A View From the Back

I approached the Rennick Park Pavilion with a heavy heart for three reasons.  At least three.

First, it was yet another night that I would not be home. And tomorrow’s first day of school.  The last first day of school for my son, Patrick. I can’t think of that without thinking about his first day of kindergarten—which seems like yesterday—when he insisted on riding the bus.  With his little backpack overflowing with supplies listed on a green sheet of paper (Rockwood-Green Pines-K), he stepped onto that bus in August of 1998.

Second, being totally selfish and shallow, I was late.  The service started at 6:00, but I was rolling in during the invocation by Pastor Curtman.  Nothing makes you stand out like walking in the middle of prayers.

Third, the very need for this event is disturbing.  A man and his family are targets of political hit job. Brian Nieves’s only crime it appears was winning an election that men of power and money had reserved for someone else. 

I was surprised when Brian Nieves took the podium to speak. He was both humble and determined. The ridiculous accusations by a political opponent would not end his fight, he told us, but it had rattled him. He said he understands, now, why his candidate recruitment efforts were so difficult. 

“I won’t put my family through that,” they told Brian. 

He assured us knows why.

Republican party power brokers wanted another candidate to win the primary for Missouri Senate District 26, which covers parts of Franklin, St. Louis, and Warren Counties.  Nieves won a tough four-way race in which he was attacked and lied about by opposing candidates, their supporters and staffers, and Republican power brokers.

Brian wanted to tell the story, but he’s under lawyer orders not to discuss the incident. He did let us know that his accuser—for whom he asked us to pray—was comfortable enough at Nieves’s office to return for his sunglasses and enjoy a soda. Less than twenty-four hours later, that accuser would swear in a police report that he was so traumatized by a visit to Nieves’s campaign office that he was rendered a quivering mass of humanity, curled in a fetal position on the floor, begging for mercy.  Mercy and a nice refreshment, that is.  “Could I get a lemon wedge?”

Sorry. The accuser seems to have demons of his own.  He must be under incredible pressure.

The 200 or so people who came out on an evening designed by God, to stand and sit, cheer and prayer by the banks of the Missouri River left certain about two things:

1.  This episode will end someone careers, and

2.  Brian will come out standing.

I wish I could report how exciting it was. I can’t.  I was thrilled to see the response to Annette Read’s and Cindy McGee’s call for a prayer vigil for the Nieves family. But need for this—when we should be out fighting the disassembly of America—just pisses me off. The abuse of this man and his family pisses me off.  The abuse of the system, from the police to the courts to the political process, pisses me off.

While I should have left that ceremony full of love and hope, as I was told, in the end, I did not. I am not angry, not spitting nails, not enraged.  I’m just disgusted that human beings are using good people as pawns.

I understand that the Nieves family will face monstrous legal bills.  To defray those expenses, they have established an emergency legal defense fund.  To contribute, to help push back the ridiculous attack on Brian and his family, please contact his campaign office at 636-432-1776.