Sunday, December 9, 2007

US Police target alternative teen

Mother claims police bullied their way into her home | Battle Creek Enquirer - - Battle Creek, Mich.:
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Trace Christenson/The Enquirer

Charity Young holds her son, Matthew, with her son, Wesley Gilbert, at the front door of their home.

A Battle Creek woman complained Friday that police used strong-arm tactics when they raided her home this week searching for bomb-making materials.

Charity Young, 33, said police with guns and wearing black masks pushed through her front door and scared her and her 2-year-old son as they searched the house during an investigation into bomb threats at Battle Creek Central High School.

"They grabbed my shirt and were screaming in my face," Young said. "I didn't have time to cooperate because I didn't know what they wanted me to do."

She said she was pushed into a chair, aggravating a back problem, as police searched her house.

Officers pulled down an American flag on the front door, stepped on her couch and left the doors open to the winter air, she said.

A security officer and law enforcement student, Young said the incident has changed her attitude about police.

"I am thinking about giving up my dream. I wanted to be an officer, but if they are training officers to terrorize women and small children, I will not do it," she said.

Members of the Emergency Response Team and the Bomb Unit obtained the warrant to search the house in the 200 block of Laurel Avenue for evidence in recent bomb threats at Battle Creek Public Schools, Lt. Duane Knight said after the raid.

Nine threats have been reported at the high school and two middle schools since Nov. 26, including two on Nov. 28 that canceled classes at the high school.

Detective Sgt. Todd Madsen said the search warrant was obtained after at least three students reported hearing Young's son, Wesley Gilbert, 16, and a sophomore at Battle Creek Central make statements about the bomb threats.

"He made statements about making bombs," Madsen said Friday. "We raided the home for the protection of the community."

Police did not find any bomb-making materials, Madsen said, and nothing was seized.

But he said the investigation is continuing and he expects investigators to seek a warrant for Gilbert.

Gilbert said he did not make any statements about bombs and is not responsible for the bomb threats.

He said he has been targeted because he wears Goth clothing and because he was vocal last year about the lack of security at the high school.

Gilbert was suspended from school Thursday after several of his friends threatened two of the students who alleged they heard his comments about bombs. He said he did not encourage his friends' actions.

Madsen said officers knocked on the door and waited for Young to open it before they entered the house. He denies officers were rough with Young, her 2-year-old son, Matthew, or her boyfriend, Bert Howe, 43.

"This was the slowest and most patient and methodical entry we have made in 1,000 entries of the Emergency Response Team," he said. "But we are not going to turn a blind eye to this. We want to stay on top of it."

The Legacy of Columbine continues.

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