Norman A. Pattis
Not long ago Cliff Thornton called. He is the former Green Party candidate for Governor in Connecticut. He asked me to represent his former campaign manager, who had just been arrested for something or other.
I like Cliff Thornton. Indeed, I voted for him. Free college tuition and an end to the war on drugs makes sense for me. Why spend $32,000 a year incarcerating kids for selling drugs? You could educate a carload of young men for that kind of money.
So when Cliff called, I agreed.
You’ve probably heard the client’s name by now: It is Kenneth Krayeske. He’s the young man who was arrested for taking pictures of Jodi Rell at her inaugural parade. He was then held on a $75,000 bond until after the inaugural ball was over.
I appeared at the Hartford Community Court and got the standard offer: Plead guilty, do some community service, and we’ll dismiss the charges. No thanks. I don’t see a statute of someone bending and spreading at the courthouse door.
Ken Krayeske did not commit a crime, and he won’t be entering any pleas, thank you. According to the police report, he merely rode a bicycle up to the parade route, jumped off, and approached the entourage. When an officer arrested him, he pulled his arm away.
That is the official version from the arresting officer.
Little facts are missing.
First and foremost, Krayeske was taking photos of the governor. The arresting officer forgot to mention that. There were 16 photos and in not one of them does anyone look alarmed.
So why did the cops arrest Krayeske?
They arrested him because he is a person of interest to the Connecticut Intelligence Center. At a briefing before the parade, state police told Hartford officers about potential threats.
Krayeske a threat? To what, complacency?
Public outrage fanned quickly to flames over the notion that there are lists of enemies in law enforcement hands. Governor Jodi Rell called for an investigation; so did lawmakers; so did the mayor of Hartford. By week’s end, the Department of Public Safety was denying there are any such lists.
Lies, lies, lies.
Since 1995, the FBI had maintained something called the Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF). These entries are part of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer database that all law enforcement agencies use when they do such thing as stop a motorist to check on whether the motorist has a warrant outstanding.
So here is how the new high-stakes game of security is played: The feds keep a list of threats that is so inclusive that it includes antiwar demonstrators. The feds dole it out to the states as they see fit. When the state is asked about a list, the state denies that it has one, failing to acknowledge that the feds do. Ask the feds, and get stonewalled on national security or other grounds.
The Krayeske case is simple to defend as a matter of law. He broke no law.
But the case is chilling as a matter of public policy. Have you spoken out lately?
Then you, too, may be on a list.
Here’s a message for the person who monitors my name on the lists: Kiss my ass and show your face. Or would you feel threatened?