When you live in a police state, what else can you expect?
When police think they can pull elementary-age children out of school, arrest and handcuff them, then cart them off to juvenile detention, that’s a sign police think they can do whatever they want and get away with it.
Not until First Baptist Church pastor James McCarroll raised questions about the arrests of the kids from Hobgood Elementary School on a Friday afternoon in April did new Police Chief Karl Durr start trying to find out what happened.
And though he issued an apology of sorts through another publication and promised to get to the bottom of this, the public got the same old crap it always gets: We’ll study our policies and see where we need to make changes—if anything was done incorrectly.
Then he issued this calming proclamation: Following an internal investigation, it could take months for any disciplinary action to be meted out.
Surely that will soothe the masses.
Apparently, the whole thing started with an incident involving bullying and fighting in which a group of older children encouraged a younger child to repeatedly hit another child. A cellphone video taken up by a teacher and then given to a school officer shows the children walking down a neighborhood street acting like a bunch of young hoodlums.
It looks like something from Lord of the Flies. But unlike the 1954 novel by William Golding in which a group of marooned boys turn savage, the children in this case have parents and homes where they should be able to have some structure.
Granted, the neighborhood where the incident took place isn’t exactly Oakleigh. But this type of bullying has been going on forever, and it cuts across all social strata.
The problem in this situation is that instead of letting children and parents police the matter, the police themselves decided they know what’s best—arrests, handcuffs, patrol cars and court for about 10 kids ranging from 6 to 11.
Chief Durr told another publication one of the children involved was connected to a bigger criminal case, which was the impetus for the investigation. If that’s the case, shouldn’t that youngster be targeted?
It’s almost as if he’s saying we needed to teach these kids a lesson, scare the heck out of them, by putting iron on their wrists and indoctrinating them into the justice system.
Apparently, the little boy who was doing the hitting wasn’t arrested. Only those who were egging him on were charged with being criminally responsible for the conduct of others. One parent who had three children arrested says one of them wasn’t even at the incident.
The father also says he asked the arresting officer at Hobgood Elementary School if he could drive his children to juvenile detention, instead of them being transported in the patrol car while wearing handcuffs. He was turned down.
So after weeks of study, an internal investigation and possibly months of more process, we might get some action, at least that’s what Chief Durr has said.
Talk about a bunch of bureaucratic bull.
It only took a few days for police to arrest a bunch of kids for encouraging a fight. It should take even less time for Durr to make a decision—if he can grow a backbone.
But when you live in a community where hundreds of people are locked up for minor crimes and thousands have been trapped in a costly probation system, what else can you expect? This is law and order in Murfreesboro, and if you’re on the poor side of town, get ready to deal with it.
One of the things said over and over by those who want to keep Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s name on the MTSU’s Army ROTC building is its removal would “sanitize” or “sterilize” history.
Not so fast.
Regardless of what you think about Forrest, this is not wiping away history and putting yourself in danger of repeating it. If that were the case and people were absolutely certain Forrest did terrible things, his name never should have been put on the building in 1958 and should have come down years ago.
This multifaceted dilemma, which only dates back about 400 years or so, can hardly be solved here in pages of the Pulse.
Forrest’s life is one of contradictions. He was a slave owner and trader before the Civil War. He commanded troops who slaughtered a large number of black and white soldiers at Fort Pillow near Memphis where he told the Union’s commanding officers to surrender or receive no quarter.
He is largely considered a military genius in that he figured out how to use quick movement and guile to fool Union commanders. He also was one of the first to realize running or riding into the face of gunfire and cannon fire is pretty stupid.
But after the war, he also was elected a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. According to reports by local historian Greg Tucker, though, he ordered the “social club” to disband and quit wearing masks and terrorizing people. He also made amends with black residents in Memphis and encouraged them to become doctors and lawyers and to vote their conscience, a civil rights speech that brought social wrath down upon him.
The problem, though, doesn’t lie so much with Forrest or the Confederate flag as it does with groups and individuals who commit atrocities and then wrap themselves in Confederate symbols, such as the young man who killed nine people in a predominantly black church in South Carolina last summer.
Because of these fools, the rest of us are left to pick up the pieces and debate the Civil War, the causes of this horrible conflagration that separated the nation and the remnants of slavery and segregation that continue to haunt the country.
It is an argument that never seems to fade away. And in the South, where many people have ancestors who fought and died in a war of brother against brother, it will never completely disappear.
But this debate has nothing to do with “sanitizing” or “sterilizing” history. Those words apply to people who say the Holocaust was a lie or slavery was a humane institution because those folks needed work and someone to take care of them, sort of like animals.
One more thing to note about this debate about Confederate symbols: Belmont University, my alma mater, changed its mascot to the Bruins from the Rebels in 1995, getting rid of the old Southern gentleman and the Confederate flag used at ball games. Even though its campus has a former plantation mansion as its main administrative building, it no longer connects itself with the Confederacy and or Southern Baptists, a group founded in segregation. More than 21 years later, Belmont is one of the fastest-growing and most highly regarded private universities in the Southeast.
Hooked on JailCigs
A year after the FBI and TBI started a corruption investigation into Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold’s administration for e-cigarette sales to jail inmates, our beloved sheriff can’t seem to break the habit.
Arnold purportedly suspended JailCigs from the county jail a year ago after the media published several reports about the matter. But he is still listing JailCigs as an investment and source of income on a 2016 document filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission.
The sheriff has refused to answer questions about whether another company is dealing e-cigarettes at the jail.
You might remember JailCigs, which is co-owned by Chief Administrative Deputy Joe Russell and Arnold’s aunt and uncle in Marietta, Ga., was the focal point of a media investigation of Arnold in April 2015, followed by a county ethics complaint and the FBI-TBI probe, which is still dragging on.
When the news broke, Arnold told a Channel 4 reporter his listing of JailCigs as an investment and income was an error. He did say his wife was working for JailCigs. What he didn’t say was that his buddy Russell was running JailCigs out of the sheriff’s office, even trying to market them to Corrections Corporation of America, a huge prison company.
So here we are a year later, and regardless of what Arnold said in 2015, or what he forgot he said a year ago, he is reporting he invests in JailCigs and gets paid for it. Of course, he declined to respond to any questions about the filing, including whether he lied last year or simply decided JailCigs were so profitable he couldn’t resist getting into the game.
From a technical standpoint, since he said he suspended JailCigs from the jail last April, which is pretty much saying I can’t do business with myself anymore, he can now say he is making money off the company, as long as it’s contracting with other jails.
When Arnold took office, he promised to be transparent, open and accountable. Instead, he’s making some of the worst decisions ever made at the sheriff’s office, all in the name of greed and cronyism, and refusing to talk about it.
One of the things that upset local leaders and residents the most about this stuff last year was they felt Arnold was playing them for fools. A year later, it looks like he still is, and they can’t do much to stop him—except wait for the FBI or the 2018 election.