Beast of the Month - December 1997
Terrance Gainer, Illinois State Police Director
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
Police abuse and brutality is not something new, regardless of the feigned shock by the korporate media over the Rodney King beating. When someone is given the power of enforcing the law, the predictable urges that accompany authority often follow, and are more often than not encouraged by those at the top of the police pyramid. Just this year, reports of serious law enforcement abuse in New York and Texas have gained notable headlines (not to mention tips on kinky uses for a police baton), as has the recent torture and pepper spraying of Headwater protesters by Humboldt County Sheriffs. And yet all these recent cases pale in comparison to the story of Shirley Allen.
On September 22, Christian County sheriff's deputies came to Shirley Allen's house east of Roby, in order to take her for a court-ordered mental health screening. The mental health screening was due to a request of family members who have been described by many close to Shirley as being more interested in her land and finances than her personal safety. Whatever their motivations, Mrs. Allen reacted to the request the only logical way you can when the police come to your door demanding to take you to a "psychiatric evaluation": she refused and demanded that they leave her property. They proceeded to tear gas her, later claiming it was self defense as she fired a rifle at them (no one was hit by her fire.) Of course, considering the attempt to kidnap her, one could argue in any case she was employing self defense, and it is perhaps more believable that they tear gassed her first anyway.
What followed was a standoff (dubbed by its proximity to Roby as "Roby Ridge"), between a woman labeled "seriously disturbed" and a police department determined to nab her, as she was supposedly a danger to herself. They proceeded to turn off her phones and power (with nights at freezing temperature), smash her windows, and not let anyone speak to her or give her food and water. They then combed through her phone records, monitored her with mirrors, and, in bizarre repeat of the Waco massacre, began blaring music at all hours of the night, from Barry Manilow (yes, it really is that sinister) to classical pieces. On day five, they pelted her with at least three beanbag bullets, again allegedly in self defense. Soon they began blaring the propaganda machine, labeling her as "suicidal" and "unstable". Finally, 39 days later, she was shot with rubber bullets and apprehended, taken to St. John's Hospital in Springfield for her evaluation.
Her sanity is supposedly being analyzed by unbiased health workers, and yet many of the claims against Shirley are proven absurd by the standoff itself. Far from being a danger to herself or suicidal, she has proven, by surviving 39 days with no power or food and water supplies, to be very capable of handling herself, as she had the previous 51 years of her life. But such logic is ignored in most reporting of this story, where the label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as after putting her under an unfair microscope and backed up against the wall, any actions she takes is further proof of her alleged psychosis.
Whatever delusions she may have are nothing worse than the mass psychosis that is labeled acceptable in our society at large. And whatever her mental problems, Shirley is a human being and has rights that have been seriously violated.
Clayton Douglas of the Free American has stated that the Shirley Allen story is the most important news story of 1997. "If they can do this to her and get away with it," he said in an interview, "then they can do this to you or me." And right he is. Shirley Allen was no political activist (like those in Humboldt) or alleged criminal (like the abused in Houston or New York), she was just a middle-aged widow who was minding her own business.
Which leads us to Terrance Gainer, the Illinois State Police Director. It is unlikely that the whole event was manufactured as some sort of attempt to brainwash the public into accepting an Orwellian police state. Then again, the standoff did end the day before Halloween, and it was 39 days long (identical to the number of core members in the Bilderberg Group, signers of the Freemason-penned U.S. Constitution, "suicides" at Heaven's Gate in Rancho Santa Fe, not to mention that August 29, 1997 was the 39th birthday of perverted pop star Wacko Jacko, coinciding with the Terminator series Judgement Day.) In any case, had Mr. Gainer intended to manufacture such an event, he wouldn't have behaved any differently.
One would think that holding her hostage 39 days would be enough, but to make matters worse, they continue to hold her against her will as they proceed on the "psychiatric evaluation". To add insult to injury, the medical and legal costs of the psychiatric evaluation process are the responsibility of the respondent, in this case, Shirley.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gainer continues to pump out the disinformation and propaganda, all in an attempt to deceive the public into excusing intolerable acts. Occasionally, he has slipped out the truth, as when he stated, "We think the best solution to this is Mrs. Allen gets to a hospital and gets the treatment we need...er, that she needs."
Actually, the best solution would have been for the State of Illinois to admit their error and apologize immediately after the fiasco began, but that would've been asking too much. Instead, Gainer and co. proceeded to participate in the violation of the most basic of rights: the right to be left alone.
There shouldn't be too much surprise in all this: Illinois, after all, is where the '68 Democratic convention was held, where police rioted against the public. Yet the eagerness of the korporate media to swallow Gainer's lies show how successful he has been. The press has even gone out of its way to attack those protesting the "Roby Ridge" tragedy. As one article put it, "The motives of some protesters may go beyond anti-government beliefs - a few of them, at least, appear to exhibit some of the signs of paranoia and delusions that prompted Shirley Allen's relative to seek psychiatric screening for her." Clay Douglas' warning seems all the more important to heed when such thought-crime threats are blared out as legitimate editorials.
In any case, we salute you, Terrance Gainer, as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Terry!!!
Special Thanks to the excellent reporting of Charles and Ashley Overbeck of Parascope (www.parascope.com) for their predictably top-notch coverage of this tragedy, and Clayton Douglas of The Free American (www.freeamerican.com) and J. J. Johnson for their eye-witness reports and opinions.
Update: At a hearing in the Christian County Circuit Court on December 16, a report was received from Dr. Bruce A. Feldman, a psychiatrist associated with the Christian County Mental Health Center, stating that Ms. Allen does not present a danger to herself or anyone else at this time and, therefore, should not be committed. Based upon Dr. Feldman's report and Illinois law which provides for a person to remain at his residence pending an examination and hearing, Ms. Allen's attorneys, Lindsey E. Reese and William Conroy, requested that she be released during the pendency of the case. This request was granted without objection and Ms. Allen has been released from McFarland Mental Health Center. The case continues, but she is at least temporarily free.
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