Recently in Civil Liberties Category

200px-The_Searchers.jpgWe all go through various phases with our relatives -- of understanding, compassion and perspective. There was a time in my late teens and early 20s when I couldn't abide my grandfather. Then, to me, he was a racist, sexist relic. My mom had taught me that respect for elders was not a given (she thought that unquestioned acquiescence led to authoritarianism), that respect was meant to be mutually earned regardless of age. This is why I didn't understand her continued reverence for him as he criticized her for hiring a neighbor boy to shovel the walk for her after she broke one of her ribs (it wasn't her leg, by God!) or her expectation when he breezed into town unannounced during finals week (I was an undergrad in summer school) that I would join the two of them for dinner rather than study. Couldn't he call ahead? Wait until after my exam? It would never occur to him to enter my schedule into his decision-making factors.

When we did meet for dinner it was at an Asian Fusion sort of restaurant called the Mustard Seed. At one point during the meal he gazed around the room and loudly declared with awe and disgust, "Boy there sure are a lot of fat people in here." Sure that one of the targets of his comment at a nearby table had heard, I was mortified. This was one of the many prejudices that he was open about. In general he freely used racial epithets, still carrying the WWII-era perception of "Japs." He was surprised that there were none there since we were at an Asian restaurant.

During all phases of my relationship to him, my Grandfather reminded me of the caricature of John Wayne -- tough, looming large, self-reliant. He was among the last of the "real cowboys" who earned their living out on the range and then went on to become a Montana rancher.  He was over 6 feet tall, charismatic, and when in his element possessed a sureness and decisiveness that I've come across in few other people. The general reverence for him and lore around his life made his presence larger than life in our family always -- he never hired anyone to do anything he could do himself, worked every day of his life that he could, created a cattle empire with his wits and a fourth grade education, in his 70s crawled a mile through the snow with collapsed lungs and a broken back after a tree fell on him and then drove home opening 4 barbed wire gates along the way, etc.  I considered him our own personal John Wayne since he shaped my family's views about self-reliance, individualism and discipline so completely that no one could even identify them as values -- they just were part of our unspoken expectations (ones whose questioning led to inevitable conflict and change over the years).

Despite this overpowering association (and maybe because of it) I had never actually seen a John Wayne movie until watching The Searchers the other night. I don't call many movies weird, but it is: disjointed, blatantly but self-consciously racist, contradictory, inconsistent in tone, filled with unrealistic battle scenes, magnificently beautiful, and peppered with great and terrible acting (the Yankee soldier! Why?). Apparently it's widely considered the best American western. There's so much subtext, it's hard to know what to think of it. But John Wayne's character, Ethan, is unquestionably intolerable. He's vilely racist, sadistic, vindictive and generally awful. Though equipped with many of the skills necessary to rescue a niece captured by the Comanches from his post-Civil War settler relatives (he fought for the Confederacy), he's really the last person you'd want to go on a five-year search with.

Really, I didn't know what to think of the film or how it related to my Grandfather. As much as he reminded me of John Wayne, he was also like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, with boundless energy, a sense of fun, and a tendency to break into song at unexpected moments. He was also very charming. Though openly racist, I couldn't imagine him harboring any racism so hateful as Wayne's Ethan character (who would rather kill his niece than allow her to continue living with the Comanche like she wants). So I did what I always do after seeing a movie, and started poking around Wikipedia for background and review links.

Roger Ebert's struck a chord:

In ''The Searchers'' I think Ford was trying, imperfectly, even nervously, to depict racism that justified genocide; the comic relief may be an unconscious attempt to soften the message. Many members of the original audience probably missed his purpose; Ethan's racism was invisible to them, because they bought into his view of Indians. Eight years later, in ''Cheyenne Autumn,'' his last film, Ford was more clear. But in the flawed vision of ''The Searchers'' we can see Ford, Wayne and the Western itself, awkwardly learning that a man who hates Indians can no longer be an uncomplicated hero.

Wow. Soon after reading those words I had an epiphany about my relationship to my grandfather and to the United States' complicated history, relationships which were in many ways a reverse of the Western genre's trajectory. I began only being able to see flaws, exclusions and imperfections -- the multiple ways in which the protector-of-the-world America that I had been taught to admire as a child had never lived up to its own ideals, and was acting in direct contradiction to them. It was hard to be enthusiastically patriotic when patriotism seemed in so many ways tangled with nostalgia for America as the Western hero that we could not question. National discourse during my formative years (80s and early 90s) made patriotism and genuine moral engagement with our bloody and ugly past seem mutually exclusive.  Similarly, how was I to resolve the fact that my grandfather was (as far as I knew) a man of integrity within his sphere (i.e., didn't cheat people in business, treated his neighbors well), and accomplished in so many ways, but who really did believe that I was less of a person because I was female, and wouldn't have been able to tolerate most of the people I knew?

I don't want to give the impression that over time I learned to become tolerant of prejudice in general or any prejudices specifically. It's not as though I would have once condemned the Western hero and now embrace him. Rather, I became able to see my grandfather as an individual in a particular historical time and place.

Also, over time, I began to see ways that I could remain vigilant against my own prejudices and critical of our current and historical exclusions and injustices, and still patriotically celebrate American ideals. 

The shift with my grandfather partly took place through my reading Mildred Walker's Winter Wheat, which takes place during WWII in an area not far from where my grandparents ranched from the late 1960s onward.  It's now been at least 14 years since I read it, so I don't remember it well -- though I know it had anti-fascist themes. Most of all, it made me fall in love with the Eastern Montana landscape, which gave me a way to connect with my grandfather.

He had read the book and loved it too -- it was something he and my aunt shared. Now I was curious and interested in him and his life in a way that translated as respect -- I never knew that he sought my curiosity and interest and that without them I had always been disrespectful without meaning to be. On visits he was now eager to take me out to see his land. Rolling along hills in his SUV, we would drive over 10-foot-tall pine trees and they would spring back up like dandelions underfoot. He would describe destroying knapweed using spent engine oil. Clearly my feeling of connection to the land was different from his (I didn't eat much red meat or use any type of herbicide). To him the land was the cattle, and if a tree stood in the way of his showing them to Mom and me, or if the invasive knapweed threatened to overtake their nutrition, he would do what it took. He was proud of his herd, and the tens of thousands of acres they ran on, because they were his achievement.

His father lost everything when the hotel he built burned down. His mother abandoned the family when he was young, leaving the care of numerous children to his father (my mom says that when Kenny Rogers' "Lucile" came on the radio, he would switch it off). He survived the Depression and worked as a miner in Butte during WWII. He built a hotel in Billings which my mother ran while attending high school and taking care of her 6-year-old younger sister; the rest of the family lived hours away on the ranch. His goal in life was to succeed where his father wasn't able to and leave his children financially comfortable -- girls too, which apparently is still a rare practice among ranching families.

So, no, I now understood, a man who expected his 15-year-old daughter to run a motel on her own while caring for her younger sister would not be someone to make sure that my finals schedule coincided with his travel plans.  By the end of his life, a couple of years later, we had a relationship that was closer than I could have imagined. It was harder than anything for him to be laid up with the cancer that claimed him -- it embarrassed him to be seen incapacitated and weak. (Incidentally, his insensitive and inappropriate interjections may have been related to Aspergers Syndrome, a possibility a 20th century cowboy would not likely have explored.) My last memory of him is of carrying his great-granddaughter in to see him (she was around 3) and his just being in awe of her and smiling and wistfully saying to us, "You're so young, so full of life." I love his region and that land because of its beauty, my childhood summers there, because it shaped my mother, and because he's a part of it now.

The act of loving land is not some sort of timeless, ahistorical virtue. My love of the landscape, and appreciation of what my grandfather's life's work provided, is tempered by the history of the West in general, and the knowledge that other people crossed his acres freely before there was barbed wire.  He was able to acquire them because of his personal talents and initiative, but also because of characteristics he didn't choose. It would have been difficult or impossible for non-whites to have been able to get the credit and engage in the deal-making necessary, and certainly for a woman of any race. He at one time built wealth by leasing land from the Northern Cheyenne to run his cattle.  

Since our lives have been under siege (and our opportunities methodically, systematically limited), it's been difficult to clearly think about what my individual responsibility is as someone who has had opportunities because of this sort of personal/material history. The key seems to be being able to ask the question "What can I do?" Further formulation of the question and the route to the answers are a work in progress.

In many ways, my grandfather probably was a protector of Mom and me. If he were still alive, we would have had someone to help shield us from all of the Montana lawlessness and charlatanism. But we don't have our own personal John Wayne. We just have to have faith in the possibility of fairness, justice and tolerance of critical patriotism in the 21-st Century West. 

~~
North-American-Silva221.jpg[Update 5/24/10: Finally, ten days after being notified of he illegal cyber-harassing and threats, apparently in response to this post, Mr. McLaughlin offered a very tepid and unconvincing response.]

What is with "progressive" companies like Whole Foods, TreeHugger, and now Organic Bouquet  using weird/dirty tactics to deflect criticism? (If the links don't show up on your browser, you can find them at the end of the post.)

This very strange situation wouldn't have been something to write about here except that what should have been a dispute over a commercial transaction settled through legitimate channels quickly devolved into a civil liberties issue. Rather than use facts to dispute my claims, Organic Bouquet chose to attack me personally and use threats and intimidation in an effort to cyber-bully me out of criticizing the company.

The short version of the story is that after a really horrible product and customer service experience I took a number of actions, including writing a negative review of the company on Sustainlane (again, active link at the end of the post). In response to the review, someone claiming to be one of OB's Colombian suppliers wrote a bunch of nasty comments attacking me personally and eventually threatening that "Our association of floral exporters in Colombia, California and Ecuador need to follow you and advise your every potential employer of your inability to be fair and objective in your reporting." This person had copies of pictures that I had sent the company (to show the sad and pathetic state of the second order of wrong flowers they sent), and used them to concoct a story about my motivation for complaining.

Somehow, readers were meant to believe that my whole motivation for making a Mother's Day order and then complaining when it was wrong (and then the replacement order was wrong, and the company refused to do anything about it because it had issued a refund I didn't request), was all some sort of complex plan to "get a big headline." Weird, since I have made three other recent orders from the company without event or complaint because the company did not mess them up. The company itself has to perform pretty craptastically to get me to the point of feeling the need to speak out.

So, I reported the totally creepy comments to the FBI since they are so clearly a violation of federal law and in my now three-year long history of near nonstop harassment and intimidation no one has been so sloppy and careless as to carry it out in such an obviously illegal and traceable manner. At that point it seemed clear that the commenter was writing on behalf of Organic Bouquet, but I thought it might be someone hired to make positive comments for the company on blogs, or to defend criticism of the company and that this person went too far. Though I definitely thought OB was of course legally responsible since this person was acting on their behalf, I wouldn't have dreamed that the CEO himself would possibly pathetically disguise his identity in an effort to defame me in defense of the company.

Then, I received Mr. McLaughlin's rebuttal to a report I had filed with the Better Business Bureau. It was written the day after the online threats and contained the same weird accusation about my pictures supposedly illustrating that I was ordering multiple bouquets of flowers from different companies as part of a story I was supposedly writing. I couldn't believe it. Really, the same person had to have written it or to have had access to the same arguments and definitely the same pictures. I wrote to OB PR and Mr. McLaughlin himself for a confirmation or denial that he was the cyber-harasser, and received no response. [Update 5/24/10: Finally, ten days after being notified of he illegal cyber-harassing and threats, apparently in response to this post, Mr. McLaughlin offered a very tepid and unconvincing response.]
lady-justice.jpgIf my Senator is co-sponsoring the Justice Bill, he should be into protecting citizens of his own state from ongoing and pervasive civil liberties violations.

I don't have any sort of rescue fantasies, but wonder, who will have the courage and fortitude to help us out of this mess and ensure that no one has to endure anything like it again? If not my Senators (will Baucus demonstrate that he's not completely owned?), then who? Is there a Serpico in our midst? The UN? I mean, it's ridiculous. I've written so many letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, and now I'm going on 2.5 years of virtual imprisonment in the U.S. I have to believe that someone out there cares more about justice and integrity than membership in an unprincipled patronage system. The reason the U.S. is assumed to be so great is because we supposedly don't need international observers or rescuers to swoop in and save its citizens from one another. Right?

Dear Senators Tester and Baucus,

I write because I need your assistance to combat pervasive and intractable corruption in our state. My mother and I have encountered judicial malfeasance, unfathomable corruption of the legal profession, and discriminatory, untruthful local law enforcement. We believe these overall gross violations of our rights have been made possible by lax regulation of intelligence contractors and agencies working in tandem with local agencies. In response to FOIA requests, I got the runaround from the FBI and a “Glomar” response from the NSA. The civil rights attorney I hired to help me ended up lying about which agencies he contacted and withholding documents. My mother and I cannot fight such insidious and pervasive interference in our lives alone.

We need the help of senators who are not afraid to upset the current balance of cronyism in Montana.  We are targets of entrenched Republican and Democrat interests seemingly because of our sex, religious affiliation (or lack thereof) and political affiliations and activities. It is very possible that local polluting industries have funded interference in my life at one time or another for at least ten years simply because I was part of a campaign to work with the union and management at Stone Container to stop poisonous dioxin emissions in our valley.

If you are courageous men who are not hemmed by the coal or any other lobby, if you are men who believe that human and civil rights extend to all people in your state and not just the back scratching elite, then please step up and help us. The current strategy seems to be to make the administrative and legal processes of seeking assistance so drawn out and impossible as to drain all of our energy and financial resources. We need men of conscience who truly believe in the best of democratic and republican ideals to keep their compact with the electorate and not the entrenched interests of a corrupt few.

About a year ago, I contacted Senator Tester and described some of the gross violations of my and my mother’s civil rights and liberties. He suggested that I contact local law enforcement. After many more months of harassment, and actual and attempted harm to our persons and property, we did finally contact the Missoula Police Department. We have come up against lies, evasion, and overall discriminatory treatment. Again, we need the help of individuals in a position of power who will use the position that the people of Montana have entrusted them with to take a stand against corruption and cronyism. Every effort is being made to ensure that we cannot do it on our own.

I request that representatives from each of your offices contact me so that we can find a way to work together to ensure that my mother and I emerge from this morass in one piece, and that no citizen of this state will ever have to endure such politically- and socially-motivated hijacking of supposedly neutral local and federal agencies again.

Senator Tester, as a co-sponsor of the Justice Act, I believe it would be unconscionable to leave two citizens of your state who have seemingly been victims of Patriot Act Excesses out in the cold.  We could easily serve as “poster children” for the necessity of reform. Please show us that your commitment to constitutional safeguards is more than mere talk.

Respectfully,


Kyeann Sayer

Did RAND Brand Me a "Terrorist"?

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21278.jpgCommuting in Los Angeles is an experiment. Just when you think you have a routine down that gets you home in under an hour, there's a surprise. You could find yourself cruising down the 10 and then suddenly at a standstill: that's right, Lakers at the Staples Center. As you're unexpectedly moving at a snail's pace one August morning you remember that it's time for the UCLA kids to clog the freeways and your commute time will double for the next four months. Many days accidents were the culprit. Often I would rely on a web site dedicated to traffic reporting to know when I should go home -- that such web sites exist illustrate how much traffic jams affect all of our lives every day.

Unpredictable, snarling traffic could be fodder for many an ethical discussion. If an ambulance can't reach me because of Lakers traffic, are the Lakers responsible? The Staples Center? The city planners?

The death and destruction related to automobiles is normal to us. There were 41,059 traffic-related fatalities in the US in 2007 alone. We've clearly collectively decided that this astounding loss of life is acceptable in our auto-centric culture.

Sometime while working with RAND I was at dinner discussing this with an acquaintance who worked in the office next to me. I'm not sure he was actually a friend. I believe he worked for Bruce Hoffman on some terrorism-related research but it could have been Brian Michael Jenkins -- I don't remember. He might have just been eliciting comments, as I now realize so many did in those years. We discussed Critical Mass, the bicycle protests where bicyclists flood the streets apparently to create an experience for drivers similar to the one they face every day. I had never taken part in one and am very unlikely to because I can barely ride a bike.  He said that people shouldn't take part because if they did, they might be responsible for emergency services not being able to get through to someone in need.

I agree that would be terrible, and if I were a part of any large event that was the obvious culprit in preventing someone from getting essential medical care I'd feel awful. But traffic is so random. We don't consider a Lakers game a terrorist event when the traffic jams caused by it result in delays in all our lives -- in emergency situations or not. So, people involved in Critical Mass, who are on their bicycles, on the street to point out how violent and destructive our car culture is (not only in terms of direct destruction of human life, but astronomical CO2 levels that affect not just local communities but the whole planet) should be held to some higher standard of responsibility because their purpose for being on the street en mass biking is political in nature? What about jams caused by political conventions? It's complicated territory.

At that restaurant in that moment in time I thought that taking the risk to take part in such a demonstration despite the fact that a concurrent fateful act might make it difficult to get an ambulance through would be worth it because overall it might draw attention to the manner in which our reliance on cars kills so many. But it was all hypothetical, because, as I alluded, I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 21 and barely can. I had not intention of ever taking part in Critical Mass.

You would have thought I had approved of the most heinous atrocities known to man. By the end of that conversation my companion could barely look at me, and didn't speak to me much again. At first I thought it might have been simply that he was not used to being disagreed with, but came to believe that my comments about Critical Mass seemed to completely change his view of me -- like, change my category from nice friendly person to "bad person".

Chief Muir Contradicts Himself...

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For starters: here is what Conspiracy Against Rights is. It has nothing to do with space aliens or black helicopters.

It's always scary when people in positions of authority give different explanations for their procedures based on what is most convenient at the moment, all while trying to blame you for their choices.

I'm not sure what all occurred in the conversation that just took place between Chief Muir and my mom. She's summarizing it, and she asked him to put his strange contentions in written form so that there would be a record of them. Though he refused to take an official statement from my mother when she offered, he is going to take one from Alain Goodman. Yay for impartial police work.

In response to my inquiry about the report that she filed about Alain Goodman accosting her, Muir told me in writing that he could not comment because it was reported by her. Fine.

Today, he told her that he never responded to her because he was waiting for "corroborating evidence as to how [her] complaint fits into [my] overall conspiracy theory." (Though I specifically said we were waiting for action on her complaint and wanted to know the process of obtaining a restraining order...) He didn't want to stir up the neighborhood with "unsubstantiated claims." He also said to her that he had requested more information about the incident from me but I had refused to supply it.

So... when I am interested in knowing when the police are going to follow up with my mother about an assault, responding would violate her privacy. Yet, they can't follow up with her because they're waiting for something from me?

And -- her complaint just ended up on Muir's desk without any official record of her having filed it. My understanding is that no action can be taken on an issue unless there is a recorded complaint filed. Though she did not file it in relation to the overall harassment situation (indeed, until recently Chief Muir hadn't even agreed that he would examine evidence in that light -- I'm not yet sure he has), he just left it on his desk and awaited more info from me? Rather than following up on an assault? And when I asked him about it he said (on official police stationary) that he couldn't respond?

Clearly, this is some sort of backfill explaining.

Even better: apparently, he has heard from a third party that the incident did not occur out of the blue as my mother was walking down the street with croissants, but the frightening encounter was somehow a response to my mom's taking a picture. That's not the case (mom didn't have a camera with her), but even if it were, since when is someone allowed to assault someone else because he or she is being photographed? And why would a police officer decide to omit any official record of a complaint based on some third party claim? Aren't they still obligated to follow up and get a statement from the complainant about what occurred?

This third party called and complained about Mom's having taken a picture before he received her complaint. But -- I called Sergeant Richardson immediately after it happened. I wrote about it right away. So -- why does that call about photography somehow cancel out my Mom's written complaint about assault? Why does what other people say carry so much more weight than what we say? I have repeatedly asked about any documentation or official complaining about us from the neighbors and have just gotten very vague, non-specific answers.

People have been working overtime to make our taking of photographs of people who exhibit odd behavior in front of our home, or of vehicles who park in the proximity for no apparent reason, as some sort of crime. We do it defensively as stalking victims to document the odd/stalkerish/harassment behavior in the neighborhood. We have explained to our neighbors why we do it and have asked them to contact us with any concerns. If there is some legal issue about taking photographs on the public street, I'm sure that someone in some sort of official capacity can let us know.

Sergeant Richardson indicated to me that it was perfectly legal for Alain Goodman to stand on the sidewalk and photograph our property. I can't imagine that it's illegal for us to stand on our own property and photograph the street. Though these people take pains to get us to interact with them, we never do.

Anyhow -- the double standards and multiple explanations are odd.

It seems as though Chief Muir's next rhetorical tack (since "insincere" didn't quite work out) is the woo-woo, crazy ladies conspiracy angle. Again, conspiracy is when two people get together to plan to do harm/make mischief/deprive people of their rights. The way that Chief Muir contradicts himself, fails to give sufficient legal/procedural explanations for his or his officers decisions, engages in slippery policy, and strives to come up with reasons that our claims are illegitimate, suggests to me that he has spoken with at least one other person about ways to deligitimize our claims or keep them from becoming official police record. Given what he and Sergeant Richardson have written, and how they have responded, this is legitimate interpretation. But I can see why Chief Muir would want to promote an inaccurate interpretation of what conspiracy means rather than one that might apply to him or to officers in his department.

He said he would let my mom know in writing by the middle of next week why he chose not to follow up on her assault or create any official record of it.

~~
So, today Mom called to follow up on the Citizen's Complaint she filed against Alain Goodman after he accosted her on June 25.  It's no wonder Chief Muir didn't want to comment on it or voluntarily follow up. Despite the fact that she both faxed the complaint and sent it certified, there is no record of it in the Department's system. Two separate officers searched for it and couldn't find it.

And we're supposed to believe that the Department is a neutral party, dispassionately interested in protecting us as much as any other citizens? That Chief Muir is just itching to follow up on our array of Complaints? I have corresponded with Chief Muir about this incident repeatedly. Now we have to ask -- who/what is the Department covering for? It's seemed from Day 1 that Sergeant Richardson and Chief Muir were mostly interested in preventing us from supplying documentation and evidence. Then when one of us makes a report, it disappears. And the problem is supposedly my/our "insincerity" about wanting to make official reports? This is ridiculous.

Now I'll be interested to see how many of my 911 stalking/harassment calls have been "lost."

It's not at all an exaggeration to say that we're venturing into official cover-up territory here. It's going to be more and more difficult to make this about us instead of the people and practices Chief Muir seems to be protecting.
Sunday, July 19 at 10:22 PM

Chief Muir,

(Blog post below for your perusal.)

Your July 10 letter was the first one in which you gave any instructions on how you would like to receive evidence, so I find it odd that you spent so much of the letter describing how I was not providing you with evidence, and questioning my sincerity.

I will file police reports to avoid the one-year statue of limitations issue. Until I retain a civil rights attorney, I will continue to seek out others in County and State government who might take a more sympathetic/responsive tack toward addressing someone who has endured nearly two years of relentless harassment in your jurisdiction. I don't consider you a neutral party, and will therefore seek out additional people to send information to in addition to you. You professed a preference for me to send evidence and documentation to you directly without officially filing the reports. However, I will file official reports and include evidence -- it is my understanding that in order for a complaint to be actionable it must be reported. Is that not true?

I must say that your ongoing attitude toward me suggests that you don't believe that your policies/responses will ever be reviewed by an independent body/that you will ever be accountable for them. This is disturbing since we have dealt with numerous attempts to harm us, and/or completely diminish our credibility through entrapment and other means. I would certainly hope that you are not relying on such an eventuality. Your taking this "insincerity" approach is in itself quite insincere, and seems like a further attempt to diminish my credibility.

In regard to specifics:

It seems that the one year statute of limitations on individual misdemeanor offenses would not apply to incidents that are an aspect of an ongoing criminal conspiracy. Please clarify how I can submit information from over one year old that is/has been part of ongoing efforts. Please clarify how I can best coordinate with you and the county and/or state attorney on providing the criminal conspiracy information. Feel free to elaborate and provide any and all helpful information I could use for reporting criminal conspiracy -- this should save us all a lot of time.

You indicated you are not in receipt of the letter your were copied on that I sent to Alain and Darla Goodman's landlord dated June 4th. Sergeant Richardson responded to that letter by looking up my blog and responding to the email address there, rather than responding by post. I find it odd that he had not forwarded the letter to you since you were the one copied on it.

We believe that many suspicious vehicles are associated with the ongoing harassment campaign. We wouldn't provide a "general list of vehicles parked in the neighborhood which you feel might have been suspicious in some unknown way" as you suggest in your response to this description of the issue of license plates:

We have dealt with an overall stalking and harassment situation. We have dozens of incidents to report, and many associated suspicious license plates. Investigators who are truly interested in the why and how have a lot to go on. Again, we could report these all as individual instances or provide them succinctly to a genuinely curious party who would like to follow up thoroughly. The latter seems more efficient.

What about that description suggests that I intend to provide the "general list" that you describe? As must be abundantly clear by now, what I am reporting is stalking, harassment and hate crime. I believe suspicious vehicles and individuals associated with them (some of which have been photographed in the process of bizarre/harassing behavior), are part of this larger effort. Hence, my desire to report these incidents as part of stalking, harassment, and hate crime. Please let me know how to report them as an aspect of that, or if that would involve coordination with County and/or State agencies.

You say that you can't answer the following without receiving my evidence. I beg to differ. It might be uncomfortable for you to explain your department's handling of this, but certainly many of these questions are imminently answerable. If you had enough information to claim that Sergeant Richardson's procedure was not "bizarre," you must have enough information to explain to me why, from an objective procedural and legal standpoint, it was not.

You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing specific complaints from any of them?  I provided ample documentation of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours -- especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your department. Please clarify.

Only the last statement seems to rely upon my evidence. The rest of the information should be professional knowledge or gleaned from Sergeant Richardson.

We have large amounts of food and liquid evidence. When workers were in the house last summer, in addition to seemingly purposeful attempts to expose us to toxic chemicals (not warning us about toxicity, removing the barriers we set up to protect ourselves) a number of pantry items were tampered with. We have become ill a number of times due to what seems like tampering with food and bottled water. We have saved these items for testing. Please let me know how best they can be submitted to the state lab. (We have been concerned that one of the goals of the drug entrapment attempts was to remove these items before they could be tested.) Specifically, around the time a doctor misdiagnosed me with hepatitis (seemingly to make me appear as an IV drug user -- another doctor was shocked at her misreading of the blood work and treating me for an affliction I clearly did not have), I suffered major pain for months that turned out to be my gallbladder. It became evident that bottled water that I drank consistently caused and exacerbated the problem. I believe it may have been tainted with oxalic acid, which promotes gall stones. Clearly, I believe that the doctor who misdiagnosed me should be questioned, as well as individuals who seem to have been involved with the food and beverage tampering.

And to preempt any more of your language about all of this being some sort of impression we have -- that is why we saved items for testing. I'm sure the individuals involved thought that we would be dead or discredited before anyone would be accountable for it. The fact of people deciding to do these heinous things to us does not reflect on our stability or capacity. Again -- we have evidence.

Finally, your questioning my sincerity at this time is disappointing to say the least. Though the overall atmosphere of intimidation and harassment has for the most part abated in the neighborhood, we are still dealing with a major campaign to disrupt our lives. Right now it is necessary to provide documentation to a number of entities. Just this last week, we dealt with what seems like an additional entrapment attempt when someone somehow piped what smelled like pot smoke into our first floor bathroom. I recently suffered food poisoning, and the recent chemical exposure in the back yard of which you are aware. As is clear by the way you relate to me, documenting and reporting such incidents in a manner that law enforcement can act on them is difficult; they are that way by design. We go through each day knowing that a number of people in the local community wish for our demise so that the prospect of facing consequences for criminal wrongdoing will go away. Again, you did not instruct me about how you would like to receive evidence until your July 10 letter. Doing so will be very time consuming, and your incomplete information, lack of straightforward answers and seeming inability to understand basic descriptions of criminal activity (see below) don't help. I have wanted a procedure in place to make it easier for all of us. Though the process may take time, and immediate issues of survival pop up in our lives with alarming regularity and demand our full attention, please never doubt for a moment that I want more than anything to see appropriate legal remedy for the overwhelming amount of illegal activity that we have endured. It would be nice to know that the person receiving the information had a genuine desire to see justice served.

I will do my best to make it easy for local law enforcement to pursue crimes that my mother and I have endured in Missoula. I will make every effort to supply evidence and documentation at a timely pace. I hope that you will become sincere and forthcoming. The things that have happened to us are bizarre, but that is not our fault. Believe that there are thousands of things I'd rather do than try to find out a way to provide evidence and documentation to you that best serves justice. Had we not documented most aspects of our lives as well as we have, I sincerely believe we would not be alive right now. Please do not add insult to injury by continuing with insincere deflective strategies and what seems like a continuation of "blaming the victim."

Kyeann Sayer

Chief Muir's "Insincerity" Narrative

|
Chief Muir sent me a letter dated July 10 (postmarked July 13) in response to the email below. It is the first communication in which he has provided any specific information about how he would prefer to receive evidence and documentation.

Yet, the new tactic is to make it look like I'm simply not supplying evidence and only like to argue. When I've been waiting for procedural preferences as well as assurance that someone other than Chief Muir will bear responsibility for reviewing the information I submit. This man's first substantive communication with me involved warnings to keep quiet about my claims that the department was mishandling our situation. Since that first interaction, he hasn't given me much of a reason to trust him.

For example, I stated these concerns about Chief Muir's defending the legitimacy of Sergeant Richardson's actions in his last letter.

You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing specific complaints from any of them?  I provided ample documentation of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours -- especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your department. Please clarify.
His response?

I will reply to your third point upon receipt and review of your evidence, as I am unable to knowledgeably respond without that evidence.

What? He is unable to make a statement about legality and department policy? He can't answer these specific questions? He can't provide clarification on the restraining order issue? He doesn't have access to the information supplied to Sergeant Richardson?

Is putting off responding to these very answerable questions (albeit uncomfortable, because they reveal some pretty fuzzy/shoddy procedure), because he believes that I for some reason will not be in a position to supply all of the documentation and evidence? I'll be too distracted, perhaps?

You've gotta love the way he ends his letter:

I do not understand why you have not already brought me the evidence which you so repeatedly have insisted we accept from you. If for some reason you have been insincere as to your intent to share your evidence with me, please feel free to cease communication and seek the assistance of state or federal authorities...
Is there anything about my communication that seems insincere? Seriously? As though I wouldn't sincerely want to help law enforcement to punish the people who have relentlessly harassed and intimidated us? I'm sorry, but that seems like a very insincere tack.

My major concern has been wanting a procedure in place that makes sense.  My entire life has been derailed by this harassment campaign, and documenting it all takes time and energy. A proper process is important, as it sets the framework for how these matters are handled. I guess it will be necessary to file individual reports for every single incident and send copies to his attention. I think that the department's obligations are more extensive if an actual report is filed, so it seems necessary to do so. Of course, It's going to take a lot of time to file all of these individual reports. To me it makes complete sense why a person in my position wouldn't just hand over all of her documentation and information to someone who has revealed himself to be less than objective or trustworthy and isn't accountable to anyone else in the department.

So, here we have local law enforcement playing into the goals of the overall campaign: creating such overwhelming and pervasive harassment as to halt someone's life to a standstill. Right now we are in a position of having to provide documentation to the health department, lawyers, insurance agents, the doctor's office that I have to follow up with constantly to ensure that they don't send paid accounts to collections, the police department, and others. By not answering questions, not volunteering appropriate information, and taking an overall defensive posture, I have to work overtime to figure out my rights and how our evidence will avoid slipping through the cracks. I am the victim of stalking and harassment and attempted entrapment, and have been preemptively treated as the perpetrator. I wonder if they treat all stalking victims this way or if we're special.

So, when there are all of those people out there waiting for information who have an investment in making it seems as though it doesn't exist or that we're making it up, I always pause when a key person like the police chief portrays my lack of immediate reaction as "insincere." (Especially when -- again -- I've repeatedly emphasized an overall desire for a process that ensures accountability and efficiency.) I've learned that such a rhetorical turn usually indicates a narrative is forming: in this case it seems to be the "insincerity" narrative. Something like, "Those ladies, they like to make claims, but they never follow up." But we have been put in a position where we need to document nearly every business and consumer interaction in order to protect ourselves. For heaven's sake, we just found out last week that we avoided an incompetency hearing for my mother! (This letter was written before that matter had been decided -- maybe he thought we'd still be overwhelmed by that.) That's the a central goal of a harassment campaign like the one we've endured: complete and utter disruption of a person's life in such a way that is difficult to document and makes him or her seem to be the party at fault. So the Department preemptively does not want to see it as though we're dealing with constant criminal assaults, but are simply insincere and withholding. Wow.

I can see why he admonishes, "Please don't continue to haggle or dispute this department's handling of your complaints, it is just taking time away from determining the validity of those issues you feel we aren't addressing." His emphasis takes legitimacy away from the importance of the process. If I'm just haggling, then apparently I'm not expressing legitimate concerns about Chief Muir's neutrality and the objective handling of my case. Then I'm a haggler, not someone who wants to be assured that if she takes the time to amass piles of narrative and documentation that it's not going to end up in the back of the Police Chief's filing cabinet. Also, since the situation has obviously been completely mishandled, I can see why he would discourage me from continuing to point out inconsistent or discriminatory procedure.

Interestingly, I copied Chief Muir on a letter to our neighbor's landlords dated June 4, but he seems to have never seen it. It was the basis of Sergeant Richardson's contacting me. Strange that even now he has not forwarded Chief Muir a copy of the letter.

I'm also concerned about Chief Muir's ability to accurately interpret clear written communication. In response to my concerns about David Merrill making extortion-like threats, he says that "Threats of legal action or law enforcement investigation is not a threat upon which any criminal charge may be undertaken." But I said clearly:

if my mother did not pay him a certain amount, he indicated that he would circumvent legal channels and sic the police department on us.

Does Chief Muir not understand the meaning of "circumventing legal channels"? The point about Mr. Merrill was that he did not threaten legal action, as would have been appropriate. He should have gone through appropriate legal channels. Instead he said that if he was not paid a certain amount of money, he would call the police, in addition to other threats. He knew that we were fearful of law enforcement's involvement with our harassment at that time -- the threat seemed designed to scare us. As you can see below, I indicate clearly that the problem was that he was not using appropriate legal remedy but threatening to use the police as enforcers for his demand for money.

Then, there are little niggling annoying things. I asked for follow-up on Mom's report filed re: the neighbor's assault. He can't follow up with me because it would violate her privacy. Great -- completely valid. But, why not follow up with her directly? His department's mishandling of the situation contributed to incident's even taking place. One would think that the department could follow up with her within a month's time. And, my asking about it would at least alert them to the fact that our household is interested in the outcome... And might prompt a follow-up. But we haven't heard anything. (Waiting for her to be declared incompetent, perhaps?)

Another thing: he says not to submit evidence that's over a year old. But if it's part of ongoing criminal conspiracy, isn't it still valid/valuable? Or would the state attorney need to handle that? This is where I find the handling problematic. It seems that it's being viewed/handled in the narrowest possible terms, with the least amount of helpful information provided. Of course, it would be lovely to have a civil rights attorney that wasn't for sale. We don't have that luxury yet. But we will. And when that day comes it seems like the Department will want to have lent the appearance legitimacy.

You may ask: why do you take the time to write these posts? Well, if I didn't, I believe the next door neighbors would have remained in full on campaign mode and that Chief Muir wouldn't even be giving me lip service.

~~
I sent the email below and then thought it best to follow up with specifics. At least the recipients at the city and county can't pretend they haven't been somewhat filled in.

Am I handling this badly? Wrong? I guess there's no Emily Post Guide to convincing law enforcement and county prosecutors to care about crimes against you. I would feel worse about my handling of it if someone had taken the time to explain to me exactly how to best submit evidence of multiple, interwoven crimes and I was ignoring them.

All along it has seemed as though everyone was holding his or her breath, waiting for one of us to die, for one of the entrapment schemes to work, or for us to be labeled crazy for saying out loud that all of this was happening. As long as any of that was in store, none of the specific crimes would matter because we would be discredited and not in a position to pursue them. 

We'll see how long that trend continues. Can they really get away with ignoring claims like those below? They're only a teeny tiny piece of the tip of the ice burg.

from       Kyeann Sayer
date        Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 7:12 AM
subject    Specific Examples of Criminal Activity

Let me provide some examples in the hope that it will clarify my dilemma of how best to provide evidence.

In an email exchange, a Missoula resident named David Merrill threatened what amounts to extortion -- if my mother did not pay him a certain amount, he indicated that he would circumvent legal channels and sic the police department on us. This is a violation of many laws (including those governing email communications locally). We believe that he was threatening the extortion as part of a larger scheme to foreclose on my mother's property. I could simply submit a police report with evidence of his threat and so it would be treated as a single issue. It seems, however, as though it would make looking into all of this simpler if someone had a file labeled something like "Conspiracy to Damage/Foreclose on Property X" and Mr. Merrill's individual extortion attempt could go there. From an investigative perspective, it seems like it makes sense to have the overall context along with the report of the individual attempt.

Also, the day before an important court appearance, my mom suffered carbon monoxide poisoning because her car had been tampered with. Not only was the exhaust system somehow blocked, but a part was pulled out of the engine so that it was burning and smoking. When she took it to the mechanic, he said that it could have exploded if we drove much further. We have pictures of it, the receipt from the mechanic, and an idea of who could have done it. It seems that all of this information would be very helpful to investigators.

A gentleman named Ty Cranmore threatened to use a Sheriff's Department employee as a hired goon when we wouldn't return a piece of property that my mother had purchased from his employer and that he had damaged. We believe he intentionally damaged property, and think his threats bordered on extortion. He used hate speech in our home, apparently to contribute to the overall atmosphere of intimidation. We would like to know why Mr. Cranmore was so confident in his feeling of entitlement to damage our property and then receive local government back-up.

We have dealt with an overall stalking and harassment situation. We have dozens of incidents to report, and many associated suspicious license plates. Investigators who are truly interested in the why and how have a lot to go on. Again, we could report these all as individual instances or provide them succinctly to a genuinely curious party who would like to follow up thoroughly. The latter seems more efficient.

I have a hard time believing that the city and county of Missoula would not want to follow up on issues like these. I hope you will start treating us like citizens to help and protect.

Kyeann Sayer


from    Kyeann Sayer
date    Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 6:50 AM
subject    Re: Request for Liaison
mailed-by    gmail.com

Mr. Van Valkenburg,

Are you not interested in pursuing criminal activity in the county? I have evidence of harm to persons and property including fraud and criminal conspiracy -- as well as attempts to do physical harm to my mother and me. Many of these crimes appear to have been hate-based. It seems odd that you would make a predetermination that you are not interested in pursuing such serious matters.

We have such extensive documentation and material evidence that I would like a consistent and clear means of providing it to your office and the police department so that we are all spared a great deal of energy and effort. I would like to help your office operate efficiently, so that tax payer dollars are not wasted unnecessarily through sloppy communication and duplication of efforts.

Since you will not identify a liaison, please let me know how you would like to learn about the criminal activity we have endured in Missoula County.

I am sure you don't want to send the message that you are not interested in receiving information about and pursuing criminal activity by preemptively ensuring that your office is not aware of it. So far, that is what your communication suggests. Many of the  people involved in doing us harm are prominent community members and it seems as though they have felt protected by individuals in the police and sheriff's department (I have evidence of this); I'm sure you don't want to lend the appearance of obstructing our efforts in order to protect them.

I look forward to working with your office to ensure that justice is served in Missoula County. Again, please let me know how best to so.

Kyeann Sayer
- Hide quoted text -


On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Fred VanValkenburg <fvanvalk@co.missoula.mt.us> wrote:
Dear Ms. Sayer,
 
You are not getting a liaison in the County Attorney's office. We have no business with you to discuss.
 
Fred Van Valkenburg
Missoula County Attorney  

>>> Kyeann Sayer <kyeann@gmail.com> 7/8/2009 04:07 AM >>>
All,

Since Mr. Van Valkenberg sent me the pasted text of an email he claims to have sent on June 29 (I never received it), I have not heard from him. I am eager to have a liaison in the county attorney's office in order to streamline communication.

Thank you,

Kyeann Sayer


from Kyeann Sayer <kyeann@gmail.com>
to Fred VanValkenburg <fvanvalk@co.missoula.mt.us>
date Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 9:15 PM
subject Re: Threatening Behavior from Alain Goodman This Morning


Mr Van Valkenburg,

I never received a June 29 email and don't see it below.

My mother and I have endured much criminal activity in Missoula County and believe that your office should seriously consider our claims. Please let me know with whom I should confer about this. I will be forwarding information to the police department, but also think it's important to have a liaison in your office.

Thank you,

Kyeann Sayer
Ok, I admit it. When I wrote this post I hadn't read Chief Muir's letter (sometimes we need a break from all of this) but relied on Mom's report of it. The July 4th vibe got the best of me and I wanted to interpret it through rose-colored glasses. I already knew that I was going to have to keep on my toes and document my socks off. But it's becoming more and more clear that in a situation like this, it's important that our evidence is actually documented and doesn't just end up in the back of someone's file cabinet. I have to say that so far that seems to be the official desire.

I'll be interested to learn what departments are legally required to act on. For instance, if I don't file official reports, is there a lower standard of accountability? It seems like all possible has been done to point me in other directions than filing actual reports, so it seems that I should definitely file them.

Since we reported our neighbor Alain assaulting my mom things have settled down remarkably. That momentary loss of control on his part ended up sort of being a blessing to us.

So: here we go!

from   Kyeann Sayer
date    Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 5:09 AM
subject    Addressing MPD Issues/Criminal Claims

Dear Chief Muir,

This is in response to your June 29 letter (I typed in the text below). I will also send you a hard copy since you don't respond to email communications from me.

I'm glad that you have shifted from advising me that you will not tolerate my opinions about my treatment by the department to expressing an interest in receiving my claims. Since June 26 the change in the neighborhood has been remarkable -- someone seems to be sending a new message about what sort of behavior is acceptable. It seems that the overall tone of accountability has shifted and individuals no longer feel that they can harass and intimidate us with impunity, which of course is a welcome change.

My concern is not only that my desire to relay information about criminal activity and provide evidence was ignored, but also that a concerted effort seems to have been made to delegitimize my concerns and prevent me from submitting evidence of them to your department.

Sergeant Richardson seemed to have had the singular goal of heading me off before I could provide documentation of criminal activity. He sought to frame my issue as isolated to my unfounded concerns about harassment from my neighbors, while I repeatedly emphasized that I needed the department to send a clear message in the community in general that hate and organized crime directed at my mother and me was unacceptable. He continually instructed me to just relax and enjoy my neighborhood as I implored him to look at the overall law enforcement atmosphere that seemed to condone harassment of us. Ironically, my mother was then assaulted by the neighbor that I initially complained to you about, illustrating that Sergeant Richardson's intervention/conversations with his household did nothing to diminish their impression that it was acceptable to harass us. If he had intervened appropriately to begin with, it is doubtful that my mother would have been assaulted.

Additionally, I find it alarming that your initial response to my understandable concerns about the Department's handling of this issue was to threaten that you would not tolerate my exercise of free speech.

I have some points of clarification. Please explain:
  • Why neither you nor Sergeant Richardson never explained the procedures for filing police or hate crimes despite my repeated requests for guidance.
  • Why you did not explain the procedure for filing an Employee Complaint Form. I clearly believed I was receiving one-sided treatment from Sergeant Richardson, and his mishandling and adamant refusal to take my claims seriously allowed for a continuation of the atmosphere of permissiveness that enabled mother's assault by Alain Goodman.
  • You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing specific complaints from any of them?  I provided ample documentation of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours -- especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your department. Please clarify.
  • What was the outcome of *****'s June 26 report of Alain Goodman's assault? Is he prohibited from approaching her? Does she need to apply for a restraining order?
Again, I appreciate your willingness to receive our information. In the absence of clear direction on how to proceed, ****** and I will file individual police reports for scores of incidents over the past few years. We will also provide you and a designated investigator with categorized narrative descriptions of what has occurred so that you are not simply inundated with random reports. Please let me know if you have any other ideas for making sure our reports remain part of our overall hate/organized crime claims and don't slip through the cracks.

It is important to me that you designate another person in the department who will be responsible for reviewing the information in addition to yourself. Again, your initial response and lack of basic instructions about procedures for citizens to file reports indicates to me that it is necessary to widen the net of responsibility for reviewing and acting upon my claims.

I will send you copies of the sixhoursaweek.com blog posts related to the Missoula PD to ensure that the department has a record of them (of course I keep copies of them in case the blog is for some reason hacked into). However, my blog was not created for the purpose of communicating with you or your department. It is in many cases very general and only very partially conveys the criminal activity we have endured in Missoula County. Reading my blog should not serve as a substitute for direct communication with me regarding these matters, and should in no way serve to constitute your full understanding of what we have endured. I will continue to chronicle my relations with the department over these issues, however.

Again, to clarify, I contacted you in a letter about harassment from the Goodmans. Sergeant Richardson responded and I provided documentation of my responses to verbal assaults, harassment and entrapment attempts in the neighborhood. Sergeant Richardon's provided a "blame the victim" response,  stigmatizing my efforts to document the neighborhood harassment. That led to these blog posts below.

I look forward to receiving your responses and moving forward together to combat corruption and hate crime in Missoula.

Kyeann Sayer


June 29, 2009

Dear Ms. Sayer,

I received your e-mail in response to my concerns about your allegations of misconduct by members of this department. I understand your concern that we don't appreciate what the real problem is and that you are simply looking to know who you can give your extensive evidence to.

Please feel free to provide me with copies of any written statements and documented evidence of criminal activity which you have in your possession. Another investigator or I will review all that information and provide you with notice of  our findings and recommendations, if any. I might add that I took the time to review the archives of your blog to familiarize myself better with the situation you believe you find yourself in, so you do not need to provide me with copies of those posts unless you are planning to take down your blog site.

For your information, there is nothing "bizarre" about a police officer giving notice to cease contacts with neigbors and is in fact quite common. The notice is based on a request by any party who feels they are being harassed by another.

At your convenience, you may deliver copies of the above documentation/evidence to me or phone me with a time to have someone from the MPD pick it up. Again my office is open to you at any time with reasonable notice for discussion of your concerns.

Respectfully yours,

Mark Muir

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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