Sometimes I miss being an optimist
by Dennis E. Florian
I never used to be like this, you know. Once upon a time, I was the most laid back guy you could ever have met. I existed in tie-dye, played the guitar, wrote sappy poetry, grew my hair down to my beltline and even worked for Greenpeace for a while. In other words, I was a close to a hippie as you can get without being stoned. And I’ve still got the stack of old Grateful Dead tapes to prove it.
I’d be lying (to myself as much as you) if I weren’t to say that there are a great many things that change someone from the man they were to the one they are. I’m no different that way. But I can honestly say that, more than any other single thing, it was the Firearms Act — and what it did to my country — that put the most work into making the cynical bugger who bangs out the stuff on these pages. The fear and loathing that it introduced into the culture of my birth has been the greatest test to the strength of my faith in my fellow man.
But that’s not what I’m here to write about today. Go figure.
No; chronicling my long trek from the optimism of my youth to the cynicism of my present would have to be a long (and likely brain-damagingly boring) other post altogether. The only reason I bring it up at all is because, despite the grinding, Sysiphus-esque nature of my journey to cynicism, nothing in it could have prepared me for learning what happened to Jessie Sansone.
You might not know who Jessie is. Well, you should.
Jessie is a 26 year-old father of 4 who lives in Kitchener, Ontario with his wife, his kids, and maybe a dog/cat or three. Like a lot of other people, Jessie had a brush with the law, of the teenaged-stupidity variety, a few years ago but has kept his nose thoroughly clean ever since. So clean, in fact, that he’s now a certified PSW (personal support worker) and was offered a job as a councilor at his children’s school by the principal. But Jessie’s still a bad, scary man anyways.
We know this because, not so long ago, when he went to pick up his children from Forest Hill Public School he got summoned to the principal’s office! (oh, the memories that brings back – I wonder if he had a strap waiting?) Waiting for him in the office were not just the principal, but no less than three Kitchener cops. Jessie was promptly busted, hauled downtown and strip searched (for “officer safety” – I kid you not). Nobody bothered to tell him why any of this was going on, but that’s okay; they didn’t tell his wife either, not even when they hauled her downtown and Family and Children’s Services showed up to kidnap interrogate “interview” the kids.
“Nobody was given any explanation,” said his wife, Stephanie Squires. “I didn’t know why he was being arrested. “He had absolutely no idea what this was even about. I just kept telling them, ‘You’re making a mistake.’”
So obviously, something’s going on here, right? As you can plainly see, Jessie, pictured to the right (without the pink shirt) is obviously an Evil Man® who does Evil Things™.
You can just tell. So could the cops.
They could tell because… wait for it… his 4 year-old daughter, Neaveh, had drawn a picture of a man with a gun. When asked who the man was, she said he was her daddy. When asked what Daddy was doing with the gun, she explained that he used it to scare away “bad guys and monsters.”
She drew a comic strip with her dad playing the part of the hero. Off with his head.
After getting the rubber glove treatment and several hours in the pokey, somebody (his lawyer, it turns out) finally got around to telling him that he was being charged with possession of a firearm. What gun, where? Who knows; who cares, right? Lock the bastard up and throw away the key.
The fact that he didn’t have a gun (never owned one in his life, so far as I can tell) didn’t matter worth a tinker’s dam. And really, why should it? I mean, come on now, they’ve got a picture and everything! What else could they possibly need? Evidence? Are you nuts??
“I’m picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I’m locked up,” Jessie Sansone, 26, said Thursday. “I was in shock. This is completely insane. My daughter drew a gun on a piece of paper at school.”
Several hours later, a detective apologized and said he was being released with no charges. After he was released, Sansone was asked to sign a paper authorizing a search of his home. He signed, even though he didn’t have to, he said. Poor guy was probably still reeling, trying to figure out just what the hell it was that just happened to him. The cops went on to toss his house and didn’t find a damn thing.
Unless you count a cap gun. Really.
It gets worse
The worst part of this is that there is NO remorse at all on the part of the “authorities,” only ass-covering. But the detective apoligized, right?
So what? They still ransacked his home and consider this: NOBODY is saying that they did ANYTHING wrong. The school, the cops, children’s services — they’re all singing from the same Nuremberg Defense “we followed procedure” song sheet. Which is just another way of saying that, given the chance, they’d gladly do it all over again, knowing full well that what they’re doing is wrong.
“From a public safety point of view, any child drawing a picture of guns and saying there’s guns in a home would warrant some further conversation with the parents and child,” said Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services.
And yes, they DID know it was wrong. This wasn’t some random guy; this was someone they knew well enough to offer a permanent councilor’s job to. He is a certified personal support worker and life-issues coach, who often works at Kitchener schools, including Forest Hill. The teacher never even bothered to ask little Neaveh if her daddy actually had a gun or not. I wonder if they checked the registry first?
Read more, if you can stomach it:
- Kitchener man strip-searched after daughter draws picture of gun CityNews
- Man arrested after daughter draws picture of gun TheSpec
- Cops Arrest Dad After Daughter Draws Gun at School Guns & Ammo
- Arrest over daughter’s gun sketch a case of vigilance and too much zeal National Post
- Police arrest and stripsearch innocent man after child doodles a gun National Post
- Ont. dad arrested after daughter draws picture of gun: Reports TO Sun
- Ont. man arrested after daughter draws pictures of toy gun Ottawa Citizen
FINAL NOTE: It was unclear whether officials searched for the monsters Neaveh mentioned as well — which we’re sure are more of a public threat than any handgun — a nonexistent one, at that. We’ll see what we can find out…