)
On this particular day (Day 2), the day after the United States Department Of Justice said it would be considered a “terrorist act” to purposefully attempt to infect another with the Coronavirus, the Fort Lauderdale police officer, acting on behalf of the Castle Group, the Ocean Club board of governors, and RTI Construction, not only fails to either “PROTECT OR SERVE” me, he disrespects me completely, going so far as threatening to arrest me for trespassing (in the lobby of my building), and persistently, and jokingly coughs in my face, while claiming to be infected with the deadly virus.
Earth vs. The Leaf Blowers
Before the attack, a little history of life on Galt Ocean Mile (Fort Lauderdale, Florida).
Days after (Leaf Blower) Claude assaulted me for having taken his picture, and then called the police to take me away, I saw him again, and explained that I was taking pictures to document how offensive it was to have his employer (Landscapes By Design), in the name of “managing the property,” make my neighborhood virtually uninhabitable.
In the video, you’ll hear Claude, in his ignorance, telling the Fort Lauderdale police dispatcher that he didn’t believe I had the “right” to take his photograph, because I wasn’t a member of his family.
Of course in a 40-year career as a street photographer, I’ve heard many such claims, and usually explain my purpose and the law on the spot. In this case, however, I’m shooting video, rather than still photography, and find my delaying the diplomacy, reveals more of the corporate philosophy of “property management,” that values maximum profit, with absolutely no concern for the residents’ lives they devalue thoughtlessly.
Other than his assaulting (or is it battering?) me, I felt sorry Claude, who is a minimum wage employee, just trying to do his job. You’ll see as he and I wait for the arrival of the Fort Lauderdale police officer (Sean Kelley), who he had called, Claude struggles to plead his case … that he paid $5000 taxes last year, and that it is people like him who move America forward.
When I talked to him later that week, I told Claude I was sympathetic to his cause, and it was his employer(LANDSCAPES BY DESIGN/QUIONA), not him, who I had a problem with.
The same thing, at the time, I said to officer Kelley after he asked if I wanted to pursue any action against Claude, for his having struck my camera. Knowing that pressing the claim would force Claude to take time away from his job to appear before a judge, I explained to Kelley that I didn’t want that, but rather that he explain to Claude, that in this country, I have a right to take his picture, and he doesn’t have the right to assault me.
You’ll see in the Summit Meeting video below that Sean (who’s proved to be a professional and respectful police officer) must have delivered the message to Claude that day. After I’m assaulted again, this time by one of Claude’s crew, I point the camera at him, and he strikes a pose, and says “you can take my picture.”
I say “yes, but he (his crew member) can’t hit me.” Then comes “property management” security, a woman who tells me that taking pictures is not a job, and that I have “no right” to interfere with the leaf blowers doing theirs. She then tells me to stop “terrorizing” the leaf blowers, and go back to my home.
Now, of course, she’s a minimum wage security guard, working for a “property management” company, so, like Claude, I forgive her ignorance, but I expect MUCH more from the Fort Lauderdale officers who are paid (with my taxes) to understand and enforce the law in my community. A law that allows my taking pictures, and doesn’t allow my being assaulted for doing so.
Much more than surprised, but enraged by the likes of Fort Lauderdale police officer Keith Rolloff using almost the exact same language … claiming being a journalist wasn’t a job, my taking pictures was harassing the leaf blowers, and threatening to arrest me for trespassing if I continued. (Day 1)
Apparently not intimidating enough, the next day, over a dispute in my taking pictures of leaf blowers working on the premises of the Ocean Club (the building in which I am an owner), not only does Rolloff, again, this time on behalf of the Ocean Club’s “property” manager (The Castle Group), threatens to arrest me for “bothering the workers,” and take me to jail for trespassing (in the lobby of my own building.)
This time, as I resisted and continued taking pictures, Rolloff, in his frustration, not only repeated his threat to arrest me, but he purposefully coughed in my face, suggesting that he was infected with Coronavirus. Now pissed off, a backed away and expressed my displeasure. He persisted, still coughing, removed his handcuffs, and repeated his threat to arrest me for causing a disturbance, and trespassing in my own building. (Day 2)
Hard to believe, but “seeing” is believing. So watch, even the end, where Rolloff comes at me coughing again, pushing me out of the building, where Sean (Kelly) has now arrived, and he explains to the Ocean Club board who want to sue me for taking pictures of the leaf blowers on the property, that they have no say in such a “civil” matter.
Saturday (8AM) — Life on the beach in Fort Lauderdale might look good in a sales brochure, especially reading while snowbound in whatever northern American city. Let me tell you, though, as a native Floridian, life isn’t always the “Paradise” it’s advertised to be.
An example of the irony of being told that it is “illegal” for me to take a picture, and the subject of said photography invariably pulling out their phone, taking my picture, and then telling me they’re going to “CALL THE COPS.”
This, of course, includes the Ocean Club board of governors and each of four Castle Group managers, who have frivolously called the police (at least five times) and had lawyers write two “cease and desist” letters, claiming that I am interfering with the management of their Ocean Club “property.”
The “story” I’ve been working on is how greedy “property” management companies ignore global warming and climate change, and go about their thoughtless business of squeezing profit out of the East Coast Florida residents, at the expense of the environment in which they live.
Here, more specifically, these encounters relate to my going out (photographically) to “cover” not only how “property” management companies are killing Florida, but how Covid-19 is impacting South Florida in general, including the Ocean Club, the Galt Ocean Mile, Fort Lauderdale, and the South Florida coast,Palm Beach to Miami.
The beginning of “Encounter #1” begins with my walking across Galt Ocean Drive, directly in front of the Ocean Club, where I come upon two women, sitting on the curb, eating their McDonald’s breakfast, because (of course) McDonald’s is open, but only for takeout and delivery. I do (off camera) answer the woman’s “why-are-you-taking-our-picture?” question, but then return to taking more pictures of post-Covid-19 life on the Galt Ocean Mile. Of course, being the Galt Ocean Mile, that includes the “essential” business of using so many offensive leaf blows to rid the barrier island of all its sand and leaves.
So I trained my camera on the leaf blower who joins the women, enjoying their curbside meal. As usual, the leaf blower takes offense at having his picture taken, and feels “free” to blow the noxious machine in my face.
Of course I’m pissed off the same as so many times before, but this is the first time I have chosen to call the police … but you wouldn’t know it. Officer Keith Rolloff treats me as the offender … calling my photography harassment, and saying it was I who was interfering with the leaf blower’s legitimate work.
Home Again, Naturally
I’ve included this clip of my being attacked (hardly the first time) by the contractors doing the “job” I’m paying them to do on the Ocean Club premises. The “job” that is now in its fourth (uninhabitable) year, two years past the originally stated deadline, and two years for which they are not being penalized, but rather given a “grace” period extension, for which I argue amounts to penalizing me, who has been unable to work at home for more than four years.
I have let every Castle Group manager know, that, from the beginning, as a journalist, I am documenting the work on the Ocean Club … how long it is taking, how much it is costing, and how it impacts life in a building for which I PAY to live.
WHY I’M FUCKING LIVID — When I report to the Ocean Club board of governors (via the Castle Group manager), my displeasure of being attacked for taking pictures of the construction workers who’ve been running their obnoxiously noisy machinery, under my window, every fucking day, for the past four years, my complaint is usually ignored. This time, however, the response was particularly offensive, and I argue, outright criminal. As all the times before, the Castle Group manager and the Ocean Club board of governors, sides with the outside vendors, rather than me. But this time, when I (LOUDLY) express my frustration and anger, the Castle Group took our feud to what I believe to be an actionable level.
As you see in the video (Day 2) above, the Ocean Club board of governors and its Castle Group security force’s intimidating campaign has become more of a threat. Now with the support of the city of Fort Lauderdale, not only ignoring my civil rights being violated, but threatening me with jail, and trying to infect me with a disease that has killed more than 100,000 Americans. What’s a middle class, one-home owner to do? I think, at the least, stop paying $15,000 for what the Castle Group authoritatively calls its “Royal” service.
I’ve been honest, since day one, about my displeasure with the Ocean Club’s hiring of the Castle Group (“to ensure the residents follow the rules”) and starting the ongoing project to turn my Ocean Club home into a Sandals-style timeshare resort. Since my angry objection to part-time resident(president) Bill Ricco’s authoritative rule, on the first day of Castle Group rule, I have endured a campaign of harassment that has only pissed me off more.
I have made attempts to sell, but find it difficult when living on a construction site. When told that all the chaos and calamity is “raising the value of my ‘property’,” I have gone so far as to offer the board the opportunity to sell my unit (#308), at a fair enough rate so that the building can make a profit, selling it after they finish the unnecessary job that it started.
Of course, they don’t entertain the offer, choosing to inflict the continued punishment on me, a 22-year (full-time) resident, while they only suffer the misery during the two months they come to visit.