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Posts tagged "Abuse"


NOTE: To read more about what Nate and his siblings endured at the hands of their late abusive father, controversial bigot Fred Phelps, look below or click here. [TRIGGER WARNING FOR GRAPHIC CONTENT & GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF PHYSICAL & VERBAL CHILD ABUSE]

Once upon a time some very nice people, Jon Michael Bell along with Joe Taschler and Steve Fry, decided to write a story about Fred Phelps.

On June 29, 1994 Jon Michael Bell, a former reporter hired to investigate Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church by Stauffer Communications, Inc.,filed a lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, Kansas against Stauffer Communications alleging the Topeka Capital-Journal owed him compensation for overtime and to clarify ownership of his notes and work product. The work product in question, “Addicted to Hate” chronicling the life and times of Fred Phelps, was attached to the lawsuit as Exhibit A making it, therefore, a public document. Learning of the suit, members of Topeka’s anti-Phelps underground delivered a certified copy of the lawsuit to a copy shop near the courthouse.

Addicted to Hate, as reproduced here, is the full contents from Addicted to Hate of Exhibit A of the lawsuit filed in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, Kansas by Jon Michael Bell against Stauffer Communications in June of 1994, Case number 94CV766. It was transcribed into digital form during the course of the lawsuit by persons unknown, and distributed first as pamphlets and then over the internet.

Feel free to copy and distribute this important material. The authors claim no copyright. For additional background and details start with Cover and work your way forward.

Terrie Johnson was 52 years old and ready to die.

She’d known since fourth grade that she was gay, but to the conservative, Southern Baptist community in which she’d been raised, Johnson’s feelings were wrong. She lived much of her adult life in public, speaking on behalf of her church to Christian communities around the country, but she was hiding in plain sight. She’d married a man, had children—choices she doesn’t regret—but she was living a lie. Finally, she reached a point where she could no longer continue the charade. She made a plan to commit suicide. Instead, she came out of the closet.

Not all of Johnson’s family members were supportive of her revelation. Most of them weren’t. But her son, Brad, had her back. His mother’s story reminded him of someone else who had escaped an extreme religious upbringing, one far more dire: Nate Phelps, the son of “Fag”-hating Westboro Baptist Church founder, Fred Phelps. As a Kansas native, Brad had long been familiar with—and fascinated by—the hateful antics of the Topeka-based church. He’d heard about Nate, one of four of the 13 Phelps children who defected from the church, and who was speaking about his new life of LGBT activism. He wanted to tell Nate’s story and, in the process, he thought Nate’s journey could help his mother.

When the Johnsons reached out to Nate Phelps, they weren’t sure whether they’d even receive a response. Now, a little over a year later, they’re more than halfway through filming Not My Father’s Son, a documentary about the abuse that Nate and his siblings suffered at the hands of their father and how Nate finally escaped it. This week, the team created a Kickstarter campaign, with a trailer for the film and a short appeal from Terrie, clad in suspenders and a purple paisley bowtie, for donations.

“We’ve been doing this on our own time and our own dime,” Brad Johnson told The Daily Beast. “Now we’re tapped out.”

Nate Phelps ran away from home on his 18th birthday, but he’s only been speaking publicly about his abusive childhood for four years. In that time, he’s received countless emails, phone calls and letters from people who’ve been inspired by his story to deal with their own issues, be it religious abuse, LGBT equality or physical violence. After a four-hour breakfast with Brad and Terrie Johnson in Lawrence last year, Nate knew the mother-son duo were the right people to help him touch even more lives.

“They had the right frame of mind. They go to the heart of the matter, that’s why I picked them,” Nate told The Daily Beast. “My trademark is, if I can reach people’s hearts then maybe I can change their minds.”

So far, Nate is the only Phelps family member featured in the film, but he expects one of his brothers and a few of the nieces and nephews who’ve also left the church to get involved. Those that still remain involved in Westboro, however, will not be included. “We made a point of saying there is enough” coverage of the church already, Nate said. But that doesn’t mean the family Nate left behind isn’t keeping tabs on him.

Nate said he received an email Thursday night from his youngest brother, Tim, who was believed to be one of the men in line to take control of the church when Fred Phelps passed away this past March. According to Nate, the two brothers haven’t spoken in over a year, which led Nate to suspect that the church got wind of the Kickstarter.

“He called me, ‘an advocate for proud sinners,’ and wrote, ‘to get through some of my days I’m required to patiently dismantle your hypocritical fantasy world,’” Nate said of the email from his brother. “I always lead with the assumption that somehow it’s going to be different this time, but after a few emails I realize it’s not going anywhere. There is no reasoning with them, it’s just the same rhetoric they use in public. So I just let it go.”

Nate Phelps ran away from home on his 18th birthday, but he’s only been speaking publicly about his abusive childhood for four years.

Both Nate and the Johnsons hope to not only finish the film, but to distribute it to middle schools, high schools and universities throughout the country where they can reach young people who may be suffering from hatred or abuse in one form or another.

“No child should have to live through what Nate lived through,” Terrie said. “And no person should ever hate themselves to the point of being ready to die, like I was.”

In the meantime, by pursuing the project, Brad Johnson has already achieved his initial goal: providing help and support to his mother.

“Nate is good for my soul,” Terrie said. “To be with him and see the hate he has overcome to be the man that he is today, it gives me so much hope.”

…The ruling handed down by a federal judge is peppered with stinging criticism of the policies and practices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying the sheriff relied on racial profiling and illegal detentions.

The ruling is a result of a federal civil trial last summer in which Sheriff Arpaio and his office were accused in a class-action lawsuit of singling out Latinos for stops, questioning and detention. It says deputies considered the prevalence of Latinos when deciding where to carry out enforcement operations, in many cases in response to complaints based solely on assumptions that Latinos or “Mexicans,” as some complainants put it, were necessarily illegal immigrants.

Regardless of the type of enforcement — workplace raids, traffic stops or targeted patrols in areas frequented by day laborers — Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies were required to keep track of the number of people arrested on federal immigration violations, as well as state charges, Judge Snow said. In news releases, Sheriff Arpaio’s office often referred to the operations as integral parts of the sheriff’s “illegal immigrant stance.”

Cecillia Wang, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that brought the lawsuit, said, “Let this be a warning to anyone who hides behind a badge to wage their own private campaign against Latinos or immigrants that there is no exception in the Constitution for violating people’s rights in immigration enforcement.”…read more at New York Times.

After more than seven decades of exploitation and a 10-year struggle for justice, Ireland on Tuesday admitted its role in the enslavement of thousands of women and girls in the notorious Magdalene Laundry system, but stopped short of issuing a formal apology from the government.

A long-awaited report headed by Senator (Seanadóir)  Martin McAleese said there was “significant state involvement” in how the laundries were run – a reversal of the official state line for years, which insisted the institutions were privately controlled and run by nuns.

But the Irish Premier (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny’s failure to give the women and their supporters a full, formal, public apology in the Dáil on Tuesday afternoon has infuriated the victims and their supporters, who said such an approach risked undermining Ireland’s attempt to right a historic wrong. Instead Kenny stated his “regret” about the stigma hanging over the women.

“The stigma that the branding together of all the residents, all 10,000, in the Magdalene Laundries, needs to be removed, and should have been removed long before this,” Kenny said. “And I really am sorry that that never happened, and I regret that it never happened.”

Claire McGetterick of the Justice For Magdalenes group said last night: “Frankly their country has failed them again”.

Labelled the “Maggies”, the women and girls were stripped of their names and dumped in Irish Catholic church-run laundries where nuns treated them as slaves, simply because they were unmarried mothers, orphans or regarded as somehow morally wayward.

Over 74 years, 30,000 women were put to work in de facto detention, mostly in laundries run by nuns. At least 988 of the women who were buried in laundry grounds are thought to have spent most of their lives inside the institutions.

Among the key findings were:

• Over a quarter of the women, at least 2,500, who were held in the Magdalene Laundries for whom records survived were sent in directly by the state.

• The state gave lucrative laundry contracts to these institutions, without complying with Fair Wage Clauses and in the absence of any compliance with Social Insurance obligations.

• The Gardaí pursued and returned girls and women who escaped from the Magdalene institutions.

The report concluded there was no physical or sexual abuse by nuns or others on their charges, some of whom were only girls as young as 12.

Stephen O’Riordain, who made a film about the victims of the laundry system and speaks for Magdalene Survivors Together, said ex-inmates were “completely surprised” by the Taoiseach’s stance in the Dáil. “I don’t think sorry is enough for these women who were seeking a fulsome, public apology. I feel he has let us down as a leader of the country.

Established in 1922, some Magdalene laundries operated as late as 1996. Half of the women incarcerated in these institutions, which washed clothes and linen from major hotel groups and even the Irish armed forces, were under the age of 23.

The Justice for the Magdalenes group said it was time for a compensation scheme to include “the provision of pensions, lost wages, health and housing services. Magdalene survivors have waited too long for justice and this should not be now burdened with a complicated legal process or closed-door policy of compensation.”

The inquiry into the Magdalene scandal was prompted by a report from the UN Committee Against Torture in June 2011. It called for prosecutions where necessary and compensation to surviving women.

PHOENIX — A citizen’s group called Respect Arizona filed paperwork at the Maricopa County Elections Department on Wednesday to initiate a recall effort against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The group would need to gather 335,317 signatures by May 30 of this year in order for the county to call a special election for the sheriff’s office.

Several Republican figures are at the center of the effort to recall Arpaio, who has been re-elected to his post six times since 1993. Williams James Fisher, the chairman of Respect Arizona and a Republican attorney, is expected to announce the recall effort at press conference Thursday morning.

Arpaio narrowly won re-election last November with 50.7 percent of the vote, after a strong voter registration campaign lead by Latinos took place countywide to oust him from office. His campaign war chest had over $8 million dollars, most of it coming from out of state. 

Over the last five years, the self-proclaimed “America’s toughest” sheriff rose to notoriety due to his immigration sweeps in Latino neighborhoods and his raids in businesses that hire undocumented laborers.

Those actions put him at the crosshairs of civil rights lawsuits alleging racial profiling – one brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, and another filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which is awaiting a federal judge ruling.

Arpaio has also been criticized for his role in misspending $100 million in taxpayer dollars from a jail tax fund that was used to conduct investigations on political enemies and on immigration enforcement, rather than on jails. 

Another scandal, one that drove many Republican voters away from Arpaio during the last election, involved the mishandling of investigations of over 400 sexual crimes against children.

h/t: AlterNet

Carmen Robles has a beef with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A 15-year-old sophomore at Tempe High School just outside of Phoenix, Robles is a straight-A student and, thanks to C.S.I., an aspiring forensics analyst who chats happily about her trip last year to see a cadaver at Grand Canyon University. She’s also an undocumented immigrant, from Tempe by way of Nogales, Mexico, who came to the United States with her mom eight years ago on a tourist visa and never left. Over the last three years, as Arpaio’s stepped up his crusade against undocumented immigrants, they’ve started to feel the squeeze: “She’s giving taxes to the government and they’re still trying to take her away,” Robles says.

So Robles has decided to get even. A few months ago, she joined Adiós Arpaio, a union-backed effort aimed at registering Latino voters in Maricopa. Hanging out at shopping malls and low-rider car expos, Robles and her 300 fellow volunteers—almost all Latino high school students—have registered more than 34,000 voters. Now Robles spends most school nights in navy blue nurse scrubs and Chuck Taylors, going door to door in Tempe housing developments to make sure people send in their ballots.

Since winning office two decades ago on an anti-corruption platform, Arpaio has never been reelected by fewer than 12 points. But thanks to a handful of wrongful death lawsuits, allegations of massive civil rights violations, a quixotic birther investigation, and $100 million in misspent funds, Democrats and activists in Maricopa County believe they finally have the votes to throw out America’s most controversial lawman. As Daria Ovide, Adiós Arpaio’s communications director, puts it, the difference between this election and the last one is “we’ve had four more years of the sheriff making an ass out of himself.”

With five days to go until the election, the race is slated to go down as one of the most expensive sheriff’s races in American history, largely on the basis of Arpaio’s $8 million war chest. But against any other candidate, Democratic challenger Paul Penzone’s $530,000 would have been a state record. And anti-Arpaio groups have built a ground game from scratch with help from national groups like the AFL-CIO and UNITE Here ($500,000 in seed money), and found a candidate with compelling credentials who can appeal to Latinos and white suburbanites alike.

Penzone, a 45-year-old veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, is in many ways a natural foil for Arpaio. Trim and young-looking with close cropped black hair, he draws a natural contrast with Arpaio, a 80-year-old with an expanding paunch and a comb-over that looks glued-on. The policy differences are just as stark.

While Arpaio’s office was publicly shamed for mishandling 400 sexual abuse cases—many involving women in predominantly Latino neighborhoods—and forming a Cold Case Posse to investigate President Obama’s birth certificate, Penzone earned his stripes tracking down child molesters and reopening actual cold cases as part of the region’s Silent Witness program. Like Arpaio, Penzone has a fondness for television cameras, regularly appearing as a law enforcement analyst on cable news programs.

"I’ve never had a problem with him personally, but professionally I just felt that his practices were more about sensationalism than law enforcement," Penzone says during an interview at Leisure World, a sprawling Mesa retirement community where he was campaigning. "It’s gotten to the point where he misrepresents what law enforcement stands for and does a disservice to all those people that put their lives on the line to protect others."

Penzone says that Arpaio’s budget mismanagement would leave him no choice but to keep the county’s infamous Tent City jail open, but he’d overhaul its operations to crack down on abuse (according to a federal lawsuit, Arpaio’s guards use terms like “Mexican bitches" to refer to Latino inmates). He says he’d put less of an emphasis on immigration raids and pay more attention to violent crimes, like human trafficking. "We used less force to catch drug dealers who had weapons, money, and drugs, than the sheriff does when he goes to a restaurant or a maid service to arrest a few workers who are undocumented," Penzone says.