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An article out of Palos Park, Illinois has me wondering, WHAT IF?
Apparently some parents waiting at a school bus stop had noticed what they termed a suspicious red Hyundai passing by the bus stop several times that week.
What made this car look suspicious or out of place I’m not sure, there must be thousands of red Hyundais’ out there on the roads. It’s unclear from the article exactly how things unfolded but someone, a parent or the school district contacted the police.
Police followed up on the call and determined that the person in the red Hyundai was a registered sex offender.
Police were on this registrant “like white on rice”, stopping him and questioning him even though he had committed no crime. According to the police, this was the registrant’s “version” of the story.
Yes, he was a registrant. Yes, he was driving his red Hyundai. Yes, he took this route to and from his job.
Notice how the police didn’t refer to the parents report as a “version” of the story. In fact, according to the police, “the parents were being alert and vigilant, they saw something that looked out of place ( a red Hyundai on the road?) and did what they were supposed to do”.
After the incident or non-incident, I’m not certain what you would call this, the school superintendent asked parents to be “extra” vigilant of suspicious activity at bus stops, all bus drivers in the area were advised of the event. Police went so far as to notify the two school districts that the registrant travels between from his home to his job of his very existence.
The registrant had done nothing wrong, he had made no attempts to interact with children at the bus stop, he hadn’t violated his sex offender registration in any way. The article never states what the “suspicious activity” was.
Here was a man simply driving to work, taking a road that he frequently used as a shortcut.
Police then SUGGESTED to the registrant that he find a different route to work.
My question is this.
WHAT IF HE JUST SAID NO?
What if this registrant who by all accounts, including the police account, who was minding his own business and driving to work, simply said NO. I’VE BROKEN NO LAW AND I REFUSE TO TAKE A DIFFERENT, LESS CONVIENENT ROUTE TO WORK.
We can not let the unfounded suspicions of others dictate how we live our lives. The travel restrictions in and outside the U.S. that are currently in place for registrants are bad enough, if we allow something as tenuous as the road one takes to work to be dictated by suspicion and hysteria, what’s next? What other rights will we allow to be taken away?
We will not take the less convenient back roads thru life because it make others more comfortable. We will not be pushed back into the shadows and made to feel ashamed after we’ve served our sentences. And we will not accept an unending, lifetime punishment because we don’t deserve that.
So to the guy in the red Hyundai, I hope you travel to work on whatever road you want to travel on. And everytime you get stopped by the police (and you know you will) that you file charges for profiling and harassment. I hope you win every law suit and drive ten red Hyundais’ if that’s what you want.
Life’s not easy and for registrants it’s even harder, but What If ??????