This page is about a letter that was received after an incident that occurred around 11:15PM, Friday, June 10, 2005.
September 14th, 2005
The City of Greer apologized today. This had been our goal since contacting the city almost a week after recieving Mr. Stewart's letter. My husband and I had realized that there would be many who simply did not see that this was not an attack on faith, but a stand for Consitutional Rights, and they still don't. We will most likely continue to be the object of attack by those who refuse to see, or actually want the Constitution abolished, and attempt to continue thier claims that this was an attack on Christians. To those we wish the Divine's love and compassion so they may finally see. The letter of apology will be posted to this site soon.
August 16th, 2005
At the writing of this post, it is a little after 7:30 AM, Tuesday, August 16, 2005. As most everyone reading this page is aware of, my husband and I will be in court tomorrow. Hopefully whatever transpires tomorrow (August 17th) will silence those who have chosen to dwell on the minor issue (Traffic Tickets) to avoid the major issue (Civil Rights). The request to dismiss the tickets was the concept of the ACLU, not ours. It is understandable that the City of Greer would wish to focus on the traffic tickets in an effort to draw attention away from their illegal behavior. So, tomorrow will remove this from their rhetoric.
At the writing of this post, I await word from the ACLU attorney concerning his conversation with the City Attorney. The City of Greer has made an ‘offer’ to us. It is that we plead guilty and they will reduce the fines and fees (the fees that the State charges on tickets will be more than the fines) and everything will go away. We have authorized the ACLU attorney to accept this offer with the condition that the City will accept all of the other demands made by the ACLU in their letter. They are as follows:
“On behalf of the Gaineys we request the following:
• That the citations issued to the Gainey's on June 10 (actually the early morning hours of June 11) be expunged from their records and that the traffic court date be cancelled;
• That we be given confirmation as to the status of the two officers involved in this case;
• That we have your assurance, on behalf of the Greer Police Force that, and should the volunteer auxiliary program ever be reinstated, Tony Stewart will be ineligible to participate;
• That a restraining order be issued for Tony Stewart, preventing him from contacting or being within 100 feet of the Gaineys;
• That the Gaineys receive a written apology from, the Greer Police Force for the way they have been treated; and
• That the police department's "Biased-Based Policing" policy be taught remedially, and then on a recurring basis at least annually, to all members of the Greer Police Force.”
We do not feel that the demands of the ACLU, which were added in addition to ours of an apology and a training course to prevent this in the future, are un-reasonable.
We ask that all who feel so inclined send positive energy of enlightenment and harmony to help in this situation. We need to pass through this, so the larger issue, the one that will affect all of us, may receive the just attention it deserves.
What happened to cause the letter to be sent to us...
My Husband, Tony, and I were on our way home from Wal-mart. While shopping I had begun to experience joint pain (I have Degenerative Join Disease), so my husband in a kind gesture offered to drive the five miles home. Halfway home we were pulled over by the Greer Police. No reason was given for the stop and when I asked I was told there had been none. My husband had failed to get his driver’s license reinstated five years ago, so when he was asked for his, he handed them his old one. We had documents in the glove box verifying insurance coverage from the time the car was purchased until the beginning of this year, but we had insurance, the papers were just at home. After the Officers checked our ID’s and found nothing, they then checked the plate on the car. We were told that the plates were the wrong ones. They would not tell us whose they were, only that they belonged on a Chevy. They searched the car and found nothing (although they thought they had found something when they came across a geode in the glove box), and then called a tow truck to take the car overnight, even though we only lived three minutes away. My husband was hand cuffed and arrested. I was not arrested, but taken to the jail with my husband, along with our frozen food. At the jail, my husband had to show them how to use their new fingerprinting machine (he is in school majoring in programming). He was released on a signature bond even though he never saw a judge.
The interesting part of this incident happened at the back of our car. Officer Stewart asked us if we had put the bumper stickers on or if the car had come that way. I of course told the truth and said I had put them on. The officer wanted to know what they meant so I explained that I was an ordained minister of the Emerald Sanctuary Druidic Church. The conversation continued and then Officer Stewart asked me if my church supported me? I asked him to explain what he meant by support and he clarified it as meaning ‘spiritually fulfilling’. He then begins witnessing to me and my husband. As they were putting my husband into the police car, and I was getting the bags of groceries out of the back seat, Officer Stewart came over to me and handed me $40.00 to help get the car out of impound and told me he would be writing the letter exhibited below. At the police station he continued to witness to me.
They never offered to report our tag as stolen. They left the tag on the car and did not hold it in impound until all proper documents were produced. They had plainly stated that there had not been any reason to have stopped us in the beginning, “but it doesn’t matter, the plates are wrong.”
Granted, my husband should not be driving, and he doesn’t, except this one time when I was in pain and we needed to get home. He was in the prosess to reinstate his license at the time this occured. We have bought new plates for the car, since our old plates are gone. And, thankfully a family member is the Chief of Police in another location, so we were able to find out who the plates belonged to.
Officer Stewart never mentions a reason for being pulled over, such as weaving, speeding, wrong plates or anything like that. He does mention the bumper stickers.
Whether he is a volunteer or regular, he should still be held to a code of ethics concerning violation of constitutional rights (freedom of religion without harassment). I firmly feel he over stepped his bounds the night of the incident and has continued to do so with his letter. He assumes about my faith, as he did that night, and offers a solution to all my ‘problems’ if I come to his church. I wonder about what is meant by “And for whatever reason, God is calling you to listen to words from the Baptists. This is clear! If you deny this, then you are pushing away the hand of God and that would not be wise.”
He also tells me “Chances are that he sent this intercession after hearing the prayers of someone for your welfare. Maybe it was your prayers, or maybe it was a loved one or friend who cares for you. But he did send intercession. Now, you must respond without delay and without excuses.” So evidently ‘someone’ is praying for me to loss my faith!
What I can gather from this letter is –
1. Officer Stewart views his position as an opportunity to convert people to his faith and his Church. “As a law enforcement officer, I am a reserve, meaning that I am an unpaid volunteer. The reason I have volunteered for the last 14 years is so that I can be at the places where God would have me to be and at the right time. You see, I have been a victim myself.”
2. He was aware of the opportunity to exercise this practice by the bumper stickers. “I see from your bumper stickers and from your testimony that are a druid priest.”
3. Life’s ‘problems’ (alcohol, drugs, poverty) can be over come by attending his Bible Class and Church. “You see, I have been a victim myself. I know poverty, alcohol and drug abuse and many of the other things my brothers and sisters know first hand.” And “It may tales weeks or month of obedience to learn the steps that it will take to get you back on the road to prosperity.”
I write this to warn those who find themselves in the Greer city limits. I am assured that the tickets (four of them totaling $1890) will be plea bargained or dismissed, this is the opinion of someone who is Chief of Police in another jurisdiction in South Carolina as to what the Judge would do where he is at. I wonder how they will dismiss my feeling of being singled out by the police of Greer when I go grocery shopping again?
Tony & Deborah
I mentioned to Deborah that I would be sending something that I wanted you to respond to. Although the timing and setting may seem unlikely, our meeting on Friday Night June 10th was actually destined to happen. Let me explain: As a law enforcement officer, I am a reserve, meaning that I am an unpaid volunteer. The reason I have volunteered for the last 14 years is so that I can be at the places where God would have me to be and at the right time. You see, I have been a victim myself. I know poverty, alcohol and drug abuse and many of the other things my brothers and sisters know first hand. I felt your pain!
I can feel the pain of others when luck seems to always be bad. I call it being a victim because, one piece of bad luck leads to another and soon, finding your way back to a place of peace is all but impossible. Driving without the correct license or insurance becomes a necessity. Then a cop steps in and enforces man's law and the hopeless situation only gets worse.
Sometimes, it feels like there is no answer. But there is hope. I know, because I fell further down than almost anyone I have ever met. And, slowly, I was able to come back. But, it was not without a lot of help from others. All along my journey, there were people that God sent to reach out to me and speak his wisdom to me. Often, I pushed them away. And other times, I made excuses for not responding to them.
My own free will became my worst enemy and stubbornness and pride also worked against me. Thank God that people were continually sent to be in my crossroads. Last Friday night I was sent to be in your crossroads. You see, my passion is not to wear a badge and enforce man's law. Instead it's to be where I need to be for people like you. Yes, I do enforce Caesar's law, but I care far more about following Jesus Christ who came to make a way to him through faith and not by works or laws.
In your case, Jesus has reached out to you through me to say that he wants your attention. Chances are that he sent this intercession after hearing the prayers of someone for your welfare. Maybe it was your prayers, or maybe it was a loved one or friend who cares for you. But he did send intercession. Now, you must respond without delay and without excuses.
I see from your bumper stickers and from your testimony that are a druid priest. I am not familiar with the Druids enough to make conversation. But I am ordained in the Baptist church. And for whatever reason, God is calling you to listen to words from the Baptists. This is clear! If you deny this, then you are pushing away the hand of God and that would not be wise. Too many events were manipulated by God to bring us together to be a coincidence. Actually, I only police every 2nd Friday night, so just being on duty was rare.
You must respond to the words he wants you to hear. And you must be patient and faithful. It may tales weeks or month of obedience to learn the steps that it will take to get you back on the road to prosperity. One visit, a few prayers and an occasional opening of his Bible will not be enough. You must be prepared to make some serious changes and do so now! You may not get another intercession. Who knows? But you must admit that you've been contacted by God! And you must respond. What's your next step?
I lead a bible study class on Sunday mornings at Mt. Lebanon Baptist church. It's a unique class where jeans and t-shirts are normal and many of those who attend are in some sort of crisis or toting burdens of some kind. There is no pressure to speak, pray or answer questions. God does bless us with miracles and wisdom. And there is no pressure to attend worship across the street afterwards. You are free to attend worship afterwards when and if you are ready. The class is very small and is the next thing God wants you to do. He will speak his wisdom to you while you are there. And be prepared to come more than once. To get there: From HWY 29 in Greer, Go up HWY 14 north about 4-5 miles to Mt. Lebanon Church road on your right (look for our church sign). Turn right and go to the 4-way stop and go straight thru. We are on your left across the street from the church in the Gymnasium. 9:15 Am-10:15 AM
572 Mt. Lebanon Church Rd. Greer, 895-2334 - Your brother - Tony Stewart ,_
Scan of the letter, the card it came in and the envelope
Pictures of our Bumper Stickers
The whole bumper
The driver's side
The passenger side
Voicemail from Chief of Police
(if someone knows how I can get this to place, please email me)
Returned Reciept for first Certified letter to the Chief of Police, Dan Reynolds.
Return Reciept for first Certified Letter to Chief of Police copy sent to Mayor Rick Danner.
The First Letter...
The Second Letter...
On Friday June 24, 2005 we were informed by a Mrs. Pressley from the City Judge's office that our motions had been granted. We had filed a Motion for Discovery under South Carolina Criminal Procedure Rule #5 requesting copies of the officers' notes and a transcript of the radio communications between the Officers and dispatch. Since it was noted in the information that the normal amount of time to wait for this evidence was 30 days, we asked for a 45-Day Continuance to allow the Police enough time to respond. When the documents from the court arrive I will also post them. On Monday, June 27, 2005 we should receive a certified letter from the City of Greer. We will also post this when it arrives.
Returned reciept for 2nd letter dated June 22, 2005.
Chief Dan Reynolds
June 28, 2005; 5:30PM We have just returned from a two hour interview with the Lt. and another officer. During the interview both officers, my husband and my son, verified that all lights and signals on the car are working properly, evidently to rule out that as a reason for the stop. The officers also discussed with us the ability of officers to randomly run plates. From their statements, in South Carolina, an officer can run anybody's plate, just out of curiosity, even if the car is not being operated on the street (i.e. even parked in your driveway with no one in it). We have been requested to submit written statements to follow-up the interview.
An email received from the GPD after the 2 hour interview.
Click to view full size
This is the document we filed for the Motion of Discovery (for evidence) and a Continuance for the police to have time to gather the requested evidence. We have been told verbally that both Motions were granted and we will be contacted when the evidence arrives at the court.