J.Speer-Williams (c) 2010 All rights reserved

This letter was received by J. Speer-Williams after his recent article entitled “Are cops more criminal than criminals“?  Since we published that article, many comments and stories have come in regarding the rise of fear across the country, of our law enforcement agencies.  Most law enforcement agencies are no longer the protector of the people and instead of instilling respect and admiration, inspire fear and loathing.  This is a very sad state of affairs. 


Dear Mr.Williams:

Writing about, or even dwelling on this, causes me extreme rage and anxiety. During flashbacks, which have happened perhaps five times in my life, I usually run away and hide somewhere. Usually these spells only happen if I am physically attacked. When I come back to myself, I am usually completely lost, miles from where I was before. Usually, I am also injured, sometimes not in an insignificant way.
I am afraid, naturally, that if I am seen by law enforcement in this state, I might be perceived as dangerous and, well, you know what happens in this case. Even here, my postman was killed with two shotgun blasts to the chest because he threatened to kill himself with a kitchen knife. The policeman who murdered him, a known dangerous psychopath to people who have known him all his life, naturally is still on the force. And yes, this individual took steroids and is built like a large draft horse, only more stupid. Everyone here, except the wealthy, lives in fear of the police, and indeed the entire “establishment” that enables them.
What your article does not say, but only implies, is the destruction of society caused by having a psychotic paramilitary force attacking any vestige of real community, should it form. We are rather rapidly becoming Afghanistan. The police, who used to be respected members of communities, are now an outside force attacking everyone and pitting everyone against all others. They only exist to protect the property of the rich and powerful.
When my neighbor’s kids set their fence and my yard on fire, I stupidly dialed 911, and got only the police (who did not even get out of their car), despite all of the neighbors also reporting a HUGE fire. After all of us put out the inferno, the poor fire department arrived, after the dispatcher waited fifteen minutes for the worthless police to verify that the problem was a fire and not a crime, and actually called them. This is a poor neighborhood, you see, so naturally all emergencies are the fault of the residents. All residences are potential domestic violence or methamphetamine production sites. All animals are raging pit bulls, and all people are dangerous, armed criminals. So goes the paranoid delusions of power. But you already know all this.
So here it goes:
I lived in conservative Orange County, California, as a child. From the top of my street, I could see the smoke from the Watts riots rising. My John Bircher father, who was a violent alcoholic and racist, naturally blamed the victims of this tragedy. By this time, I knew he was totally insane, and did not believe anything he said about anything. Shortly after the riots ended, I became very curious about cultures and lifestyles other than the bland, upper middle-class crap that surrounded me.

On one of the first times I could drive myself, I decided I wanted to check out the Sunset Strip. I had heard that strange people of all kinds frequented this area, and I wanted to talk to them and learn the truth about many things. At first, there was very little remarkable about the area. Yes, there were black and Latino people, yes, there were drag queens, and probably people using “evil death weed,” or perhaps cheap wine. After walking around for hours and not really learning anything, or talking to anyone, I turned back toward my car.
Suddenly, people started running from behind me, going in the same direction I was going. I stopped and looked at what was approaching. It was a line of riot police wearing the primitive gear of the day. Knowing I would be safe there, I stepped into a phone booth that was installed in front of a closed-down building. Having escaped high school bullies using the same technique, I closed the door, and wedged my foot in just the right place (on the slightly recessed conduit cover for the electrical connection to the light in the booth) thereby preventing the door from opening. I picked up the phone and pretended to talk to the dial tone. I knew that the batons of the police could not break the thick tempered glass of the phone booth, since baseball bats were not heavy enough to damage it. The Bell System built really beefy equipment, and charged well for it.
The approaching line of pigs, which is what they truly were, overwhelmed a black man and cornered him next to my phone booth. They shattered his skull with their truncheons, splattering its contents all over the glass inches from my face. I was the last sight of this poor, innocent man. I watched the life drain from his eyes. Unless you see this yourself, God forbid, the horror of it cannot be described. The swarm soon passed me and the now dead man by, ignoring the short-haired white boy innocently making a phone call. As soon as possible, I fled, running many blocks away. It took me hours to recover my wits enough to find my car, and more time yet to stop vomiting and to drive home.
To this day, I could identify this man in a crowd. Sometimes I see someone who resembles him and become frightened and physically ill. At that moment, I ceased to be able to enjoy movies, television, or music, instead having only this image of death and destruction superimposed on anything more pleasant. After being a straight “A” student, I now could not pass any subject, even ones I had previously loved, and washed out of college. My sleep patterns were permanently altered, and I cannot enjoy even good food. I have only several friends, who are, as I am, freaks and outcasts. My cat is the only thing I love, or enjoy at all. My life was destroyed and has slowly spiraled down into poverty and despair.
I now live on food stamps and HEAT assistance, and can only work for myself, repairing computers and electronic equipment, neither of which nets me enough money to survive. I did live in the Silicon Valley, among other places, and worked in the semiconductor industry, but after a flashback that nearly killed me, I fled here, and now survive on less than $1000 a year. Thank God I was able to write a check for a slum dwelling when I arrived, because my income immediately crashed to almost nothing. After twenty years here without haircuts, new clothes, toilet paper, or even cleaning supplies for my house, I look and smell as if I live in a culvert.
Now all money I earn goes for utility bills and ever rising taxes. I hope I can hold onto my depreciating property until Social Security kicks in, if the greedy bastards in charge don’t destroy it first. A minimum wage job seems like a fortune to me, but I cannot find one, even digging trenches, or washing dishes. My only income for the last three months was $100 from selling a computer I found in a dumpster and strapped to my bicycle. Nearly everything I own other than my land and my foul, smelly, leaking trailer, in fact, came from a dumpster, or kind friends. The dumpster is my Wal-Mart, except that it carries better merchandise, and the other customers are nicer, and more informed. 
I am now an old man, and a spent force. My best friend, a saintly woman who died in 2005 because she could not afford medical care, was my only connection to anything wonderful and uplifting. I cannot be repaired, but perhaps someone reading this who is as damaged as I am, can realize, which I failed to do until it was too late, that they are a victim, and not a worthless criminal, as I assumed, wrongly, about myself. My conservative father, and others who blame victims for their suffering, were wrong then, and are even more wrong now. But for me, the damage was done, and cannot be fixed.