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“Everybody in the district had me in jail”

Norris Cooper, a custodian at Webster Academy, tells us about the humiliation he experienced last week when he was detained by police at school in a burglary investigation that led to the arrests of three other janitors. Cooper has not been implicated. -Katy

I was taking out the garbage at Webster Academy Sept. 8 when a police officer approached and asked if I were Norris Cooper. He said that there was a problem here, and that I knew about the problem, was a part of the problem, or could help them solve the problem.

I asked what the problem was, and he said it was computer theft. He then told me to step around the corner of the building and asked, “Where are the computers?” When I said that I knew nothing about the computers, he said that my fellow co-workers were “singing on me like birds.” Then he walked away as another officer approached. This second officer asked if I were on probation, if I had any outstanding warrants, and when was the last time I had been arrested. I told him that I was not on probation, had no warrants, and had never been arrested. He then said I was going to spend a long time in Santa Rita. I told him that I would not be spending any time in Santa Rita, and he walked away.

A third officer then approached and asked if I were Norris Cooper. He asked if I had any Oakland Unified property in my house, and I told him that I didn’t. He asked if he could see for himself, and I told him that he could if he had a search warrant. He wanted to know why would he need a search warrant if I had nothing to hide. Eventually, I agreed to sign a consent form to allow them to search my house.

That afternoon, I was placed into a squad car — in front of the school, with teachers, parents, administrators, and students looking on — and taken to the Eastmont sub-station, where I signed the form. I rode to my house with two of the officers, who left me in the car during the search. They came out empty-handed.

I have been employed with the Oakland school district since 1990 and have had perfect attendance from that time until now. I was Custodian of the Year in 1994. I am known throughout the district — from custodial services to human resources to school administrators — for my impeccable work and outstanding performance. I typically spend sixteen plus hours a day, seven days a week, working to perfection. Webster Academy was one of the dirtiest schools in the district — infested with pests and with notoriously smelly restrooms — before I came there. It is now recognized as the cleanest school in the district, and has become a flagship school for training custodians and hosting district events.

This whole drama has permanently damaged my reputation. Being detained in a squad car for several hours over the course of this saga was humiliating and uncomfortable. My brother called me the next day, alarmed, because an OUSD employee had told him that I had been arrested and was in jail. Though I was back on the job the next day, rumors that I had been jailed for the theft of the computers from Webster Academy had already swept throughout the district.

I called Buildings & Grounds to place a work order for a plumber, and the clerk was shocked to hear my voice. The students and the teachers at Webster were disturbed by the sight of me being put into a police car and hauled away.

Contrary to the hope expressed by district spokesman Troy Flint, a hard-working, law-abiding staff member has been irrevocably “painted with this brush,” even though I have been completely exonerated.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Catherine

    Mr. Cooper:

    I am a parent of an Oakland Unified School District student. I am very sorry for the way you were treated. I really appreciate you speaking with Katy Murphy about your experience. It is also an opportunity for you to clear your good name and for us to know what is going on in our schools.

    I don’t know how to begin to tell you the value you and other hard-working school employees contribute to my daughter’s education. Thank you!

  • Sue

    I also subscribe to the Jeffersonian ideal of innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Cooper, thank you for speaking up.

    And thank you *every* *day* for giving Oakland kids a clean, safe school – I’ve seen my sons at less-than-clean schools, and at unsafe ones. I know the value of what you do.

  • Nextset

    A very interesting story. One that should be published. Regardless of whatever happened here, everybody needs to know what happens when anyone is targeted by law enforcement rightly or wrongly. It’s not fun and it’s not pleasant. It is very important that people live their lives understanding how things work – and how important it is to expect reality.

    All it takes as anyone throwing an accusation around – and liars, cheats and thieves are real good at throwing accusations – and you get “the treatment”. And from what this person is saying I see nothing new, usual, surprising or particularly alarming about his experience. It is what it is.

    And if you think this was unpleasant, talk to anybody accused of a sex crime. I won’t bother you right now with the standard protocol on those investigations. Use your imagination. Or Google “Duke University Sex Scandal”.

    Not an issue here perhaps – but the sad part is when talking to someone one the receiving end of “the treatment” is that they never “get it” about how their own conduct raised the odds that they would be targeted – how inevitable what happened was, and how there is (normally) no remedy for the hurt feelings. Too Bad, So Sad.

    The last point, I must stress, is not in reference to this case: This school thing has it’s own story I’m sure. But to the typical people I see – grown adults towed in by their mothers:

    I’m talking about black folks, here people. Yes this can happen to anybody – Yes it by far happens to certain people – Yes, people need to take better care of themselves because “the treatment” is out there waiting for you.

  • Carmen Fernandez

    This sucks because all of my life I have learned to distrust officers, I always heard that many of them were crooked or just plain abusive of their authority. I’m not going to say how bad I feel because that would what is said all the time. Instead, I feel that what happened was very disrespectful to the working community and when I say working community I mean all the jobs that tend to others needs. This is what our society teaches that some jobs are not as well- respected as others because beside a person, who you are and what you look like, next it’s where you work where you live. Everything a person knows is learned and if the learning process reamains negative it will only cause someone somewhere to suffer.

  • Nextset

    Carmen: You don’t get it. There is no reason to “distrust officers”. They actually are very predictable – they operate according to training and in California that training is getting more and more standardized. I’m saying that the public failure to learn about Law Enforcement services – even when certain people (such as young people) had better learn because of their lifestyles – leads to being unhappy because they refuse to get it that 2+2=4. Cops are more reliable than most service workers. They do the same things the same way when they have the same stimilus.

    A “crooked” officer is an officer stealing dead people’s wallets – or taking things on the sly from crime scenes. When is the last time you have ever heard of that happening?

    As far as “abusive of their authority” – that’s more on the issue here. The trouble is, that protocols for investigations – especially sex case investigations for example – always seem abusive to people getting “the treatment” if they happen to be wrongfully accused. But they are generally accepted as being good police work. Like Pretext Phone Calls, arrests, searches and interrogations.

    The average citizen – or illegal alien for that matter – has no clue of how easy it is to do legal searches. Then they whine about it when it happens to them. Likewise the rules on arrests are never taught in secondary school (I believe criminal law should be mandatory in secondary schools). It just doesn’t take that much to arrest someone. It really doesn’t take that much to pull a car over – especially if the car is operated by certain people who fly a flag that they can be pulled over anytime anyone wants.

    Example – people speeding in a red car with a cracked windshield, etc – with a roach clip, bullets, or whatever else rolling on the floor – crying to me when their car gets torn apart by the HP looking for the rest of their drugs and weapons. And then the cop was nice enough to only ticket them for the $26 seatbelt violation (instead of a $200 moving violation) – they’re still mad.

    I regret that Mr. Cooper or anyone else had an unpleasant experience. From my experience, and I have a LOT of this – this is a case where there was clearly a crime and the police services were in the middle of working on who might be involved and Cooper’s name came up. And that’s all this probably is.

    I don’t mean to understate the emotional impact of the police actions here. It is bad and maybe an apology for his trouble would help since he seems to be cleared – I don’t know. But I can tell you real unpleasant stories about Customs and TSA, etc doing dumb (to us anyway) things also. They have less training and make a LOT less money that the $100k+ CA Police Officer. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you may not be on time for dinner.

    Some of the parents I know are afraid to let their kids drive at all because of “what can happen”. You get nowhere thinking the cops make things worse for society. They are the last thing between you and anarchy.

  • p

    Dear Mr. Cooper, Ms. Murphy and all readers,

    I am sad to hear of yet another case of an individual being denied of the right to live life. What a shame on our society to understand that these events are such common place occurrences. Hopefully, one day we can progress to a day in which we do not have to play the “good cop, bad cop” or play the entrapment or threat cards in life. How sad it is…

    I hope that you, Mr. Cooper, will find a positive light in finding support in your community as we are a part of you as you are a part of us.

    It is not us (general public) versus them (authority/police), as it is us against ourselves. Please let us find the courage to believe in our fellow man and find peace in understanding. Let us not forget that we have the power in the masses and let us find peace through understanding, so we may strive to reach inner peace. Only through this peace may we make a positive impact on others.

    Let us please recognize our blessed situation in life and overstand that we are all individuals sharing the same oxygen, space, and environment. Let us please not judge negatively before evidence and realize the impact of our actions in the lives of others.

    Mr. Cooper, we are here for you, as you are here for us.

    Bless.

  • John

    Katy, Its great that you helped this gentleman get out his side of the story. I hope it is read by all and helps relieve some of the undeserved pain and humiliation this man is experiencing.

    It would be appropriate for the principal to visit each classroom and clarify the situation for students, along with sending a copy of your helpful article (interview) home to parents and guardians.

    Good work!

  • Nextset

    P: “Denied of the right to live life”?? Please. I re-read Katy’s article. What are you talking about? If your house was trashed and all your things taken and it was reported that neighbor boys 1, 2 & 3 were involved – you’d be on the sidewalk cheering when law enforcement showed up 6 hours later and asked questions and if you are lucky searched their places. Blowing this up to the heights of emotionalism doesn’t help anyone. “Believe in our fellow man and find peace in understanding…” – what are you talking about? Is this a religious thing for you? The OUSD budget is plagued with theft and vandalism costs, and I believe they can’t afford that. No one can. What poor Mr. Cooper got swept up in is business as usual, nothing more.

    John: While I see your point, I have learned the hard way to stay out of other people’s business. The school should do nothing to further publish Mr. Cooper’s story or to spread around whatever may have been going on in the investigation. If Cooper wants something he can do it for himself or ask someone to do something. Over and over again I see well meaning fools making things worse by getting themselves involved (unbidden) in somebody else’s issues at work or any criminal investigation. That’s just the way life works. Wishing someone well privately and even publicly is fine, getting into it is dangerous and often backfires.

    And while I know nothing of Mr. Cooper except this blog, I do know that the last thing that is helpful in such a situation is to invite law enforcement or anyone else to make public everything they really know or have learned.

    Fools rush in.

  • oakie

    I have deep sympathy for Mr. Cooper and hope he can feel the support many of us have for him.

    But I really appreciate the comments from Nextset. There really is a lesson in Mr. Cooper’s experience, and it clearly goes way beyond this particular incident. And the bottom line lesson I take from it is the importance of citizen awareness and understanding exactly what we allow to happen in our name. We are, indeed, responsible for our government, and we have an obligation to know what we have wrought. The exact opposite of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ something that is all too pervasive, particularly in California and other places with over-intrusive government intervention in our lives.

  • Nextset

    Katy: Can you create a blog topic about Civics classes in public high schools? I don’t know what is being taught if anything about Government. The people of all ages I run into have either no information or dangerous misinformation and I don’t remember things being like this when I was growing up.

    When picking a jury I find that both lawyers and the judge have to educate the jury panel about the basics of how the system the jury is expected to function in works. It’s worse now than 25 years ago. Have the high schools given up on educating the students on Civics, or is that class just an elective that few people take?

    The level of ignorance of criminal justice by everybody and especially the criminally inclined is bad, but the level of ignorance of basic contract law and tort law is probably why we have a Judge Judy atmosphere in all the courthouses where grown people have to be told how much their behavior is going to cost them this time. I remember my generation as being more clued in to how things work.

  • Jake

    Mr. Cooper,

    You certainly won’t remember me, but over the years you’ve given me directions, helped me find a dolly to deliver boxes to a school office, and unlocked the gate for me a few times too. Thank you for being the man who does all the little things and all the big things that a custodian can do to make the school run.

    I’m sorry to see you treated so poorly. Thank you for giving so much to the students.

    Nextset… I don’t understand you at all. Why are you using this man’s story to raise all these points about people who set themselves up?
    Are you suggesting that Mr. Cooper did something to bring this on himself?
    Or are you just using his story to talk about your own pet peeves with your clients?

    You say police officers are consistent. I disagree. I’m sure they all sound alike through the filter of court documents and statements. But there’s as much variety of character, integrity, ethics, and behavior behind the wall of blue as there is in any profession. For instance–not every lawyer is as condescending as you are.

    In this case, the officers confronted Mr. Cooper at his work site, and accused him of being a criminal because he asserted his constitutional rights, and embarrassed him in front of his community, and to what end? What does anyone gain from that public embarrassment? What was so awful or urgent about the situation, that required the public humiliation of this proud servant to his community? Even if he were involved, his record of service deserves some discretion.

    Yes, this kind of public humiliation is increasingly commonplace. But it’s not in anyway virtuous. Nextset, I don’t understand why you are defending it.

  • Nextset

    Jake: If you have no outside knowledge – and are only going on the info on this blog – Please explain what your issue is.

    This blog is a public forum where we debate or discuss policy. We are in no position to personally vouch for or castigate Cooper. Do you not agree?

    Here we have a situation where there is obviously a crime and it is given that this man was “said” to be possibly involved. The story didn’t go any father into that and I hope it never does. It’s assumed that somebody somewhere said something…

    The investigators then go do the usual confrontation. What do you expect to happen? Do you think this is about Cooper personally? Or are you projecting some other dislike onto the whole thing?

    You say “this kind of public humiliation is increasingly commonplace”. Well when has this not been “commonplace”? When other people accuse you of something during a felony investigation – if that is what happened here – you get arrested and interrogated and often searched. Nothing personal and nothing racial either. Cooper was speedily cleared it seems.

    It’s not like the school wasn’t looted and it’s not like janitors weren’t involved.

    This isn’t Cooper’s situation but I have been involved in workplace theft cases – the players have no clue or concept of accomplice liability at all. Take a hint. I have sat with people and had them tell me how they committed felonies when they honestly believe they have done nothing illegal at all. The problem is shutting their mouths before they hang themselves by making statements about what they did do that they don’t understand IS a crime.

    What you think is public humiliation is probably good policework. You don’t like it and it does hurt. This is a mild taste of what the Duke University students went through. I see this sort of Police encounter constantly – most of it invited by the lifestyle or conduct of the players.

    Sometimes you just work with a bunch of crooks and this happens. It’s rough, isn’t it? Feel’s bad, doesn’t it? Now exactly what do you think should have been done differently? The investigators been more friendly? Not going to happen. They aren’t friends. While having an investigator more to your taste might have made this more of a good time – that’s not what Police Services are all about.

    I don’t give false hope and sympathy, not my style. Mr. Cooper is a grown man and probably a Union Man. If these people really crossed the line – which I sure don’t see – there are steps. There is always Mr. Burris in Oakland.

    Life isn’t always fun. But this is only my opinion based on my experience in this business. Shop the story around some more.

  • Nextset

    My mistake, he wasn’t arrested, he was apparently “detained” which is a different act legally.

  • Katy Murphy

    A note of explanation: Someone called today who was under the initial impression that I wrote this piece. The caller was relieved after realizing that it was a guest column, and not necessarily my view.

    I did edit this essay for clarity, as I regularly do for guest blog submissions, but I wasn’t the author.

    This is new, murky territory, admittedly. Obviously, guest columns are written from a certain perspective, and sometimes express opinions that are stronger than I would feel comfortable to voice in my own words, even on this blog. At the same time, I am choosing to publish them, so I do have control over the content — much like an editorial page editor.

    After thinking about this today, I’ve settled on a tentative solution: to be more conscious about soliciting differing points of view (though not in a `he-said, she-said’ way). In this case, I thought, why not ask a school district police officer to write about what it’s like to conduct such a sensitive internal investigation?

    So I did. Hopefully you’ll get to hear from him as well.

  • Nextset

    Katy: Good. Maybe somebody else can provide a contrarian view so the blog continues to stay lively. I continue to observe that those involved in such an investigation usually can never be candid in public. And I don’t mean that anyone has to make them censor their commentary. In the process of working with any such situation there are all kinds of information and impressions in every direction it’s not fair to publicly circulate. One doesn’t have to be told to avoid doing so. And this is to protect the guilty as well as the not so guilty.

    Perhaps we can get school police commentary from retired or other than OUSD police services from time to time. I’d expect them to be more to the point.

    I hope my comments gave the readers something to consider they didn’t have. I don’t mind being the skunk at the garden party if it makes people think before jumping.

  • John

    Nextset: When a man is the recipient of unsolicited public embarrassment from the authorities it isn’t inappropriate for him to publicly communicate his side of the story and in this case could well serve the school community interest.

    A few criminal defense attorneys advertise their ability to work with high profile cases, taking into account the possible impact of negative media impact on a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Although Mr. Cooper doesn’t require such expertise in the wake of his public (work site) humiliation, I believe it is still in his best interest to mitigate the likely negative impression associated with “getting the treatment” in front of an informal jury of his work peers, students and parents.

    You suggest that “maybe an apology for his trouble would help since he seems to be cleared.” How many times have you observed an apology from the police following investigative action not resulting in arrest or indictment? In our litigious society making an apology (admission) can make you a legal target, and then there’s the mindset of the likes of Carmen Fernandez (#4) who have “learned to distrust officers, (and) always heard that many of them were crooked or just plain abusive of their authority.” It isn’t hard to imagine an OPD policy not favorable to making public or private apologies.

    I agree that “well meaning fools make things worse by getting themselves involved (unbidden) in somebody else’s issues at work or any criminal investigation.”
    However, I suspect Katy didn’t force an interview out of Mr. Cooper and he appreciated the opportunity to tell his side of the story. The police did their job and Katy did her “guest column.”

    As for a principal communicating with the school community in the wake of employee involved campus police action, it would of course be appropriate for the principal to factor in Mr. Cooper’s wishes before addressing the community’s need to feel reassured about the integrity of this school employee. It is not uncommon for a principal to talk to students and parents, via letter, when a school employee is the subject of a ‘school incident’ related police investigation or arrest. As always I appreciate your feedback and look forward to your response.

  • Nextset

    John: I’ve made my warning about fools rushing in – and this time it’s professional advice. If Cooper wants some kind of action it’s his business and he’d better go through counsel first.

    Regardless of the merits of any particular case such as this, I can’t stress enough the danger of taking public such a situation without co-ordinating everything with counsel following a closed door confidential intensive interview about everything the subject has seen and done, and who they have been associated with, and what everybody has been doing and what the subject knew or should have know about it.

    And I’ll further go ahead and say that minorities, especially blacks, have a long history of refusing to use counsel and getting themselves & their relatives and friends in more trouble than ever because they don’t understand and don’t care how the law works.

    What you are proposing, that some kind of cause be made out of Mr Cooper – without explicit clearance of his counsel to do so – is fraught with danger. People like Cooper are in no position to protect themselves in such a case without a lawyer controlling tactical decisions. Just talking about this conceptually gives me the creeps. I’ve seen this sort of thing backfire over and over.

    What you are suggesting can come at a price to other people such as Mr Cooper, not to you. So stay out of other people’s business until they ask you directly to do something – then at least you can blame them for starting it if it goes wrong.

    This goes double for the principal and I’ll bet the school counsel will block any capricious action by school staff. There are rules in personnel matters and they are for the protection of everybody. These matters are never as simple as they seem to outsiders and non lawyers. If you doubt the seriousness of this warning talk to your own counsel before stirring something up.

    Katy’s involvement is as a news reporter – she owes no duty to Cooper. he is only the subject of a story. She’s doing her job. So you want to turn up the heat here? Who are you serving? Cooper? Really – do you have a contract??

    And as far as apology – I have always taken the position that Police Services likely did nothing outside their authority and the complainers can pound salt. But it is not unusual for statements to be made informally that the players are sorry “for your upset” – which is true and not an admission of wrongdoing. Judges do that one also. As far as #4 – that’s a typical silly reaction of one who likes staying on the outside of society looking in. We hear similar comments about people who don’t “trust” or “like” Doctors, Judges, Teachers, Bank Officers, Nurses, Restaurant Inspectors, Dentists, Butchers, Bakers & Candlestick Makers.

    If people would learn more about how the world works they wouldn’t be in a tizzy everytime they had to face the outside world.

  • http://none Nancy

    Maybe he can buy a Jaguar with his settlement and/or judgement…

  • John

    Nextset! I LOVED your response. My favorite comment was, “So you want to turn up the heat here? Who are you serving? Cooper? Really.” You ask a rhetorical question followed by “Really,” as though I’d given a response.

    What a wonderful self speak interrogative technique you employ here and elsewhere in your entertaining and informative response to things not meant or communicated.

    Thanks also for upgrading your advice to “professional,” along with the informative demonstration of how part of your “world works” Mr. Prosecutor.

    If it pleases the court the imaginary defendant would like to be excused for, among other things, a “proposal” and “suggestion” never made.

    As always I appreciate your feedback and look forward to your response, always willing and able to separate the wheat from the tares.

  • Nextset

    John: All this is is an excercise. People do what they want. I learned a long time ago that free advice is useless except as an excercise for the speaker.

    The blog is still fun and maybe somebody who does read the back and forth will have more to draw on when it’s their turn to commit themselves or not to a course of action.

  • Jake

    Nextset, your screeds are not ‘fun’ for me, or many of the other people who read this blog.

    You post pious and smug cynicism and suggest that it’s just friendly advice. You have some serious axes to grind about public education… but seem to have very little first-hand knowledge to inform your sweeping generalizations.

    I would happily encourage you to peddle your insight on any blog or forum about legal affairs, instead!

  • Nextset

    Jake: This thread is specifically about a legal affair. Even worse, some of the bloggers – and it’s human nature – have proposed the readership take action in a way that could directly affect Mr. Cooper and his relationship with the school, the police, and/or the other janitors who is in hot water. Of all the blog threads you may need an attorney to comment on this is the type. I hardly need approval from you to do so. If you think my commentary on this thread is pious – take it to a lawyer to see how they would work this situation. The legal community I work in has not described me as “pious” so I don’t take you seriously.

    You see – unless you have something yourself to add to the debate, interpersonal attacks on another blogger are mainly about you. It’s seems that you are young – I’m not. I enjoy your point of view I think. It just doesn’t carry any water yet. You’ll get better at this later in life.

    You need to argue the thread – what apparently happened to Cooper – what should have happened instead – what should be done now – and why. I posed that what happened is par for the course – and will happen the next time the same thing happens in some other school with different people. You’re not happy, but you haven’t responded that the fact pattern here in unprecedented or atypical.

    You rather put forth that you don’t like me. Do I sound like I need your approval? It’s not about me or you. It’s about what goes on at the schools and how the workers are treated by the schools I suppose. It’s not clear to me that OUSD is the same as the police investigators. And I expect that OUSD will never discuss or debate any staff matter publicly.

  • cranky teacher

    “You get nowhere thinking the cops make things worse for society. They are the last thing between you and anarchy.”

    The classic Nextset worldview: Authority is the only thing that compels positive action among the majority of humans.

    It’s funny to me becuase in much of the world the police are an actively negative or nonexistent force, yet things usually do NOT fall into anarchy. Humans are social animals who make deals, build shared cultures with norms and consequences, etc. If they don’t have police, they police each other and themselves.

    Have you ever lived anywhere outside of the U.S., Mr. Nextset, not counting war zones?

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Nice to hear from you again.

    Actually, no. I’m born and raised in CA.

    Maybe you live in Oakland. I don’t, but I used to.
    I have friends who’ve worked in the Oakland Courts all their lives – some have retired, some are still there. I was around the Oakland courts since 9th grade – I worked in downtown Oakland for 4 years during college and elsewhere in Oakland during law school.

    I have a lot relatives and friends who live in Oakland. I worry about their safety. And yes, I have friends and co-workers who spent a lot of time in war zones. They feel in danger when they go about in Oakland.

    I don’t have much good news for you. Look at Vallejo. Look at Los Angeles. Things are likely to get far worse in Oakland than they are now – and I wouldn’t go out to dinner in Oakland anymore.

    There may be a time when you will wish you had better access to police services. It’s going to be triaged.

    Brave New World!

  • Jim Farwell

    Hi “Coop:”

    Anne and I are sorry for your ordeal. For those who know you, the thought that you would have taken computers from your school is laughable if it didn’t hurt so much.

    You are an example of what gives this district the hope that things can get better. Your work ethic,not just going through the motions but to do things right and your commitment to those with whom you work are an example of what we should all strive to achieve. And then, there is your smile and laugh…you warm up an otherwise cold day with your caring and kindness towards others. Be well!!!

    Anne and Jim Farwell

  • Serena

    Mr. Cooper drives a jaguar already!!!

  • Norris L. Cooper, Jr.

    This is my father and I am beyond pissed, and it is not an exclusively emotional response, but one that comes from the disrespect that he had to endure at the hands of law enforcement. It seems that there is a biased, conservative voice that lacks compassion, empathy and general concern for the treatment of others, running through these responses. Investigation or not, I know as well as other members of the community, that this type of treatment is reserved for a particular segment of the population. Anyone who denies this is living in a fantasy world. While I do not always agree with my father, he has always been a man to tell you to keep away from trouble and steer clear of non sense. PERIOD. We have a big family and whatever my father gave us in his DNA, provided all of us with the ability to stand on our own two feet, believe in ourselves, and achieve. All of us have four year degrees less, the two that are still working at it. I actually have four, and a few of my sisters have multiple as well. My father is a very hard working man who has always done his best even when the cards did not fall the way “we” wanted. If he has it, he will give it. He does not steal and he has always encouraged us to do better and be better than him acknowledging his flaws and encouraging our growth by learning from his mistakes. He does this indirectly and I did not always understand this. He would provide guidance from a been there, done that perspective without acting like a complete know it all. He is not perfect, but his work ethic should speak for itself and he has the right to be respected and treated with dignity. We are past the days of the antebellum south.

  • John

    You’re right, “this type of treatment is reserved for a particular segment of the population.” It seems that your father was, for whatever reasons, mistakenly associated with that segment.

    I understand your anger and emotional need to strike out. It’s too bad you can’t direct your anger toward that segment of the “particular segment” directly responsible for putting your father on the suspect list. But then again, I suspect it’s infinitely safer for you to vent your anger here than there.