While Barry Hinckley was inside the Ocean House wining and dining with Steve Forbes, the only man richer than Mitt Romney to run for president since Ross Perot, I was being verbally accosted outside by a security detail while the Raging Grannies sang a catchy tune.
I had shown up at the Ocean House, a posh establishment in the Watch Hill area of Westerly, to take some pictures of the Raging Grannies, who were protesting Barry Hinckley’s fundraiser. Hinckley’s exceptionally wealthy guests happened to include multi-millionaire and two-time failed Republican Presidential candidate Steve Forbes.
I had been asked if I would go down there and make sure the Grannies got some great pictures and video. A chance to be supportive of little old ladies singing protest songs about the 99% in front of one of the wealthiest individuals in the country? I thought, “Count me in!” and headed down there for what was sure to be an enjoyable time.
After taking some pictures and a little video, I decided to wander a little bit. Normally, this wouldn’t be a reason to be alarmed, but it turned out that I had unwittingly wandered onto private property– specifically, I walked into the parking lot across the street from Ocean House. Faster than you can say “DON’T TAZE ME, BRO!” I had two individuals– a man and a woman– charging toward me, demanding to know what I was doing there. I initially greeted them with a smile and a hello, not realizing they were coming at me aggressively. The woman got up in my face, yelling that she had “already told me” that I wasn’t allowed to be there.
I had never met this woman before in my life, so my gut reaction was to explain myself- I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be there, I hadn’t been told this prior to that point. She went on, threatening me, shouting that I was on private property, roaring for me to “GET OUT NOW.”
I was entirely baffled, stunned into feeling like I had to tell this woman that I was innocent, that I meant no harm, that I was just meandering. She mocked me, chiding that I wasn’t exiting the premises fast enough, demanding I get out. Was I supposed to leave entirely? Could I go back to where I was before she had decided I was some kind of horrible person, or was I being commanded to leave the entire area? Was I about to be manhandled? Arrested? I gave up trying to explain, let out a confused sound, and walked back to where the grannies were serenading the privileged American aristocracy from afar.
I’m not exactly sure what I did to provoke so much anger from this woman, but a simple “Excuse me, ma’am, you aren’t supposed to be here” would have been more than enough to elicit an apology for being in the wrong place and my immediate compliance with her rational request that I leave the area. The immediate and overwhelming aggressive posturing displayed toward an innocent citizen was more reminiscent of the modus operandi of the TSA than that of a security detail for a political candidate and his wealthy friends. And we all know how much you hate the TSA, Mr. Hinckley.
I would imagine the explanation for this person’s aggression would be that I was asking for it, that I should have known better, and that I should have immediately complied with her demands, but the truth is that I had no idea what those demands were at the time– I was too overwhelmed with her irrational behavior to understand the situation. Upon reflection, I am quite sure that if this woman had been an armed police officer, I would’ve been tazed (or worse) before I would’ve had a damn clue what she was asking of me.
What rational discourse can be had when dealing with those primarily concerned with protecting their own wealth and privilege rather than being concerned with treating the rest of us as human beings who deserve as much respect as the mighty “job creators”?