- Fire Season
- AV Native
- Lewallen Book
- River Watch
- AVA Trailer
- Yosemite Paintings
- Parrish Recognised
- Divorce Celebration
- Marijuana Takeover
- V Dialogue
- Superdelegate Count
- Housing Benefit
- Boss Headquarters
- Farmers' Market
- Walk Away
- Park Imperiled
- Remco Plans
- Library Events
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cloverdale Rally
- Serious Spectacle
- Rape Story
MENDO LUCKED OUT last fire season, and I hope we luck out again. But it's already real dry out there. The rain we had this past winter didn't soak in because, I guess, the five previous years of low rain had hung the land out to dry and forgotten for five years to bring it in.
AS GENTLEMAN GEORGE HOLLISTER, the Comptche logger put the fire danger, "Once a fire gets going it doesn't matter how many dead trees are out there on MRC land. Once it gets going anywhere near the Coast it'll burn all the way to Ukiah." George is probably right. The last big fire was when, 1934? I was also intrigued by an historical tidbit George dropped on me; he said that back in the day farmers let their cows graze in the redwood forests, that the cows ate the shoots of non-commercial tree species before they could crowd out baby redwoods. Maybe MRC could buy a herd or two.
VIOLET RENICK has got to be among Anderson Valley's most vivid personalities, if not the most vivid. She is for a fact the sole remaining Valley citizen born and raised here to Native American parents who themselves were the last native people in The Valley who spoke the ancient language and knew the ancient ways. Although Violet now lives on the Pinoleville rez, she still rightly considers herself a resident of Anderson Valley, a literal native of the Anderson Valley. Last weekend Violet returned as guest speaker at the Spirit Weavers gathering at Camp Navarro where, from all accounts, Violet's riveting stories of the original people she descends from were the highlight of the festivities.
JOHN LEWALLEN REMINDS US…
“Land of Frozen Laughter" Opening at Gallery Bookshop, June 10
Dear friend, Barbara and I would love to see you at the new book opening of "Land of Frozen Laughter," my report on two years in the Vietnam War, a completely unique view of the war and culture exactly as I wrote it in 1969. The event is at the beautiful Gallery Bookshop in the Village of Mendocino, Friday, June 10, at 6:30 p.m. Barbara is preparing seaweed snacks from the Land of Delightful Laughter! I'll read and comment on passages from the book, and invite all to discuss its relevance to today's wars, returning veterans, and the worldwide efforts for Peace Conversion. Heartfelt thanks for the people at Gallery Books who, as you can see from their announcement, understand me and the peace work we are doing with the book.
RIVER WATCH. The Navarro River has been steadily dropping. While hanging a bit below median flow rates it is certainly doing better than this time last year. Baby ducks are swimming with their moms, frogs and turtles occasionally plop into the water. I spotted a baby turtle about an inch in diameter on the rock beside the Shenoa swimming hole. The water is still cool but the algae is starting to come on. Not many fish this year even though there seem to be plenty of depressions in the gravel river bottom that appear to be the fish nests known as redds. Redds up Indian Creek were spotted by a neighbor with two lamprey eels nearby so maybe those that I see are eel nests as well and not steelhead or salmon. Lampreys have been rarely spotted the last few years and this makes me wonder if the babies I found last year in the azolla under the Philo/Greenwood Road bridge have grown into a comeback surge for that species.
JEFFREY SKOLL'S river pump at Shenoa was humming away Monday morning. It's a mystery why he needs all that water for a non-functional, dormant enterprise. And for some reason he had the section of a road that parallels the river bulldozed wider in a truly haphazard and environmentally deviant manner.
UPSTREAM, Wentzel is set up and probably pumping. Timothy Mullins of Balo has taken a little less than an acre/foot out of Indian Creek this past month. Jack Cakebread has refilled the "Big Dig" pond that was drained, supposedly by vandalism, a couple of weeks ago. I believe that amounts to about 35 acre/feet of water that disappeared.
IN MY NECK of the woods — Ray's Road — there seems to be more fox and considerably fewer turkeys and quail which makes sense. And everywhere it is still truly verdant.
(— David Severn)
SPEAKING of central Boonville architecture, an uncomfortable number of locals have asked me, "What the hell are you doing with your property next to the Redwood Drive-In? You've always been quick to comment on everyone else's buildings and here you come with, of all things, some kind of industrial-strength trailer right on our main drag!"
I WONDER if you rubes are familiar with the concept of Work In Progress, aware that Rome wasn't built in a day and that even the most unsightly lily can be gilded to look real purty? You watch, you just watch you scoffers, as that site is gradually transformed into one of the great, small beauty spots in all Mendocino County! At this time next year, the weekend tourist flow will be slowing to catch its breath at the pure Edenic splendor of this newspaper's last stand, its final resting place, repository of Mendocino County's true history, and a must see rivaling any in all of the Anderson Valley, and I expect every single one of you premature critics to be crawling through the concertina security wire and on up to my desk to say, "We don't like petunias. Can you do roses or something more interesting?"
INTERESTING? Did he say, "interesting"? If you happen to be out on the Mendocino coast the rest of June, you will definitely want to have a look at Virginia Sharkey's far more than interesting "Yosemite Paintings" at the Partners Galley, 335 North Franklin, Fort Bragg. The kid can paint!
AVA STAR REPORTER Will Parrish’s Two-Part "Coho v. Pinot/Running Dry Fast" feature last September has been nominated by the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as one of four finalists in the Investigative Reporting category of the 2016 AAN Awards.
The AAN "represents 114 alternative newsmedia organizations throughout North America. AAN member publications reach more than 38 million active, educated and influential adults in print, on the web and on mobile devices," according to their web site. The finalists "were chosen as the most outstanding from a field of 821 entries submitted by 70 alternative publications across the US and Canada. The AAN Awards recognize the best in alternative journalism and are a unique chance for alt-weeklies to compete directly against the work of their peers in cities across the continent. Judging was conducted by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland." The other three finalists in the Investigative Reporting category are stories from the Boulder Weekly, the Arkansas Times, and Seven Days Vermont.
The Coho v. Pinot story was also named a second place winner in the "Environmental Reporting" category by the California Newspaper Publishers Association in their 2015 awards contest.
BRUCE McEWEN CHECKS IN:
Amusing spectacle in front of the courthouse this morning, as I sat enjoying my coffee at a sidewalk table outside Schat’s Bakery. Two young fellows — late 20s, early 30s — hailed a third who was approaching the courthouse door.
“Yo, Dog! What up?”
“My divorce just came through — I’m going in to get the papers right now!”
With exclamations of “Dude!” and “Sweet!” the two ran to the third and embraced him in a tumult of mutual joy and exultation that bordered on tears. It was very moving, even for a spectator who knew none of the players.
The threesome soon emerged from the courthouse and came over to Schat’s, where they celebrated with pastries and mochas, all the while admiring the divorce papers with such beaming countenances that, honestly, the only time I’ve ever seen such rapture in a friend’s accomplishments would have to be when my cousin first showed her engagement ring to her girlfriends, many years ago.
Truly amazing — edifying, even — that guys can show as much emotional enthusiasm for a divorce as gals can for a wedding!
Now, who said guys can’t express emotion to each other?
NORTH COAST MARIJUANA GROWERS FEAR A TAKEOVER BY 'BIG ALCOHOL’
"To many farmers in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, this was not just an attack on profits, but on the backwoods hamlets that have long operated like autonomous states — where marijuana growers and their money build local schools, volunteer fire stations, community centers, even a regional radio station. Some, like Johnston, 43, who grew up in the Mattole Valley in Southern Humboldt and went to a pot-funded school, have decided to fight to survive in the industry by working to brand their fabled terroir."
MEASURE V DIALOGUE
We already have the right to go after anyone who infringes upon our property. The real question is, why should we pay for this with tax money. The school system in Fort Bragg is failing, the homeless situation is beyond control. Why should we pay with our tax money for this measure? It's not my property. I don't want helicopters flying my house and I don't want the government in the Forrest deciding what is worth keeping and what isn't. This measure also goes to any owner of land, it's not just corporations. There is also evidence or instance that clearing brush from the Forrest will prevent a fire. That's literally the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
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No! We don't "already have the right to go after anyone who infringes upon our property." Timber companies are precluded; protected by recent legislation specifically drafted on behalf of the timber corporations. Assembly bill 1492.
In 2008, 42% of the Lightning Strike Complex fires in Mendocino County were "hosted" by the Mendocino Redwood Company. By MRC. 42% of the acreage burned by wildfires ignited by lightning strikes are owned by 3 billionaire brothers who live in San Francisco (one of them, John Fisher, "owns" the Oakland As, another, Robert Fisher is the chair of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (he used to run the Gap until he was kicked out of the job of CEO, essentially for bad taste) the third's wife heads the board of the San Francisco Symphony). The guy who heads the museum, was also appointed by Jerry Brown to be co-chair of Climate Change and Economic Policy in California. Gov. Brown's wife Anne Gust worked for this Fisher brother for 12 years before becoming first lady of California. These three brothers are the sons of the founder of the GAP and hold a controlling interest in GAP Inc, and in 2012 when Robert the co-chair of Climate Change guy was still on the GAP Inc board, GAP's representative walked out of a conclave of international clothiers, meeting in Bangladesh to draft new fire safety guidelines, and building code requirements for manufactures there. These international clothiers had recently left China en mass because of the raise in wages there. But the struggle in Bangladesh was not about wages. It was about safety. And GAP walked out of those talks and mutual agreements, and as he walked out the representative said to a Guardian reporter, Gap Inc. didn't want to be involved in any more "Safety measures" it would just bring "Liability".
Because GAP walked out, the conclave dissolved and six months later one of the buildings manufacturing clothes was involved in a catastrophic fire that killed 112 women. The doors were chain locked. The fires started in the basement in batches of material stored to make garments specifically for the GAP. Another six months later another building collapsed killing 1300 workers, men and women. Cracks had started forming in the cement, and so the workers evacuated the building. They came back the next day for their wages and the owner of the building had goons bludgeon them back in to work because, he said, he had a GAP RUSH ORDER he had to complete before he got paid. This is 2012, 2013.
In 2012, Mike Jani, was running MRC's operations here in Mendocino County as President of the company, but was even more engaged by then in lobbying efforts in Sacramento on the three billionaire brothers' behalf (the Fisher brothers insist MRC employees never mention them by name but speak only of "the ownership"). This time for new State regulations, which he got, which prevented civil liability for wildfires initiated on commercial timberland. Assembly bill 1492 . . . (How ironic).
And how did I learn this? one of the lightning strike complex fires was ignited on MRC land along the Albion River. By then CalFire was tied up all over the state and did not have any man power nor equipment to send to the Albion. And they specifically told the Albion Volunteer Fire Department not to go in and fight the fire themselves. That night some local men went in with their own equipment and built a firebreak that stopped the spread of that particular burn. However, the ash traveled up the slopes to the homesteads along the Albion Ridge Road and settled on the rooftops. And, when MRC announced its intentions to cut some 700 acres and hack and squirt Imazapyr on half of that acreage, there was a big community gathering down by the Albion Store, in the rain, under the awning. And one of the residents, a homesteader who lived six miles up a ridge with no other egress out, whose roof almost caught fire that night as a result of the raining ash, asked if her homestead (and we're talking goats and chickens and a house built by her father and grandmother--a real homestead) burned as a result of another fire on MRC land, would the company be liable for the damages. And Mike Jani, very softly, said "NO", the State would not hold them liable for the damages. Or the deaths, for that matter.
I believe this new legislation limiting civil liability was a direct result of the fires in 2008 and mirrored the Fisher family mentality in Bangladesh in 2012.
MEASURE V is a Nuisance Ordinance. And it would make MRC liable for damages and deaths if they did not removed trees they had deliberately killed and left standing for more than 90 day. They would be violating a county ordinance where one does not yet exist. MRC personnel know and have admitted that leaving trees they have deliberately killed standing dead increases the risk of wildfire. They know that the incidence of lightning strikes is increasing with climate warming (12% per each degree C) and that 50% (nationwide) of wildfires are ignited by lightning strikes. The foresters know that. The Fisher Brothers of San Fransisco — the "ownership" do not care. They own 10% of Mendocino County. Approximately 337,000 acres of mixed species redwood forestland they are in haste to convert into a redwood plantation. They are really greedy and incompetent men. They are the Midas legend of our place and times. That's why you should vote for V.
BERN FIGHTS THE FIX
Sanders Campaign Statement
June 6, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ spokesman, Michael Briggs, on Monday issued the following statement: “It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer. “Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then. They include more than 400 superdelegates who endorsed Secretary Clinton 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries and long before any other candidate was in the race. “Our job from now until the convention is to convince those superdelegates that Bernie is by far the strongest candidate against Donald Trump.”
Licorice is a timid, shy dog with a sweet soul, but is very, very shy and nervous at the shelter. He is in need of patient, loving guardians to help him come out of his shell. He will also need owners willing to commit to providing additional training. Licorice lived with children and other dogs in the past, however a meet and greet with any potential housemates prior to adoption is always suggested. If you have a heart big enough for our sweet Licorice please stop by the shelter today and meet him! Licorice is a Collie mix, 41 pound, 2-12/ year old neutered male. Call the shelter at 707-467-6453 and make sure you bookmark the shelter’s official webpage:
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THE SHELTER is currently featuring three events to help our dogs and cats find homes. For all dogs over the age of 1 year, service fees (spay/neuter, vaccinations, etc) will be waived. For information, contact the shelter's Adoption Coordinator at 707-467-6453.
THE AV HOUSING ASSOCIATION’S BIG BBQ BENEFIT is this Sunday from 3-7pm at the Navarro Ranch (Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn’s vineyard) at 5801 Highway 128 in Navarro. Ribs by Chef Olie Erickson and appetizers, chili, salad, etc. by chef Jared Titus plus local beer and wines and a silent auction. Live music by Joe Blow. $35 for adults. For more info and tickets call Angela DeWitt at 707 895-3525.
NOT TO PICK ON THE GUY, but Anderson Valley's most intriguing winemaker, Kelly Boss, has successfully made a deal with DA Eyster to trade a big cash fine for a misdemeanor or two. In May, 2014 Boss owned two parcels - 14 acres on Cameron Road in Elk, and 20 acres on Chardonnay Lane in Philo in the Holmes Ranch subdivision. There were combined mortgage payments of $13,000 per month on the properties. For six months prior to his big bust by the County Drug Task Force, Boss's monthly PG&E bills were averaging $4,500. During the subsequent raids on Boss's two properties, $31,111 in cash was seized along with processed and packaged bud. Another $8,100 in cash was found in another building stuffed in a manila envelope. In a downstairs laundry area, a rotating bookshelf was found, concealing a steel door leading to a hidden drying room many more pounds of dope were found.
WE'RE BACK, BIGGER 'N BETTER THAN EVER
Here is the line up for the June 11 Boonville Farmers' Market where there will be a new vendor--Timshel Tools--with an eclectic mix of handmade and hand-forged tools for the home, garden, and farm. New too, will be the Pacific blue 2015 Farmers' Market T-shirts and hats. Of course there will also be fresh spring veggies like greens, lettuces, mustards, and peas plus meats and eggs. The value added products like fruit leathers and canned goods from last fall's crops will also be abundant. You'll find homemade body care products, music, and the Boonville General Store cart with pastries, iced coffee, and lemonade. Looking forward, Kids' Day will be June 18th with fun-filled activities to celebrate school being out and summer beginning! The day is Saturday from 9:30 to noon and the location is the Boonville Hotel parking lot in greater downtown Boonville.
CAN'T YOU GUYS EVER JUST WALK AWAY?
On June 3, 2016 at approximately 11:30pm Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to investigate a domestic violence dispute. Deputies contacted a 41 year-old female at the Frank Howard Memorial Hospital emergency room. The 41 year-old female stated on May 31, 2016 at approximately 5pm she was assaulted by her 41 year-old male cohabitant, Kenneth Gerald McCarty. During the altercation McCarty grabbed the 41 year-old female by the shoulders and pushed her over backwards, making her fall to the ground. McCarty pinned the 41 year-old female to the ground by grabbing her arms and using his knees to hold her chest down. The 41 year-old female had visible injuries to both arms, her back and left shoulder area. During the investigation Deputies located McCarty and placed him under arrest for Felony Domestic Violence Battery. McCarty was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on $25,000 bail.
KEEP RUSSIAN GULCH STATE PARK INTACT
Here are the email addresses to use when contacting State Parks officials in Sacramento (State Park contacts in regard to the land swap):
Lisa Mangat – Director
Lisa.Mangat@parks.ca.gov; (916) 653-8380
Karl Knapp – Chief Deputy Director
Jay Chamberlin – Natural Resources Division Chief
A part of the Russian Gulch State Park is imperiled by plans for a new waste transfer station. The Revised Environmental Impact Report for the Central Coast Solid Waste Transfer Station is based on a land swap between the County, Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) and Russian Gulch State Park. Readers will recall that this project involves removing 12 acres of old trees from their protected status in State Parks and swapping them to JDSF to enable a new transfer site. These trees have been in protected status in Russian Gulch State Park since the early 20th century. Under JDSF control they can be cut. The area contains Marbled Murrelet habitat and the famed Mushroom Corners. State Parks does not want to swap away those old trees. Letters are needed to the offices of State Parks in Duncans Mills and Sacramento urging them to send a letter to the City and County and MSWA declining the swap by the 24th of June. Your letters must be sent ASAP. Please write to the above officials.
A public hearing on this and other questions about the Transfer Station will be held on June 16th at Town Hall. For more information, contact Mary Walsh 937-0572
Mary Walsh, Chair
Rixanne Wehren, Coastal Committee
Linda Perkins, Conservation Chair, Mendocino Group, Sierra Club
WILLITS MAYOR HEADING GROUP PLANNING TO REHABILITATE FORMER REMCO PLANT
SUMMER READING PROGRAM EVENTS AT THE UKIAH LIBRARY.
Mendocino County Library
105 N. Main St., Ukiah, CA 95482
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 6, 2016
JESSE ADAMS, Eureka. Vehicle theft, receiving stolen property.
ANDREA AMBLER, Mendocino. Domestic assault.
JACOB BREUNER, Santa Rosa/Redwood Valley. Receiving stolen property.
HENRY CASTORENA, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
DANIEL DELOSSANTOS, Talmage. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
BETH FONTAINE, Eureka/Ukiah. Vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, outstanding misdemeanor warrant, probation revocation.
BRANDON HOOBLER, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.
SAMMI LEGGETT, Covelo. Probation revocation.
JOHN SCOGGINS JR., Ukiah. Domestic battery, criminal threats, destruction of wireless equipment to prevent calling for help, controlled substance, pot cultivation, pot possession for sale, honey oil production, armed with firearm, conspiracy.
MARIYA SIDDONS, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia.
‘IT’S GONNA BE SERPENTINE’
by Carole Brodsky
By the time this article is read, the California Primary will be history.
On Wednesday, political pundits will be steering their follower’s click-through’s and eyeballs toward the dedicated soldiers digging the candidate’s protective political moats, dissecting the height and viability of their respective financial battlements and naming the Important Houses, as one by one, the Rich and Powerful align themselves with the presumptive nominees. I’m not the first to call out this election cycle as America’s Game of Thrones, and yes, dammit, Winter is Coming.
But for 6,000 people, gathered at the Cloverdale Airport on Friday, June 3rd, the gnashing gears of the lumbering party machines seemed insignificant, at least for a today. A last-minute media blitz blew up people’s text messaging and inboxes at about 10:00 pm Thursday night. Bernie Sanders was coming to Cloverdale.
Facebook erupted with shares and emails were frantically forwarded. A daft rumor became national news when a Sonoma County skydiving outfit quietly suggested they were trying to reach Senator Sanders to discuss the idea of his sailing onto airport tarmac. And when a plane circled the airport, mere minutes before the Senator’s scheduled speech, all eyes went skyward- thousands of people pointing, laughing, simultaneously believing-not-believing that Bernie could descend from the heavens and anoint his followers. And who could blame us, considering what has already transpired during this election cycle? Truth truly is stranger than fiction.
Sanders supporters began lining up at the airport as early as 8:00 am. The first-in-line stalwarts came prepared, erecting pop-up tents, bringing coolers and lawn chairs, knowing they would have time to schlep the gear back to their vehicles once the gates opened at 5:00. Lake and Mendocino County residents were among the first 20 people to arrive. Karen Lee is part of the Ukiah-area Sanders team, who thanked her Lake County compatriots for sharing their shade.
“I want to see him. I want to shake his hand. We’re starting a revolution toward a better country,” said Lee. This was her first Sanders rally, but Lee has been working with the campaign for the past six months, phoning, canvassing, and helping organize volunteers. “He is going to say tonight that we’re all in this together. This is not about me. It’s about we,” she concluded.
By 2:30, a line of about 300 people snaked along an airport hangar. Organizers confirmed they were expecting up to 6,000 people, and they were spot-on in their estimates. Volunteers began to create a structure for the line. “We’re bringing out hoses and creating water and cooling stations,” one volunteer shouted to the crowd. “This line is gonna be serpentine,” he continued.
Press was ushered into the event area at about 2:30. We were told via email to bring our gear and be ready to stage no later than 3:00. About 10 of us followed our press liaison to a large, cordoned-off riser directly across from the speaker’s podium. Behind the riser, tables and chairs were marked for those needing radio and video feed. All gear was to be stowed in this area until we were allowed back at 5:00. For the photographers and video people, it took some deep breathing to part with their backpacks filled with thousands of dollars worth of gear. Our liaison told us, “Everything will be fine. This is the procedure the campaign had been utilizing all over the country.” With that, we were whisked out of the event area, and yes, other than gear being broiling hot, everything was fine.
The airport is located along the Russian River, and the podium faced due west, leaving a stunning backdrop of the Sonoma County hills to frame Senator Sanders. At least 100 men and women comprised the event security team- local and county law enforcement, some donning bulletproof vests. US Secret Service members, some looking astonishingly like proverbial Men in Black. TSA agents, who seemed professional and genuinely glad to be there. A squadron of emergency services personnel, whose medical services were called upon just a few times throughout the day to assist with overheated attendees. I overheard a Secret Service agent querying a local volunteer, looking east toward the Russian River. “So, how many homes do you think are back there?” he asked. Looking at the immense swath of dense riparian vegetation hugging the river, I realized why the agent might be concerned.
The line, and the heat continued to grow, with on-the-ground tarmac temps spiking at over 100 degrees. By 4:30, cars were parked up and down Asti Road for over a mile in either direction. People walked that mile in searing heat, only to find they were at the back of the serpentine line that now wound from the airport all the way down Chrome Iron Road- the only access road into the airport. The line, at this point, with over three hours until the event was over 3,500 feet long.
“BERNIE’S THE MAN”
Gini Reynolds and Ede Morris are, among their many talents, two of our beloved Raging Grannies, who didn’t come to the rally to sing, but did come to be part of the event.
“I’m ecstatic Bernie is coming close enough to our county to see him. I stopped everything, left the farm and came down here,” says Reynolds. “He represents the people’s voice. This is nothing to do with old-style politics.”
“This is a historical event,” says Morris. “Bernie is changing the course of American politics. I’m supporting him for so many reasons. I want to push Hillary as far to the left as we can,” she concludes.
Lexie Krauss, a college student born and raised in Mendocino County drove from Willits to attend the event. “I believe it’s really important for youth to be politically active. I’m here to show support.”
Sabrina Nguebari-Krauss a Ukiah native who now lives in Sonoma County. “I’m so excited to be here, even in this incredible heat. I called Channel 2 to see if they could send a helicopter to take a photo of this line, but they said that Bernie made some unscheduled stops and they didn’t have an extra chopper,” Krauss noted.
People shared umbrellas and sunscreen. People trudged up to the cooling station, carried as many cups of water as they could and shared them with others down the line. People evoked John Lennon, singing, “All we are saying, is Bernie’s the Man.” The composition of crowed appeared primarily white, but the age span was hard to calculate. A surprising number of seniors and boomers mingled with first-time voters, young families and startlingly, a large number of disabled folks using walkers and wheelchairs, who endured the insufferable heat but were thankfully allowed first inside the gates.
Bernie “art cars” were on display, with one owner encouraging people to sign his sticker-bedecked vehicle. A festival atmosphere permeated the line, with vendors setting up shop before and after the event, selling T-Shirts and buttons. Apparently Senator Sanders does not have issues with people selling “unofficial” Sanders tchotchkes. The promotional items ranged from classic Bernie logo designs to everything else. T-Shirt slogans included, “Bern Baby Bern,” “Bernie Fucking Sanders,” “Hot Chicks for Bernie,” a tie-dyed Bernie as a Grateful Dead skull, a Sesame-Street Bernie, Bernie as Che Guevara, the now-meme “Birdie” Sanders bird, a kitten-themed “Demo-cats for Bernie” and naturally, the stoner’s “Burn One for Bernie” button. Up and down the line, Warriors fans proudly displayed the team’s “Strength in Numbers” placards and T-Shirts. My personal favorite, in stark black and white, was a shirt saying, “Unfuck the World.” If only.
Attendees were admonished through Sanders confirmation emails to Leave Bags at Home. No Signs on Sticks. No Chairs. And though it seems it should go without saying, No Weapons. Once attendees arrived at the seriously serious TSA checkpoint area, replete with scanning portals and wands, additional rules were appended to the list. Those who carried small purses or bags were subject to thorough searches. “Can you explain why you are bringing tweezers to the event today?” a TSA agent politely asked a guest. The tweezers did not make it into the event. Apples were not allowed into the venue, but a green pepper made the cut. Political buttons had to be removed. No metal or glass bottles of any kind. All camera-holders were required to show a photo taken with said camera to a TSA agent. Despite the airport-level scrutiny and the thoroughness of the searches, attendees and security seemed to take it all in stride, including what was now an oppressive combination of late-afternoon heat merging with the crush of thousands anxious to get through the gates.
A local musician was serenading the growing crowd as organizers attempted to get everyone through security checkpoints. He sang, “Greenback Dollar,” by Woody Guthrie. For those of you who don’t know or might not remember the song, it’s worth a listen, particularly in the context of these changin’ times:
I don't want your millions, mister.
I don't want your diamond ring.
All I want is the right to live mister.
Give me back my job again.
I don't want your Rolls Royce, mister,
I don't want your pleasure yacht,
All I want is food for my babies,
Now give to me my old job back.
We worked to build this country, mister,
While you enjoyed a life of ease.
You've stolen all that we've built, mister,
Now our children starve and freeze.
Yes, you have a land deed, mister,
The money is all in your name.
But where's the work that you did, mister?
I'm demanding back my job again.
Think me dumb if you wish, mister,
Call me green or blue or red.
There's just one thing that I know, mister,
Our hungry babies must be fed.
We'll organize together, mister,
In one big united band,
And with a Farmer-Labor party
We will win our just demands.
Take the two old parties, mister,
No difference in them I can see.
But with a Farmer-Labor party,
We will set the workers free.
Another Guthrie song comes to mind- a version of “Ain’t Got No Home,” in which Guthrie changed the lyrics to reflect his disgust with his landlord, who refused to rent to African Americans. The revised lyrics, which were never recorded, are as follows:
Beach Haven ain't my home
I just can't pay this rent
My money is down the drain, and my soul is badly bent.
Beach Haven is like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam.
No, no, no, old man Trump,
Beach Haven ain't my home.
Guthrie is singing about his landlord, Fred Trump. And here we are, full circle.
With the tarmac filling up, organizers politely requested that those sitting on the ground rise and stand to make room for the crushing crowd. With very little complaining, hundreds rose and more people flooded in to fill the staging area. Cloverdale Mayor Mary Ann Brigham was ebullient. Who would have thought, she says to the crowd, that Bernie Sanders would be shortly joining her on stage? On the press riser, six people march in and take assigned their places- the Sanders traveling press corps. KGO, Fox News, CBS, Tokyo Broadcasting, MSNBC and more- six young people march up with rolling duffels, snap open their tripods, deftly attach their video cameras and adjust their lenses. Surprisingly, four of the six camera people are women, who settle into their seats, and I assume, live-text their story to headquarters. Several press people took quick selfies of themselves in front of the audience before the Senator arrived on stage.
And then it happened. It took us by surprise. I was looking east, beyond Sanders’ podium when someone on the riser said, “What is that thing? Is that a drone?” It was a Great Blue Heron, as majestic and as big a heron as I’d ever seen. It looked positively prehistoric, like a Pterodactyl. Slowly, deliberately, the heron flapped its huge wings- once, twice, making a single, measured pass over the assemblage before disappearing to the east. Mother Nature, yet again, blesses the Berners.
Moments later, a group of Native Americans exit a hangar. Accompanying them was Arizona Congressman Raúl Manuel Grijalva, (D-AZ), the first Congressional representative to endorse Senator Sanders. Rep. Grijalva took the stage, stating that the Senator was bringing “a historic, heroic, empowering message to America” and alluded to a “blowhard running around” who thought American needed to be made great- again. “America has always been great,” emphasized Grijalva, as an audience member held up a sign, saying, “Bernie Can Beat Trump: Save Us, California!”
Because our region is on the wrong side of the digital divide - something I wish the Senator would have publicly addressed (he does so on his website), I won’t assume everyone has access to the Senator’s one-hour speech. It is available on YouTube, and with a few exceptions, it was classic Bernie. Those that follow him would be familiar with his unwavering themes that he doggedly, relentlessly hammered on- at Cloverdale and everywhere he goes on the campaign trail.
“It’s a pretty hot day,” quipped the Senator, after introducing his wife, daughter and grandchildren to a fervent, passionate crowd. “Today I was asked, ‘Why Cloverdale? Did you make a mistake?’ I’m guessing I’m probably the first presidential candidate to drop by Cloverdale,’” he smiled, getting big laughs from the attendees.
Sanders didn’t waste a minute reminding the audience about the importance of Tuesday’s primary. He commented about his candidacy winning with an overwhelming majority of young people, but he added that the definition of “younger people” includes those 45-to-50 and younger. “Wait until you’re 45,” he smiles to the younger set, alluding to how 45 is the new 30.
He plunged into the heart of his speech- his vision for social, economic, racial and environmental justice, immediately contrasting his vision with Donald Trump’s continued attacks against Latinos, Muslims, women, Veterans and African Americans. “That is not the future of America,” said Sanders.
“Today we have a corrupt campaign finance system. But we’re telling the truth. That is unusual in contemporary politics.” He looked at the crowd. “THIS is what democracy looks like: ordinary people coming together- one person, one vote, not billionaires rigging elections. That’s why we are going to overturn Citizen’s United. Anyone has the right to run for public office.”
From the corrupt finance system, Sanders went to the corrupt economy, highlighting the transfer of trillions of dollars to the top 1/10th of one percent of the population. “Corporations make billions to move jobs to low-wage countries, while our veterans sleep on the streets, parents have no childcare and work for $11 an hour. Our job is to create an economy that will work for all of us,” he continued.
He addressed the country’s broken criminal justice system. “Why does the wealthiest country in the world have more people in jail than any other country on earth?” he asked the crowd. “We spend $80 billion to lock up 2.2 million fellow Americans.” He made it local by addressing rural unemployment for kids. “When thirty to fifty percent of kids don’t have jobs, bad things happen,” Sanders continues. “We will not invest in more jails and incarceration.”
From there Senator Sanders addressed law enforcement. “I’m a former mayor. I know that average police officers are honest, hardworking people doing a very difficult job. But like anyone else, if officers were to break the law, they must be held accountable,” Sanders noted, adding that he intends to demilitarize local police departments and end corporate ownership of prisons. “We have to change law enforcement culture so that the use of lethal force is the last response, not the first,” he noted.
For this crowd, the segue to the ending of the War on Drugs was a no-brainer. “Millions of people have police records for marijuana possession. Imagine being a 19-year-old trying to get a job with a police record,” said Sanders. He stated, “It makes no sense to me,” that cannabis sits alongside heroin as a Schedule I drug. “I will take marijuana out of the Federal Controlled Substances Act,” he stated, while also acknowledging that cannabis is not without controversy. “Not here!” yelled out an attendee, to chuckles. Sanders continued by stating that for a number of reasons, he would support the current legalization initiative on the California ballot.
Another smooth segue: into the national crisis of addiction. “Substance abuse and addiction should be treated as a health, not a criminal issue. We have to think big, outside the box, and create a revolution in mental health. Right now, thousands of suicidal and homicidal people are walking the streets. People should get the treatment they need when they need it. They shouldn’t have to fill out 50 forms and wait six months to get treatment,” he said, to thunderous applause.
“Our campaign made history with eight million individual contributions,” said Sanders, asking the crowd what the average contribution was. “Twenty-seven dollars!” roared the crowd.
Then Sanders discussed his disagreements with Hillary Clinton- her acceptance of millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests. “We’re taking ON Wall Street, not taking their money,” roared Sanders. “Their greed and their recklessness have caused incalculable harm to our country.”
He discussed his differences with the Government’s recent unemployment figures, stating he believes the real number to be closer to ten percent than the reported five percent. He pledged to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, creating 13 million jobs, and to create the best childcare system in the world.
Then he excoriated Republican Party “family values” in which women are told they have no right to control their bodies, where LGBT people do not have the right to marry and where seniors, disabled veterans and other citizens are expected to live on $12,000 per year. “We disagree,” said Sanders. “A truly great nation is judged by how they treat the most fragile and vulnerable in society.”
“We have bad news for the Republicans. We’re expanding Social Security. We’ve introduced the best legislation in Congress to do that, and President Obama says that it’s time. I hope Secretary Clinton comes on board,” he smiles to the crowd.
Forty years ago, said the Senator, a person with a high school education could get a well-paying, middle-class job, enabling a comfortable life. Now, he says, the highly competitive, global economy requires the best-educated workforce in the world. Today, he continued, hundreds of thousands of people cannot afford college, or upon graduation, find themselves deeply in debt. “It’s not good enough to have free education for kindergarten through 12th grade. We need public colleges to be tuition-free,” he said to a cheering audience.
Sanders addressed the plight of undocumented workers. “They are ruthlessly exploited, underpaid, working long hours. When you have no legal rights you can’t protect yourself. That’s why I’m introducing comprehensive immigration reform and ending deportation policies. We will unite, not divide families, and to do this I will use the executive powers of the presidency.” At this point, the crowd went wild, chanting, “Bernie! Bernie!”
The Senator talked about the collapsing of public school systems, the poisoned water in Flint, how men in rural West Virginia die 18 years earlier than their counterparts living in nearby suburban Fairfax, and how we will rebuild rural and inner city communities here, and not in Afghanistan. “I led the effort against that damn war, and she voted for it,” he growled.
Then Sanders addressed his earlier meeting with local Native tribal members. “All of you know that the First Americans were cheated, were lied to. It’s no secret. These people have so enriched our culture, we owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay. When I am president, we will fundamentally change the relationship of the Federal Government to Native peoples,” said the Senator, receiving the audience’s longest and most raucous applause.
The sun had set by this time, and a golden, NorCal light was permeating the grounds. “As human beings, we are part of nature. If we continue to destroy it, we destroy the human species. We have a moral responsibility.” Sanders paused briefly. “Look around at this beautiful planet. We must leave this for future generations. We have to take on the fossil fuel industry and tell them short-term profits are not more important than the future of the planet. Republicans reject what scientists tell us because they are dependent on the fossil fuel industry for campaign contributions,” he continued. “Forget about campaign contributions. Worry about the future of this planet!” he shouts.
From the health of the planet, Sanders discussed the health of the people, noting that people in the audience were surely un-and-under-insured, and undoubtedly getting hosed by “the unconscionable greed of Big Pharma.”
“Health care is a right, not a privilege. There’s something profoundly wrong when we can’t guarantee health care. That’s why I will pass Medicare for all,” he continues.
STERNGTH IN NUMBERS
Perhaps, without even knowing it, Senator Sanders evokes the evening’s earlier Woody Guthrie song, noting that it was trade unions that created the modern middle class. Noting that change occurs from the bottom up. Noting that countless people died to end the abomination of slavery and racism. Noting that only 100 years ago, women rose up to claim their place as voting citizens and that more recently, gay and lesbian citizens claimed their right to love whoever they want to.
Senator Sanders concludes by paraphrasing Fredrick Douglass, reminding the crowd that no one ever gives us freedom. That progress comes through struggle. “In venues like this, I have connected with 1.4 million Americans who are asking profound questions,” says Sanders. “How does it happen that the middle class is shrinking? That we have the highest rate of child poverty on earth? That our infrastructure is collapsing? That hedge fund owners pay lower taxes than police officers?”
The answer to those questions, and many more, will not be answered by the results of Tuesday’s primary. Nor will they be answered during, or following the general election. Regardless of who becomes president, it is doubtful that the unbridled passion and the steadfastness of the Sanders supporters is going to dissipate. It is hard to imagine that Secretary Clinton could have garnered 6,000 supporters with less than 24 hours notice- gathered them to willingly sweat in brutal heat for 5, 6 or 7 hours to see her speak. It is also hard to calculate how many Berners will roll over in November, holding their noses and begrudgingly voting for the Secretary. Something has changed, irrevocably. Many people in line talked about the Sanders campaign being the birth of a significant, competitive third party- or maybe even the emergence of something akin to representative democracy.
Was it merely coincidence that numerous Warriors fans proudly wore their “Strength in Numbers” gear to this rally, and presumably at many others? Was it coincidence that Senator Sanders attended the Warriors’ series-defining Game 7, where the Dubs found their way back from the doldrums to beat the Thunder? Was it not telling that Mr. Trump noted recently that “San Francisco is playing in the NBA Finals?” The Warriors have created a basketball revolution- a pure-hearted, sincere dedication to a wholesome team ethos, respectful treatment of their opponents and a genuine love for their fans, who return that love a thousand-fold. It wasn’t so different at the Sanders rally. The respect, the unity, the positive approach to winning against a formidable opponent- all this takes strength in numbers. And regardless of who wins this year’s Game of Thrones, the sheer numbers of Guthrie’s “green, blue and red” citizens are increasing, with each and every day.
by James Kunstler
Considering that the 2016 election looks like a Dark Age puppet show — Pantalone and La Signora smacking each other with dildos — we forget this spectacle is serious. Rather large matters are at stake, such as the continuity of governance, the legitimacy of the two major political parties, the credibility of our financial arrangements, perhaps even the durability of the nation as a united polity.
Most of the deliberate comedy comes from Donald Trump, whose super-long dangling necktie looks like it was designed for laughs by the Commedia dell’Arte prop department, not to mention the hair, which I have maintained for many years is actually a wolverine living on top of Trump’s head. Trump certainly represents a large and valid strain of sentiment in the zeitgeist — the frustration of many ordinary citizens at government-sponsored racketeering that is shoving them into pauperdom. But his utterances against it all are so childish and disordered that he de-legitimates his own mission every time he opens his mouth.
Hillary delivers her laughs mostly deadpan, for instance her Sunday morning ABC interview with the old 1992 Clinton “War Room” hand George Stephanopoulos, who grilled the Flying Reptile rather mercilessly over the recent report from the State Department Inspector General that said she was “not allowed” to use the private email server — no, ifs, ands, or buts. As she struggled to deflect the question, the “uh”s started to stipple her vapid evasions like holes punched in a life raft. It was fun watching her sink, uh, uh, uh, gurgle gurgle — though surely that was not the effect she was going for.
Bernie, of course, is not so funny. He’s as serious as a heart attack, which suggests that a pretty sizeable portion of the public is sick of being diverted with slapstick comedy. The old bastard is determined to give the Democratic Party poobahs some schooling in ethical procedure. I admire the heck out of that — also, his record as a demonstrably non-griftable public servant, and his stance against the racketeering-as-usual status quo — though I’m not persuaded he would be an effective president (if such a thing is even theoretically conceivable) given his nanny government disposition. But the bigshots of the DNC still have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do, and it looks like ole Bernie is going to beat it out of them at Philadelphia in July. What I wonder: is he strong enough to hold Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on his lap while he applies the rod.
The people of the United States have real grievances with the way this country is being run. Last Friday’s jobs report was a humdinger: only 38,000 new jobs created in a country of over 300 million, with a whole new crop of job-seeking college grads just churned out of the diploma mills. I guess the national shortage of waiters and bartenders has finally come to an end.
What’s required, of course, is a pretty stout restructuring of the US economy. And that should be understood to be a matter of national survival. We need to step way back on every kind of giantism currently afflicting us: giant agri-biz, giant commerce (WalMart etc.), giant banking, giant war-making, and giant government — this last item being so larded with incompetence on top of institutional entropy that it is literally a menace to American society.
The trend on future resources and capital availability is manifestly downward, and the obvious conclusion is the need to make this economy smaller and finer. The finer part of the deal means many more distributed tasks among the population, especially in farming and commerce operations that must be done at a local level. This means more Americans working on smaller farms and more Americans working in reconstructed Main Street business, both wholesale and retail. This would also necessarily lead to a shift out of the suburban clusterfuck and the rebuilding of ten thousand forsaken American towns and smaller cities.
For the moment, many demoralized Americans may feel more comfortable playing video games, eating on SNAP cards, and watching Trump fulminate on TV, but the horizon on that is limited too. Sooner or later they will have to become un-demoralized and do something else with their lives.
The main reason I am so against the Hillary and Trump, and so ambivalent on Bernie is their inability to comprehend the scope of action actually required to avoid sheer cultural collapse.
THE MOST AWFUL RAPE STORY YOU’VE EVER READ
And The Punk Who Did It Got Six Months In County Jail, And His Father Said…
by Katie J.M. Baker
One night in January 2015, two Stanford University graduate students biking across campus spotted a freshman thrusting his body on top of an unconscious, half-naked woman behind a dumpster. This March, a California jury found the former student, 20-year-old Brock Allen Turner, guilty of three counts of sexual assault. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison. On Thursday, he was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation. The judge said he feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a champion swimmer who once aspired to compete in the Olympics — a point repeatedly brought up during the trial.
On Thursday, Turner’s victim addressed him directly, detailing the severe impact his actions had on her — from the night she learned she had been assaulted by a stranger while unconscious, to the grueling trial during which Turner’s attorneys argued that she had eagerly consented.
The woman, now 23, told BuzzFeed News she was disappointed with the “gentle” sentence and angry that Turner still denied sexually assaulting her.
“Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up,” she said. “I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”
She provided her statement, printed in full below, to BuzzFeed News.
Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.
You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.
On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.
The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.
Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.
I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.
After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.
On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.
My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.
My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.
I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.
I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.
One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.
It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.
The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.
The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.
Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.
I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.
I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.
When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.
Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:
How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.
I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.
And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.
So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.
He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.
According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.
Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.
Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?
You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.
On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?
To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.
My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.
He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.
You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.
If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.
You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.
Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.
You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.
I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.
You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.
Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.
You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.
Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.
You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”
Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.
Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.
Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.
A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.
See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.
My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.
I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.
I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.
You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.
You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.
When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.
You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.
Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.
Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.
My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.
I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft timeout, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.
The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.
As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.
The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.
The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.
What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.
He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.
To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.
Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.
And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.
* * *
THE LETTER FROM BROCK TURNER’S FRIEND LESLIE RASMUSSEN:
It was with great sadness that I read the news about Brock Turner, and the horrible situation that he was involved in. It came as a huge shock to me.
Brock has been a peer of mine since elementary school, and was a very close friend of mine for a few years in high school. He dated one of my very good friends, [name removed], around the same time. In those years, he was always very respectful of everyone. Teachers, classmates, friends, and girls, all alike. He is one of those people that no one has a problem with, and is pretty much good at everything. We all knew he’s swim in the olympics one day.
His family is a very respectable family in town. I also know his older sister, Caroline. They all seem like such good kids brought up by two very cool and grounded parents. In all honestly, if I ha to choose one kid I graduated with to be in the position Brock is, it would have never been him. I could name off 5 others that I wouldn’t be surprised about. Brock is such a sweetheart and a very smart kid. I never once caught him harassing anyone, verbally of physically. That would have been out of his character.
It’s pretty frustrating to see the light that people are putting him in now. It used to be “swim star” and now it’s like he is the face of rape on campuses. It’s such a false way to put it. I cannot believe it. I’ve thought a lot about it, and from different angles. I tried to accept that maybe he did intend to harm this girl, but I just couldn’t imagine that was the case.
I know rape is a very sensitive subject, for everyone, and especially women. I am not backing it up or making excuses, but there is absolutely no way Brock went out that night with rape on his mind. I think he went to a party and was drinking, like almost every student at a university does, and was flirting with this girl, like he said. The woman recalls how much alcohol she drank, which was a lot. She was no doubt about to black out if not already. I’m sure she and Brock has been flirting at this party and decided to leave together.
Just as they did she passes out, which after that many drinks, anyone would. At the same time, Brock, having a few too many drinks himself, is not completely in control of his emotions. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol increases emotions and feelings. I think this is all a huge misunderstanding. I think that the bikers who found him did the right thing by keeping him there in case he was attempting rape, but that after the investigation, it should have found Brock to be innocent.
Brock is not a monster. He is the furthest thing from anything like that, and I have known him much longer than the people involved in his case. I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten+ years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him.
I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists. It is because these universities market themselves as the biggest party schools in the country. They encourage drinking. I think it is disgusting and I am so sick of hearing that these young men are monsters when really, you are throwing barely 20-somethings into these camp-like university environments, supporting partying, and then your mind is blown when things get out of hand. This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists.
These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgment. I’m not saying that is every case because I know there are young men that take advantage of young women and vice versa, but I know for a fact that Brock is not one of those people. He is respectful and caring, talented, and smart enough to know better.
Attached is a photo of Brock I took in high school. He has always had that huge, loving smile on his face. The caption is even “d’awwww” because he was always the sweetest to everyone.
I appreciate you taking your time to hear about my past with Brock and my opinion on the matter, and I hope you consider what I’ve said when looking into the sentencing. I would not be writing this letter if I had any doubt in my mind that he is innocent.
Thank you again, Leslie Rasmussen