<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Harassed Again - Good Deed Gets Punished in AR 

I know it has been awhile since I updated this blog. I successfully completed my job and have been back to work here on the place, taking care of things. But that's not what I want to write about today. What I want to tell you all about today is what happened to Laura and me during an innocent shopping trip yesterday as we attempted to do a good deed.

You see, Laura and I were both arrested yesterday for doing this good deed. The reason this happened will become clearer as you continue to read. But I would like to get one fact in before I begin. the officer who arrested us knew me by sight before ever asking for ID. He treated us rudely, never listened to our side of things that would have proved our innocence, constantly telling us to shut up.

Now, on with the details:

This time we simply went to Wal-Mart for sandwich makings and gas. Laura always pushes a shopping cart inside the store, usually one found where someone has left one in a parking spot or something, thus helping out the poor, overworked guys who have the job of returning carts, and partially because it takes the weight off her bad shoulder that she had surgery on and which still has a rod in it running from her shoulder to her elbow.

This time, however, we didn't see any carts left in parking spots, so headed for one of the corrals to get one. Well, we found one alright, but someone had left their bag in it, and there were others standing around trying to figure out what to do and who had already left the store and were heading to their vehicles with their purchases. So, we decided that we would do the right thing and take the bag in and turn it in, but first we wanted to see if there was any ID in it, showing who it belonged to. So, in front of witnesses, we began looking for such ID. Once we found a Medicaid card with a name on it, we headed inside the store to turn it in.

As we were heading in, though, we began to notice that there were several different names in there, so which was the rightful owner? As Laura had run into the same problem before and lost her purse and all of the cash in it by having it claimed by the wrong person, we wanted to make sure that the right person claimed it, so we did a little more digging. We moved out of the main traffic area to do this so that we wouldn't get in the way of other shoppers. In hindsight, this was probably not a good idea, but at the time, we never thought anything of it, as we knew that we were only looking out for the person's best interest in making sure that whoever retrieved the bad was indeed the rightful owner. We also knew that we were in full view of security cameras that could see that we were not stealing anything out of the bag and putting everything back in it that we pulled out.

Well, all of a sudden some strange woman came up and grabbed the bag from our cart, implied that we were trying to steal from it (yeah, right under a security camera that we knew was there - are we that dumb?!), took it out of the cart and said that she would turn it in.

Well, we then went straight to the customer service area to find out if indeed she had turned it in or simply stolen it herself, maybe being in the group that formed outside as we all decided what to do with the bag, following us through the store, and waiting on the opportunity to snatch it. Anyway, after giving a description of the woman and filing a report with the people at customer service, describing the bag and all of what happened, we went on our merry way and finished our shopping.

Well, just as we pulled into the line to checkout, there was the above cop - officer Lawler, a brutal man who we have been told has even attacked patients in the hospital. The woman was standing in back and to the side of him pointing us out as the "criminals" who tried to "steal" this bag. Note that there was not one single thing missing from that bag and that we even put the money we found back in it (which should also be on the security tape) So, we got hauled to the back of the store and rudely treated. Laura asked the cop repeatedly to go and check with the customer service people and see that we had indeed reported all of this and had not tried to steal it - that we were trying to prevent a theft, for goodness sake! He just kept refusing.

Well, he just called us liars, handcuffed us, arrested us, and took us in. Meanwhile in the station they took my watch (who knows why?) and some of Laura's medicine that she keeps in a separate bottle that she uses every day to keep up with her doses. Never mind that she had each and every bottle with her name, doctor, and pharmacy (all matching) on the bottles in her fanny pack (which they also made a big deal out of, accusing her of using different doctors and pharmacies, when every single bottle showed the same doctor and pharmacy) - they took every single pill out of the daily dose bottle in her purse that helps her keep up with how many she has taken each day so that she keeps on schedule and doesn't take too little or too much every day. So now she is missing a half a day's worth of medicine that she must make up before her next appointment, which means that she won't be able to take the proper amount of medicine each day that she is prescribed. So, word of warning - if you ever go traveling, don't use a bottle to keep up with your daily doses. Keep all your medicines in their original bottles.

Also, while in the jail, one of the cops that transported us - they called in backup, as if they needed it with us all handcuffed and not putting up a fight or anything, told me "We do not tolerate animal rights terrorists like you and your old lady in Polk county, and we are going to do our best to get rid of you." - can't read the name, but his badge # is 513, first initial T. (we later learned that the arresting officer is named Wolf), the rest illegible. I got the message that none of this would have happened if we hadn't been who we were and doing what we are doing. The jailer didn't even understand why we were arrested. We had no evidence on us, no stolen merchandise or belongings, none of that. Luckily she was really nice. She even brought Laura one of her Valiums to calm her down because she was so upset at being arrested for theft when we were simply trying to prevent one. The jailer said that most people, even if guilty, wouldn't have been arrested, just given a ticket, as it is a misdemeanor, and a small one at that, no worse than a traffic ticket.

Anyway, Laura called her mom from the jail and there was already a bondsman there, so we didn't spend even one minute in a cell. But it cost her mom $300 to get us out on an $1105 bond each (yes, that's extremely excessive, and we intend to fight it all the way). Plus, even as we are standing there being bonded out, the asshole cop had our truck towed away down to Potter - another 80+ charge - that he did completely out of meanness. Mom saw it leaving just as she was pulling up to pay the bond! Even the guy who worked there didn't understand why it was towed. When Laura asked the cop why he did it and accused him of only doing it to cost us more money, he simply said that "it was a liability." Even the guy who towed it didn't understand why it had been towed, saying that it not normal practice, but that he was called and just doing his job.

Before getting in the truck and taking off, just to be sure that things were okay and nothing had been planted on us (it had), I noticed that my prescription was missing out of the truck and that all of a sudden the taillights and blinkers didn't work. More sabotage. And there were cops waiting to pull us over for that sitting in driveways on the side of the road as we left. We were just really careful not to use either so that they couldn't see that they didn't work. I got one blinker working by replacing a fuse, but nothing else works like it did before we left, so obviously someone messed with the wiring or something to get them not to work, hoping to pull us over all over again and probably tow the truck right back to where we had just retrieved it from. Because you know they can do that if they want, just like they can just write you a ticket. It's totally up to the officer. I will just let you guess which scenario would have happened to us.

Well, immediately after getting out of jail and retrieving our truck, we went straight back to Wal-Mart, hoping desperately that the same people were working the customer service desk that were there when we came to report the bag and all and also hoping that the note that they wrote about it was still there (nope, it was gone). No such luck - different people working. All I was able to find out was that the girl that was there before was named Paula.

They referred me to the girl that worked the tape room that colluded with the cop in getting us arrested. She said that she would look over the tapes and be able to see whether or not we actually did what we said we did and went to the customer service desk. So, that will back us up, assuming the dirty cop doesn't destroy the tapes or something. Hopefully Wal-Mart keeps a backup copy.

They are obviously determined to make our lives as unpleasant as possible and cost us as much as they possibly can, with the ultimate aim of making us move or locking us up for good. At the very least, they intend to make our lives miserable. Also, I truly think they are trying to get me to commit a violent act against someone so that they can throw the bitch (slang for the habitual criminal act, for those not familiar with Arkansas law - 3 strikes and you are out, and one more violent act will get me sent away for 40-life, without the possibility of parole - at my age, a death sentence and a damn good way of shutting me up!) on me and have me sent away forever. Luckily I have better control than that and am a changed man. I won't do that and give them the satisfaction, no matter how good it may feel at the time and how much that cop deserved it.

I and Laura both have open sores on our hands from the handcuffs being put on too tightly. Lawler put them on, then came back and tightened them as far as they would go. Then, when it came time to get me out of the car, the other officer who actually transported us (Wolf) jerked me by the arm and banged my head on the car. Still, I will NOT commit a violent act and went peacefully, just as Laura did, even though we both knew we were being wronged in the worst way and for the wrong reasons - because of our unpopular beliefs about animals. So, now we are broke, Laura's mother is broke, our truck can't hit the road without being fixed so that it is legal, my head and neck are hurt (as well as the open sores on my hands), Laura's shoulder is hurting from having it cuffed behind her (in addition to the open sores on her hands), and we both had medication stolen by the cops. All for trying to do a good deed.

Will I give up? HELL NO! I take this as evidence that my work is working and hurting the industry. Every injustice visited upon me is further evidence of that. I figure this was about that last column I wrote that slammed Tyson so badly. though it could also be because of the letter-writing campaign that started when all this first started and I came forward. Who knows? All I know is that I MUST be having an effect - and a big one - or they wouldn't fight me so hard and come after me and now Laura. This is the first time they involved her. But that last column written mentioned the fact that she was the one who exposed the Grannis Chief of Police, Larry Harmon. So, I guess they have decided that she is fair game now, too.

Well, she won't give up, either. No matter what they do to us. We will keep fighting. Just watch. It will only get more intense from here on. Yet it will all stay legal. I will not break any laws because it isn't necessary to do so to expose the industry for what it is - CRUEL.

Keep tuned in for more exciting news on my next effort. I will be blogging about that hopefully tomorrow. I have been setting things up for the past two days. This action will be one that you can all take part in and that will be a lot of fun.

And, guess what - it's another good deed.
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