Protected By Law Enforcement Unless You Are Exercising Your First Amendment Rights

July 19, 2011

On March 20, 2011 a man who did not agree that we should protest to shut down Guantanamo exited his car, and began a shouting match with Justin Norman. Instead of physically striking Justin, he struck me instead as I was kneeling down with a hood on my head. Once on the face and once on the head.

Detective Tom Boyd of the West Des Moines, Iowa police called me two days later stating that his superiors were on his case about pursuing action.

“Jesus, I just got this case.”

Action would have been delayed had we not had a local news station report a story on the incident. Tom Boyd attempted to sway me into dropping the charges. He stated that Ryan Richard has not had a criminal history. He told me to think about it for maybe two weeks. I considered his suggestion until I saw Ryan Richard at a grocery store where he glared at me. I did not feel safe that someone who had put his hands on me was not arrested immediately. I called Tom Boyd immediately telling him of the incident and that I want to also file a no contact order.

After turning evidence into him which included hospital documentation and video footage of the incident, Tom Boyd stated that it is now up to the county attorney’s office to decide if charges will be pressed. He told me they have a year to process this case. I have been waiting and trying to reach the prosecutor.

I visited the county attorney’s office this week where I spoke to a woman who said they will obtain a copy of the police report and look into the case again. She also told me it will take until next week to receive this report. I visited the West Des Moines police dept and received a copy today for $5. The report states that I stated I was hit in the back of the head and that I was not injured. This is not true. I received a phone call on Monday from a woman at the County Attorney’s office informing me that prosecutor, Ray Blase has declined criminal charges. Their reason is: After speaking with the detective, we have decided not to press charges.

I do not feel safe. I do not feel the police are protecting us. I have been unbiased towards the police thinking they are people too with families. This opinion is strongly changing. Kirk Brown, my colleague was cited based on accusations of vulgar language at our protest. The West Des Moines police arrived immediately and threw Kirk into the back of their car handcuffed. His accuser threatened to “fucking beat” us in front of the police.

Justin Norman, another colleague spent the night in jail and charged with interference with officials. He was standing in his driveway as the five police officers questioned Kirk for having an open trunk. Justin Norman is clearly a criminal for interfering with the investigation of an open trunk. Open trunks are serious matters. Who is not a criminal? The man who struck me in the face. I feel confident in now saying: Fuck the police. You have not done your job. We are not the criminals for speaking for the 171 men who have been held for 9 years without trial.

I do not know the motivation behind declining assault charges. I can only guess it has to do with the police and county attorneys not wanting to piss off the right-wingers; the greedy corporations who seem to run this country. Sometimes, I want to just not care anymore. However, I know things are not right. Change doesn’t happen by being apathetic. I have faith that someday, even if I’m dead by then, we will realize we can be self-sufficient. We don’t need a new wardrobe for each season, a Hummer to carry groceries, or frozen dinners. If all my belongings were stripped away from me, I could live, but I could not live without family and friends and companionship.

You can watch video footage of the assault here:

Video of Kirk being detained based on accusations of vulgar language:

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