Friday the 13th . . .
Whoâ€™s afraid of Friday the 13th? Shoot, aint nothing but another day. Or, so I thought. Let me tell you a story about my day.
My day starts out with me waking up late and having to hurry to school. I'm a senior this year and we are just a few more weeks before graduation. As I get ready to rush out the door I realize that I'm very hungry. So, as I pass through the kitchen I grab a mango and a knife and head for the door. During my walk to school, I cut and eat the mango hoping to satisfy this ache in my stomach.
Later during the day, I stand up. And, almost immediately fall right back down. The next thing I know other students are telling me how I passed-out. Myself, I don't have a clue what they are talking about. But feeling weak I sit down outside the classroom to regain my composure. A moment or two later I am helped to the school Office where Staff try to ascertain my condition and notify my parents of my falling sick.
I left my "Book-Bag" outside the classroom and told one of the school staff about it. I was taken to the Vice Principals Office to relax and wait for a parent to come pick me up. A few minutes later the Assistant Principal is called from the office, returning a few minutes later advising me that Staff had found a knife in my "Book-Bag." This is not a big deal to me. I don't think of the knife as a weapon. I don't want to harm anybody. I am not a murderer. "It's a knife. I used it to eat my fruit." So, that's what I tell the Assistant Principal.
A few minutes later the Assistant Principal hands me a "Witness Form," telling me to prepare a statement regarding the knife found in my Book-Bag. (At this time let me tell you a little more about myself.) I have never been in trouble before. The most serious offense I have ever committed is riding a bicycle without a helmet. I have no criminal record. I do not use drugs. And, with the exception of a little experimentation about six months ago, in which I made a complete ass of myself, I do not drink alcohol. I would probably be a 4.0 Honor Roll Student if I didn't have the hormones of an eighteen year old while surrounded by a couple hundred fifteen to eighteen year old pin-up girls all day long. But that's a different story. The point I'm trying to make is, I am a good kid. I do not run with the gangs. I do not cause problems at school. Heck, I even go to Church most Sundays.
So, imagine my surprise when after taking my "Statement" in which I admit that I had brought the knife to school with me, the Assistant Principal advises me that she has contacted the Police and I am to be arrested for having possession of a weapon at school. At the time I wasn't real concerned about it. I was more concerned with my feelings of weakness and general disorientation, which shortly thereafter resulted in both the Fire Department and an Ambulance being dispatched to the school to rescue me.
My ill health, nor my parents were able to rescue me from being charged with possession of the knife. Which I still hadn't recognized the seriousness of. Okay, so I get a "ticket" and sent home with my parents, right? Wrong! Were I still Seventeen, that would be the case. But, as with many seniors, I recently turned eighteen. No Cite and Release. They informed my parents and I that I would be charged as an adult for a felony.
So school has just ended for the day. My Friday the 13th is in full motion and there's absolutely no way of stopping it. I leave the school for the day strapped on a gurney inside an ambulance on my way to a local hospital, being followed by a Sheriffâ€™s Deputy.
It is now Monday the sixteenth. I have been locked up in the local jail with a bunch of jerks that decide to mess with me all weekend. A couple even try to intimidate me in to performing sexual acts, without success. After about four hours and what will probably amount to a few thousand dollars in medical expenses, the Hospital released me to the custody of the Sheriffs Department who transported me to the local jail where I was charged with a felony count of being in possession of a weapon on school grounds. And, although I was a local resident still living at home with my parents without any prior criminal history, I was not allowed "O.R." release. Instead I was given a bail amount of five thousand dollars. I understand that this is five hundred dollars payment to a Bail Bonds, but I do not have that kind of cash. My parents are struggling to find a way to pay a 48 Hour Notice from PG&E so they do not have the ability to bail me out either. So, now I wait to appear before a Judge three days later.
Do you want to know what I'm feeling inside today? In addition to the legal prosecution I have to endure, the school has provided me a "five-day suspension" coupled with the threat of possible expulsion, which also means I probably will not graduate this year. And since I feel not only embarrassed by my arrest, but also betrayed by the Vice Principal who used my honesty against me to have me arrested, I probably will not return to school at all.
I also feel anger. Real Anger! That school campus is full of knives, bats, chains, and guns. Even the Sheriffs Deputies had knives in their possession. And granted, Police are authorized to carry guns, batons, and other tools of their trade that they train for the proper use of, and are expected to carry such upon their person while on school grounds. But, not even Police have the right to carry knives on school campuses that have a zero tolerance policy. I suspect that at least fifty percent of the adults on High School Campuses carry at least a pocket knife. So why are they not in this cell beside me?
So either I am a Student that is provided a Cite and Release and a short term juvenile record, or I am afforded the same rights as every other adult on that High School Campus, including the Police. No, they would rather leave me festering this anger in a jail cell, destroy my High School education, and leave me with the legal requirement to have to say I have been convicted of a felony on job applications for the rest of my life. They would rather leave me with the image of my mother in tears while they told her they were arresting me for this. They would rather leave me with this anger building within me, getting stronger with every rejection and failure my future will now provide me, instead of the success I could have enjoyed were it not for this foolish mistake. But, did they tell any of you where I'm going to be?
I'm going to be in your neighborhood, living on your street, growing madder and madder with each passing day. But, don't worry. You won't know me . . . And, I will not ever consider getting out of bed on Friday the 13th ever again.
Although I have fictionalized the most of this story, it is derived from a real occurrence this past Friday the 13th. And, I am offended to see the blatant disregard for a good young man. I am even further offended by the lack of justice afforded this situation, the violation of his civil rights by school officials, and the failure of our legal system to prevent the erosion of society when they not only have the capability, but the opportunity to do so. As for my fellow brothers behind the badge, you are an embarrassment with your hypocrisy.
About the Author
Rich Brunelle is a Disabled Retired Peace Officer for the State of Calafornia. If you would like to comment to him directly regarding this article, visit the Forum at http://djam-promo.com