May 25th, 2007 04:11 EST
Myopic Vision Victimizes a Good American in Mississippi
Cynics often refer to the great state of Mississippi as "having four eyes and no vision."
Given the opportunity, Mississippi resident John Mark Rivers would probably agree wholeheartedly, and might add "no common sense" to the indictment of his home state.
And he would seem perfectly justified in doing so.
Here is Rivers' story as told this writer by a relative of the young man. None of the information reported has been independently substantiated or confirmed by this writer.
Until a couple of weeks ago, John Mark Rivers worked as a security officer for a contractor of the Department of Homeland Security attached to the Neshoba County Social Security Office in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
In this law enforcement capacity, Rivers was authorized to carry a weapon after passing rigid psychological and background tests administered to screen out unstable and unreliable applicants.
A former Navy Corpsman who served with the U.S. Marines, Rivers is also the father of three young children. He appears to be a well-rounded, all-American young man that parents from Maine to California pray for when raising young males.
Perfect may be a tad strong, but when it comes to John Mark Rivers, it is probably not really that much of an exaggeration.
Besides his discipline and reliability, Rivers is absolutely passionate when it comes to his three children. That devotion has landed this good man in a tight spot with local police and school officials in a spat more reminiscent of a Three Stooges soap opera than an episode of Law and Order.
As a dedicated parent, Rivers drives his children to a school-designated pick-up point where they catch a local school bus for transport to school.
Over the course of the past year, Rivers observed a growing sense of ill will between the school bus driver and one of Rivers' neighbors. Because his children were passengers on the bus, Rivers attempted to keep the school superintendent fully informed of the increased tensions, while offering to help find ways to defuse the situation.
Despite Rivers' efforts, the situation grew increasingly hostile, culminating in an ugly exchange between the bus driver and Rivers' neighbor on January 5.
Angry words were exchanged between the two parties, although Rivers claims he was not directly involved in any of the theatrics on either side.
Shortly after the flare-up, the school superintendent took action to change the bus route so that the bus driver and neighbor would not be forced to confront each other.
It seemed like a happy, if forced, ending.
For his part, Rivers continued to drop his children off at the newly designated location and the worse seemed to be over.
Actually, however, the worse was yet to come.
On January 29, Rivers was greeted at his home by local police who informed him that he was the subject of an arrest warrant.
Rivers was advised that the bus driver involved in the disagreement (more than three weeks earlier) had filed a complaint, alleging that Rivers had caused her fear during her exchange with the neighbor.
Remember, Rivers says he had no interaction with the bus driver on January 5 and was a witness to the proceedings only to assure the well being of his own children.
Nonetheless, Rivers was advised that he was technically under arrest and was forced to accompany the police officer to the police station until a $25.00 bail bond was posted.
The charge was a misdemeanor called "simple assault," in Mississippi. On April 9, the prosecutor reduced the charge from simple assault to disturbing the peace, but did not drop the case entirely.
Of course, Rivers was devastated by the arrest and worked to have the charge dropped so that he could get on with his life.
However, because of legal maneuvering and wrangling, the case did not make it to the court docket until May and it is now scheduled to be heard on June 11.
Then on May 10th, the other shoe dropped.
Because of the sensitive nature of his work with a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security, John Mark Rivers was advised by his employer that he was being suspended indefinitely, without pay, pending the outcome of his arrest.
One can only imagine the agony that this news visited upon the young man who has dedicated his life's work to law enforcement and his love to his three precious children.
Enduring the humiliation of arrest was bad enough for John Mark Rivers. But to then have his livelihood ripped out from under him based on the arrest is an outrage beyond comprehension.
Here's hoping that the forces of serendipity and or divine intervention deliver some common sense and vision to Mississippi. In a hurry!
John Mark Rivers needs, and deserves, both right about now.