Zajac is a shelter-averse homeless man who started living in a tent on the Julia Tuttle Causeway, a few hundred feet from the sex-offender colony, in 2007. Last December, he complained to Riptide that City of Miami employees were threatening to arrest him and destroy his tent and all of his belongings if he didn't move off of the causeway. Which is kind of backwards, considering that if he was a sex offender, they would've allowed him to stay.
Zajac's broham Allen, his non-sex-offendin' neighbor a few bushes over, echoed his story.
Well, now the sex offenders have been moved to God knows where, and last month city workers were back to scour the bridge of all traces of their failed under-the-bridge experiment. Zajac claims he came home to find only a patch of dirt where his tent, stocked like a bum bachelor pad with budget electronics, had once stood. And now he vows to stick it to the city: "I wanna find out how I can get some restitution."
The stolen booty, according to Zajac, included his tent, CD player, portable DVD player, and camping stove, all purchased from Brandsmart for a few hundred dollars total. His buddy Allen also got his shit took, says Zajac, but Allen's disappeared into the homeless abyss since the city workers came so Riptide couldn't speak to him.
Sergio Torres, the Homeless Assistance Program Administrator who oversaw the bridge clean-up, vehemently denies that Zajac had anything of value in his tent. Torres says his staff "went back to the bridge approximately eight times to warn" Zajac and "notices were posted on the perimeter, but he continued to ignore our messages." On April 16, when they took Zajac's tent, Torres says city workers "looked in Mr. Zajac's tent to save whatever was worth to save, meaning IDs, medications, etc. There was absolutely nothing there but contaminated items emitting a putrid odor."
Zajac does remember being warned, but admits that he and Allen "were pretty blasted at the time. We had drank a bottle of vodka."
Our hero is not going down without a fight. He says he's consulted a free lawyer who told him "what they did was outright theft", and he's filed a police report. "I want them to write me a check. That was my home."
He still refuses to say goodbye to the Julia Tuttle: "Now I sleep out there on a piece of cardboard."