Chief, Tallahassee Police Department
cc: City commissioners
cc: Appointed officials
Gabordi, Bob firstname.lastname@example.org
Patriot Guard Riders
"Mike Donohoe" email@example.com
Re: Heavy handed Police Tactics during Kia PFC Simmons and PFC King Funeral escorts.
Please allow me to preface the following with: The Patriot Guard Riders only participate when requested to do so by the family. Once that is done, the Patriot Guard riders liaison with family and Funeral directors to insure that the "requests" of the family and the veteran are honored and respected.
We are not writing this on behalf of the Patriot Guard Riders or other Veterans Organizations.
We are writing this as local LEO is being disingenuous and continues their disrespect of veterans, their families wishes, and the community as a whole.
Some of you may remember when on, or around, 7-12-08 an e-mail campaign began protesting Local Law enforcements lack of participation in the departure, homecomings and funerals of our local veterans.
A number of excuses were given which were specious at best. Especially when we were able to counter each argument with comparisons to other Florida communities, local LEO escorts of ABATE of Florida, the FSU football team and even the FSU horse among others. It is also apparent the excuses were not applicable when Governor Christ used the departure of the 779th for a photo opp as covered by the Tallahassee Democrat on May 26, 2009 and on our site. Even family members had to take a back seat on that occasion.
As a result of the e-mail campaign many local politicians and the Tallahassee Democrat began asking questions as to local policy. Eventually both the Leon County Sheriff and the Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones agreed that they would participate in the escorts. However as the heat died down, Mr. Jones began to vacillate and restated his position as assisting with the escort of KIA's as manpower is available?
The recent actions, some of questionable legality, of local LEO relating to the escorts of PFC's Simmons and King raises a number of questions. Let us first list actions that we find questionable and unjustified.
In the past, when there are few cameras and politicians around, The Patriot Guard Riders have staged on the Airport Tarmac to establish a flag line to honor returning or departing veterans, dead or alive. We have always done so with permission from the appropriate persons. We have then established flagged escorts to escort the soldier to their destination.
KIA Pfc Simmons family requested the same honor and respect. When the PGR and other groups representing veterans, such as the Vietnam/Legacy Vets MC, and family showed up to meet the plane we were met by Law enforcement who told us we would not be allowed on the Tarmac.
The authority to refuse admission to the Tarmac was questioned as we had permission and been requested to be there.
Law enforcement the took their motorcycles onto the Tarmac and somehow the gate was locked. An employee of the business that oversees that portion of the airport came out and unlocked the gate, not knowing why it was locked. We must question the legality and the constitutionality of these actions. However the Patriot Guard Riders are a non profit organization that can not afford lawyers to protect our rights. Especially when we should be able to rely on LEO to "protect and serve". Therefor we are tasked with protecting ours and others.
The family had requested a flag escort. This again was denied by LEO as they dictated that the motorcycles flying flags should ride at in the rear (other times they have put us behind buses and trailers).
Two riders, one from the PGR and one from the Vietnam/Vets MC bearing the American Flag were able to make our way to the front of the Hearst (as requested by family). They were told by Law Enforcement Officers that they would have to move. They refused. They were again told they would have to return to the rear of the procession they again refused stating that the American Flag leads, it does not follow. LEO at that time decided not to further the issue.
This is just one of the more egregious actions taken by police in the days that followed. Including, but not limited to, the total exclusion of Riders from one of Pfc Kings processions.
Our questions would be:
*Is this some sort of "get back" by those in charge for our aforementioned e-mail campaign?
*Is this just another example of local police insuring they are seen in a positive light when cameras and officials are around as they continue to refuse help when the cameras and officials are not around?
*Is this why local Veterans groups had to take over the veterans day parade? As it did not rank as high on city/county lists as the "Spring Time Tallahassee Parade," or "Downtown Get Downs," or FSU escorts? Do these actions conform to the following found on the Tallahassee Police Chiefs Webpage?
We are recognized nationally as being the third longest accredited law enforcement agency in the country and for our programs developed to provide public safety services equally to all and to protect all citizens' civil rights.and
Partnerships between law enforcement and citizens are fundamental to Chief Jones' approach to improving community safety.
The war in Afghanistan has now surpassed the Vietnam war in length. Soldiers killed in Afghanistan have increased 75% since the 2007. The community and the families have the right and the obligation to honor and respect our heroes and insure that lessons of Vietnam are not forgotten. We will no longer abide by having our defenders of freedom relegated to the "back streets" so they won't interfere with the traffic of beach parties or shopping trips to Walmart.
We hope Officials took note of the large numbers of motorcycles and community members that showed out for Pfc Kings memorial service when it was thought the Westboro Church might arrive to disrespect a fallen soldier. What is going to happen when these same persons learn that their own officials are engaging in disrespect, albeit in a covert manner with excuses?
We have talked to the "cops in the street." Their leaders might be surprised to learn that a large percentage of them support our mission.
We would request the news media engage in some investigative journalism to help us get to the root of this problem. Only this time we would hope they would investigate the answers we know they will be given. And then ask them why they flip flop when they do. Because although the press may let the issue fall to the wayside we will not!
The wounds to this country left by the Vietnam war have not yet fully healed. To make the same mistakes today as we did then is irresponsible, especially if perpetrated by those elected to represent us. If Veterans and non veterans are coming together to insure that we do not make the same mistakes
made in the past by insuring that veterans parades are no longer relegated to back streets so as not to interfere with Walmart shopping traffic, If veterans and non veterans are coming together to march in support of those who give their lives, not for our government but for our freedom, veteran and non veteran alike, and if you can not support that and insure that it happens, then get the hell out of the way.
Because we will not back down!
We request an answer to this post. It will be found on Bigbendbikersforfreedom.com
Press may contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We hold no office with the Patriot Guard Riders and the views contained here do not necessarily
reflect the views of the Patriot Guard Riders.
NOTE: This is being sent out today. Feel free to use the addresses above or any part of this post to send your own message. If you allow somebody to walk over you they will. The two riders mentioned in the post that refused to move when directed demonstrates that the way to challenge those who would oppress you is to STAND UP TO THEM! In other word, a simple variation of Nancy Reagan's, "JUST SAY NO"Add to Technorati Favorites!