My town is a place where equality and justice are relative terms. Depending upon your position and your political connections, those in charge dole out carefully measured shares of basic rights and privileges to citizens as they see fit. Portsmouth has been a corporation of Good Old Boys for a very long time, and I believe those unwilling to bow to those who oversee both government and justice suffer greatly for even daring to insist upon being granted their basic liberties.
To say cronyism is alive and well here is to mouth what exists in the hearts of common folks. It is so entrenched in everyday life that many just endure it as another everyday burden, much like a slave who realizes the futility of attempting to escape. Sooner or later, most slaves of any unjust system lose hope for freedom.
Oh, there is an appearance of care and concern for equal treatment in my town, but it is a carefully designed illusion. It is crafted with claims of concern for all, yet it is honestly a machine that allows the Good Old Boys to maintain power and to make judgments that are certain to contribute to the growth of their power and influence. Good Old Boys here are connected, often related, and tied to serving one goal -- maintenance of the system that keeps them in power.
Some work for the GOB machine and don't even realize they are tokens, people who were hired to add a sense of false security to a fraudulent system. Soon, they too sadly realize the inequality here, but they depend upon the GOB's for a paycheck, which insures their allegiance to administering justice as the machine requires, not as equality demands. Thus, innocent people no longer report serious crimes and injustices because they know nothing will be done about their problems except for a standardized show of sympathy and a patent slogan "It's happening everywhere."
Time and time again those outside the power structure are reminded that laws and ordinances are in place to insure their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The truth is that these rules favor the GOB's, and they are full of undefined and ambiguous terms and conditions open to interpretation. The loopholes are used to squelch any protest that doesn't sit well with the power structure. The old guard is built to ignore what is not in their interest, resist any challenges that do occur, and quickly extinguish resistance with their own propaganda. They do so in fear that a righteous revolution may someday usurp their throne of community control.
One of the most disturbing aspects of living under the GOB regime is that those within the power structure who do know of terrible corruption fear investigating and bringing to justice those who rape and plunder the populace. Internal affairs is nonexistent. In the meantime, the use of "tabling" concerns, conducting careless investigations, and then excusing those in power are common practices that highlight the allowance for intimidation of citizens.
As the public is aware of injustices committed by those in high positions, they seethe with anger. Drug use, alcoholism, prostitution, use of coercion, control of vice by threats, improper enforcement of associates, deals for profit, large-scale cover-ups, and heavy-handed intimidation -- the public knows of this GOB activity. They talk of it constantly, shake their heads in disbelief, and swallow dose after dose of watching those in high places not being arrested and not being charged adequately for their wrongdoings.
So, many wait for someone from the outside -- higher authorities -- to investigate the machine, reveal the corruption, and thus begin a new era of equality and justice for all. Meanwhile, some unknowing Samaritans wonder why the town continues to bleed out as they diligently launch various programs to patch a myriad of holes in a once-proud vessel now steered by pirates and manned by those who feed upon the have-nots.
With no significant foresight and no desire to offer the general public any lasting relief, the GOB's have recklessly horded resources and garnered control to further their goal of remaining elite pontificators over the trodden masses.
Here, in my town, there is "them" and you, and unless you submit to their political dominance or unless you have considerable resources to gain their allegiance, you are a secondary citizen deemed as a silent, nonessential member of the community or, if you dare speak out, you are deemed a risky troublemaker.
A poor man's home is not even his safe castle. Let me tell you my story. It is a story that has played out over and over in Portsmouth so many times that most of the different accounts of the story have a striking similarity and a similar theme. For decades, people of different persuasions -- politics, races, sexes, economic statuses, philosophies, and other persuasions deeming them as second-class citizens -- have encountered like miscarriages of justice here in my town.
One night last week my phone rang and a man -- a stranger to me (But one I later found out was connected and secure in the GOB system.) called by home. He wanted to talk with me about a false claim he alleged I had made about his nephew, one rumor reported to him by his nephew and his nephew's grandmother. I was busy at the time, so my wife talked to the man and assured him the alleged claim he said I made was false and merely hearsay. In any event, this man tried to coerce my wife with evident intimidation that I needed to be quiet.
My wife told me about the conversation that night, and after considering the man's false allegations, I still slept on the problem considering what to do, but the next day I decided to call my accuser to find out the entire story of his abrupt intimidation. He explained that he heard I had said something negative about his nephew: this was entirely false.
I had said nothing of the like at all, and I explained someone had lied about the allegations. He proceeded to tell me that he usually "kicked somebody's ass" when they didn't fess up, accused me of lying about the whole thing, and told me if I said "75 times it didn't happen," he wouldn't believe me. He hung up the phone in a huff.
Ten minutes or so later as I was watching the Reds game, I heard my doorbell ring. My dogs started barking (which may have made this angry man I had just talked to on the phone back away a few feet down my driveway) and I opened my front door to see the man seething in anger threatening to "beat my ass." I was in shock. I didn't know if the man had a weapon concealed on him or not. He was in a tirade.
I immediately told him I was calling 911 and withdrew to the house to retrieve my phone and make the call. I frantically told the 911 operator a man was standing in front of my house threatening my life. At that point, this agitated person got into his car and pulled in front of my driveway screaming and pointing his finger at me calling out several times, "I'm going to teach you a lesson."
Inside my house now, I saw him reach for something in the car. Naturally, I felt as if he was going to grab a gun and shoot me. Instead, he retrieved a cell phone and called 911 himself! All the while, he stayed in front of my drive. A little later, he pulled down the street, turned around in a neighbor's driveway and went to his nephew's home (two doors up from me) and sat on the front porch.
It took quite a while for a police response, so I called 911 back and they told me the man had called 911, so "basically the situation was calmed, and the police would be there soon." Finally, the police arrived. Outside now at my own home, I begged the officers to frisk him for weapons and to check his car for weapons: neither was done. I also begged them to check his sobriety for drunkenness or drug use. Neither was done.
Instead, one officer remained on the street while the other, along with the accuser and his nephew, who by now had arrived at his home (incidentally, greeted by the policeman with a pat on the back), went inside the dwelling to talk.
After quite a lengthy conversation, the policemen walked down the hill to me, where I was sitting on the steps of my front deck, and I told him my story. I insisted I wanted the man arrested. He told me it wasn't happening because the threats he uttered included the word usually. He had said, "I usually beat someone's ass for this." The officer told me he believed every part of my account but all he could do was submit the aggravation to the city solicitor.
That was on Saturday. I waited until Thursday of the next week to talk with the solicitor (or his legal representative -- I'm still not sure) on the phone. I figured it would take some time for him to review the police report. I talked to the solicitor (his rep?), and I explained in detail what had happened. He told me in no uncertain terms that my request for prosecution was not going to be granted. Period. He also said he was busy and I needed to end the conversation.
Later that afternoon, I decided to go to city hall and talk with the police chief about the whole affair. He graciously granted me time to tell my story. He listened intently and suggested I get a copy of the police report of the incident and walk upstairs to the solicitor's office to see if I had talked to the right person in charge when I had called. I thanked him for his time.
As I was walking upstairs, I noticed the police report did not have the attending officer's statement of the incident. In fact, it was blank. I turned back to tell the secretary I hadn't received the complete report, and she informed me the police never give the officer's account in a report they hand to the plaintiff.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I climbed the steps to the solicitor's office, rang the bell, and a voice told me to enter. A different man (not the one I had talked with on the phone and not the solicitor himself), asked me about my business there. I explained it. He asked me if I had any witnesses to the aggressor being at my front door while he was threatening me. I told him "no." He told me the case was strictly "one person's version versus another's," and he said the solicitor would not prosecute a case he couldn't win. He quickly escorted me to the door. The end.
Who you are and who supports who you are -- these are the criteria pertinent to receiving justice in Portsmouth, Ohio. I will protest against this inequality of justice on the sidewalks in front of city hall. I have that right. I may be judged as a lone voice, an old codger with a slanted viewpoint and a stupid sign that reads: "I have been taught that there is no equality of justice in Portsmouth." That doesn't really bother me to be known as foolish and eccentric.
What would bother me until my last breath would be to remain silent and inactive about the apparent truth of that statement. I cannot rest until I exercise my rights of free expression. Only then will I consider I have done my duty to respond to eminent threats on my city block.