Friday, October 30, 2009

Cold Turkey



I had intended to finish an article today, but I couldn't do it because my mind is going crazy. Why? Because it's been over 40 hours since I've smoked a cigarette. I went from smoking about a pack a day to quitting cold turkey. That's what I did last time, and it worked for over three years, until I started going through a divorce. Then I started smoking regularly again. I knew I'd have to quit again at some point.

Yesterday morning, I started thinking about how tough it was going to be to subsist on student loans for 2 years. Plus, I realized that a lot of smokin' hot women won't even consider dating a smoker. So, instead of smoking my first cigarette of the morning at 8:30am yesterday, instead I threw away my whole pack. My mind and hands have been going nuts ever since for want of something to obsess over. After a few more days, it shouldn't be so uncomfortable. And I'll finish that blog post I promised myself I was going to write. Until then, this post will have to do it.

--Dan Edge

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Notes From the Edge - Episode 1!




I listened to Dr. Diana Hsieh's intellectual podcast "Rationally Selfish Radio" for the first time today, and it inspired me finally to kick off my own podcast, which I'm calling "Notes From the Edge." Appropriately enough, my first podcast is a response to some issues Diana raised in Episode #18 of her podcast, regarding demoting a relationship from a romance to friendship.

I wrote an article about this several years ago, in which I focused on the importance of reorienting one's thoughts of his former lover such that she is no longer an object of sexual desire. This is dificult to do, but can be very rewarding; former lovers can make some of the best friends.

I welcome comments on this, my first podcast. Thanks to Dr. Lady Hsieh for the inspiration!

--Dan Edge

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Temporary Silence



I’ve been holding back writing anything about my trial for the past few days because I wanted to consult legal counsel first. I’ve been in touch with several legal organizations, including the ACLU, and I’m getting closer to finding someone to represent me for my upcoming criminal trial. I won’t be writing much more about my case until the criminal trial is over, so I’d like to state a few things now for the record.

First, my silence should not in any way be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Even if the Greenville curfew ordinance were Constitutional (it is not), Bicycle Bad Cop still did not have probable cause to arrest me. I assert this despite Judge Hawley’s rubber stamp to the contrary at my preliminary hearing.

Second, I have been told that the Younger doctrine prevents me from filing a 1983 Civil Suit against the City until after my criminal trial is over. This is not a bad thing, as it gives me time to evaluate whether to press ahead with such a lawsuit. My contacts at the ACLU tell me that they were already interested in the Greenville curfew ordinance and will likely be publishing a press release about it soon. As it turns out, any minor or parent – not just those who have been detained under the ordinance – can challenge the curfew and have it overturned on 1st Amendment grounds. If this happens, then I may not file suit against the City. Regardless, my silence about a potential 1983 Suit should not be interpreted as a lack of conviction. I just have to deal with what’s in front of me first, namely not going to prison.

Finally, while I may continue to post updates about the case on my blog from time to time, I am disinclined to communicate with the press to any great length (not that they’ve been banging down my door). There are two reasons for this: 1) Every time an article is published about my case, the public response – from locals, anyway – is overwhelmingly negative, including accusations that I must be a pedophile since I am interested in defending the rights of minors. One tires of hearing that kind of crap very quickly. 2) If my case does proceed beyond the Pretrial stage, then I could lose the argument for a change of venue if I am the primary source driving publicity.

Thanks to all who have offered to help me in various ways, and to the dozens who have sent letters of moral support. It has meant so much to me to know that I am not alone in thinking that what happened to me was a grave injustice.

Sincerely,

--Dan Edge

Railroaded

My preliminary hearing took place this past Thursday (10/15), and the result was the worst case scenario I had envisioned going into it – I was railroaded, and my case was rubber stamped for criminal trial by a hostile judge.

While preparing for the hearing, several friends advised me to consult legal counsel, so I looked into it. I did not qualify for a Public Defender (I am too “rich”), but I couldn’t afford a private lawyer without significant financial hardship. The procedure for a preliminary hearing looked pretty straight-forward – it’s very limited what a defendant can do – so I thought I would just do my best to represent myself. In the worst case scenario I could then imagine – that the hearing would be presided over by a hostile judge already familiar with my case and against me from the beginning – it wouldn’t matter if I had legal counsel or not. I would just be out whatever money I had paid the lawyer to represent me.

Lady Luck was not in my corner that day. The presiding judge (Hawley) was clearly already familiar with my case. After I told him that I intended to represent myself, he said, “Let me tell you right now, Mr. Edge: I will not allow you to use this courtroom as a political platform, and if you attempt to do so, I will hold you in contempt of court.” This was Hawley’s introduction to me, and things only got worse from there.

Most of the questions I had prepared were deemed legally “irrelevant” by Hawley. Whether or not the minors were allowed to leave: irrelevant. Whether or not the minors’ arrests were a precondition to mine: irrelevant. Whether my arresting officer was familiar with the curfew ordinance and with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”: irrelevant. On this last point, the judge himself objected. He said, “Mr. Edge, I assure you that we’ve had cases of ‘contributing to the delinquency of a minor’ in this City before, and I am familiar with the law.” This was stated with a sneering, annoyed tone, along with most of Hawley’s other comments.

Regarding Nelson’s knowledge of the curfew law, I asked him if, according to the ordinance, minors were to be given the opportunity to leave. He answered, “If they violate the curfew, then they are to be detained.” I asked again, “But does the curfew not state that minors are to be given the opportunity to leave before they are detained?” Nelson repeated the same answer. At this point, Hawley interjected again: “Look, Mr. Edge, a police officer doesn’t have a lot of authority over the law while he’s out on the street. All he can do is use his discretion to some extent about whether to enforce the law in a particular situation. He even told them to leave, when he could have just detained them.”

“Your Honor,” I said, “the curfew ordinance directly states that minors are to be given the opportunity to leave before being detained,” and I read to him the relevant lines from the ordinance.

He replied, “Well, he told them to leave, and they refused, and he used his discretion in detaining them.”

The whole thing seemed really bizarre. In some instances the judge would initiate (and, I assume, sustain) objections to my questions completely independent of the prosecution. In others, the prosecutor would say “objection,” and Hawley would cut him off to explain, and sustain, the objection.

Hawley frequently interrupted the proceedings to argue in favor of the prosecution or to badger me about my ignorance of legal procedure. When I asked Nelson if anyone had told him that I instructed them to break the law, Hawley cut in to say, “You don’t have to instruct anyone to break the law, you just have to entice them, and this [referring to the protest flier I had handed out prior to the event] looks like enticement to me.”

Nelson did acknowledge that no one ever told him I had instructed anyone to break the law. He acknowledged that he never questioned anyone about whether I knew how old any of the protesters were. He acknowledged that he never questioned anyone about anything related to my case at all -- before, during or after my arrest. What it came down to was the protest flier. The very fact that I distributed the flier, regardless of whether I specifically targeted any age group, was deemed sufficient evidence for the judge to bind my case over to trial. Nelson even acknowledged that the young men he detained did not have any protest fliers in their possession. That Major McLaughlin of the Greenville City PD had been sent this flier the day before my arrest, and that officers on duty that night (including Nelson) knew about the protest beforehand, apparently were not factors taken into consideration by Hawley when weighing his decision.

I had seen Hawley preside over traffic court a few weeks earlier, and the calm, reasonable man I met at that time bore no resemblance to the indignant, annoyed, belligerent judge who presided over my case. He had his mind made up before he walked into that courtroom. He was doing his worst, not only to argue in favor of the prosecution, but to embarrass me in the process.

While unable to cow me into submission, Hawley did accomplish a few things: he succeeded in looking like an asshole lording over an innocent man from high atop his throne. And he proved that corruption comes in many forms.

The more I think about this, the more angry I become. So I’m wrapping up this blog post for now. Unfortunately, no transcript was made at the hearing. I felt that I needed to chronicle my side of things while the experience was still fresh in my mind.

Thanks for reading,

--Dan Edge

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fumblin' With The Blues

This past week was a rough one for me. On top of everything else that happened, on Friday a Laffy Taffy ripped a crown from my tooth (to be re-cemented today)! Playing the blues often has a cathartic effect on me, so I whipped out my guitar this morning and learned how to play Tom Waits's "Fumblin' With The Blues."

Please allow that this is my second ever music recording, and my first ever photo-montage. The photos tell a story, which you may understand if you're familiar with what's been going on in my life these past few months.

video

--Dan Edge

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Interview With Channel 7 News in Greenville

Originally aired on Channel 7 News @ 11pm on Thursday, October 15. In this interview, I state my intention to file a Section 1983 Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Greenville.

Letter to Media Announcing Prelim

To Whom It May Concern,

** I am Dan Edge, the man who was arrested on 9/5 while protesting Greenville’s emergency curfew ordinance. My preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, October 15 @ 3:00pm at the Greenville Municipal Court (426 N. Main St). At that time I will announce whether or not I will wage a Section 1983 Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Greenville. To journalists from the Greenville News: please note that I will not speak with anyone from your paper.

-----------------------------------------

In case you are unfamiliar with my story: on the Saturday, 9/5, I was wrongfully arrested in downtown Greenville along with two minors who were trying to comply with police orders to leave. I was ordered not to speak while detained, specifically to a journalist present. A detailed chronicle of what happened that evening can be found here.

Journalists from at least two media outlets were on the scene, and a reporter from the Greenville News saw exactly what happened. He claims that he submitted a full report, but that the story was taken over by his editorial staff and modified for “political reasons.” When Managing Editor Chris Weston was notified that his staff may have committed a serious breach of journalistic ethics, he did not look into the matter until I told him that I was publicizing his paper’s role in what happened. A detailed chronicle of my dealings with the Greenville News can be found here.

The City has decided to move forward with prosecuting me for two counts of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” The maximum sentence is six years in prison, three for each count. I will be representing myself and questioning the witness(es) at the hearing, which will take place tomorrow, 10/15 @ 3:00pm at the Greenville Municipal Court (426 N. Main St). At that time, I will also announce whether I will wage a Section 1983 Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Greenville.

Some related, potentially news-worthy facts:

The City is already being investigated by the FBI and SLED for suspected Civil Rights violations. This case is unrelated to mine, but I have contacted both agencies to explore the possibility that the cops they are investigating are the same ones that violated my Civil Rights.

The Greenville City Council is planning to make the curfew permanent, and the new ordinance was given its first public reading on Monday, October 12. I have seen this document, and it still does not include a 1st Amendment exception as required by Federal law. And the ordinance still specifies that minors who violate the curfew are to be arrested (i.e. detained and moved to another location). This is in violation of State law and of our 4th Amendment rights, which protect us against unlawful search and seizure. I spoke to at least four City Council Members over the phone recently, told them that the curfew was unconstitutional as written, and offered to provide documentation for how to make the curfew lawful. They either didn’t listen or don’t care. Anyone arrested under the ordinance can sue the City for violation of 1st and 4th Amendment rights, and/or challenge the ordinance, which would certainly be struck down.

Dan Edge
i.am.dan.edge@gmail.com
864-331-9144

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Preliminary Hearing -- Thursday, October 15

My Preliminary Hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, October 15 @ 3pm at:

Municipal Court
426 N. Main St
Greenville, SC

Be there or be square. Should be a hoot.

--Dan Edge

What One Can Do

Several people have asked what they can do to help me in my fight against the City. Here are some ideas:

1) If you know any Civil Rights attorneys who do pro bono or on contingency work, send them my way!

2) You can write to the City, The Greenville News, others in the local Greenville press, or anyone in the national press. I've made a list of local email, address, and phone contacts here.

3) Post information about my case elsewhere -- on your blog, in email to friends, etc.

4) Write me an email or comment on my blog if you sympathize with my plight. Dealing with this has been extraordinarily draining, and any moral support goes a long way. My brothers in spirit provide fuel to keep up the fight.

--Dan Edge

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Who to Contact About my Case

Several folks have asked me for names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers for contacts related to my case, like the City Council. Here are a lot of them:

--------------------

The Greenville News
305 S. Main St.
PO Box 1688
Greenville, SC 29602

Chris Weston, Managing Editor – cweston@greenvillenews.com
(864) 298-4100

--------------------

Greenville City Council
206 S Main St
Greenville, SC 29601-2832
(864) 467-4431

--------------------

City Council, State Rep, and Mayor -- Contact Emails Compiled:

patrickbhaddon@gmail.com,
RA@scsenate.org,
chandradillard@schouse.org,
KWhite@greenvillesc.gov,
LFlemming@greenvillesc.gov,
DSmock@greenvillesc.gov,
SReynolds@greenvillesc.gov,
ADoyle@greenvillesc.gov,
JLittlejohn@greenvillesc.gov,
DSudduth@greenvillesc.gov

--------------------

Council Members and Mayor Individually:

Knox White, Mayor
Term: 11/07-11/11
P.O. Box 2207
Greenville, SC 29602-2207
Work - (864) 467-4590
E-mail - KWhite@greenvillesc.gov

Lillian Brock Flemming
Mayor Pro Tem
District 2 Representative
Term: 11/05-11/09
398 Oscar Street
Greenville, SC 29601
Work - (864) 355-3976
Home - (864) 241-8677
E-mail - LFlemming@greenvillesc.gov

C. Diane Smock
At-Large Representative
Term: 11/05-11/09
PO Box 351
Greenville, SC 29602
Home: (864) 271-4381
E-mail- DSmock@greenvillesc.gov

Susan Reynolds
At-Large Representative
Term: 11/07-11/11
314 West Earle St.
Greenville, SC 29609
Home - (864) 232-9298
E-Mail - SReynolds@greenvillesc.gov

Amy Ryberg Doyle
District 1 Representative
Term: 11/07-11/11
PO Box 156
Greenville, SC 29602
Home - (864) 232-7179
E-Mail - ADoyle@greenvillesc.gov

Jil M. Littlejohn
District 3 Representative
Term: 2/09-11/11
26 Blair Street
Greenville, SC 29607
Home - (864) 283-0455
Mobile - (864) 881-1545
E-Mail - JLittlejohn@greenvillesc.gov

J. David Sudduth
Vice Mayor Pro Tem
District 4 Representative
Term: 11/05-11/09
26 McPherson Lane
Greenville, SC 29605
Work - (864) 282-4912
Home - (864) 233-4540
E-Mail - DSudduth@greenvillesc.gov

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why I Am Innocent, Whlie the City is Not

I'm going to go ahead and bring out the big guns. No need to wait for my Preliminary Hearing. I'm told that the city still intends to prosecute. Here is why they will fail:

  • Curfews ordinances are required to have a 1st Amendment exception, specifically to allow minors to protest the curfew or anything else. The Greenville City ordinance is unlawful, and in the eyes of the Federal Courts, a violation of 1st Amendment rights. Any minor detained under the Greenville curfew ordinance could easily challenge and defeat the law. They also may file a 1983 suit against the city.
  • It is illegal to arrest anyone for violating a Civil ordinance (like a seat belt violation or curfew ordinance), except under very specific circumstances, and even then requires a warrant from a judge (SC Code of Laws, Sections 15-17-20 and 15-17-40). From the ordinance (Section 3): “The police are authorized to take custody of a minor failing to obey a directive to leave and to retain custody of the minor at a central location” (italics mine). Detention and subsequent movement of anyone in custody under authority of uniform is custodial arrest. Anyone arrested (i.e., detained and moved to City Hall) could sue the City for violating their 4th Amendment rights, which protects us from search and seizure, including the seizure of one's person.
  • Corporal Nelson violated my 1st Amendment rights by ordering me not to speak while detained, specifically to the journalist present. Unless he could demonstrate that my speaking would "surely result in direct, immediate and irreparable damage to our Nation and its people" (New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971)), he had no right to act as a judge and initiate Prior Restraint on my freedom to speak. The only other reason I can think of he could silence me is if he thought I was gonna start a riot or yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. Not relevant.

I've gathered much more data on these issues, but these three points alone, especially the first one, prove that the ones who broke the law here were not me and those minors. It was the City Council who drafted an illegal curfew ordinance, and police officers who broke the law in enforcing it. They compound the crime by violating 1st and 4th Amendment rights simultaneously, and in my particular case my 1st Amendment rights were violated in a much more serious way.

An appeal to the two minors who were arrested at the protest last month: I got two words for you and your folks -- class action. The City violated your 1st and 4th Amendment rights, and worse, if my memory is correct Corporal Nelson also instructed at least one of you not to speak. It is within your right to file a Section 1983 lawsuit against the City for violating your Civil Rights. From what I have seen, the minimum punitive damages for such a suit begin in the millions. I could be a powerful ally to you.

I may not file the lawsuit, depending on how the City responds. I want to see Corporal Nelson fired or at least severely punished (he has no business working with the public). I want to see the curfew ordinance repealed or modified to comply with State and Federal Law. I'd like at least an apology from the City and the Police Department for violating my Civil Rights in so grievous a way. Even if some of those things happen, if they are not publicized and my name vindicated, I may have to file the lawsuit anyway (as is my right) just to see my reputation restored.

--Dan Edge

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Internal Affairs Interview Transcript

Following is the transcript from my interview with the Internal Affairs Division of the Greenville City Police, regarding my formal complaint against Corporal Nelson (Bicycle Bad Cop), the officer who arrested me. Much of this information is also available in my chronicle of the event here. If you click on the images individually, they should expand to a full-size, readable page. Admittedly not the most convenient way to read a transcript, but I did what I could with a paper original.

































Contact Availability

I have just sent a statement to the press about my Greenville News article along with a copy of my Internal Affairs interview transcript. Many of the emails didn't go through initially because the transcript file is so large, so I resent it without the attachment. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I'm a bit concerned about the fact that The Greenville News and Bicycle Bad Cop know where I live. Consequently, I will not be home tonight and will not be able to take telephone calls on my home phone. I will, however be checking email and will respond with cell phone calls or reply mails as necessary.

My email address is: i.am.dan.edge@gmail.com

--Dan Edge

The Greenville News -- Corrupt from Core to Top

On Saturday, September 5th, I was unlawfully arrested in downtown Greenville for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” I had organized a protest against the emergency curfew ordinance, which in my view punishes the vast majority of responsible youth for the lawlessness of a deviant minority. This protest was planned with the knowledge and advisement of the Greenville County Police Department. Picketing ordinances were obeyed, and the protest was extraordinarily docile, especially for this day and age.

But something went terribly wrong that night. As expected, the police showed up shortly after the protest began. Officers were doing their jobs, checking IDs, and asking any minors present to vacate downtown. The curfew ordinance states that any young-appearing individuals are subject to questioning by police, and that they may be detained at City Hall if they refuse to leave or return after being instructed to leave. Implicit in the ordinance is that any minors are to be given the opportunity to leave when ordered to do so. For the most part, that is how officers on the scene handled the situation, with the exception of one – a bicycle cop named Corporal Nelson.

Nelson burst onto the scene with a fury and began questioning three young men sitting on the statue platform adjacent to the Poinsette Hotel with protest signs. After being instructed to leave, they began to comply immediately, but one of them committed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of Bicycle Bad Cop – he handed me back his protest sign, said “Thank You,” and turned to make good his escape. Nelson interpreted this as a refusal to leave and arrested him immediately. About 30 seconds later, one of the other young men came back to find out why his friend was not in tow. Nelson then arrested him, as well. These young men were not given the opportunity to leave. The arresting officer had not complied with the letter or spirit of the ordinance. Nelson’s actions were belligerent and unlawful; but the worst was yet to come.

When Nelson first walked up, I had been speaking to a Greenville News reporter named Richard Walton. Walton was one of the only journalists who responded to my announcement that the protest would take place, and he was interviewing me about the purpose of the event. After the two minors were detained, I expressed to Walton my exasperation at what had just occurred. What Corporal Nelson did next may cost him his job, and may cost the city millions. A partial transcript from my chronicle of the events:

-------------------------

Dan Edge: [To Mr. Walton] Can you believe this? That kid was just trying to leave! All he did was say “thanks” and give me the poster…

Bicycle Bad Cop (BBC): [Now addressing me] YOU! Shut your mouth! NOW! Stand right there! Don’t move! I’ll deal with YOU in a minute!

Dan Edge: By what right are you detaining me here? By what right do you order me not to speak? What am I being charged with?

BBC: We’ll figure that out in a minute. I’m going to go deal with these minors, who are now under detention, then I’ll talk to my superior and we’ll figure out what you’re being charged with. But right now, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll sit right there and keep your mouth shut. Earlier, you said you respected my uniform and my need to do my job. I’m just doing my job. Just sit down right there! NOW!

Dan Edge: Listen, this guy [referring to Mr. Walton] is a journalist. Are you saying I’m not allowed to speak to the press?

BBC: You are now in my custody. You can either sit right there and keep your mouth shut, or I will put you in hand cuffs and throw you in a squad car right now. Is that what you want?

Dan Edge: Hmmm… [Considering the inevitability of arrest] I’ll have to think about that…

BBC: There’s nothing to think about! I’ve taken you into my custody! Now I’m going to deal with those detainees, and I’ll be back to deal with YOU in a minute. Sit right there!

Mr. Walton: [Stands idly by, complying with the order to step back a few feet, a seeming look of shocked disbelief on his face.]

-------------------------

Walton was standing less than ten feet away during this exchange. He saw and heard everything. He may not have known chapter and verse of the egregious Civil Rights violations on the part of Corporal Nelson, but he must have known that something terrible had happened. I was arrested for two counts of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” and spent 17 hours in the Greenville County drunk tank before being released upon arraignment.

After I got out of jail the next day, I was shocked by the media coverage of the event. No one mentioned what really happened, including Walton. The articles only quoted the police chief’s report (she wasn’t there): that two minors refused to leave and were detained, and that the protest organizer had been arrested. Walton emailed me after I published my chronicle of what happened; he said he wanted to keep the story alive, tell my side of it. I told him I was very upset that his paper had not reported the criminal actions of Bicycle Bad Cop. You were there, Walton, you saw everything, so why didn’t you tell the whole story?

Walton replied that he had submitted a full report to his editorial staff, but that they then took complete control of the article and chose not to publish what really happened. Why would they do that, I asked? He paused. Then, in a moment of truth which he may come to regret, he said that there were political elements in play here. Many downtown patrons, including the businesses who advertise with The Greenville News and citizens who purchase it, strongly support the curfew ordinance. “That’s why journalistic ethics exists,” I told him. “When things like this happen, a man has to make a choice. And they made the wrong one.” So, too, did Walton, but not until later.

As a result of the media’s refusal to publish facts crucially relevant to my arrest, for days I was lambasted in discussion forums on the local news websites. I defended myself, posted a detailed chronicle of what happened, and made myself available to the media to tell my side of the story. But no one cared. A very few journalists have contact me since, but no one has yet published the terrible truth: that me and the two minors were unlawfully arrested, and that Corporal Nelson was guilty of serious Civil Rights violations.

In a few cases reporters have candidly communicated that their respective editorial staffs know what really happened, but refuse to publish the story for “political reasons.” This was certainly the case with Walton and The Greenville News.

A few weeks after my arrest, I contacted Chris Weston, Managing Editor of The Greenville News. I told him what happened, where he could find more information (my blog), and that his staff was likely guilty of serious breaches in journalistic ethics. He was defensive of his paper, but promised to look into it and get back to me. Over a week and a half later I had still heard nothing from him.

Yesterday, 9/30, I finally received a copy of the transcript from my interview with the Internal Affairs division of the Greenville City Police. During that interview, the officers asked me if I had had any contact with Richard Walton since my arrest. I said yes, and when they asked about the content of that discussion I told them about Walton’s claim that his story was doctored by the editorial staff. I had planned to distribute this transcript to the media, so I made it a priority to contact Weston and find out how he was going to respond to his staff’s breach of ethics. I wanted to give him a chance to make things right before I released information demonstrating the corruption of his newspaper.

To my disgust, Weston hadn’t bothered to look into it. He never read my side of the story, seemed not to have discussed the issue with Walton, and had taken no steps to correct the immoral actions of his staff. But the most shocking news was yet to come. After speaking with me over the phone, Weston asked Walton about my claims, then called me back a short time later. Walton had denied that our conversation about the editorial manipulation of his article ever took place. I couldn’t believe it.

As mentioned earlier, after my arrest a few journalists have kept in touch with me, looking for a way to bring the truth to light. I had hope that at least one of them would serve as my champion, or a champion for the cause of truth, which in this case is the same thing. Walton was one of those journalists. More than anyone else, he knew that my version of the story was fact. He seemed sincerely interested in exposing what really happened, sincerely interested in vindicating me.

A few days after Walton first told me about his editorial staff’s creative political editing, I called him up to issue a benevolent warning. I will work with you, I said, but you may not want to work with me. I cannot promise to keep silent about the things you say to me, I said, especially considering my efforts to restore my reputation in Greenville, where I hope to live and work for many years to come. I did not consider our phone conversations privileged information. He is not my doctor, lawyer, counselor, or spouse. I assume that anything I told him was on the record and may be published. But this goes both ways. I said that I liked him, and for that reason I didn’t want to put him in a situation in which his job might be in jeopardy. He replied that he was unconcerned about this – that he intended to do his job and report the facts as he could ascertain them. Little did I know that his lack of concern was based on a willingness to lie to his boss.

When Weston told me about Walton’s dishonesty, I almost shed tears of fury and disappointment. I had trusted Walton. As far as I knew him, I believed in his dedication to journalistic integrity. He seemed sincerely interested in keeping the story alive. It’s entirely possible, in fact probable that his intentions were honorable. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Walton earned himself a one-way ticket. He hopped onto the caboose of the Hell Train just as it was leaving the station, with Weston at the helm. Given what has happened, it’s also possible that Walton’s original claim about creative political editing was a lie, that he never told his paper what really happened, and that he continued to correspond with me in order to find other ways to assault my character. But I think the former possibility is much more likely.

Weston didn’t say so, but I think he could tell that my story was the truth, including what I had said about Walton. When I started to get upset, and told him that I planned to write and distribute this article, he began to take the situation much more seriously. Would I be interested in going on the record with his paper?

Are you serious, Weston? Why the hell would I do that? Every one of your staff I’ve come into contact with has been dishonest and corrupt. Why would I give you another opportunity to throw me to the wolves? My side of the story is posted publicly, I said. If he wants to retract his original story and tell the truth, then he can do it without my help. The Greenville News will receive a copy of this article, but they will not receive a copy of the Internal Affairs interview transcript. Nor will I communicate with them again for any reason, not if I can help it.

Besides, Weston’s manner was not that of a man dedicated to justice and journalistic integrity. He was in damage control mode. He didn’t care that his staff had lied to the public, or that they did it for political reasons, or that an innocent man was being persecuted; he cared only that I might expose the damning truth about his paper. Initially, I had considered waiting a few day to publish this article, to give Weston the opportunity to make things right. But after consideration, I rejected that plan. Weston and his staff have shown that reporting facts are not their highest priority, especially if those facts lead to unpopular conclusions. And most especially when those conclusions are unpopular with those who buy or advertise in The Greenville News.

Had The Greenville News reported the story honestly from the beginning, I may have had only to endure 17 hours in a drunk tank and an interview with Internal Affairs. Had details about what really happened been publicized, the Greenville City Council and Solicitor’s Office may have taken notice. The Solicitor has the power to refuse to prosecute my case (though Bicycle Bad Cop could arrange for his own prosecutor, not likely). The Solicitor may have looked into my case, seen the egregious violations of Civil Rights, been made aware of the potential for a 1983 Civil Rights lawsuit, and refused to prosecute. The City Council may have discovered that the letter of their curfew ordinance is illegal in numerous ways, and either terminated the ordinance or restructured it to conform to legal requirements. But none of this happened.

As a result of what did happen, I have been forced to spend hours and hours of my time defending my reputation. I’ve had to delve into the law in preparation for my preliminary hearing (Lord only knows when that will finally take place). I’ve had to begin researching the process of waging a 1983 lawsuit against the city. I’ve lost sleep and devoted so much time and emotional energy to this – when I should have been studying for the GRE, which I took this afternoon. I’ve had to do these things, because I want to live and work in this town. I’m pursuing a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and this case had made me look like a danger to children. Not to mention that the maximum sentence for my charge is six years in prison.

Nor was The Greenville News alone in ignoring the story. A few journalists have expressed some interest in my case, but no one has interviewed me, and no one has published my side of the story. Just as I organized and executed this protest by myself, for the most part I’ve been alone in defending myself. I certainly have no defenders in the local media.

Last night, I happened to meet a gentleman who worked at a local news publication. He asserted that, when reporting on criminal cases, journalists generally restrict themselves to the data contained in official police reports. This is the case even if the journalists know for a fact that the police report contains false or misleading information. They do this, he said, to avoid libel lawsuits from the city. When he told me this, it didn’t make sense to me at all, and upon further reflection, I find his comments to be potentially frightening.

For one thing, there are certainly many, many cases in which media reports extend beyond the official statement from police. Other can be interviewed, and journalists often report on events they are personally witness to. You see it on TV all the time. The media interview many people charged with crimes and allow them to tell their side of the story, often before a preliminary hearing.

But what really frightens me is this: What kind of country do we live in where media outlets are afraid to publish facts for fear of legal action by Big Brother? Does the 1st Amendment not protect the right to a free press? If this policy is widespread, then how many illegal actions by police go unreported, even though the media knows what happened, because they fear a lawsuit? There are many different forms of physical force, including the threat to confiscate property. If city, state, and federal governments are cowing the media using threats of legal action, then we are all in deep trouble.

Depending on the response of the City to my case (I plan to send my Internal Affairs transcript to every Council Member, City and County, the Mayor, and the Governor), then I may well soon write an article titled 1983. 1983 is the year prior to 1984, the year in which the fictional events of George Orwell’s famous novel take place. I fear our country is headed in that direction. 1983 is also the section of the law under which one can sue the government for Civil Rights violations. I do not want to go through that, but if that’s what I have to do to restore my reputation, I will.

To employees of The Greenville News: I hope you are ashamed of what your paper has done here. Your editorial staff allowed a man they knew was innocent to burn at the stake in the court of public opinion. When your managing editor found out about it, he did nothing until prodded with promises that the ugly truth would be revealed. Only then did he act, not out of a sense of justice, but in a knee-jerk reaction to defend his unethical organization’s reputation. Then the only seemingly honest journalist of the bunch lied to his boss to cover his ass. The conduct of your paper has been shameful in every respect, and it deserves rousing condemnation from all quarters. Please keep in mind that I will not speak to anyone at The Greenville News about my case, and that if you do speak to me, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.

Disgustedly Yours,

--Dan Edge

*Update: I was just informed that The Greenville News plans to publish another article about my case. Mr. Alongi, a reporter for The Greenville News, read to me the story he intended to publish and asked if I had any comment. I told him no, but that the story as written contained numerous factual errors. I'm pleased at least that the article refers readers to my version of events (i.e., the truth). Needless to say, this story would not exist had Weston not been prodded by concerns about his paper's reputation.

GRE -- Partial Success



I just finished taking the GRE. Official score: 1240, and I'm confident I killed both writing sections. Not as high as I would have preferred, but high enough, and about what I expected. Could I have reached the mid 1300's with more sleep and less stress? Who knows?

Next stop, Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Converse!

--Dan Edge