Land and Property Theft: Unraveling the Complexity of a Disturbing Practice

Land and Property Theft: I spread out the creased quilt on the lawn under the shadow of a massive tree in the middle of the area. The girl I was with, Hana, moved up and down excitedly, the food items she was carrying gently rumbling within the basket and enticing us to start the meal as quickly as possible. I smirked at her as she ran around the edges of the old quilt. I laid it flat to ensure enough space for the two of us.

“Sunday lunch is my favorite, Daddy,” Hana smiled before jumping in the middle of the blanket and popping the basket up. She sank into the basket with just one hand while tracing across the black, red, and green marks on the white quilt beneath her—the evidence of spills we have had in the same spot in the past.

I smiled and joined her in taking various food items from the intricately woven basket, letting her choose the sandwich she would first devour. She took the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a flash and quickly began to take small bites, gazing upwards at the strands of light spilling out from the branches and leaves on the olive tree that awaited us. Then she looked ahead to the parking lot, where cars would reflect light so that a spectacular lighting show would be projected forward of us, but not too powerful to blind.

The woman stopped mid-bite and smirked.

I looked up to observe a crowd of people wearing uniforms and white and blue stripes walking around the park, taking note of the park. They walked slowly and deliberately, pointing at different people taking advantage of the park. One was stopped at the entrance to the parking area and pointed at us.

They blocked out the light.

I looked around. I hoped they weren’t planning to annoy me or Hana. She seemed concerned, so I put my soft hand on her head and pointed at an officer from the police on the other side.

“Don’t be worried you won’t have to worry about them. They’ll also not do anything to the officer nearby,” I assured.

The girl smiled and continued to nibble away, a tiny smear of peanut butter slipping to her mouth as her anxieties were quelled. I re-emerged from the parking lot and noticed the man approaching us. He rearranged his tie and ran off in the confidence of someone with an idea.

“Hay you! You’re in my place,” he said, looking down with a slant of his chin. I looked up, content with the reality that I’d be required to talk with him.

Land and Property Theft: Unraveling the Complexity of a Disturbing Practice, News

“What do you mean *your* spot?” I asked.

“Right in front of you, right there. It’s mine.” the man adjusted his tie and snorted.

Hana was looking at me with a worried look.

“I don’t understand what you mean by your spot,” I turned my head. “Do you mean you reserved this place?”

“No, no, I don’t seem to have been unclear,” the man said. “This property is mine. I am the owner. You have to go.”

“But… but we were here first,” Hana protested.

“That’s the wrong way to go. You see, my great-great-grandfather was here during the founding of the park. He was here the day it was first opened.” he said, pointing to the floor.

“Your… then is it what you would like us to do? Move so that you can document it and take pictures? If this is the case, I’d be happy to move,” I offered.

“Yeah, that’s right, just go ahead and leave,” the man wearing the white and blue striped tie said.

Unwilling to confront the man, I grabbed my daughter’s hands. “Alright, come on, Hana,” I said, taking the basket and quilt.

“No, No, you must take that away. It’s mine.” the man said abruptly.

“What’s yours?”

“The quilt. You can leave it and the basket too. These are mine.” He nodded.

“They’re… not. I made this quilt myself several years ago. Also, Hana and I woven this basket during father-daughter classes.”

“I don’t care; they’re mine,” the man smiled to himself again, but he ignored me.

“Nuh-uh!” Hana protested.

“Look, just get out of here; they’re mine, alright?” The man snatched at the edges of the quilt. I got up and stood, pulling the fabric from him and pulling him away.

“How do you think! This is my property!” he exploded and slammed me hard. Hana started wailing.

“I created this by myself! How can this be yours? I’ve had it for a long time!” I screamed.

The police officer who was nearby was watching the chaos and approached us. “What seems to be the problem here?” the officer asked. My muscles eased in relief. Finally, there was someone to solve this.

“This person is trying to steal my things! He showed up at my house and claimed it was his!”

I pointed at the man who could pull his face in innocence.

The officer turned to him, and he had no response but to smile in the man’s agreement.

“Sounds like a complicated issue,” the officer rubbed his chin. “A messy two-sided conflict.”

“What! ?” I exploded. “This guy came up and took my spot and now claims my quilt and basket are his.”

He complained to a police officer, “He was very belligerent when I was trying to take his stuff without creating any conflict, and he shoved me first!”

“Ah, You did push him. The man has the right to protect himself.” I was told by the police officer while patting himself on his shoulders.

“From myself and my daughter, who are just trying to keep the stuff we own?” I inquired with a sigh of exasperation.

“This sounds like a complicated issue,” the officer commented, glancing between us. “How about a compromise?”

“Sure!” the man declared while adjusting his tie. “I’m content with half of what he has. The bag or quilt, he’s able to keep the rest.”

“Alright, this sounds fair. What do you think?” the officer asked me.

“No! Not! They belong to me completely. Why would I want to compromise my possessions?”

“Wow, won’t even consider compromising!” The man threw the sleeve of his tie in disgust, blurring the white and blue hue of the tie. “I’m trying to extend an olive branch here!” He said, pointing to the tree in front of us for effect.

“He sounds like he’s trying,” the officer said with a smile.

“Look, I’m asking you to leave my daughter and me completely. Please don’t disturb us. I’m sorry,” I said.

“Wow, at least try to be reasonable,” the officer said. He shook his head. He pulled out his firearm. “Just take a walk. Let the mess go and leave the place. Then everyone will be content.”

“I wouldn’t be happy!” Hana protested and looked at the gun with fright.

“Oh, sweetie,” the officer said, sitting to her knees and glaring at her. “You and your dad do not have to be happy. Just let him be content. Run along,” he ushered with the weapon’s point.

Hana grabbed my hand, and I headed off quickly and walked as far between the attackers and us as possible until they decided to get more threatening. We were not the only ones getting removed from the park since a lot of people gathered around us when we walked toward the parking area.

“What’s going on?” one dog walker in the park next to us asked, as many of us were taken away without any of our belongings.

“They stole all of our stuff at gunpoint,” I mumbled in a stupor and couldn’t believe what had occurred.

“Ah,” the dog walker sighed. “Sounds like a very complicated issue.”

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