Charles Cribbs faces justice at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon in Courtroom L* of the Champaign County Courthouse.
But what will justice look like? It depends.
What do you want it to look like? You are, after all, the People. People v. Cribbs will likely go quietly unless you give your employees some instructions.
Your employees are Julia Rietz and her staff in the Champaign County State's Attorney's office. You'll remember Rietz from various tirades here at Smile Politely. SP's loyal leftists called for Rietz's head when she charged Mark Nepermann with a mere misdemeanor following his stumble home with a political yard sign in tow. Her handling of the Kiwane Carrington case will surely see Champaign's pacifist fringe abstain from voting next time she's up.
I told you why Rietz was right about Nepermann. Now I'll tell you why Rietz should throw the book at Charles Cribbs.
A pack of witnesses attests — right here on Smile Politely, among other fora — to Cribbs's intentional assault with a deadly weapon (Illinois license plate J14 2593). This pack proved willing to stand up for itself. If its individual members are willing to stand up in court, they can rid us of Charles Cribbs for months, possibly years.
Unlike Mark Nepermann, Charles Cribbs is a danger to society. Possibly a time bomb. His lengthy record shows he can't be trusted with the most dangerous weapon in American society — the automobile.
Why does he do it? A brief perusal of the record will show that Charles Cribbs is short and fat. I can tell you, from visiting his last hearing, that he is also bald.
Maybe it's a Napoleon complex. Perhaps long, lean cyclists remind him of butch tormentors from his high school bullying days.
So far, Rietz has not charged Cribbs with Aggravated Assault.
(a‑10) A person commits an aggravated assault when he or she knowingly and without justification operates a motor vehicle in a manner which places a person in reasonable apprehension of being struck by a moving vehicle.
It's my assumption that Rietz will amend the charges, so long as she feels a conviction is possible. That depends on you.
Will you show up in Courtroom L today? Will you go to the State's Attorney's office and calmly, politely tell the receptionist that you're a Champaign County resident voter, and that you'd like to see Charles Cribbs prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law? You can if you want to.
I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER
There's a reason cars carry identification tags. You don't have a right to drive. If you drive to the detriment of others, the state will be right up in your ass about it.
Generally, this works to our benefit.
When assaulted on the public thoroughfare, it's damned convenient to have the identity of one's assailant so easily attained. It's happened to me a number of times — probably because I jog and cycle the roads so much. Some clever fucker spits at the nerdy cyclist from the cab of his truck, and then feels kind of silly when the deputy shows up on his doorstep to ask why he did it.
You'd think, in the age of ubiquitous surveillance, that people would avoid committing offenses in brightly lit public places. But they don't. This may be a Darwin thing.
On my most recent jog, I witnessed two remarkable offenses. The latter was violent. The former was merely anti-social.
The guy at the loading dock of Timothy Nugent Hall thought nothing of opening his car door, discarding his depleted bag of salty fat fast food, and closing the door again. Maybe no profoundly disabled resident will find her chair wheel jammed by that bag of gunk. I hope not.
But apart from the callousness, what got me was the visibility. Dispatch might yawn at "dark late model sedan, Hispanic male, 20s" but they know exactly what to do with "Illinois license plate G94 27--."
A mile later, I was abruptly cut off while jogging north on Randolph. The girl pulled in to a driveway as I came up the sidewalk. I hopped up into the yard, around the car, and continued on my way. 20 seconds later, she turned in at me again — this time making a left on White, and veering a little unnecessarily close — I assume to teach me a lesson for ... continuing on? Hopping into the yard?
How sorry for you, I thought. You'd be hard to find as "blonde female, 20s, silver Buick." But A24 86-- should find you in a matter of seconds. How could you not know that?
Is it eerie to know that you're being watched while driving? I don't think it is. I'm a little right of center (where left = total government immersion, and right = no government) but I firmly believe that government should protect us from each other on public highways.
In the eternal right versus left conflict, some people take the opposite approach. They'd rather be their own lone protector. Evidently, these people buy newspapers: Plumbing the depths of cowering, irresponsible journalism; the Chicago Tribune now runs a regular feature moralizing against red light cameras. (C'mon, who cares if people stop at red lights — apart from pedestrians, cyclists, those confined to a wheelchair, the blind ...)
On the other hand, The Trib provides the best public advocacy in Illinois via Jon Yates's brilliant The Problem Solver. And this week, TPS revealed a fissure in the surveillance dike.
A woman named Sonia was ticketed for a traffic offense committed by another person, somewhat caught on camera.
But it's not the camera that fucked up. Some twerp at Illinois State Police looked at the offender's license plate, found the (male) registrant's last name, and then issued a citation to Sonia because she had the same last name as the registrant (!) and the driver looked like a woman.
I wonder, would we have these problems if Illinois State Police were elected, as is glossy Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson?
I reference this Trib story only to concede that the current system is far from infallible. I relate my personal experiences because they prove the important lesson in the case of People v. Cribbs: If you want justice, you'd better show up and demand it. You better testify. If you do, you'll get justice.
If you don't, there's an enormous publicly funded bureaucracy waiting to pass your attacker on to his next victim.
* pass security, up the stairs, turn left