What of Early, of Late?


How vastly different life turns out for one friend compared the next… and yet how much so alike as to be frightening


Copyright (c) 1996 by H. Michael Sweeney — All Rights Reserved
Permission to reproduce for non profit use granted provided it is reproduced in full and links back to proparanoid.wordpress.com. This article was written for the Oregonian, but the Editor notified me that they no longer wanted my Op-Ed submissions because they generated too many responses critical of government. So I added the Oregonian stings and published it instead in my book set, Fatal Rebirth.

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From the local news: A Portland man was arrested today for shooting two State Troopers in the back after being stopped for a traffic infraction. Neither officer was seriously wounded, thanks to bullet proof vests. Arrested at the scene on charges of attempted murder was Phil Early, of Portland, Oregon…

As it happens with many news stories, there is more to the story than meets the eye. Sometimes, there is a story behind the story.

I knew Phil Early in a more innocent time. I knew him as well as anyone, both teenagers attending Jefferson High School. He was a very different person then, certainly exhibiting no characteristic that might lead to his shooting a female State Trooper and young man wearing a State Trooper uniform* in the back. His worst offenses in those school days were being suspended for playing hooky.

Having lost track of Phil after I went into the military, and having often thought about him over the years and the many good experiences we had shared together, I must wonder what could have brought him to this unlikely end. Having heard that he had joined the Army and was killed in Vietnam, it is a shame that it took this tragic news event to reveal the error in that information and open the possibility of our meeting again. Perhaps, under the right circumstances, I might even have made a difference in his fate. This haunts me.

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But that is not all that haunts

Despite the outwardly heinous act and the many negative stories of Phil in the local media, there still seems much good about Phil in tact from when I knew him. He still is a caring and giving person, according to those who knew and worked with him in his last days as a free man. It is said that he helped anyone who asked and gave of himself freely, without judgment. I even understand that he had fallen victim to con artists who took advantage of his giving nature, but he had not let their greed dim his caring for or trusting of other strangers in need.

This was the Phil I knew, who would volunteer to loan his best blazer to a casual acquaintance (I had known him all of fifteen minutes when he offered it to me), or a Phil who would give his last two bucks for gas to a stranger stuck in front of the local grocery store. And that memory does not tally with the news reports of a man who supposedly, by association with Posse comitatus, has a hatred for other races. The stranger he had helped to buy gas in the early 60’s was a black man. In those times, equality was a mere dream in Martin Luther’s sermons, but already reality in Phil’s heart.

And speaking of Posse comitatus, I try not to automatically think harshly at the sounding of the name. It was the Posse comitatus Act of 1864 which protects citizens from abusive application of military against civilians in police actions, unless under martial law. This, perhaps, is why the current group by that same name does not recognize the State Police as a duly authorized Police agency.

Rather, they feel that any armed force under direct authority of State rule, regardless of the name it uses, regardless of the document of law or charter which empowers it, and regardless of its stated mission or rules of procedure, is nothing more than a state militia — a military body. As such, just like the National Guard, it is seen as a military unit subject to the Posse comitatus Act.

It was originally reported that Phil, like many Posse members, had an arsenal of weapons and ammunition. The Posse apparently believes, like many groups, that it is up to the citizens to protect themselves from the possibility of a military overthrow of the government — a thinking which, in exercise, requires a well armed and well trained civilian population. I now understand that Phil’s arsenal has turned out to be closer to the number of guns owned by the average farming family in Kansas. The description of many of these weapons apparently better matches that of “collector items” than of “arsenal.” This is closer to the Phil I remember, who liked to collect a variety of many like things, as would please his eye. In blazer’s for instance, he had nearly a dozen. He had many fewer guns.

There is one disturbing thought, however. As different as our lives must have been, and as different as our current situations seem, there is much about Phil’s late history that matches my own life. I, too, have grown suspicious of many in law enforcement, and have had my share of confrontations with them, including multiple attempts on my life by assassination.

Phil’s negative experiences might be deemed politically shaped by Posse comitatus. Mine have been as a result of investigating illegal activities of those within law enforcement — coincidentally involving illegal application of National Guard and other Federal agencies by or within police — the very thing feared by Posse comitatus.

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The nature of fate?

In realizing this commonality, I ask what might bring us so tenuously close in our thinking and experiences, despite the many years and miles between us? I go back to the innocent times, and a possible answer seems apparent. It was the time of Camelot. We, the youth of the nation, had a man in the White House we could love and look up to, regardless of any political realities perceived by our elders. And then, he was gone, taken away in violence under questionable circumstances.

I remember well the weighty discussions with my peers at the time, including Phil, of course. Even then, the theories were abundant. As more was learned, the doubts grew about the lone gunman theory. Perhaps this dashed our innocence and planted a seed of mistrust of an armed government and its secret minions of intelligencia – a mistrust which ultimately led us each along separate but similar paths, once we parted ways at the end of high school.

Now of course, there are more facts pointing to CIA assassination than to Oswald. Despite CIA Operative testimony under oath in court that CIA was directly involved in the murder and a cover up, which necessarily and demonstrably began before the murder, media still chooses to label anyone who questions such things as “conspiracy buffs” — despite the fact that major media was present in the court at the time to hear that critical testimony.

That the CIA-Operative witness had, within weeks of the assassination, come forward to FBI with the same material, and later, also testified to the Warren Commission — and all ignored the truth, does not make us “conspiracy buffs” feel any better about media or government. Apparently media prefers to continue to publish fiction as fact rather than admitting they were blinded to the truth from day one. Perhaps government simply finds cover up the only acceptable way of life.

Come to think of it, local media and government did the same with local murders undertaken by Portland Police. Despite abundant witnesses to the contrary, media blithely published verbatim as fact, Police accounts of the shooting of a young man named Shaw — an event which I have researched to conclusions contrary to their version of the story, as documented elsewhere. There was a similar conspiracy of silence with respect to the 104th and Liebe Street Raid.

There, National Guard, including a helicopter and an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), was illegally used in an alleged drug raid, but this author has discovered was more likely connected to the murder of Shaw. Local TV station KATU was the only station covering the raid, a matter itself perhaps telling since their former anchorman was also a former Police Commissioner and current City Councilman. Civic-minded KATU edited in new questions to field interviews of the neighbors of Liebe Street, in effect reversing their answers to make them sound supportive of Police actions, instead of condemning… everyone on Liebe Street was outraged at Police, the Guard, and KATU, but media would not air their grievances, nor would any government agency.

Surely, this angered the Posse. It angered many people, especially because of the abuse of power exhibited by Police. That summer saw Portland host the Guns and Hoses Olympics, where police and firemen from around the nation came to visit. With competitions in sniper shooting and police dog attacks, there was also likely an effort to show off Portland as a modern and well-equipped Police Department. Perhaps, but some would point to statistics to show it one of the more deadly departments, with the best way to die of gunfire by Police was to call 911 and threaten to kill yourself. They usually finished the job that those less dedicated to the deed could not. Perhaps it was such things, both old and new, that drove Phil’s anger.

Perhaps there are many from my generation who cannot let go of our misgivings and outrage from such things as the murder and cover up of our President by our own government agents. Perhaps there are many who, at least secretly within, believe in their heart that that terrible act in Dallas was the first of many dark chapters — chapters sufficiently dark to suggest a fearsome future at the hands of their authors.

That we see and deal with seemingly endless supply of similar Federal abuses and lesser version on a more local scale, does not help. Some of our generation are moved to action, while others prefer the safety of quiet contemplation. For those of us moved to act, some choose the pen, as have I, and some of us choose the gun, as apparently did Phil. Phil himself deeply regrets his actions, which he says were driven by the dominating and abusive attitude of the officer. Something, he says, just snapped within him.

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How do we judge such matters?

I cannot condone what Phil as apparently done. I can, perhaps, understand its root cause. Society must condemn his actions. In friendship, however, I am moved to point out that this is not a simple case of gun violence, as many in media have promoted with gusto. Indeed, there is no such thing. Gun violence is not a living thing which happens of its own volition. Gun violence is the result of a given set of life experiences and circumstances. In fact, those things would conspire to vent violent action even in the absence of a gun — such as stabbings or other assaults.

Those that believe the guns are the evil root should therefore also seek to take away all the knives, baseball bats, pillows with which to smother, stockings and ties with which to strangle, etc. Each case of gun violence deserves some degree of calm analysis towards possible prevention of future shootings — not a knee jerk call for seizure of arms. In analysis of Phil’s case, I suggest his actions were driven by something which those very actions themselves could not possibly well serve.

Could Phil have thought through the emotions that drove the instant, and looked beyond in some considered philosophical light, he might have come to the same conclusion. I would suggest to Phil that his enemy was not present when he opened fire. It was not present in the persons he shot, except perhaps by some misapplication of mere symbolism. They were most likely doing a tough job in a just cause. Nor was his enemy their leaders or those that worked to create agencies so troublesome to the Posse.

No, not these things, but far less tangible things. An unhappy history with no suitable answers of blame. A docile public apathy with unconscionable surrender of power to an increasingly errant and abusive government. A growing frustration with no means of proper release. A gradual loss of freedoms to a New World Order. A reasonable fear allowed unreasonable control.

Looking back, and talking to others, I wonder: how many of my generation have traveled so perilously close to Phil’s path? How many more of us are near the line he has crossed? Too many, I fear. A legacy, perhaps, of Dallas? A signpost, perhaps, of our future path?

~~~

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* The second person shot was, of all things, an Explorer Scout.

Under some extremely inappropriate reasoning, the State of Oregon and the Boy Scouts of America have decided that it is appropriate to dress Explorer Scouts in full State Police uniforms, sans weapons, and put them on the streets and in patrol cars — on the front line against crime, unarmed, untrained, and often, unsupervised.

This deserves another article of its own, as yet another example of the growing Police State in Portland, Oregon. Here, in Portland, highway workers, Explorer Scouts, firemen, private security firms, the National Guard, and even gang members, have all been inducted into the general law enforcement umbrella in one way or the other. One has to ask, why?

I only wish that Phil had thought to ask such questions first, and not have shot, at all.

 

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About Author H. Michael Sweeney

Author of privacy/security/abuse of power, Founder Free Will Society, PALADINs (Post Apocalyptic Local Area Defense Information Network)

Posted on September 2, 2012, in Abuse of Power, Crime, Government, History, military, People, Political Commentary, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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