Authority Figures - My Personal Experiences
October, 2005: In mid-morning, I had gone (two miles) to
a nearby town (Homewood) to their Home Depot store to try to
find a small part to repair a rain gutter on my house. As I came
out, a Homewood Police car came across the parking lot at
fairly high speed and stopped right along side me. The Officer
inside was amazingly nasty, and he immediately yelled at me
and told me that "He had caught me dead to rights."
I had no idea what he was talking about and said that. I
mentioned that I am a Christian Church Pastor and that I had
just been trying to find a repair part for a house gutter.
He clearly did not believe any of that. He had gotten out of his
Police Car and it was obvious that he was keeping his hand on his
gun, even though he had not taken it out. If his intention was to
scare me, he accomplished that! After around 15 minutes
of constant accusations, without actually ever saying what I was
being accused of, his backup showed up in a second Police car.
No one had yet even told me why I was being harassed so severely!
But he kept repeating that I was "guilty" and that
"he had caught me". I suspect that he did not want to
be seen as being so threatening and harassing to me by the
other Officers, so he definitely reduced the accusations and
threats once they had arrived. I again asked all of them what
I was being accused of, and pointed out that a peaceful white
Christian Pastor is rarely treated so poorly.
It is sometimes hard to figure how one is supposed to behave in America!
I am a white man, slightly tall at 6'2", average weight at around
195 pounds, fit, and most importantly, quiet and virtually always
very easy-going. The fact that I have been a Pastor of a Christian
Church since 1996 might also describe my personality as being
pleasant and easy-going. I have NEVER been in any trouble with
Police or any other authority figures at any time in my life, with
my worse offenses having been around three parking tickets and roughly
the same number of having driven around 12 mph over the speed limit.
Yet, I have certainly been threatened and or harassed by a surprising
number of authority figures in my life. It mystifies me why they
had each chosen to pick me out for such behaviors on their part.|
Here is a listing of all the interactions I remember ever having had
with any authority figures. Of all of them, only two or three were
actually positive experiences, even when I was the one who called them!
- Around two months into First Grade, the Teacher accused me, and
got mad at me, for allegedly "somehow cheating" at solving
an extended addition problem. It was wonderful when, after my parents
had to go to the Principal's Office that evening, that the Principal
actually asked ME how I got the answer so fast. My solution had
apparently not occurred to the Teacher! The next day I was in Second
Grade. There is this whole anecdote described in the presentation
of my background at Author Background - These Public Services.
- Shortly after I entered the University of Chicago, having to commute
every day because my parents could not afford the cost of housing,
one morning I was driving my father's 1954 Ford station wagon, a block
from the University, stopped at a stop light at 59th Street in Chicago.
When the light turned green, the car next to me in the fast lane
bolted ahead and cleared the intersection. As I was entering the
intersection, a car came from my right which ignored his red light and
hit the very front of my car. When the Police came, they immediately
assumed that I was the one who caused the accident! They were quite
accusatory, insisting that I had started out from a red light to hit
that car that was shooting across the intersection! I could not get
them to believe that the car next to me had already completely
gone across the intersection once we had green, and that the reason
I had such a slow start was due to the old and slow nature of my
father's station wagon! Nothing eventually came of that, though, and
it turned out that I was able to take a length of pipe to bend the
fender away from the tire to be able to drive it the 20 miles back
home. Still, it was annoying to have been assumed to have been
guilty when I had actually been totally innocent. It was my first
experience where I saw that the alleged American position of being
innocent until proven guilty is untrue. The other incidents listed
here show dozens of times when that was not true. In fact, it has
virtually never happened to me in my entire life that any authority
figure has treated me as being "assumed innocent!" Instead,
in virtually every one of these incidents, I have been assumed to have
been guilty, of things which I have never done! It is immensely
frustrating, when one tries to find cause for believing in American
It was only then, nearly 25 minutes after he had first stopped
me from walking across the parking lot, that he finally
said that he KNEW that I had been trying to sell illegal
materials. I remember laughing at how ridiculous that was!
As I generally do for much of the year, I was wearing a tee shirt,
swim shorts and flip-flops. If someone was intending to sell
ANYTHING, I would think they would wear clothing that could hold
much more than my clothing could. But now that I at least was
given that tiny bit of information, I asked "Do you think
I was trying to sell weapons?" If so, where would I have carried
them? Then it occurred to me that maybe they thought I had been
trying to sell drugs, and I asked the same thing. It later occurred
to me that that comment probably then permitted them to do a full
body search of me, because of my statement. But they would only have
found my car keys on one pocket and my money and driver's license in the
other. However, since I had just gone to the Bank a few minutes
earlier, and withdrawn $500 for the Church, I suppose they would
have decided that I had too much money in my possession for someone
in swim shorts and they likely would have taken me to jail! Even though
I still had the Bank receipt for the withdrawal for that $500.
It was only then, after maybe 35 minutes of being publicly harassed
in that Home Depot parking lot, that I was told, very quickly and
quietly, that an "eyewitness" had seen me, what I
believe I heard "selling baseball cards". I had absolutely
no idea what he was talking about. First, even if I had, is it
actually illegal to sell baseball cards? Second, I had done nothing
like that, and not sold anything, or even TALKED to anyone other than
the cashier as I walked past and out of the Home Depot store.
Third, it started to seem clear that HE had not seen anything, because
he had just spent the last 40 minutes accusing me of something that
never remotely happened! Around then, he finally admitted that
"SOMEONE" had CALLED IN to the Police to make this claim!
This apparently anonymous person had identified the color of my
tee shirt and shorts and the fact that I am tall and slim and that
I had a beard. So he had no doubt whatever that I was "guilty"
as he had repeated to me at least 30 times.
Do Police receive anonymous phone calls and immediately accept everything
said as being absolute fact? Apparently so, in this case.
I sent a complaint letter to the Chief of Police of that town of Homewood.
I received a very nice phone call from the Assistant Chief, who apologized
to me several times, and who told me that Officer would be refreshed
on proper behaviors. He also confirmed to me that the complaint
call had come in from a cel-phone, so the Police had no record of
who had made the complaint against me! Until then, I had not realized
that their Caller ID did not work for cel-phones, and in fact that the
public assumption that the Police can always precisely locate a
cel-phone in an emergency is simply not true. The Homewood Police
apparently had no way of actually knowing who called in that complaint
against me. He only knew that it was a woman's voice. (They erased
the tape of that call soon afterward.) When he said that, I realized
who it was, that same woman who has constantly been harassing me,
at least every few days, for five years now, a part-time secretary
in the tiny Offices of the Thornton Village government, who happens
to be related to the Mayor of Thornton and who also is a part-time
secretary in the Thornton Police Department Office.
She clearly knew that Police cannot track cel-phones, and she clearly
knew what she needed to say to get the Homewood Police to believe
that I had done some sort of crime. A Thornton Village Trustee
had told me around two years earlier that she had personally filed
over 40 Official Complaints against me in Thornton, in a bizarre
way, WITH HERSELF, as she is the one who receives and types up such
Complaints, just during the year 2003. She was here merely proving
that she was still at it, now STALKING me to other towns and
trying to get other Police Departments to harass me! And there is
absolutely nothing I can do about it, because she is related to
the Mayor, and I had learned far earlier that there is absolutely
NO Jurisdiction on Earth that feels they have any authority over
this Village government! Not the Illinois Attorney General. Not
the Illinois State's Attorney. Not the Governor. Not State
Congressmen or Senators. Not US Congressmen or Senators.
Not any of a dozen Officials in the Cook County government. It
IS essentially a "kingdom" where they are free to do
anything they wish without any oversight by anyone else!
And this is America???
April, 2007: In mid-morning, I was walking back home a few blocks
after having walked to the Post Office in Thornton to mail some letters.
A local Police car drove up along side me to tell me that I was
trespassing on railroad property. As the Post Office is adjacent
to the rail line through town, I sometimes walk maybe 8 to 10 feet
away from the rails as the shortest path to get back to my house.
The Officer did not really know for sure how wide the Easement was
that the railroad has, but he was insistent that I was trespassing.
He finally said that he THOUGHT it was 10 feet, but didn't know
if that meant 10 feet from the centerline of the track or 10 feet
from the nearest rail. I think he eventually realized that he
probably did not have proper cause to arrest me or give me a ticket,
so after a 20-minute lecture, he gave me a warning.
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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago