Criminal Mischief

Action is the only definite value of essence as Sartre says. Thus when the bell rang and I got up, my action was giving value to the essence of the school and all that it represented: authority, boredom, nullification, confinement. These things were made more burdensome when they were held against my own will, singular and individual versus an organized system of operation. Alienation naturally settled in. So when I scrawled upon the naked bathroom wall “The Dean is dead-Nietzsche” I was fully aware of my own involvement. I knew this would provoke the administration into something. I knew it would alienate me further, a fact which I somewhat relished. I saw alienation as a gateway to freedom, to do without others as I please. In short, the weight of my own essence, with all of its implications, was plainly felt and this petty act of rebellion had the importance of a revolution for me.

The rest of the day was spent in a cathartic haze, anticipating being called down to the office to be doled out punishment. Near the end of the day, a woman retrieved me from my math class and escorted me to the Student Affairs Center. I saw my friend who had been with me in the bathroom being escorted by the Dean himself. We had expected this since he was often seen reading Nietzsche in class, but that it would be plain I was the culprit.

They separated us into two rooms. I sat there, having accepted whatever it was they wanted to do already, for about forty five minutes. Finally, the principle, a fat blubbery lipped fellow with a Texan slur entered, demanding me to empty my pockets. I had done this for the women already but I obliged him, resulting in the discovery of a Metrocard, a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, headphones, and several pens and a Sharpie. The Sharpie, along with my other writing utensils, was confiscated. He left and soon entered the Dean himself, a ratty man with the raspy voice of a used car salesman, asking whether or not I had written the phrase in question. I told him I had and he left, saying we would discuss it further later. I made the assumption the matter would be settled within the context of the school.

The next scene in this drama is one that was entirely unexpected and one that could be described in numerous ways from irrational to outright duplicitous. The Dean reentered accompanied by several police officers and a detective. The situation had been severely escalated. In turn I escalated my defensive tone. I was confused as to why they had been brought into this and angered that the school chose to deal so foolishly with something that could have been as simple as a few questions. Admittedly, two days previous in Arizona, and on the same day in Massachusetts there were instances of school violence involving a student and a gun. I was vaguely aware of the former and completely unaware of the latter.

A cop searched my bag and then I was told that I was going to be taken down to the station. This was no longer in the hands of the school I was told. The cop asked me if I had any weapons of any sort on me which I denied rather incredulously. It was at this point I became very defensive when she informed me I would be patted down. I refused to consent. This was ignored and I continued to verbally resist the pat down at which point the detective told me that if I kept resisting I would be arrested under criminal charges. Again I refused to consent to the pat down, which was met by a twisted arm and handcuffs. My body was roughly shoved against the wall face first and the detective who had twisted my arm and handcuffed me told me that I was a threat to the people around me.

The logic of this was beyond me. I thought it should have been clear I was just some discontented youth who had chosen to vent her frustrations through the medium of Sharpies and bathroom walls. The pockets of both my jacket and my shorts were emptied, including the hall passes that I had swiped two weeks earlier.

This all took place in view of several administrators including the Dean, whom I berated for allowing one of his students to be treated in such a manner on the way out. The good man was courteous enough to make sure the halls were clear before I was taken away. The detective and the cop escorted me out, warning me that if I made any attempt to harm them or escape I would be “taken down,” I could only imagine writhing on the floor after being tasered. Students who were sitting out front watched as I was put into the cop car, still berating the Dean. I spit on the seat next to me for good measure.

From there it was the police station. The room to which I was brought was gray and overwhelmingly oppressive, bringing to mind the world of 1984. My shoes were taken from me which, when I asked, was for my own protection. The cell that was to be mine for the next few hours was a little rat cage situated next to the much larger cell with iron bars, which disappointed me terribly, being denied the romance of an actual outlaw.

I could hear the cop going through my bag once again and I realized she was probably going through my notebooks. I cringed with embarrassment at this. They were later taken into evidence “in case of a need for a handwriting sample,” After she took all the basic information we got into talking and she turned out to be pretty decent.

Eventually at some point, after being told several times that I was going to be let out, the detective came into the room and told me I could be “interviewed” if I wanted. The confiscated belongings were returned to me, sans notebooks and writing utensils, and I was led through the plastic tiled police station to the “interview” room. This was not, unfortunately, the room of cable crime dramas with the one way mirror and a desk with a swinging light bulb. It was more akin to a conference room with several office chairs around a long table.

The detective sat down with the cop across from my parents and began asking questions. Eventually he asked me why I wrote on the wall. I explained to him that it was supposed to be a parody of “God is dead,” which he didn’t recognize (surprisingly few people did), and that it was a conceptual attack on the idea of the Dean as an authoritative force. Certainly not a threat of bodily harm. This was all recorded and I was then informed of the charges against me: threatening in the second degree, criminal mischief, breach of peace, and interfering with police officers

I was released into the custody of my parents about four or five hours after being brought into the office and expected some sort of lambasting treatment from my father who I never saw eye to eye with. He always came off to me as authoritative and harsh but in this instance he was calm and compassionate. He sympathized with me to some extent, I think, because he used to be the vice principal of a school back in the day and he understood how much this had grown out of proportion to what it should’ve been. My mother, who has always been a lovely lady, was equally well composed.

This whole thing seemed to affect them more than it did me. I considered this to be a farce and a display of opposing ideas, the fault of bureaucratic underpinnings and a world gone mad. It was assumed that I was going to kill the Dean, presumably with a gun, yet no one bothered to simply ask my intent, what I meant by that, why I did it in the first place. Not until I had been arrested and been charged with several misdemeanors was I asked any of that

This reactive tendency is wreaking more havoc on the lives of students in America than it is protecting them. Arresting and then expelling a kid for writing on a wall, in the name of protecting other students and faculty, is bullshit. I’ve come to the conclusion that the school system doesn’t give a shit about kids like me. They’d rather toss us under the carpet and forget about us.

About Rory Noone

Rory lives in Connecticut.

  • Ed

    Thank you for your story.
    So, what was/is the final outcome/punishment for writing on a wall? What happen to the other kid in the bathroom with you? His only crime was reading the dame book as you?

    • Rory Noone

      I’m currently going through the courts right now. He was suspended although it’s more like an unofficial expulsion at this point.

  • Guest

    An example perhaps of how youth scares authority, and the limits of an education in the liberal arts.

  • Guest

    In this situation and in this day in age where schools are getting attacked fairly often, no one in their right mind can allow for that to go unnoticed and unreported. Look back to the Virginia Tech shooting, there were early warnings before the situation took place. But no one reported it due to the fact that no one thought a kid could do that. If someone had reported it earlier with more urgency maybe some 30 or so kids would be living today. I know that that was about 7 years ago and i know that you were probably only 8 or 9 years old when it occurred but you should have used your better judgement. I understand what it is like to grow up where youre from as im from a similar town and yes, i do know who you are i used to know your brother quite well, but i dont think you understood the consequences of your actions. Being arrested, and charged with misdemeanor counts such as the ones you stated, will make your life much more difficult. Colleges will see this when you apply, as they ask you if you have been arrested before. I hope you are not convicted of these crimes but you need to learn from what has happened. You write very well, you seem well educated, but unfortunately you could have just messed up what you had going for you. Sure it will get expunged from your record once you turn 18, but every time you apply for a job, and you are asked if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, you will have to say yes. The world isnt the same as it used to be when we went to school at OLM. It has changed and changed fast. I believe the school acted appropriately and from the way you talked and interacted with the police officers, they acted appropriately as well. You are the typical american teenager, i know this because i was that kid too. I was arrested, had things searched without my consent thinking i knew the law, but you dont and i didnt either. Even if you do not consent to the pat down, a police officer does not need consent all that they need is reasonable suspicion, which is different from probable cause. For you to say you dont consent gives the officer the suspicion that you might have a weapon hence why you were forcibly put against the wall. I am a pre-law major in college and i do know what i am talking about. Youre lucky you didnt have it worse, spitting on the police officers car is defacing of property. All in all you messed up and i understand why you are upset about the fact that all of it escalated to being arrested, however you had it coming by the way that you acted towards the police and to the Dean. I wish you good luck with this. Learn from it. Please comment back if you have anything to say in response.

    • Rory Noone

      I think the school acted in a way it judged to be appropriate given the current climate, but I think the climate and the state of mind that it puts people in is extremely damaging. This constant paranoia, in combination with the people who unfortunately act in the manner that provokes it, puts kids in the crossfire (pun unintentional). Overall I think this experience has been positive insofar as exposing me to literal realities, on both sides of the argument.

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