Posted by: joshjasper | May 28, 2009

Straight outta’ Creston

Recently I wrote about the 2 police officers that were sentenced to prison for raping a woman in Creston Iowa.  I received an e-mail last night from the director of the rape crisis center in that community stating that some very disturbing things are now taking place since the trial.

To begin, someone last night went through the entire town hanging up orange ribbons on telephone poles, signs, and windows as a sign of support for the officers found guilty of raping a woman.  The ribbons were also found lining both sides of the street where the survivor lives; serving as a bulls eye for any and all hate that other members of the town could spew in her direction.  Keep in mind these ribbons are much the same as the yellow ribbons used for people waiting for veterans to return home from war.  Are there seriously people living in this town that have equated a man or woman fighting in a war to 2 men that brutally raping a woman and going to prison?  Are they actually waiting for these men to be released to celebrate their homecoming?

Imagine if you can, the absolute horror that this woman must feel living in a town of 7,500 people that have littered the streets with support for the men that have taken so much from her to begin with.  How could you possibly feel comfortable leaving the house?  And what about the police offers that remain that have made efforts to verbalize their support for the men found guilty of this crime?  Who are these people?  What happened to the oath that these men swore when becoming officers to uphold the law?

Oh, and by the way, the rape crisis center and domestic violence shelter in this community continue to receive death threats from community members since the 2 men were found guilty…death threats!

UPDATE: I just received notice that many of the men in Creston are shaving their heads in support of the police officers.  You see, during the survivor’s statement, she mentioned that she now feared men with shaved heads because one of the men that raped her had a shaved head.

“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.  That’s the signpost up ahead -your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

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Responses

  1. I never heard about this until today reading your blog. Stuff like this makes me sick to my stomach. I dont understand what goes through peoples head when they do this.(Both the rape & the supporters) But from the way it sounds i am sure the officers have told there familys and friends a whole different story. So of course people are going to show support to there friend or family member when the dont know the truth.

  2. I agree Chad. I can only imagine the other side of the story. It’s crazy to think that people like this are out there and they can be your neighbor, your friend, or even the guys that are paid to enforce the laws.

  3. I had to look up Creston after your 1st post to see what size town it was. Two police on trial + 8 in support is 10 police officers in a town of 7600 — that must be the entire force. Scary, but not surprising. The militarization of our police and the cultivation of the “us vs them” mindset within departments is only going to lead to more incidents like this.

    Not that it really matters, but the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” actually is about welcoming someone home from prison. Just some trivia.

    (OK, I just looked it up — the dept is 12 officers. The mayor says, “We have a great nucleus of police officers. The guys hung together really well through all this… I think morale is good. The community’s respect for the police department is increasing.”

    I don’t think the 2 that weren’t at the trial are the nucleus he’s referring to. Were they only not there because they were on duty, I wonder…).

  4. B-

    Love your new e-mail address by the way. And of course I know I can count on your investigative curiosity to learn more. What’s crazy is that I later found out that officers from neighboring communities were also present.

    The mayor later today demanded all ribbons be removed from public property and our state coalition has notified the Attorney General’s office to look into what the town is doing.

    The ribbons are now being posted on businesses.

  5. Well now that the ribbons are stripped off of public property and located primarily on business…it’s kind of like a voluntary scarlet letter to easily locate the creeps. It’s should be expected that evil=stupid.

  6. Jody-

    Well put and a great reminder of who we are dealing with.

  7. Chad’s response really got me thinking and reflecting. In March my uncle (he was to also be the lector in my wedding last month) shot his ex-girlfriend multiple times. This was obviously a total shock to my entire family which led to many feelings that I never thought I would encounter. As I talked to more people I realized that my family was going through an actual grieving period over the lost life of my uncle whom we all love. These feelings were strange since we had relationships with both the perpetrator and the victim. At first my feelings were turned toward my uncle and feeling terrible for the life that he will not longer get to live as a free man. However, as the months have passed, I have begun to feel anger and my feelings have now shifted towards the victim (who is home recovering now, thank God!)

    I guess what I am getting at is that I truly hope that this entire community will someday come to their wits and understanding and eventually see things from all sides. I have now officially been on both ends of the spectrum. Although they may have heard a skewed side of the story it is the responsibility of ALL people to have the value systems and morals to know and see what is right and wrong.

    I am glad that the police officers were sentenced to do their time since I think it is all too often that many people are viewed to be beyond the system and get special treatment. I think it really shows that education is the key. Godspeed to the victim and the family and I hope that the officers also get the treatment they need as well as find in themselves a way to learn and be empathetic to the victims as well as the community family that they have hurt.

  8. JP-

    Thank you for sharing. I absolutely can empathize with your experience. As you mentioned, sometimes it can be difficult for people to see what is right and what is painfully wrong. It is my hope as well that the Creston community can move beyond their initial response, and begin to rally behind the woman that was assaulted. It can be a hard pill to swallow to accept the fact that “it” does in fact happen in your community, and that it so often is done by the people you trust the most. It would be a lot easier for all of us if the people that perpetrated violence were some hideous monsters with hunched backs and had three eyes. Sadly though, the reality is much the opposite.

  9. Should we go set up in the park and do a production of The Vagina Monologues in Creston? They could all use a little education. On a more serious note (not that I’m not serious) would anyone like to go to Creston and walk into every place with ribbons and have a conversation? And hang ribbons along side to show our support to the victim…she probably needs it.

  10. Josh, as an employee of Riverview, this sickens me. It also makes me glad I don’t live in Creston. I think the educational work that we all do every day can be tough enough at times . . . the flip side of that is that I want to jump in my car, drive to Creston, and start educating because the people in that town so desperately need it.

    I feel absolutely horrible for the victim, of course. But also for the staff at the rape crisis center and DV center there, as well as members of the community who are NOT supporting these two officers. It is difficult to have a voice when all around you is hatred and lies.

  11. I’m with Chrissy..l.et’s roll!

  12. Chrissy, Jody, and Dawn-

    Thanks for the support. I will keep you posted as to what we can do to support the woman in Creston. The agency there is working hard to identify how to best support her and her family during this time.


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