Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Through Angelic Intervention, CofA Blog is Born, in spite of SNAP attempts to kill it

Work in Progress

(This is Chapter 2 OUTLINE Chapter 3 is here and Chapter One here and all of it is in progress as of Oct. 2011.)

2006: Message Board already starting to not work
Me frustrated every try I make to connect through SNAP in L.A.
- They say “You're too sick.”
- Or “You can’t say you represent SNAP."
Both of which set me reeling.
For months, the local SNAP director Mary Grant has told me, "nothing is going on with the L.A. cases," and I know that cannot be true.
In fall 2006 SNAP calls a "meeting" for survivors at a Michael Baker hearing, although meeting in criminal court arraignments means we have to sit quietly and not speak.
During a break, I “trap” Grant, getting her to talk to me while she is standing with a woman from VOTF. This way Grant has no choice but to tell me the truth. She can't tell me again that there is no courthouse activity right now concerning the hundreds of L.A. lawsuits with the woman from VOTF standing there.
I interrupt them and say, "Mary, with hundreds of lawsuits filed in 2003, there has to be something going on in a courtroom somewhere about those cases."
Through gritted teeth Grant tells me yes there are a few cases in court, and I say where, in which courthouse, and she finally mumbles the name of a plaintiff attorney for me to call for information about the L.A. cases.
Next day I learn from the attorney’s office that hearings have been going on for almost a year and the lawyer gladly tells me how to track the L.A. Clergy Cases at the Superior Court website. The plaintiff law office tell me there have been pretrial hearings in L.A. Superior Court for about a year.
Throughout her interaction with me, Mary Grant seemed conflicted, like what she was saying to me was what she was instructed to say.  But as she carried water for SNAP she must have seen the damage she was inflicting. I was not the only one.  Grant pulled a few other people aside and sent them packing, and at the end of the L.A. Cases, Grant was not in the best emotional shape. I think she was a decent person, doing what her bosses told her to do, and at the end of it, she was deteriorating in a sense of inner guilt.
Those several instances in 2006 why did Grant tell me repeatedly that nothing is going on with the clergy cases when there were hearings revealing bizarre shenanigans carried out by Archdiocese defense lawyers. I wonder how many other reporters SNAP diverted away from covering the story, but in 2006-2007 I pushed down the idea, because like most survivors, in first dealings with SNAP I still thought the people who run SNAP were the equivalent of saints.

That Christmas holiday a bunch of strange stuff happens personally between me and Grant, resulting in a stream of emails that for some reason I cannot find today. New Years 2007 as I'm still squawking at the monitor, my daughter points out to me, "Don't let them make you feel so bad." She says, "Look at who is sending you these emails."
My intuitive daughter forces me to take an objective look at SNAP. Lizzie sensed something untrue and distrustful about the SNAP since the day we first connected with the local branch, a good two years earlier, my perceptive daughter. So Jan 2007, I ignore these niggering snippets coming in my email and plod on.
Using instincts honed from 1976 to 1988 when I worked as a reporter and editor, one of my careers I destroyed, I decide on a hearing to attend on my own, and do a lot of praying in place of having an editor.
I put a Notice on the SNAP Message Board that I'm going to a hearing in L.A. next Tuesday, anyone want to join me.
Immediately SNAP is in my email trying to stop me from covering the hearing, strange since it is the first anyone from SNAP responded to one of my message board posts, and I’d been posting at the board that I wanted to connect with people for a year.
Now after I invite readers to join me at a hearing and SNAP in an email tells me: “Don’t go to that hearing, you will be hurting this survivor and ruining his case." She attaches paragraphs from an email between her and the plaintiff attorney that do not really say that, and adds, "The survivor does not want you to go to his hearing and write about it."
She repeats, "You will be damaging a survivor."
The survivor in that one hearing is the one and only person from all the thousand plus Southern California cases who I have managed to meet, thanks to the message board. So I call him right away and he tells me, "Hell no, I never talk to SNAP and I would never say that. Hell yes, I do want you to cover my hearing, and I want you to write about it."
(Later in 4 years of doing CofA Blog I find out many victims around the country, when proposing activism to SNAP central, are told the same phrase, "You will be hurting [or damaging] a survivor."
Later I also learned that several survivors have had similar dis-spiriting words whispered in their ears by a SNAP leader as I had in 2006 ("You're too sick to run a SNAP meeting"). If I were the only survivor shut out by SNAP, I would not be writing this story. It was after plenty of interviews doing CofA Blog that I realized victims all across the country were having similar experiences to mine, with the end result them not being "empowered" as SNAP claims, but feeling beaten down by SNAP. I concluded the SNAP enigma is part of the pedophile Catholic priest story that has to be written.)


January 2007 I cover the hearing, in spite of warnings not to from SNAP, and find an amazing story there, so January 16, 2007, City of Angels Blog is born, thanks to angelic intervention and the message board.

A few weeks later, SNAP deconstructs the message board, making it almost totally not work.

Earlier on the message board I'd my first observed SNAP sabotaging supporters who try to get activism going on their own. A group of us organized among ourselves organized a vigil Easter 2006 to take place in Chicago. After ignoring our requests for help contacting the media and participants, SNAP showed up the day of the event, suddenly having its own idea to hold a vigil. Only SNAP's event is in a different location at a slightly different time. So SNAP detours news media and potential participants from the Vigil we organized, and even sabotages their own event by showing up in the wrong location, at the wrong time, making its announcement too late, a pattern repeated in each city where SNAP appears.
The Chicago Vigil was sabotaged and it sapped the organizers' enthusiasm as well.

These active energetic potential activists who organized the Chicago 2006 vigil were so hurt by SNAP's intervention and spoiler acts that they stop even participating in what's left of the message board.
They drop out of the movement.
Another pattern observed in city after city with SNAP.
A few months later on the message board, SNAP locks the Chicago Archdiocese category at the message board, then two years later claims lawyers told them to take it down.
City of Angels posts a mirror version of the message board.

You can read the mirror version of the old SNAP message board at http://snapsurvivorsnetwork.yuku.com/directory although the board is officially closed...

This is the video that used to be on this link, which is now Chapter Two of The Other SNAP Story.

Video above is from Fall 2010.