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Monday, March 2, 2009

Of Being A Better Advocate

Life lessons come at strange times, but the important thing is to be aware of them for what they are and to learn what they are there to teach you.

Today I almost ended up on The Ron Reagan Show which airs on AirAmerica radio. The producer wrote me and asked if I would be willing to talk with them about the Malika Calhoun story and, presumably, the accountability problems in Seattle and King County which enabled deputy Paul Schene to beat up a 15-year-old girl in a SeaTac holding cell.

Well, I'm a modest and very soft-spoken person, especially since I was assaulted and then mistreated by police here in Seattle. That, plus the brain injuries and PTSD from that event affect me still and have all but crumbled any of the self confidence I ever had. This, of course, makes it difficult for me to do interviews, especially live interviews or any public speaking.

It wasn't always that way. In school I had a deep, resounding voice which landed me, for better or worse, in the role as narrator in any school play or choir activity and often had the theater teachers begging me to try out for roles.

But that changed after I became a victim of misconduct, so when I replied to the Ron Reagan show's producer I told her the truth; that I might not be the best pick and I gave her a lot of names to check with instead.

Sure, I still offered to step in if they couldn't get anyone else to represent the victim's side of the debate, but I was honest when I told them I get nervous doing interviews and might not do well live instead of just jumping at the chance and saying "yes".

I wasn't able to listen to the show, but I did pop in to their chat forum for a second to see what the audience reaction to the interviews they did would be.

I knew they were having the King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg on, which I thought would be ok since the man has the unenviable task of trying to prosecute a police officer in a city that, up to now, has been eternally unwilling to convict one.

But, apparently, instead of any of the people I suggested, they appear to have had a member of the police guild on instead, which seemed to really infuriate the listeners as this ended up being an utterly one-sided story in favor of Paul Schene... again, at least judging by the chat members' reactions to the interviews.

...Disappointing. But, ultimately... entirely my fault.

I've always said here that I know I'm not the best suited person to write this site, but despite my flaws I do happen to be the only person willing to do it and that someone has to do it.

...the life lesson is that I must apply that line of thought to all aspects of being an advocate for victims of police abuse and detainee mistreatment.

Next time, if there is one, I won't be so mamby-pamby about it and I'll do whatever interviews that are offered with all the conviction I can muster.

Even though I deserve heaps of derision for not speaking out when I had a chance to do so. All I ask is that, if I still don't live up to the task, please don't be too hard on me for trying to be a better advocate for police misconduct victims when others wouldn't.

After all, someone has to do it, even if that only someone is as flawed as me.


Carlos Miller said...

I think everybody would get nervous doing an interview. It's just a matter of controlling that.

Have you ever posted your story on how you were a victim of misconduct?

Packratt said...


I agree, it's going to be a matter of me just going for it, fail or not, without worrying about it. I don't anticipate having to put it to the test though... we'll see.

As for my story, it's the first one.

Thanks for the comment Carlos, keep up the great work!

Five Before Midnight said...

Don't worry and don't beat yourself up over it. It's hard to do interviews. I hate them, hate radio shows in particular (just hearing the FCC admonition on what you can't say "live" scares me) and only do them when I have to but I've learned that the nervousness over doing them goes away over time and with practice. Maybe start out on a small scale and work your way forward.

I got called up one time for an interview on the investigation of my blog and just said, what?! I wasn't ready, was just about to leave work and if I hadn't liked and trusted the reporter, I'm not sure I would have done it. So building good rapport with media people that you can trust and get along with ahead of time if possible helps a lot.

I did one for a university radio station at late night and it was on officer-involved shootings and received a comment in moderation once where someone wrote that I sounded "taller" on the radio. So there's that too. ;)

But your blogging is doing a lot already and making a large impact on your readers so even if you never were able to do an interview, you've already been addressing these issues in a very insightful and meaningful way. I think we all have our channels in which we communicate best and are drawn to them. Blogging in my opinion is a great channel.

I'd rather blog than talk any day of the week. My speaking skills aren't particularly strong. I'll save my derision for those who deserve it and you definitely don't.

Anonymous said...

They did have Daniel Satterberg on.

Packratt said...

Thanks FBM, that means a lot coming from someone that's been so good at doing this. I'm always in wonder at the level of understanding and detail that your stories demonstrate.

Were you a journalist prior to this or did this just come from practice? I've noticed that I've been getting just a little better as I've kept at it, but I still think I have a long way to go before I can really do this issue the justice it desperately deserves and needs.

As for developing relationships with the media To be honest, Seattle is just weird. The media here absolutely hates me as do the local alternative weekly papers. I think I've gotten to trust only one reporter/media outlet and their a small community college radio station. Good people though.

I don't know, it doesn't matter in the long run, I'll still keep trying to do better and keep trying to change the seemingly unchangeable. I guess I like tilting at windmills.

Thanks again FBM!

Packratt said...


Is that the only guest they had? Judging by the responses I was seeing in that chat room, it seemed like they were talking to someone who was going all-out to defend that deputy.

Hopefully I'll have time to listen to that recording tomorrow to find out what was making those people respond like that.

Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the media is interested in police misconduct, if only for a short bit.

Can't wait for a celebrity beating caught on tape, then there will really be some traction:

Packratt said...


That's a very pertinent link given the impending shutdown of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, which has been the preeminent source of investigative journalism into police misconduct for Seattle up to this point... and I'm not sure anyone is going to fill that niche after they shut down this month.

I'll have to try my best to step up to the plate, but I just don't have the resources they did and I don't see the other media outlets being interested in reporting on police misconduct issues that don't involve a video... or a celebrity.

Thank you for the comment, I appreciate it!

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