Friday, February 15, 2008

Local Police Abuse Wheelchair-Bound Man

By now many of you have heard of the wheelchair-bound man that was abused by our local sheriffs. If you haven't, you can catch the story here.

The Story in a Nutshell: A Tampa Sheriff deputy arrested Brian Sterner, a quadriplegic, on a traffic violation and hauled him into their headquarters. She claims she didn't believe him to be a quadriplegic, but it is obvious that there is a great deal of spite when you see the video which shows Brian being dumped out of his wheelchair.

The deputies involved say that this was the easiest way to frisk him. Anyone who has retained any humanity will be instantly disgusted when they view the cavalier treatment that Brian is subjected to. Perhaps those who participated merely despise and discriminate against the handicapped (this would be my guess).

I have a friend who's wheelchair-bound and he says he is continually disrespected. There have been many times when he has been at the store, waiting in line, when people take advantage of him by butting in front! He thinks they do this because they're under the impression that he's retarded. (He is only 41 but had a stroke a couple of years ago which almost killed him and left him with speech and movement difficulties.) But if they're treating him poorly because they think he's retarded, it is certainly no excuse (although it may be a reason).

This Sherriff's deputy is a black woman, and the victim is an emaciated white man. I can guarantee you that if their roles had been reversed, Jesse Jackson would be down here hollering for the news crews. But shouldn't he be just as incensed over this obvious discrimination?!

Deputy Charlette Jones has been suspended during the investigation. (Note the illiterate spelling; this isn't my mistake. She has her parents to thank, apparently).

Two others (who witnessed her actions and even walked away snickering) have also been placed on leave. Of course Charlette should be fired and prosecuted for abuse. A fitting sentence would be to fasten her legs to a wheelchair for a year. Perhaps she would learn what it's like to be subject to true discrimination.

Of course at the end of the year, Charlette would be able to walk again. Too bad her victim doesn't have the same future.


daveawayfromhome said...

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I think that there has been an increase in the arrogance and abuses of Authority in this country, and it comes from the top down. No, this isnt Bush-hating, but when the leader(s) of the nation (whoever he/they are/is, let's include Congress in this also), who is supposed to abide by and enforce the laws, customs and common decency of the United States of America, does not do so, and then suffers little or no repercussions, then others will not feel the need to do so either.
Decency of those in power to those who have none is not a default position.

M@ said...

As someone w/ a cast on his foot, I am outraged and appalled. Where the hell is Rev. Sharpton on this? What the guy was white?

Three Score and Ten or more said...

She is now being charged. The fox network announcement on radio said that she faces up to five years on a felony count. We'll see what the jury and judge say.

Heather said...

I think this woman's behavior is atrocious and she definitely deserves to be brought up on abuse charges. But Saur, I have to tell you, I find myself shocked at your needless and derogatory comment about the spelling of her name.

(Note the illiterate spelling; this isn't my mistake. She has her parents to thank, apparently).

What was the point of that - except to highlight your own possibly bigotry and classism? As disgusted as I am by this woman's actions, I'm just as baffled about yours.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Heather, Since when does demanding appropriate spelling constitute bigotry and classism unless we feel it is attached to a certain race or class? And, if this is the conclusion, are you implying that black people are notorious for misspelling and atrocious names? Isn't that presumption bigoted?

Black or white, she has an awful name. Black or white, it's illiterate.

I knew a white girl once who's name was "Cathy" but her mother had mispelled it Cahathay and she was stuck with it until (one hopes) she legally changed it.

Bad spelling and tasteless names aren't limited to a particular color. They often DO represent a particular type, however, and that type is usually people who's priority is not to be or to sound educated. And to state the truth about this fact isn't to be 'classist'. Are we now living in another country besides the USA? Can we no longer state the truth because it's socially unacceptable to certain fringe elements? I thought we prided ourselves on free speech. Is this to be limited too?

And honestly, I'm glad you pointed out this so that we could get it out into the open. Because studies repeatedly show that the uneducated (and/or poorly socialized) are the ones that are responsible for the majority of such prejudice. There is a reason that gay people prefer to live in the better neighborhoods, for instance.

3 Score & 10, even the Sheriff's department is scurrying away from her as fast as they can. I think the conviction will be an easy one. Thankfully.

M@, yeah, the guy was white. I guess Sharpton doesn't feel a keen need to defend victims of reverse discrimination.

Daveawayfromhome, as usual we agree 95% of the time. I, too, see the increased abuses of power and am appalled. On the other hand, it may have always existed (especially here in the deep south) but only now is it coming to light(?) Or perhaps it's like what I suspect many other crimes are: Proliferating because the perpetrators see how often abuses are ignored and/or penalties are weak.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Posting this comment after it was announced she was charged, I am not at all shocked. It was on video tape. It is really clear. She will be convicted, no question about it. Kind of hard to say "I ain't be dumpin no man on da flo" when you are on video doing just that.

You can spell a proper name however you want. There is no right or wrong way to spell a name - but there is a wrong way to pronounce a name. I can spell my name "Zatchwttibbamuz" and pronounce it "Steve" if I wanted to. I think.

Like "McLeod" is pronounced "McCloud" Silly Scotts. They should just stick to inventing games requiring large tracts of land and a small ball. Or maybe "McCloud" is the improper spelling?

You want something even worse????? Last night a boat was RAMMED by a pig boat. The pig was running at high speed, at night, WITHOUT the US Coast Guard required lights on. No flashing blue lights either. Everyone on the boat rammed was hurt - one seriously.

The pig is on vacation pending an investigation. I suspect that the investigation will find the pig had some valid reason to be running at night with no lights.

I see pig boats out at night without the required lights. I have also seen pig boats running under bridges on plane at speed. This is illegal as well. It is dangerous.

And no, the pig boat I saw do this was NOT on an emergency call. There were no blue flashing lights or sirens.

If I was running at night without the required navigation lights displayed, I would have been arrested.

If you ask me, if you work for law enforcement / corrections then if you break the law, the penalty should be doubled.

daveawayfromhome said...

If you ask me, if you work for law enforcement / corrections then if you break the law, the penalty should be doubled.

Hear! Hear! Add to that, if you will, that gov't officials who take bribes should be charged, at least on the national level, with treason. If a bribe-taking congressman isnt selling out his country, I dont know who is.

Ed Abbey said...

I would have thought that seeing the guy fall like a sack of potatoes and not moving would have caused her to stop right there. But unbelievably, she went ahead and frisked him!

Not condoning what happened, but in my experience, the law enforcement people I have met have largely been very nice. I'm sure she is just a bad apple in a large barrel just as in many other sectors of life.

Bird Spot said...

illiterate: 2. b. violating approved patterns of speaking and writing

Your response to Heather:

"They often DO represent a particular type, however, and that type if usually people who's priority is not to be or to sound educated."

If you can call out someone for what you think is an inappropriate spelling of their name, then I can call you out for a grammatical error. It's "whose priority."

As much as it bothers you to see awfully-spelled names, it bothers me just as much to see educated people, especially with PhDs, to make such errors.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Bird Spot<, you are correct: My response was written in haste. Hopefully people aren't naming their children in haste. Surely that should take a little more priority, wouldn't you agree? But thank you for pointing out this most egregious grammatical error and adding the additional insult to keep me on my toes. How delightful to have so much free time on your hands. ;o)

Ed, I would like to agree that most law enforcement types are the good guys. Perhaps they are.

However, in my limited experience with the law, I would say it's about 50-50. And, may I add, I didn't originally believe that was the case. A couple of years ago I thought that the police were largely on the side of good and not evil.

Since then, I've seen a vast amount of corruption in the Largo PD and remain skeptical of their ability to clean it up. As for other police deparments in the
Pinellas County (Tampa Bay) area, I have somewhat limited experience but I do hear the rumors and they're not good.

Daveawayfromhome, you preach it brother! I'm in the choir, singing behind you.

Lazy, well legally you can name yourself or your kids anything you'd like to (as long as it's not pornographic or scatalogical, I'm assuming). However, even if you can legally mispell a name, I would again argue that it tells people a story about you before they've even met you.

For example, there was a study done several years ago that I found very intriguing. A group sent out identical resumes to myriad HR directors. Some of the resumes had a classic name like Phyllis Jones. Others had a 'creative' name like Shaniqua Jones. Most of the time Shaniqua never even got a response. Why? The immediate assumption was that it was due to simple prejudice.

However, there is a good argument in favor of the fact that HR departments don't want non-conformists or poor producers. It is commonly believed that people with such names come from cultures that do not encourage a good work ethic or proper education.

So... names tell.

My best friend is black (she rejects the politically correct label) and her name is a white woman's name. She says it's almost comical when she sits down to an interview because they've seen her name, her credentials, and spoken with her on the phone (she has no black dialect) so when they finally meet her in person, they're shocked. However, as she points out, this says more about her race than about a white person's perception of her race. After all, perceptions are usually built on experience.

Bird Spot said...

I actually don't have a lot of time on my hands...I'm a mother of two young children, I work almost full-time and I am a working on a graduate degree in Social Work. I took today off to attend a fund raiser to support the work of the Orange County Literacy Council here in Chapel Hill, NC. I've been a volunteer for that organization for over thirteen years, and it always inspires me to see the courage of new adult readers as they get up in front of hundreds of wealthy and educated people to read and tell their stories. In my Social Work classes we're learning about systemic "isms," (racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ablism, etc). I took your comment in your original post and subsequently your comments to Heather regarding illiteracy as a type of education elitism, as in educated people are somehow superior to illiterate people. Maybe I'm wrong about you and your views, but that's definitely how it came across to me. Illiteracy is a huge problem in the US, and it's systemic. The reasons why Charlette's parents may be illiterate run deep down a causal chain, I'm sure, and I would argue that their lack of education is much more complex than a possible lack of it being a priority.

Imagine what it would be like to live in the US today and not be able to read and write well. I wish everyone reading this would seek out their local literacy councils and show them support.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Bird Spot, My dear, you are obviously young and idealistic. Things change as you begin to really see the world as it is, and not as we wish it would be. I was there once. As Winston Churchill once said (I'm paraphrasing because I'm too lazy to look up the exact quote): "Those who were not liberal when they were young have no hearts. Those who are not conservative when they're older have no minds."

So often we think that others are like we are; that they have the same goals, same desires, same heart.

They don't.

Let me ask you this: Is everyone equal? WAIT! Before you answer, please understand that I don't mean legally equal, as guaranteed by our Constitution. That is a different concept altogether.

Now: I know the concept of some people being better or worse than others goes against your vast amount of 'isms', but please try to be truly open minded about this.

Let's take this case study:

John is a blue collar worker because it's all he's ever really wanted to be. When asked if he's content to work forever at Burger King, John will often mutter that he simply didn't have the same opportunities that others had. However, he has had many years to get grants, seek help, get financial aid, and do whatever needs to be done to achieve whatever true goals he has.

What John doesn't tell people is that his true goal is to work a job that takes minimal mental effort, so he has enough money to get home and party until the following day. His wants and basic needs are met, and he truly sees no problem with this. He also has no problem with doing drugs or other small-time illegal activities, such as stealing an occasional pack of frozen french fries. He rationalizes it all away by telling himself that he's not doing anyone any great harm. Overall, he contributes nothing to society.

Jim: Although he didn't come from a good background, Jim wanted more. From the time he was young, his goal was to always be someone important, and he wanted to make as much money as he possibly could. Although his IQ was no higher than John's, his aspirations were.

Jim worked his way through college, and didn't have the aptitude to get more than a simple degree in the arts. However, he took that bachelor's degree and went to a major retail company and got a job in management. Since then, Jim has worked hard. He has saved money. He has donated to charity. He heads up his company's annual charity drive.

Who is better? Jim or John? Or are they truly equal?

As for yourself: You don't have to list them here, but take the time to put together a list of 10 people who are better than you are, and 10 people who are worse than you are. What makes them better? What makes them worse? And ask yourself WHY.

As for Charlette, I do believe that she is a lesser human being than you or I. In fact, the law agrees, or she wouldn't currently be cooling her heels off in a jail cell.

Please don't bother telling me that she is an equal who made a simple mistake. If you doubt this, then let me ask you: Would YOU have thrown a paraplegic out of his wheelchair and roughly frisked him under similar circumstances? ...

Under ANY circumstance? ...


Then congratulations: You are better than Charlette, and she is not your equal.

This is really outside of the discussion about the mispelling of a name, however. Please see my note to Lazy above.

Bird Spot said...

Saur: I take it as a compliment that you think I'm young and idealistic!! (I'm 36...I think you told me about a year ago that you're about 10 years older? You're not too old yourself!)

I've had my share of real-life tragedies and hardships, and, yes, I still operate from a sense of hope in making a difference towards social justice. From what I've read on your site for the last year or so, you're all for justice too. The fact that Charlette is in jail? She deserves it.

You and I have different world views, but I bet we value many of the same things.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Bird Spot, :D No, I'm 5 years older than you. Sometimes I feel a WHOLE lot older. :P

I enjoyed your stopping over. I hope you do so more often!

Marty said...

To those who want to know why Jessie Jackson isn't focusing on this as much as he would if it were a crime against a black man... think about it: Jessie Jackson has devoted himself to fighting racism against blacks in America. I'm sure this keeps him quite busy.
I think the reason this question is being asked here is to suggest that Jackson and folks like him don't care as much about white people as their they do members of their own race, and that the asker of the question morally objects to this. It could be true, but you end up a hypocrite for posing the question unless you can honestly say you harbor absolutely no bias of your own. I'm willing to guess we all do. It's better to acknowledge that than be in denial.
Jessie Jackson's lack of racial sensitivity is offensive to you? Get real!