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February 23, 2005

Who's policing the police?

From Fox affiliate WHNS:

The group of home schoolers included 6 mothers and about 15 to 20 kids, every Wednesday for the past 5 years the group has come to Simpsonville Park to socialize and meet with each other, but they say this past Wednesday was like no other.

One of the mothers in the group, Jan Blanchard says, "We were just sitting there talking..."

"I heard a man yelling take your hands out of your pocket and I turned around and he was yelling at one of the boys in the group,” says another mother Priscilla Adams.

Priscilla’s 14-year-old son, Glenn says, "He started yelling and screaming at this boy for having a knife, then pushed him down."

Priscilla says he then "went for another boy a 16-year-old, yelled at him something about having a knife, he pushed him to the ground."

Simpsonville Police say a call came in that someone in the park had a knife. They say they responded as they would to any call like that, but the officer responding to the call was dressed in plain clothes and did not identify himself at first.

Priscilla says, "I was frightened, I really didn't know who he was."

That’s when Priscilla says one of the other mothers tried to stop him, by getting between the officer and the student.

"She was trying to protect a student, we didn't know what was happening, he could've been a murderer, a rapist or anything, we just, he was attacking one of our kids and we were trying to stop him," says Jan.

"She turned to Jan and said call the police and that's when he told us he was the police. It didn't even occur to me he was a policeman, he acted so insane," says Priscilla.

The 16-year-old and the mother who tried to protect him were arrested. The 16-year-old for carrying a concealed weapon -- a small, sheathed, hunting knife on his belt in plain site. The mother for “assault”. Another mother who tried to question the uniformed officer who arrived to arrest the two, was threatened with arrest for simply asking why they were doing it.

After refusing to comment on the case, the police finally offered a statement:

Simpsonville Police Chief Charles Reece says an internal affairs investigation is underway and the officer in question is on administrative leave. "Whether it was an overreaction to a response, we'll find that out when we do the internal affairs thing." ...

The Chief’s response to the parents’ concerns was this, "I can't say how I would've reacted, I'm a parent also and I've got children too and I understand she was trying to protect the child, I understand that.”

Chief Reece also says they responded to the call as they would any other call and that they had no idea this was a group of homeschooled children and their parents. He says the group is welcome at the park and should not be afraid. But the parents say they will not be returning because they are scared of what could happen.

Chief Reece says, “We're looking at all aspects of the case and we're going to let internal affairs division run their investigation and we'll make the appropriate call when it happens. I'm going to do what's right and the city's going to do what's right."

Chief Reece says he expects the investigation to be completed by the end of this week. It’ll be up to the Solicitor whether or not the charges are prosecuted.

The stories has received little coverage other than the Fox affiliate, a handful of Conservative media sources and a few bloggers. The comment section of the report at Zero Intelligence has some fascinating contributions:

We've been going to that park every week for well over a year. One of the reasons it was chosen was it's proxiity to the police and the thought that the kids were safer there where there would be fewer nutjobs. Who new that the nutty ones were the police themselves? The school is not closed, the incident never would have occurred if that were the case. That's ok though, we subversive homeschoolers will be just fine without having police like that next door when our kids are playing.

...and...

My name is Robert Adams. I am the husband of one of the mothers in the homeschool group. The group is Upstate Homeschooler Unlimited. I have some comments that might clear up some questions that have come up....

Now about the lack of reporting in the local newspapers or on the TV. (Channel 4 WYFF or Channel 7 WSPA). To people who have lived in the area for long (and my family has been in Simpsonville for 36 years) its no secret that these news outlets act as no more than the propaganda arms of the Greenville County Chamber of Commerse. They don't want bad news about this county getting out. I mean its already bad enough that this is the only county is SC that hasn't made Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday. They don't want you to know that the police beat severely beat one man and shot (no less than 7 times in the head) within 10 days of the homeschooling incident. On the same night that one of the Presidential Debates was held in the Peace Center in Greenville, SC there was a hotel fire that killed 6 people. It was an arson fire. The Greenville News and TV channels were very low key on the whole thing. They don't want bad news about this area getting out. It affects their bottom line.

In this case all of the people involved on both sides of the issue were white but Upstate Homeschoolers Unlimited or UHU (pronounced U-hoo)is a group that is open* to all races, creeds, colors, religions or people that don't practice religion. This group was formed and is primarily about fun activites for our children and the dissemination of information about home schooling to any interested party.

*To quality you must be a local homeschooler or unschooler and first meet with other members.

Several people present at the incident have posted at the WHNS Message Board.

WorldNetDaily has a chilling comment by the mother of the arrested boy:

One [uniformed] officer said he was about to draw his weapon. He had already unsnapped it and was pulling it out to draw and aim at my son, because he thought he was about to pull the knife on the plainclothes investigator. This same officer said there was no telling how many people could have gotten killed – in other words, he was prepared to shoot toward the shelter with all the small children around.

Hat tip: The Classical Family, Daryl Cobranchi.

Posted by Jack Lewis at February 23, 2005 09:53 AM

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