Good day; This week was Memorial Day, May 27: 3 years and 13 days since my oldest son Robert Appel was killed in the driveway of his half-a-,illion dollar home in a gated community called Indian Ridge located in the upscale community called Palm Desert, Calif. That is correct: On the night of May 14, 2010 at approximately 10:20 p.m., four armed local sheriffs came through the gated community following a 911 call, which no one has a record of, overpowered my son, who just sitting on his driveway in the dark looking at his broken Corvette parked in his garage. Out of the dark jumped the first two officers, frightening him enough to run into the closest bush, even if it did not totally cover him from their sight.
The only witnesses were an elderly couple that lived next door, who heard him screaming during his beating, "I'm dying, I'm dying" over and over again, but the district Federal Judge would not let these witnesses on the stand, sustaining the defense's objections to them testifying because of the "hear say" rule. We are scheduled to be heard in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., on June 6 for oral arguments which clearly state why the first judge should be overturned and that if we get a new trial justice will have a chance. There were so many prejudicial statements made from the bench which pierced my heart over and over again, as I sat mute looking directly at the men who killed my son, then so cavalierly left him to die face down on the street in front of his home -- the direct result of the beating and strangulation that the sheriffs showered him with for over five minutes. I cannot get the image out of my mind of my dear handsome son -- an attorney, uncle, brother and friend of many just lying there dead on the street wearing just a pair of sweatpants and handcuffs.
So here I am surviving this outrageously absurd experience best as I can, holding myself together by building this vision through the Peacemaker Corps, that a community of peacemakers and peace builders will emerge to face down the bullies, stop the carnage and violence against innocent people which seems to be escalating. I say that what is happening is a growing national police force that since 9/11 we are building in the grassroots. If we can't trust law enforcement to protect us first and then themselves, which are how civil society depends on being treated, chaos and confusion occurs.
The problem that I am beginning to see is if that with the new recruits into law enforcement directly out of the military and combat, there is a conflict in point of view; their training was always that survival depended on your group staying focused against the enemy, a gang mentality from survival courses and experiences in the service. I am afraid that with a local law enforcement made up of former military who bring that combat mentality puts civil society at grave danger. Maybe that is why violence is escalating on the streets of our country where just being in the wrong place and maybe looking a bit different from your surroundings could be deadly. We all know from the coverage of so many stories that media shares with us constantly.
I have always celebrated those who risk their lives to protect me and my family. The workshops that the Peacemaker Corps created and produced have trained law enforcement, mentors, and first responders which was partially created by former CIA and military consultants. I implore all of us to take a hard look at why violence is escalating and focus energy to create communities, circle of support, use friendships and family to counter violence on your own street, even if it means shielding you from those who might mean to protect. Speak up in your neighborhood: Start a movement to create "Peace in the Streets" where you live.