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Knowing the Klan

Ku_Klux_Klan_Virgina_1922_Parade
Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade.
Picture credit: Public Domain, Library of Congress

 

Yesterday on our news was the story of a person who had been run out of office in one small town near us, only to show up in another.

He left and moved to a place just down the road a bit.

The causation for this furor was over his association and/or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

This same group has made the news here repeatedly in the past few years.

We came here in 2004 and had a friend who unknown at first to us, was the son of a former Grand  Dragon of the Florida Klan.

This man was gentle, kind and sweet and had many friends.

It was hard to learn about his father.

We both have very strong feelings about the Klan, who even today still throw flyers into yard’s in mostly Black neighborhoods here in Central Florida, encouraging people to join them.

The papers are put into plastic bags with rocks in them.

Years ago in a College class about silent films, my instructor showed a film, The Birth of a Nation and implied that the Klan was, in the beginning, not just about hate, murders and hangings.

It was more about doing good for those in the South who had been ravaged by the Civil War.

As I read about it now, I can see that this is not the case, at all.

When it began in the 1860’s, it may indeed  have had more altruistic ideas, but as the years went on, these quickly faded and were replaced with those closer to what we now know as the Klan today.

On another personal note, years ago my best friend in California moved to Mississippi.

We were both pretty unhappy about this.

It was not her choice, her husband was from there and wanted to go back home.

To say that she was upset about the radical cultural changes in her life, was an understatement.

She was from California and the difference between the two states in so far as racism and race relations was/is huge, actually, it was more like a chasm.

On my first trip there to see her years later, I was shocked, dismayed and appalled at what I saw.

It was like the Civil War had never happened.

Too many of the local people looked as if all of their hope had been taken away and they were simply trying to just get through life, day by day.

There is one film that for me, best defines what it is like for many African-Americans living there,  or what the state has been like for entirely too many years: Mississippi Burning.

Think you know the Klan?

Think it is gone?

Think again.

As long as there is hate and fear of the differences between color and race, they will always be here, in fact they will flourish.

Those who belong to the Klan are cowards and their hate is what binds them together.

Only education, understanding and acceptance can change this.

These are the things that the Klan are most afraid of, and it is how we can change and defeat them forever.

 

Places to learn more:

Ku Klux Klan

Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school

Police in Fla.’s “Friendly City” were KKK members

The Legacy of Harry T. Moore

Ku Klux Klan in Florida

 

 

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Lost Among Us~

Mentalillness
Mental Illness
Picture credit: Chitrapa

 

Once again, splashed repeatedly all over every News Channel, is a story about a person with a mental illness, who has attacked innocent strangers in a public place and then lost their own life.

This latest tragedy was done by a homeless person who has been in and out of places where he should have been kept, safe.

Safe for him, safe for the rest of us.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and should never have been released into an unsuspecting community, who could neither help, nor understand his pain and anguish, nor his propensity for uncontrollable or violent outbursts.

The last two places that I have lived, California and Connecticut, have for all intents and purposes, shut down and/or closed nearly all of their outpatient, or public mental facilities.

Access to good Psychiatric treatment has been greatly reduced around the Country, but for the indigent, it basically no longer exists.

Persons who are unable to cope, or deal with the everyday challenges of life outside of a safe facility, are now being put out onto the streets, where they have no clue as to what to do.

These mentally ill people are admitted, kept for a short time and then because of budget cuts across the United States, released back out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

This is difficult enough to do with normal brain function, but for one that is nearly incapacitated, or badly impaired, as well as homeless, they are left to just wander around among us, lost and not understanding what is happening to them, or why.

We have endless money to send a huge military force all over this planet and spend billions on War, and all that is connected to it, but when it comes to those who are poor or afflicted, we often show little compassion or concern.

We must take care of our sick and desperate people, or there will continue to be tragedies in Theatres and Schools and the Workplace.

These wretched souls quite often cannot ask for help, as many of them do not understand that they are ill.

What they need is care, medications, kindness and a safe place to live in.

At any given moment, ” There but for the Grace of God, go you or I.”

Any one of us could be just one devastating accident, illness or mugging away from an impaired mental state, or permanently diminished capacity.

We should know better and do better, for them, for us.

No one should be alone and lost among us.

 

Places to learn more:

 
Schizophrenia

Police: Assailant in latest movie theater attack was homeless, had psychological issues

Police Kill Suspect in Theater Attack in Nashville

Antioch Movie Theater Shooting in Nashville a ‘Suicide by Police’?

911 call describes Tennessee theater attack: ‘He pulled out a gun and we all ran’

 

 

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Can You See My Pain?

schizophrenia
How the world feels like with schizophrenia
Picture credit: Craig Finn

 

Watching the horrific story unfolding yesterday at FSU brought back memories, that I was sure had long ago been sent to an unretrievable place in my mind.

The young man who opened fire at the College Library had recently done some, according to neighbors, out of character, or extremely odd things, giving those near to him an insight, a clue as to what was coming.

But that only would have helped them help him, if they had been aware of the signs, or signals, that predict, or point to violent behavior.

If you have been here for a while, you know that many years ago, I was treatment Nurse in a California Rehab Center for four years.

It was the most rewarding, most fulfilling time of my life.

During those four years, some  of the 125 patients at the facility became close to me.

One in particular was especially dear and we had many memorable conversations.

This young man was a college student who had attempted to take his own life,  by jumping off of  the roof of a building at  the same school that my three children and I were attending at the time.

Although his effort to end his life failed, he was ultimately hospitalized and became one of my patients.

Over time, this sweet, soft-spoken boy/man learned to trust me and opened his heart and thoughts to me.

Some of the things that he said, were never really confirmed, Google and computers would be years away.

So, I had no real way to prove, or disprove, the explanations he gave for his past behavior that he shared with me.

On several occasions, he told me that the greatest time of risk for mental breakdowns, at least he believed for males, was during late puberty, around the ages of 18-20, which is when it happened to him.

He also said that those with higher IQ’s, who were under great pressure in College or other, with  little or no strong family support to absorb some of it,  were usually the most at risk.

The powerful surge of hormones, during this period of time, he explained could cause those with a propensity for mental, or emotional trouble,  to  ” go over the edge,” as he did.

I listened to him every day, telling his stories and sharing his thoughts, with no clue as to what was to come.

He seemed fairly well-adjusted to the facility at the time and seemed to function well and interact with others.

I had no way of knowing that what I saw was an act.

He was not truly adjusting to the environment and was apparently still extremely unhappy.

This sweet young man finally succeeded at ending his life.

I came in to work one morning and the reaction of the other staff, was the giveaway that something terrible had happened.

The Charge Nurse came to me and consoled me about what he had done.

Overnight, he, like Robin Williams had recently apparently done, hung himself with his belt.

I was completely overcome with grief because I felt guilty.

I had been close to him and failed to see what was going on.

To this day, I have never forgotten him or what he did..

Seeing the young man yesterday and what happened to him brought it all rushing back.

This young man who went on a shooting Rampage at FSU yesterday,  like my patient so long ago, apparently had much of the same conditions in his life as well.

Many of these shootings, or what appear to be random killings, are not being done by hardened, career, or violent criminals in  recent years.

Consider the Sandy Hook shootings.

They are being committed by troubled souls many of whom come from what seems to be good families without any financial troubles.

For me, one thing that they all seem to have in common, is that they needed to get to someone and they frequently do attempt to reach out, but in most cases,  too late.

If there is any lesson in these tragic stories that just keep repeating, it is that if we, that is you and me, don’t get involved when a little alarm or bell goes off in our heads, we must bear at least some part of the blame for what they ultimately do to themselves and others, for not speaking up,  or acting on it.

When my particular young man was sharing and baring his soul to me, I was quite new to the environment of a Mental Health Facility.

I spent the entire time in a room and they were brought to me for their treatments.

I was not expected to be involved in any other part of their care.

Had I had years of training, hopefully I would have picked up better on any clues that he may have been sharing with me and possibly have intervened or stopped him.

I will never really never  know if I could have or not.

But, what I do know,  is that he is always right here in my heart and I wish I could have done more.

Like the young man yesterday at FSU, I wish that someone could have reached him somehow and helped him.

Today, as you go through your normal daily routine, will you think of these young men and all of the others like them?

Every day, someone, somewhere, is asking for help and no one hears them.

They could be a neighbor,  a co-worker, a relative, a friend, or just an ordinary person that we see everyday and if you look into their eyes, perhaps you may see a clue.

I truly believe that they want us to know that they need help, but don’t always know how to say it, or ask for it.

We must all try to be better listeners.

They are speaking to us and asking:

Can you see my pain?

 

Places to learn more:

Reports on FSU Shooter Describe Sudden Mental Deterioration, No History of Violence

Gunman at Florida State Spoke of Being Watched 

Police: Gunman killed after shooting at FS

Officials reveal details about FSU gunman

Shooter was FSU grad, ex-prosecutor ‘in crisis’

Schizophrenia – Wikipedia

 

 

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Monsters of Marianna

FlaIndusSchBoys
The Florida Dozier School for Boys in Marianna
Dining hall construction with “White House” in background, 1936
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

This story has been percolating in my head and heart since we moved down here nearly ten years ago,

it is not about Florida Wildlife it is about Florida Monsters.

But just like the Wildlife here that I am devoted to writing about, these children also had no voice.

If you blink as you drive West on Interstate 10 near Tallahassee in the Panhandle of Florida, you might miss Marianna.

This is a sleepy little town, that until we moved here and began seeing the News stories, had held only one memory,  it was the town where we always stopped to eat at a place called Po – Folks.

Po – Folks  has  great country-style southern comfort food and a really friendly staff.

Absolutely nothing there, or anything that you see as you drive through, could possibly tell you about the dark, ugly secret this town once had.

Now when I think of Marianna, it will forever be because of the horrible, hideous stories continuously being splashed across our TV News Stations.

You see in  Marianna,  there used to be what is called a Bad Boys, or Reform School and it was said to be the biggest one in the entire United States.

You know, the kind of place where troubled children get sent to because no one can control them, or worse, wants them.

Some of them were orphans, others were just confused and needed guidance and help.

This House of Horrors  is/was called the Dozier Boys School and it was also a  place of torture, abuse and death for many who were sent there.

It is also said that the KKK were very much a part of the crimes here.

The school was opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 amid a flurry of accusations, threats and lawsuits.

Then Governor Crist had it all investigated, but as usual in this place called the racially oppressed and color divided State of Florida, this ugly mess was claimed to not have enough, or sufficient evidence to go further.

Those in control stepped out, hopeful it would all go away.

But not so fast, some survivors started making a lot of noise and some people were listening to their stories, better yet they were believing them.

It has been reported that almost 100 children died while this school was in operation.

Then several years ago a team of Anthropologists from USF in Tampa went to Marianna and began a dig.

The Dig team was led by Associate Professor and Forensic Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, who had known about the school and wanted to see if something could be found.

Because my field of Education at College was in Anthropology and the majority of my Nursing experience was at a State Rehab Center in California, this story was of great personal interest.

One of the many sad  things about this story,  is the name that was given to the place where so much of the abuse happened, it was called the White House.

So, the survivors of this school nightmare, call themselves the White House Boys and they are determined to not only expose the crimes, but to shine a bring light on what happened there.

This time, they want to see justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators, if any are still alive.

These few survivors of unspeakable abuse want, need, to be assured that this can and will never happen again, anywhere.

The White House Boys also want an apology, as well as, who can blame them, compensation from those who kept the secrets of the Monsters of Marianna.

 

Places to learn more:

Read the Full USF PDF  Report here:  Dozier School Report

Florida School for Boys – Wikipedia

THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS SURVIVOR’S ORGANIZATION CORP

Florida to exhume bodies buried at former boys school

Remains of 2 more boys identified at closed Florida boys school

Boy missing since 1940 identified at closed Florida boys school

Florida’s Dozier School For Boys: A True Horror Story

Abuses at infamous Florida boys reform school even more widespread, report says

 

 

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Not Working

Wattsriots-burning
The Watts Riots in LA in 1965
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

I have been watching the News for the past week with a very heavy heart,  as each day, as the events unfold in Ferguson, painful, ugly and difficult memories are brought back.

What is happening there,  is in many ways quite similar to what we in LA and the surrounding areas experienced with Rodney King, in the 1990’s.

And both of these are entirely too much like the LA Riots in Watts in the 1960’s.

Then there was the Trayvon Martin murder, here in Orlando and the Trial and the verdict that once again met with violent public reaction and out cries everywhere.

All of these tragic events, these sad places,  have touched my life, none in a good way.

That  week in  August of 1965 during the Watts Riots,  was a time of total violence and great turmoil and no one liked what was happening.

Few were sure, including the law enforcement, as to how to find a solution before the City was left in ashes.

In time, it did stop, but not before the deep scars were in place and bitter memories that would last for many, a lifetime.

Next came Rodney King, only this time it was brought right to my own front yard.

The Trial for those who brutalized King was held in my town of Simi Valley.

It was all such an ugly time for a tiny peaceful place.

It seemed to drag on forever and then the verdict came, that no one was prepared to handle, especially the Police.

I left West LA that day and drove towards home, wondering what may lie ahead.

I could not have been prepared for what came next.

As I tried to get off of the Freeway at my Exit, which was for the time of day that it was, unusually backed up onto the Freeway.

When I finally got to the bottom of the ramp, I saw why.

Every single car there was being stopped and examined by a uniformed patrolman, who asked to see ID proving that the person driving did indeed, live in this particular neighborhood.

This was a disturbing, frightening and very unpleasant experience.

My house was about a mile from the freeway and the troubled exit, but only two blocks from the hysterical scene that was happening at the Court House.

It looked like a war zone, or a movie set.

There were huge crowds of onlookers, countless TV crews, Police cars, SWAT crews, my God it was all just terrifying.

But our small town’s terror was about to be unleashed on all of the City, as the turmoil that day in Simi, quickly spread to all of LA and once again, as in the 60’s with Watts, the violence, looting, shootings and arrests, were soon out of control.

When it thankfully began to calm down many days later, we all wondered how and why this could just keep happening.

Why was it always black and white, white police, black victims?

Now once again, in Ferguson, this Country is experiencing another Racially inspired reaction, to what is now being called a racially motivated murder and the results are, as before, violent, dangerous, out of control crowds, venting their frustrations and setting the stage once again, for probably another ugly Trial.

God help us, why can’t we stop this pattern?

Why don’t we learn?

What will it take for this Country to mend our Racial wounds, to stop the Violence and to stop the Hate?

Why are so many, who should know better, doing all of the wrong things?

Governors, Police Chiefs, Judges, Lawyers,  everyone who should and could be using their years of wisdom and experience to calm things, seem to only be pouring fuel onto the already out of control fires.

For the lack of a better explanation, it seems that too often, these people care more about their political careers and futures, than doing what is right, or best, for what is happening right now.

Perhaps it is time for an uninvolved neutral, or third-party, to get involved in these kinds of tragedies because those who should know better and behave better, really could use some better ideas.

The ones they are using now, are just not working.

 

Places to learn more:

Watts Riot

Rodney King trial verdict announced

Shooting of Trayvon Martin

Governor Nixon orders National Guard to Ferguson

 

 

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Afghan Faces

Afghanistan Female_soldier_tries_to_reach_out_to_Afghan_women_during_Eid

Top Picture credit: Davric

Bottom Picture credit:  Master Corporal Angela Abbey, Canadian Forces Combat

 

These are the faces of women from half way around the world who are afraid.

And, unless you have been there, it is unlikely that you may know what is happening to them.

As this is a new Blog,  my intention is not to begin with alarming or shocking information.

This story was in my email several days ago and I held off writing about it for a bit.

Now that this Blog has been initiated, I feel that the time is right to share this.

How do  you feel about this?

Let’s talk.

It appears that a new law has recently been passed  in Afghanistan that would allow,
or at least not punish men, for abusing their wives, children or sisters.

It is very difficult living in this country,  to even imagine that this can still be happening,
anywhere, but it is.

I feel only slightly embarrassed to be continually whining about the fact that the ERA still
has not passed here in Florida after learning about this.

So, here are the stories, and they have been written about in many, many publications.

Please tell me what your feelings are about this?

New Afghanistan law to silence victims of violence against women

Afghanistan: Reject New Law Protecting Abusers of Women       

 

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