It could happen to many of us.

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‘It Could Happen To Many Of Us’ is the title of an article at Ragged Edge about a guy diagnosed with bipolar, who wasn’t a terrorist, but got mistaken for one, and was shot and killed. I read it, and I’m once again aware that I’m one of the “many of us”. My repeated near-misses with law enforcement, all outside of such volatile settings as airplanes, have made me cautious about leaving the house on my own.

This past year, I decided that it was a pleasant, slightly-drizzling day, and that I would wait outside for my staff to come. I took my cane, rather than my wheelchair, because it was only a short distance. I didn’t take my keyboard because I didn’t want it to get wet. I sat down and enjoyed the day. Soon, though, people were walking up to me and asking me if I was okay. I nodded, and they went away. But then the police came. They also wanted to know what I was doing there. Fortunately, the second policeman to arrive knew me, and my staff drove up while they were still questioning me.

But this wasn’t the first time, or even the last time, that my appearance (autistic, ticcy, generally unusual) has aroused “concern” among good citizens.

In my many encounters with the police, I have sometimes been viewed as a potential threat, who needed to be locked up for the protection of other people (even though I was not hurting anyone). Other times, I have been viewed as a threat to my own safety (because I dared to leave the house looking like I look — should have known better, apparently), who needed to be locked up for my own protection. (Which is why I am unfortunately waiting for the above story to be used as an excuse for forced drugging rather than a re-evaluation of prejudices.)

I have not yet been viewed as a potential terrorist (except perhaps by Lenny Schafer). But given the descriptions of potential terrorists (who are to be shot in the head, apparently) that are being circulated, it would just take being in the wrong place at the wrong time, given that the descriptions would pick up many autistic people and people with other neurological oddities. Which is why I continue to never leave the house alone, despite being very fond of taking walks and exploring places, and why I dread air travel (in which, for an inspection on a recent flight, I was forcibly separated from the support staff who could explain my behavior to anyone) altogether.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Sweet Perdition » Blog Archive » Disturbing Behavior

  2. This does happen frquently in Florida with over 117,00 being involuntarily seized by police every year and around 70 unarmed being killed. I was set up by wife’s divorce lawyer who told wife to get a therapist to call police so I could be involuntarily commited and wife would get everything. This therapist told wfe to violently attack me to coerce me to see her withwife. Iresponded non violently to a three hour attack using fetal protective position and finally ended it by agreeing to see therapist with wife. I told therapist she was incompetent for provoking th violence and assured her Iwwas no a thret to anyone or self amd did nt ned treatmrnt but needed her to stop theviolence against me. She got angry at me and said sh was caling the police. I asked her not to involve them when I was unarmed not vilent not threatening anyone or self not involved in any crimestarnge or dangrous activity. The therapist left the office wife arose and walked out I folloewd. At the door was an ofduty deputy sheriff who attacked me pushed me bak in the office and forbs from going homelied that he was a therapist. I did not resisit but believed he was therapist so asked for his help to counsel with wife’s therapist to end the violence. Arme deputies arrived and I remained seated unarmed hands in plain view on the armchair asking for respect of basic human and constitutional rights refusing to roll face down on floor to be handcuffed. To calm them down I told a joke ” IN reaity the worst thing I might ever do to myself in the future is skip lunch but when I get hungry I always eat chicken wings. I was then Taser shot several times dragged fom the chair unconscious tightly handcuffed behind back lcked in ho sunny cruiser for several hours deied water toilet use heat and pain relief ten tied to floor of tiny dark locked windowless rom for hors again denied watr and toilet use. Incarceted for eight days with no right to a judge jury or lawyer because ths was a civil arrest with no criminal charges. I lost one million bucks $450,000 house car sailboat and self mployed business ending up homeless and penniless.

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