During the past several years, our society has witnessed an explosion of “bullying” in our educational systems throughout this country. In fact, this is not a new phenomenon as we have always had students in our midst who pushed others around who were smaller or quieter than the bully himself. It hardly made the headlines and to my knowledge there was no proliferation of suicides as a result of these acts on their peers.
In many instances, resources and an infusion of training and monetary incentives developed just for the sole purpose of addressing this ever-increasing dangerous behavior in our schools. Bullying is happening at every level within our educational system and it is having harmful and devastating effects on our young people.
During the past several years, I along with the Concerned Citizens of Edisto Drive have experienced the adult version of bullying by a citizen who attends the Edisto Drive Community Center. Arnold Ray attends the meetings to harass, evoke fear and intimidate community members who participate in the meetings. Moreover, the matter has gotten increasingly worse since my sister Deloris Frazier won the election to represent District 6 on Orangeburg County Council.
On Election Day at the polls, Ray attempted to slap my telephone from my hand and positioned himself so close to me our noses touched as he repeatedly insulted me. During the past several years, Ray has consistently attended the Concerned Citizens meetings on Edisto Drive, where he exhibits boisterous and aggressive behavior toward the group.
Many community members no longer attend the meetings for fear of having to be exposed to his erratic, nonsensical and boisterous attacks. One must wonder why a person who claims to be a minister, lives in Norway and is not a registered voter in District 6 would take the time to make his presence known in such a manner.
Well, we all found out as we read his Oct. 24 letter to the editor in which he declared and proclaimed to be the spokesperson for John Stroman and the Edisto Drive Concerned Citizens group. With no affiliation to the community, Ray has decided on his own to attend the meetings to disrupt and cause havoc because he desires to intimidate council member Deloris Frazier and me.
He has also demonstrated this anger and hostility at County Council meetings toward her. Anyone who knows council member Frazier can attest that she will not allow herself to be lowered to his level. As Michelle Obama has said, “When they go low, we go high.”
During our last meeting on Oct. 15, Ray again displayed his usual derogatory name calling and boisterous behavior. The meeting was finally halted by a deputy, whose report contains erroneous information. Again, we witnessed bullying behavior that was not appropriately dealt with by the officer. If this was a school setting, surely the incident would have been addressed in an appropriate manner.
Ray boasts of his friendship with Sheriff Leroy Ravenell and his deputies, and state nothing will happen to him. The record speaks for itself and it’s on file for public view.
I am saddened that the system we rely on to protect citizens has been compromised by an individual who uses the name of Sheriff Ravenell and the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office as he circumvents decency and professional public behavior. We also assume that the person who wrote the letter regarding Councilwoman Deloris Frazier was not Arnold Ray and that it was politically motivated.
We will continue to pray for the Rev. Ray to abide by the affirmations he took to be a minster. Based on his behavior and language, one surely would have to question whether this is where this world is going or coming.
Dr. M. Helen Frazier, MSW, Ed.D. is CEO of It Takes A Village, Hollywood, S.C.
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