Only as an urban resident — Ep. 7
It’s Tuesday morning. I normally wake up 20 minutes before I have to be at work because I can get ready in 12 minutes and walk to work in 6.5 minutes with 1.5 minutes to spare. Today I am up a couple hours early. I text my office manager that I will visit the District Attorney at 9 a.m. to try and file a “stay away” order for Shihiem. I text my team members to give them a heads up. I email my boss and other site managers to let them know my situation. The cascade of emails that follows is supportive and encouraging.
I am thankful I have non-clinical time scheduled this morning, that my employer is understanding with these types of situations, and that missing a couple hours of work does not affect my livelihood.
I arrive at the DA’s office before 9. The nice lady at the raw juice bar tells me it’s locked until 9 on the dot. I order a drink, then hope I don’t have an allergic reaction to the celery in it.
At 9 I take a number and start filling out a form. The nice officer receiving the forms comes out to talk to the couple in line before me. This couple explains they are being harassed by the man next door. He waved a hot barbeque pick in the woman’s face and threatened her, “Imma get you!” He is rude, loud, and involved with drugs. The couple has the police involved, as well as licensing & inspection. They seem to have covered all their bases. They have a police report number. They want to file a private criminal complaint and serve their neighbour [restraining order] papers.
The officer explains that the DA cannot do anything because the man did not actually commit a crime. The threat was too vague. The couple needs to keep calling the police. The couple can try going to L&I again for the neighbour’s housing violations.
I listen to all of this and figure the odds of serving papers to Shihiem are slim. The officer is still willing to hear my story and attempt to advise me.
“Again, we only handle criminal cases, in which a crime has been committed. Harassment is considered a summary, which is less than a misdemeanor.”
Basically there is no prevention, just damage control. Kinda like how nobody flosses. 🙁
“A terroristic threat has to be something like, I’m gonna shoot you, or I’m gonna blow you up. I’m gonna get you could mean I’m gonna get you flowers!”
Note to self: next time someone threatens me, ask him or her to be very specific. 🙁
“You could potentially sue him for damaging your property.”
I love litigation! Riiiiiight. 🙁
“He’s homeless? We can’t serve him papers if he doesn’t have an official address where the cops can find him.”
Afraid of getting served? Just move to the streets! Ugh!
So maybe the purpose of this experience was to empathize better with my community, and endure our broken justice system together. I chose to live here (or God did), whereas many of my neighbours cannot afford to live elsewhere. I know God doesn’t promise perfect justice here on this broken earth. It is unsettling to know that where I came from, the police will come when called, and they are not too busy/overworked/understaffed/tired/jaded to address harassment cases. On the flip side, we’ve come a long way from the guillotine, which is still unfortunately a reality in other places.
Lord, Thy kingdom come!