Results tagged “Hadley Ferguson” from Six Hours A Week: Adventures in American Exile

Montana Vigilantes.jpgThe more I think about Sergeant Richardson’s odd third person dictum that I only contact “the neighbors” (not specifying who) through my attorney, the more off the wall it seems. His approach doesn't seem legally or procedurally viable and provides a classic “Blame the Victim” case study.

When you are being systematically harassed, documentation becomes important. It's the culmination of incidences that create the overall picture. Not only is he not interested in receiving documentation or evidence so that he understands the overall situation. He is also intent on stigmatizing the peaceful, nonviolent response we have adopted to protect ourselves.

All of the communications with our neighbors have been very rational and measured attempts to deal with only a tiny fraction of the harassment or bizarre behavior we have encountered. Over the last six months, for example:

•    When we started using binoculars to identify license plates on the block in January, we wrote to all of the surrounding neighbors to let them know that we were doing so as a means of coping with an organized harassment campaign and had no desire to violate their privacy or make them uncomfortable in the neighborhood.

•    When there was flash photography in our back yard on a recent evening, I didn’t storm over and knock on doors. I sent emails requesting no further violations of our privacy.

•    When someone on the Ferguson property seemed to be calling my mother a “Motherf*cking p*ssy,” (seemingly John -- if it wasn't directed at her, then someone who did not respond to him and did not make a sound) I wrote requesting that we endure no further verbal assaults in our back yard. I also requested that they please notify us when our driveway was going to be blocked by renovation work at their property.

•    When my polite verbal requests to stop making unreasonable noise were ignored by the Goodmans one Sunday evening, I had not choice but to call the police -- they intervened and the loud banging stopped.

•    After a neighbor across the alley stared at/studied our property for about five minutes, I wrote an email inquiring about it.

•    When a young man on our block illegally parked a bus and commenced a loud and illegal construction/retrofitting project on it, I let him know what laws he was breaking. When he didn’t follow the law, I eventually contacted the police and they intervened. He moved the bus.

•    After another series of provocations from the Goodman household, we finally wrote to their landlords, copying them and a variety of government agencies.

In all of these cases, I have responded to illegal or inappropriate activity in a very calm, rational and legal manner. No one is forced to respond to an email or a letter. We write them to protect ourselves or ask about or document odd behavior.

These communications reflect only a teeny tiny fraction of what we've dealt with and don't begin to reflect the overall atmosphere of terror we've endured.

Why is the focus on my communication rather than the harassing behavior? Can a policeman tell a citizen that she is not allowed to send email or letters? Can a policeman dictate that a citizen only communicate through a lawyer? Not everyone can afford one. If individuals don’t wish to receive communication, shouldn’t they provide the contact information for their attorneys?

It seems that Sergeant Richardson is making up his own protocol as he goes along.  If we weren't dealing with nighttime photography, rude disregard for our lack of desire to endure Sunday evening construction, or disturbing tirades, we wouldn't have a need to contact our neighbors. We have to wonder why this public employee is so invested in blaming the victim here.

(The picture represents vigilante justice in Montana in the 1870s. It's thought that perhaps the vigilantes were actually committing many of the crimes they were punishing... It has often felt, over the past two years (and especially in the last month), that a very thin veil of civility has prevented us from falling victim to such a fate. The "New West" isn't so new.)

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lrg_cold_feet.jpgUpdate: I realized that Sergeant Richardson may have changed his tone so precipitously because of this post about Hadley Ferguson having lied to him (for some reason the link doesn't work here -- I pasted it at the end of the post too). That would escalate the need to discredit me re: the neighbors... It's amazing that those who are willing to lie to police are supposedly the "wronged" ones...

Just after writing the post below I got a new message from Sergeant Richardson. So, here we are in the nitty grtty of fighting to have one's voice heard in a corruption-saturated community. I guess throughout American history people who've had their rights systematically violated have had to tirelessly and relentlessly pursue legal means for circumventing this type of obstruction. The email exchange below is instructive in the technique of deflection. I'm sure we will deal with a lot of this -- it's important not to take it personally and come to terms with the sad truth that in general people will protect their own and their buddies' interests to an absurd degree.

You can see that the overall strategy below is to make me look completely unacceptable and repugnant to our neighbors, and focus on that rather than the city's overall responsibility. Initially, I complained to the department about a neighbor's conduct, and this where it has led us. One of our strengths is that we have documented the neighbors' odd behavior and entrapment attempts in the form of emails and letters to them. I guess they don't want us to be able to do that any more. Also, by making it seem as though the problem is isolated to us harassing our neighbors (right!), attention is deflected away from their behavior and the city's responsibility for all that has occurred -- in and outside our neighborhood.
 
The way this Sergeant has fought so hard to completely ignore our very legitimate concerns is so telling. You can see in message after message below, how strenuously he avoids our issues. His complete one-sidedness is remarkable. Throughout this ordeal, however, we have been amazed at the way people seem to think they can create truth simply by ignoring what they'd like and stating what they want to be true.

As long as it's about me, and not about the city and its sanctioning of hate crime and harassment, apparently they think they're golden. But how long can such a transparent strategy work? Or is it just to tide them over until they think of further ways to diminish our credibility? How do we go in one email exchange from "go on and enjoy your life with neighbors who have no issue with you" to "don't contact your neighbors" unless it's a strategic/deflective reaction to complaints about his not doing his job? That seemed like a defensive and ill considered move.

None of this changes the fact that we have copious amounts of evidence and information that we are eager to turn over to local law enforcement. When that evidence and documentation are reviewed by individuals who are truly concerned about our welfare, the Missoula Police Department's obstruction will seem even more problematic. Are they somehow banking on the idea that for some reason no one will ever have the opportunity to evaluate it?

For the sake of the people of Missoula and the police department's reputation, we can hope that Sergeant Casey Richardson is just a bad apple. Fun email exchange after the jump.

Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

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