After an incident on Monday, I felt the need to write a letter to the commissioners of White and Carroll County. The incident itself is something that I don’t think that I will be able to let go of any time soon. So, here’s the text –
To whom it may concern,
My name is Brandon Allen. My family has been part of the Carroll and White county communities since the conception of these communities. You may know of my grandfather Robert Carter (owner and founder of Carter Block), grandfather Robert White (former Firefighter for MFD), and my uncle Robert (Buddha) White (former White County Sheriff Deputy).
In the communities that we share, I have a great deal of concern when it comes to public access to public property. Which brings me to my concern and the reason that I am writing this letter. On Monday, June 5th, I was fishing in Monticello at Bluewater park. I wasn’t having much luck but decided to take my fishing to another spot that I have fished over the years.
While I understand the conflict that is Tioga, the property and ownership of the bridge, I parked on the Carroll County side. I have parked there ever since the Monticello side blockade went up. One of the adjacent property owners, approached my vehicle after I had already gotten to the bridge. I was carrying all of my belongings and equipment for fishing off of the pier on the Monticello side of the bridge. I do however understand the reasoning behind the no parking signs (although the additional signs the adjacent property owners have put up are a bit much and completely out of touch of any form of reality) I decided with lack of better judgement of today’s mentality, to park there anyhow. I clearly admitted that to the Sheriff when I spoke to him. The gentleman approached me extremely aggressively, claiming that the property that I was on was his property. When I explained that I had already done my research and knew that it was not his property, he grabbed my shoulder and began pushing against my chest. I calmly told him to remove his hands from me. After multiple attempts to get him to remove his hands from me, I told him that I would be calling the police. I had the number of a Monticello Police officer on my phone and willingly called him. While I was on the phone with the officer, the gentleman was so close to my face screaming at me that he was literally spitting on me as I spoke to the officer.
I explained to the officer that I was moving because at that point it was still my intent to continue fishing. I called Carroll County dispatch at the request of the Police Officer who I talked to, to report the issue.
The following day, I met with Sheriff Tobe Leazenby about the incident. I understand the shorthandedness of his department, and it was not my concern nor an emergency matter but that did not mean that I wasn’t going to report the incident.
My concern is quite simple. As the political climate has obviously changed, our goal as co-occupants of adjoining communities should not change. The incident could have been very different under the circumstances and the results could have been quite devastating. Why did the gentleman feel the need to take the law and this matter with such animosity and disrespect? Maybe, if he would have actually approached me to have a conversation instead of approaching me in a hostile manner, I would have explained that I wasn’t trying to bother anything. As far as I am aware, if he was truly concerned with my parking in a no-parking zone, he could have easily called the police and reported me.
No. After doing some research from friends and acquaintances in the area of Tioga, a neighborhood watch group had been established. The group also maintains a private Facebook group where the two provocateurs of the group (the property owners closest to the bridge on both sides of the Carroll County side) have made it clear that they do not respect the Sheriff’s department and have made it a personal mission to harass and scare anyone away that doesn’t belong.
But, unfortunately the harassment doesn’t stop with only me. People that share the Tioga Road are embarrassed by their actions. They have faced threats and mistreatment as well. So, who exactly is the neighborhood watch protecting? Only the two closest to the bridge?
So, here’s my next and final question. While I understand the reasoning behind additional ordinances for the area, specifically the bridge, if we allow these signs and these ordinances to be enforced – are we also going to allow our citizens to use police powers and force to enforce them? Vigilantism seems like a very dangerous approach to a problem that at this point neither county seems to have been able to resolve on their own. So, what happens when these property owners use deadly force, or the property owners approach someone that has a loaded weapon? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about protecting the lives of those who wish to visit the bridge or are we going to wait and let something tragic happen first?
As far as the private property surrounding the bridge, it was their choice to purchase property next to public land. While I respect their privacy and ownership of their personal property they should not have dictatorship over the bridge or who accesses said bridge.
I can’t think of a better format than an open letter to give to them. I did alter the ending where I put my contact information.