9/12/05 A Barney Fiefdom Part I  

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9/11/2005 7:36 pm

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3/5/2006 9:27 pm

9/12/05 A Barney Fiefdom Part I


By the time I had enough money to attend college I had left behind my trailer park peasant roots and now owned an eight room house, a rental property, a 50 per cent share in a small business, and I worked full time delivering Dominos Pizzas. One evening after a day of university classes and an evening of delivering pizzas, when I came home my girlfriend Leilani had prepared a late dinner. She asked me to drive around the block to the soda machine in front of the Laundromat and buy a couple cans of Sprite.

Lewistown is a small town nestled into a valley in the Appalachian Mountains. Sometimes on a clear night there is a stillness that covers the valley and gives one of feeling of secretive solitude.
This was one of those nights. I pulled into the laundromat parking lot and turned off the car, I walked over and bought the two sodas and was returning to my car when a police car came screeching into the parking lot at a high speed. Just as I was getting behind the wheel of my car two officer’s rushed over to me and began shouting questions.

“What are you doing?” the first officer shouted angrily.

Buying some soda I answered nonchalantly. For years I have had good relations with the local police and had no reason to feel antagonism towards them or from them.

“Why are you driving with your headlights off?” he screamed.

I tried to answer that I didn’t know that I was doing so, but before I could reply he continued to bellow more questions into my face.
As he shouted in a manner that seemed irrational it became clear his questions were intended to intimidate rather than to gain information.

One officer, whose badge read Robert Brackney seemed to be doing all the shouting and the other officer, a William Benson, stood back from the action. My first impression was that the officers were using me as a way to have a little excitement, as police work in a small town can be pretty quiet and boring.

Officer Brackney continued his over-the-top interrogation with an inflated air of machismo as if I were a dangerous criminal and he was a heroic Rambo, forced to go above the law to rid the world of evil. Through it all I tried to remain cool and collected and respond with a calm, respectful tone of voice.

I was not drinking, I did not use drugs, I was just a citizen who apparently forgot to turn on his headlights so I saw no reason for the abusive behavior. I never once gave him any argument concerning the headlights issue. I sat in the car seat and they looked down on from the window. As he continued his torrent of abuse I finally became exasperated and whispered under my breath, “fuck you.”

This seemed to be just what he was waiting for.

“What did you say.” he shrieked.

“I said fuck you,” I replied with an even voice.

“Now you’re gonna to get it,” officer Brackney shouted as they pulled me out and threw me against the car, and cuffed my hands behind my back. For good measure they kicked my feet out from under me, knocking me unto the ground with a hard thud. Without the use of my hands to cushion the fall my chest and face slammed again the parking lot macadam.

Police have very precise procedures that they must follow that are designed to protect the public. Many police also know how to twist those procedures in order to inflict pain on those in their custody. Operating in this manner gives them added protection because they can simply say, “I was just following procedures,” when accusations of abuse are made. In short order, I was the recipient of two such abuses of procedure.

First, when they walked me to car, procedure called for them to guide me by holding the chain between the two cuffs behind my back. The cruel twist is that if you pull up on those cuffs just a bit you can inflict a great deal of pain, since the arms just don’t bend in that direction.

When the individual in custody is placed in the police car, procedure dictates that the officer should place his hand on the head of the accused so he will not bump it on the roof of the police vehicle. This procedure provides a wonderful opportunity to push the head of the accused downward, twisting the neck at odd and painful angles. I can attest that the officers had these procedural twists down pat and applied them with sadistic precision.

As they had completely bypassed reading me my Miranda rights, once in the car I protested, “This is the United States, I have rights.”

“You just lost your rights,” Brackney snickered.

The arrest happened to be taking place during the trial of the police officers who savagely beat Rodney King in California. When I reminded them that there were laws governing police actions Brackney sneered, “Rodney Kind got what he deserved!”

As we drove towards the police station I began to glean the dynamic between the two officer that likely lead to my unfortunately situation. It seems officer Benson was a rookie, and officer Brackney was in charge of showing him the ropes. To that end, he was engaged in a bit of showing off for his underling, leading to his irrational and unprofessional behavior.

Like most schoolyard bullies, Officer Brackney appeared to be a man who felt small and insecure inside and to compensate he puffed himself up, physically by bulking up his body with weight lifting, and psychologically by using his uniform to find people he could degrade and abuse.

There is little that is more dangerous then a weak ego in a uniform. When we look back over the history of mankind, we can only guess at how many of humanity’s greatest cruelties were perpetuated by such weak men in uniforms.

When we arrived at the police station the place was dark and empty. They sat me in a chair in the middle of the room with my hands still cuffed behind my back. It looked like a torture and interrogation scene from a 2nd rate spy movie. Quickly it began to dawn on me that I could be in real trouble here. They could essentially do whatever they wanted to me and easily cover their tracks.

I was trapped and bound like a criminal and in the hands of a couple small-time sadists whose authority had been challenged. They crept around the outskirts of the room looking at paperwork and whispering to each other. Occasionally hurling insults at me for good measure.

“You’re scum, you’re the same as any or murderer,” Brackney snarled.

A chill came over me as I craned my neck to look around the room in hopes of seeing another witness who might stand in the way of whatever the officers might have planned. I contorted my neck like Linda Blair only to find that each hallway, every window, and every doorway was dark and empty.

“You’re garbage! You have no rights,” Brackney continued.

Until one experiences it firsthand, it is hard to understand how losing your free will degrades your self-esteem. I was essentially kidnapped by a couple of small-town jokers with limited intelligence and questionable morals, yet because they wore a uniform they were unleashed on society.

As I sat in my bondage Brackney’s words echoed in my ears, “Rodney King got what he deserved.”

The situation was completely surreal and I was helpless to defend my self. I began to truly fear what might come next. To be treated like an animal, to be held in bondage by another person, especially when sanctioned by the state, has a profoundly devastating psychological effect. One’s spirit shrivels and your confidence evaporates.

As my mind raced in fear, cataloging the possibilities of what my fate might be, and searching for some way to escape, I began to understand that the horrible feelings I was experiencing inside were worse than any physical abuse they might inflict. In fact, physical abuse seemed preferable to the spiritual degradation their terror was causing. With this in mind I decided to respond to their verbal abuse wit the only weapon I had ‒ my own voice.

“You guys give the police force a bad name,” I taunted them.

They looked at me surprised and annoyed, but went about their business. Realizing how good it felt to stand up for myself I began to lecture them on their duties as police officers, on the U.S. constitution, and on morality. I noticed that the more I pushed them, the more uncomfortable they seemed to get.

“You guys might be happier working in Cuba or China,” I mocked.
“Your behavior would fit right in.”

As I went on I became more aggressive. When Brackney left the room I looked Benson in the eye and said, “I bet he’s fucking you up the ass, isn’t he?”

Benson looked not only shocked, but also frightened. When Brackney returned I continued my tirade. Relishing that the more abusive and foulmouthed I became, the more unnerved they became. Benson whispered to Brackney in a worried voice, “What’s wrong with him? Is he crazy?”

Finally Brackney came up behind me and took the cuffs off my wrists. They both took a position on two chairs a few yards in front of me.

“Listen, we’re gonna give you a break,” Brackney explained. “Call someone for a ride home. You can go. We’ll just forget the whole thing.”

It seemed clear to me that they had made a mistake and had overstepped their boundaries. Thinking I had them in a bind and wanting them to be accountable for their behavior I demanded, “You started this, now finish it. Arrest me.”

The two officers looked at each other with confused expressions. Then stared at me for a long pause. “I just said you can go,” Backney repeated.

“Arrest me,” I demanded.

With weary movements they raised themselves from their chairs and completed their paperwork. The judge had to be summoned to come into court after hours to arraign me. At every step of the way I expected someone would put a stop to the nonsense and put the officers on the carpet for their behavior. How naïve I was.

I was transferred from the courthouse to the jail. Inside the jailhouse office I sat in a chair while three guards filled out paperwork. The guards at the county jail tended to be a particular type of character. Usually they were holdouts from the 1950’s who had pork chop sideburns and drove worn out hot-rods. Most got their start by listening to CB radios scanners and when they heard a fire or police report, even though the held no position of authority, they would put blue bubble lights atop their rusted hot rods and rush to the scene. A friend of mine on the local police force told me the police hated they guys because they were always getting in the way of the real work.

Usually these guys were too overweight or too dimwitted to get on the police force, but were desperate to feel some sense of authority. A rampant condition in small towns. Luckily for them, to be a guard at the county lock-up only required a high school diploma, giving this gang of Fonzi wannna-bes a perfect opportunity to be in a position to lord it over some other unlucky sods.

As a matter of course these three insulted and belittled me as they processed their paperwork. Eventually one of them threw a piece of paper in front of me and told me to sign it. When I began to read it one of the guards ran towards me and bellowed, “I said sign it, not read it!”

By this point the situation had become so surreal and the players so pathetic that I had enough. I leaned back in my chair as if sunning in an easy chair on the beach and flipped my pencil up into the air. It seemed to float slowly towards the ceiling while spinning in circles. At first the three seemed to be in absolutely shock. Once they were able to gather their somewhat limited wits about them, they went ballistic.

The other two rushed towards me, “OK, wise guy, we’re gonna make things rough on ya now!”

They took me to a tiny room and made me strip naked. One got on his knees and looked underneath my balls. They made me bend over and spread my ass cheeks apart while the inspector bent down low to make sure I didn’t have a machine gun hidden up there.

They seemed to take a perverse glee in all this. They were definitely finding homosexual excitement in degrading me in this way. It reeked of the same mixture of sado-sexual perversion one got a sense of in the photos from Abu Ghraib prison.

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