'We all try to give everyone respect out here.' Homeless speak of life in Myrtle Beach

Sitting on a small electrical box outside of the Community Assistance Building Friday morning, Craig sat, reading a book.

The middle-aged man with stubble around his slightly tanned face wore a hooded sweatshirt that covered his head and hat. After he took a drag from a cigarette, Craig said he tries to find spots around Myrtle Beach where he can have a similar set-up to the one he had on on Mr. Joe White Avenue.

Craig is homeless and recalled one incident where he was at a business near the library.

"'Hey buddy, you got to move it,'" a employee yelled at him, Craig recalled.

It's something that happens five or six times a week, Craig said. Often it's police officers telling him to move along, but sometimes it's business owners pushing him away from his spot.

"I get mad, but I don't speak it out loud to them," Craig said.

He doesn't understand why people treat each other that way, but he also spoke with a tone that hinted he understands why it's happening. Sometimes police will tell him he is trespassing or loitering without it occurring, Craig said.

Craig was one of a few members of the Myrtle Beach homeless or transient community who spoke about their treatment.

Their comments follow a viral video that showed police telling a homeless man and a customer they were trespassing at a 220 N. Kings Highway McDonald's. In the video, the filmer says the two are being ousted because he bought the homeless man food.

Some members of the local transient community said they saw or heard about the video; others said they were unaware of the incident.

J.T. Ward said he has been homeless on-and-off for the past three years. He said businesses will push the homeless away, but he added that he understands why it happens. If people are waiting for a ride, Ward said, business owners don't want them nearby. If a homeless person falls asleep somewhere, they will be dragged out by a security guard.

But, he understands businesses have an operation to run.

"They do kind of push you out of places when they know you are homeless and around," Ward said. "Because, you know, they don't want trouble."

Being homeless can be embarrassing, especially when he is walking with a backpack of stuff or heading to lunch at the Community Kitchen, Ward said.

Ward said there is some interaction with community members and told of one incident where he was in Walmart after surgery and in a wheelchair. An unknown woman approached and dropped $25 in his lap.

"I've seen some blessings out here," Ward said, "some really good people."

A man who said he goes by the nickname Homer on the street told of similar interactions with the community, but a different story with police officers.

When he first came to Myrtle Beach, Homer said, he would get drunk in public and caused other problems.

Police will frequently tell him to keep moving from the boardwalk area he frequents, Homer said. They often will tell him he is trespassing, even though it's a public area.

He has been arrested 42 times in eight months, he said. The constant arrests have cost him jobs.

On the boardwalk, he talked about shaking hands with community members who ask how he is doing. But, the police run him off.

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