Are my amendments protected?

On top of the fact that any race besides white is already deemed as disturbing in America, being homeless and Black is another. From my understanding, the First Amendment to the Constitution states that I have the freedom of speech and the freedom to practice my religion, but considering who I am, that’s not seeming at all likely these days.

As a formerly homeless citizen, I experienced that prejudice firsthand. A lot of people are not there for you, because they judge you on account of the hard times and evil people they have encountered. Doors are shut in your face, people frown at you, people ignore you, and some people even steal and worse. 

So who do people like me turn to? We pray and ask God to help us. From my understanding that’s what we as rational human beings do, but for some reason, that seems to be a problem for people nowadays. Is it the pandemic or have people always been like this, just been hiding behind whatever it is they hide behind? I’ve had the police called on me multiple times for practicing my religion and beliefs, which the constitution states I am free to do as a U.S citizen. I’ve been told to stop practicing my religion, or get arrested. I’ve chosen on many occasions to get arrested and still will. If they’re doing it to me, imagine how they are afflicting people currently experiencing homelessness. We are supposed to be protected from situations such as this. 

So why are the police telling people to stop giving the Lord praise because people are complaining about it? These days, riding public transportation, which I hate now, I’ve heard people play and say very disrespectful things that are not meant for children and others to hear — music about sex, drugs, alcohol, selling their souls, murder, etc.– but no one complains about it. As soon as a person such as myself starts playing music about the Lord, speaking about the Lord, worshiping the Lord — then it’s a problem. I’ve been cursed at, almost gotten into fights, almost arrested, and threatened. 

We are supposed to have the police, the people who swore to the same person that I give praise to, to protect us from evil people like that, but we don’t. So if the police are not going to protect our right to practice our religion, what do we do? The only other option is gun violence, and that’s not what we’re about. What about people who are homeless and have no other place to worship? 

So answer me this, readers, do you call the police on someone with a gun or a Bible? Which one are you most afraid of?

Donté Turner is a vendor and artist with Street Sense Media.

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