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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Beware of Bucky!

So I have been totally remiss in my duties as a Western NY expat blogger by not posting about Bucky until now, though those close to me will already know the details because I keep emailing them the NYT articles.

Ralph "Bucky" Phillips escaped from prison in April. The NYS police (the State Troopers) have been looking for him ever since. Three troopers have been shot (allegedly) by Bucky and one has died. In their manhunt, the troopers shot and killed a 25-year-old ATVer in murky circumstances. This isn't the first time he's escapted from prison, either. Back when I was in fifth grade, he escaped. We thought it was a joke and we wrote the number for the police on our hands along with "beware of Bucky!" It was funny until I got home and got yelled at by my parents for making light of the situation, especially since my dad had prosecuted him for something back in the day and they were a wee bit concerned that Bucky could be cranky about that. But they caught him...that time.

In the process of looking for Bucky, the troopers have disrupted everyone's lives and somehow managed to give the locals an even lower opinion of the state police than we already had. I never once had a positive interaction with a trooper. Even my father, who by virtue of both his jobs (EMT and attorney) has had a lot of dealings with them, admits that they're arrogant jerks. And they didn't help the PR much with the Friday am news conference (held in my old high school auditorium!) in which the superintendent of the troopers basically said "fuck you" to all the locals whose lives have been totally disrupted by the search. Technically, he was answering a question posed about the local community's growing resentment over the roadblocks, searches, helicopters, and other search-related annoyances but his response - that the community should just deal with it and that it was our fault that the troopers couldn't catch him anyway - basically sums up everything wrong with the NYS police and their attitude.

It is obviously very very bad that three troopers have been shot and that one is dead. And I don't think the excuse some are giving (that the cops got what's coming to them becasue in an effort to pressure Bucky, CPS took his grandkids away from their mother becasue she'd allowed the kids to be around him and he was armed. Ignoring the fact that if the standard is "don't have your kids around people with guns" there are about seven fit parents in the whole county.) is justification. But what reason (other than the $250,000 reward, I suppose) do people have to cooperate with the troopers, who so obviously have no regard for the actual residents of the community they're so intent on turning upside down?

The gross part is that this is all making me weirdly homesick. People that know me can't seem to belive that I'm from somewhere so small. Last I checked, my town had about 10,000 residents. There are about 160,000 in the entire county. All the back roads they're blocking are the places I used to go in a certain boy's 1984 Ford Tempo in search of abandoned grape roads that we could go park on. For the love of God, my high school mascot was the hillbilly. What people don't realize and what I've tried desperately to forget is that Chautauqua County is technically part of Appalachia. We may be in New York, but we're hicks, okay? I may have escaped but most people don't. All the interviews with the locals and the Bucky merchandise and his whole folk-hero status thing isn't really helping our image but bringing in hundreds of troopers from other parts of the state who obviously don't care to integrate into the community they're supposed to be serving. Add that to the fact that all these troopers can't even find the guy and no wonder people aren't being more helpful.

As the JC said while telling me about all the coverage we were getting on CNN, "wow. You really are from nowhere." Hail hail Fredonia, indeed.



Anonymous Ex-Expat said...

You may be an expat, but you'll be back. See you on the Thruway!

2:43 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

You are not alone in this, Bucky's wild chase through the hills of Arkwright has really made me yearn for cookouts with my folks in Burnham's Hollow and all these other little corners of wilderness we used to spend so much time in.

I've been sending out the NYT stories to all my friends. My favorite part has been the photos and video clips. Video of people who helped Bucky being dragged in handcuffs out of the Fredonia police station; photos in the Times of state troopers searching Amish buggies in Fredonia. It's strangely hilarious and heart-warming, even if the story is actually disturbing and upsetting.

Kind of strange though how the news isn't saying anything more about the guy on the ATV that the cops gunned down. Like that doesn't matter anymore.

3:13 PM  

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