• If Dylan had been a pit bull

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    Dylan Gifford Yount died in the midst of a medical emergency — a mentally confused state, the only mental crisis he ever experienced. He died on the second day of the 2010 National Random Acts of Kindness Week. He died, dehumanized and in despair, in front of 1,000 people who mostly stood watching while others taunted him, provoking his death, and denigrating his state of mind, which he made obvious by his position on the ledge outside his loft above the Forever 21 store at Market and Powell in Hallidie Plaza in San Francisco on February 16, 2010. Dylan was bullied to death by suicide baiting.

    “The Chronicle and SFGate elected

    not to report on the suicide,” announces

    the SFGate.com blog, The Scavenger,

    yet there it is on 2-17-10 —

    “A man jumps to his death and people —

    laugh?”—

    the Aileen Yoo compilation

    of what witnesses and responders

    had already posted at

    SF Examiner, SF Yelp,

    Flickr, and Facebook

    on 2-16-10, the day when

    journalism at The Chronicle and SFGate

    stood down and “elected” not to report

    on the suicide

    baiting.

     

    An employee spoke of that abdication:

    “Part of me is ashamed we’ve not covered it…

    in light of what we HAVE covered,”

    says Wally Greenwell on 2-16-10

    on Aaron Anderson’s Facebook page

    that included the aerial aftermath shot

    of the suicide baiting in front of Forever 21

    in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco,

    on a FB page that can be googled easily

    by anybody, including the man’s mother.

     

    Yet the historic giant of journalism,

    the distinguished winner of Pulitzer Prizes,

    “elected” to let their 243

    shocked or desensitized commenters

    tell the Hallidie-Plaza-Turned-Arena-Horror story

    by themselves.

    And their testimonials DID tell the story

    of the suicide baiting

    until the comment system

    timed-out those responses in spring 2013,

    rendering “A man jumps to his death and people —

    laugh?”

    completely useless.

     

    Gone is this prophetic remark

    by newair from 4:20 PM, 2-17-10:

    “Had it been a dog,

    the outpouring of concern

    would have been overwhelming.”

     

    Now, zoom ahead to spring 2013 to consider

    the case of Charlie, the Staffordshire terrier

    of San Francisco.

    Charlie had attacked a park police horse

    (possibly the first horse

    the city dog had ever seen)

    being ridden — incredulously ridden —

    INSIDE a Crissy Field off-leash dog park

    in August 2012. Imagine or read

    if you can google SF newspapers:

    all the standard pit bull ownership arguments

    for nature v nurture ensued there, of course,

    as well as a public hearing, a righteous lawsuit,

    and total adjudication of Charlie’s case by April 2013.

    In a mere nine months, Charlie had already had his day

    in a Northern California United States District Court

    and had won swift justice from

    Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in a settlement deal.

    Charlie would live to wag this tale: the city and county of

    San Francisco would pay half the costs for his behavioral

    evaluation, incarceration, and rehabilitation.

    And just as newair had long ago suggested in

    his chilling post about the “outpouring of concern,”

    Charlie’s support WAS overwhelming

    (Google “Help Save Charlie” FB, 13,000+ likes).

    His attorney — that Marine — had argued Charlie’s owner

    had “fought the fight because he cares about his dog.”

     

    Revisiting the 2-17-10 comments

    posted at The Scavenger’s

    “A man jumps to his death and people —

    laugh?” is not an easy task for either the faint-hearted

    or those prudent enough to print copies

    and therefore still can.

    While The Chronicle continues its decline,

    their commenters, at least, have always been amazing,

    often for their uncomfortable but accurate articulations.

    The “had it been a dog” comment by newair

    scored 35 thumbs up and 2 down, and from

    February to June of that first year after

    the 2-16-10 Hallidie Plaza Suicide Baiting,

    The Scavenger posts served as the account

    of the grisly truth

    because the host newspaper had

    “elected” out.

     

    Why do some embrace the truth

    while others do not? Who can say?

    Many vociferously claim

    they only want to hear the good news —

    why post the bad, after all?

    And this wish might be understandable

    if nothing bad has ever happened to you

    or EVER WILL.

    BUT, if a mentally disabled and ambivalent man,

    experiencing an acute medical emergency,

    irrationally and impulsively jumps off a sixth-floor ledge

    at the evil behest of an unruly crowd

    that twenty-four police officers ALLOW

    to deindividuate into a sadistically dominated mob

    reveling in a vulgar orgy of pure invidious hatred,

    and if the victim happens to be your son or friend,

    then you are going to want to have the truth.

     

    And if you are reading this right now

    out of curiosity or in, perhaps, support

    of this man’s mother’s effort to live out this advice:

    “Externalize, externalize, externalize. Tell

    your story as often as you can

    to as many people as you can,”

    AND if you are compassionate enough

    or smart enough to realize that tragedy

    is a whorish and nondiscriminatory lottery:

    do be advised this next true sentence is unpleasant

    and SHOULD shame us all.

     

    The inhumanity of Dylan Yount’s suicide baiting death

    was “elected” as less important to report than

    Charlie the pit bull’s close brush with

    euthanized death.

     

    Granted, Charlie’s story IS definitely important

    and worthy of reporting and serving to provide

    a foundation and forum for thoughtful discussion.

    Dylan, himself, loved dogs

    even his best friend’s uncomely, wide-girthed,

    duck-footed, sway-backed, cartoon-flatulent

    beagle basset hound Eleanor.

    We do love our dogs, and only the very evil

    would allow mistreatment of dog, even a pit bull.

    But Dylan was a mortal

    (Google “suicide Baiting Prevention” FB, 638 likes).

     

    And so, a man, my son, died a disgusting,

    bizarre, highly-documented, savage death:

    confused, afraid, alone in a crowd witnesses say

    numbered 1,000.

    He died miserably unprotected, victimized, dehumanized,

    and stripped of any shred of dignity or self-worth.

    Many effectively argue his barbaric death demeans

    HUMANITY (not just the man’s mother).

     

    We are WHERE WE ARE today

    In Yount v City and County of San Francisco

    because those MOST responsible for

    that shocking suicide baiting death

    will not admit they would change one single thing

    that happened the day humanity went beyond the boundaries of any standard of human decency

    to provoke an unstable man

    into killing himself for their ENTERTAINMENT.

    Most think this is a story worth reporting.

    Most (not all) of the documentation now is official,

    the soul-destroying revelations:

    “Would you, ah, do anything any differently?”

    — who me? oh hell no!

    “Did you guys, um, ever talk about what happened

    in training exercises, to um, secure a better outcome?”

    — who us? oh hell no!

     

    While it is too late for swift justice like Charlie got,

    it is not too late for common decency.

    Accountability.

    Integrity.

    Character.

    Validation that suicide baiting is criminal.

    A public resolve that it should never happen again.

    From journalists. From INFORMED citizens.

    From the police hired to know and enforce the laws.

    From the city attorneys hired to defend the police.

    Without the truth, we will not change.

     

    It has been a slow audition for a trial from then to now,

    for an opportunity to tell this story in a court of law.

    We know that ONLY a legal judgment

    will usher in CHANGE

    in cases like

    the unjust death of a man

    not a pit bull.

    Our attorney — that Marine — will argue

    when — or if —he gets the chance

    that his client

    “Fought the fight because she cares,

    because it is the right thing to do

    given the astonishing circumstances.”

    Suicide baiting should be completely preventable or

    punishable.

     

    (The poem “If Dylan Had Been a Pit Bull,” written by Dylan’s mother, Kathie Yount, suicide baiting prevention activist, was written on Summer Solstice 2013, USA Bring Your Dog to Work Day. The poem is posted on the Suicide Baiting Prevention Facebook page.)

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    These pictures are from Part II of Dylan’s Eagle Scout project, the Geology Station constructed and donated to the Outdoor Classroom at Harrisburg R-VIII Schools in 1993. This geology station joined the sundial as two of the premiere features for the science learning environment located behind the elementary building. Dylan was a very altruistic and fun-loving person with a lifelong love of nature.

     

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    Words cannot begin to explain how much I miss Dylan. We would appreciate your support at the Suicide Baiting Prevention page. Our case is now in the hands of Judge James. As we anxiously await her decision, we would appreciate the comfort of support in our efforts to eradicate suicide baiting.

     

     

     

     



    • Kathy, thank you so much for sharing your grief and outrage. I truly hope you find some peace in the legislation that could make what happened to your son never happen to any living person.


      • Maya North

      • June 27, 2013 at 11:34 am
      • Reply

      So powerful; no parent worth spit will fail to feel this from heart to bone. Thank you for your honesty and eloquence. He lives now in our hearts, too. ♥


      • davidlacy

      • June 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm
      • Reply

      Once again a tremendously powerful and important read. Though the link is included in the column, I’d like to invite readers to “like” the Facebook “Suicide Baiting Prevention” page found here: https://www.facebook.com/SuicideBaitingCrowdPrevention.



    • Many thanks to the family of writers at iPinion Syndicate! The quality of writing here, the diversity of topics, and your obvious commitment to making the world a little better–all define your marvelous and energetic site. I am so grateful for the second opportunity to extend awareness by telling the story of my son’s brutal suicide baiting death in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, 2-16-10. It is also unfortunately true, as I explained in my poem, that I am jealous of the quick justice Charlie the pit bull received. At the same time, I understand it is difficult to galvanize support for such a morbid cause that I find myself now championing. And, I am equally cognizent that I do not have a political bone in my body! Even so, the disparity in numbers between the “likes” on the two Facebook pages for Charlie and Dylan leaves me weak. Since Dylan’s death I have truly struggled not to give in to despair and hopelessness. As we approach some kind of denouement here in the coming weeks with Judge James’s much-awaited decision whether our case will be dismissed or will go to trial, it will be a comfort to reflect on the goodness and compassion you have extended to a stranger. I hope you never lose sight of doing the right thing. Whatever happens, you should be proud of the work you did in regard to this story. With both gratitude and hope, From Kathie, suicide baiting prevention activist


        • Maya North

        • June 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm
        • Reply

        Kathie, please let us know what the decision is. I know that there is a constant background jitter about how it will turn out. I pray justice will be served, but I honestly don’t trust the justice system much. Big hugs, dearheart…



    • Hi Kathie, My deepest sympathy for your loss. i see your frustration with the attention the Charlie pages rec’vd. Your sons case deserves more awareness. The people I tell about this case,have not heard of suicide baiting & are wanting to put your message out there too.

      As far as the ‘Charlie situation’ , his life was saved b/c of his owner’s efforts to get his story out there. Charlie is still not home with his owner,yet. Several pages have sprung up to oppose the owner from ever filing a case to get him back. They have( tried to) slandered,harassed & bullied him into quitting his cause of getting Charlie home.

      I first saw your post listed in ‘comment by others’ post section on the Help Save Charlie page. The story of ‘ If Dylan was a Pitbull’ was posted. I thought it was ironic b/c David Gizzarelli has been taunted more then a few times on HSC causes & fundraisr pages that he should take his life. They went on to degrade him & give him reasons,injecting in their own imaginative scenarios of Davids mother disowning him. Not to mention the personal death threats he rec’vd. The FBI was also called in to monitor the situation.

      There was a lot of politics involved in the Charlie case. Obviously the SF Police dept needs to correct their officers actions that could have prevented both cases from happening.

      Please forgive me for comparing the cases. I mean no disrespect. I just wanted to offer you the insights into why the Charlie case was so heated. If it was treated like any other case where’ dog bites horse in unleased dog area’, the owner would have gotten a small fine & a request to muzzle & leash dog in public. David would have kept his dog,paid for the horses injuries & been done with it. That is what happened in other incident in same park.The hate group popped up, that was well connected, & continued a heated exchange drawing more & more animal lovers onto each side.

      Dylan’s case deserves to be known,written about,shared & justice brought .

      I have taken up your cause to share your page,encouraged my friends to do the same.
      I will go to my local police dept & find out what rules are in place & are they followed,will they arrest a person on site for baiting suicide? Now,I want to see if MY city’s police dept has heard about Dylan. I will make sure they know.

      Sending Light & Love, A friend of Charlie & Dylan supporter.



    • Thanks, lidine, no offense was taken for the comparison. I totally agree with your comments about the SFPD. I have always felt that if they had done their jobs that day, Dylan would be alive. He had never been suicidal, mentally ill, or had a prior attempt. He suffered a crisis that day that was so severe he didn’t live through it. He received no assistance, only encouragement to die. I think it was also an egregious error to ride a new park horse INSIDE an off-leash city dog park! Rookie park police horses and rookie crisis intervention officers can cause a lot of hurt. About the websites, I hate to keep bringing up unpleasant truths, but here goes. There have been myriads of lawsuits about pit bulls. There have been myriads of LEGISLATION about pit bulls. Suicide legislation, on the other hand, is relatively rare EVEN WHEN first responders screw up. The Raymond Zack suicide in Alameda was horrific. Police and firefighters simply waited and watched while a despondent man drown! At one point, a first responder climbed the rescue ladder on the truck to better see how things were going in his death. They would not even retrieve his body. After he died, a young nurse swam out to bring him back to shore. Police claim they were not trained in water rescue and that it was too dangerous to save a suicidal man! The family’s bid for a lawsuit was dismissed. The police in Dylan’s case were not trained either! (Or Charlie’s). What is really lacking, though, is not so much better training as it is COMPASSION. To the SFPD, Dylan’s desperation was a joke. They treated the suicide baiting as a joke. Police break down doors all the time, but on 2-16-10, they politely knocked and waited and snickered until he jumped. When one googles “pit bull legislation” an astonishing number of sites are available. If any have the courage to google “suicide legislation,” be prepared. There’s not much out there. (William Melchert-Dinkel, the MN suicide nurse IS, though). More people now die by suicide than in car crashes. More military die by suicide than in combat. So many kids are killing themselves after being bullied, we have yet been able to formulate the statistics! We have a mental health EMERGENCY in this country. I BEGGED to see standard operation procedures the SFDP would use in a suicide attempt. Request denied. I don’t think they ever had a SOP although their own training literature for coursework says nearly 25% of their calls come from the emotionally disturbed. All this is very depressing. Multiple people broke the law that day, but only Dylan suffered. Only Dylan died. If this case should be dismissed, I do not believe it bodes well for any other suicide baiting/bullying case in our country. Suicide baiting/bullying will have been judged acceptable. I have already lived my worst day of life. Everything that could conceivably happen to me in the remainder of my life will pale in comparison to Dylan’s suicide baiting death! At the same time, I AM STILL Dylan’s mom. When I do die, I want to know that I did everything I could legally do to prevent this abomination from ever happening to another family again. It is not a job I would have chosen for myself or one that Dylan would have chosen for me. I am one voice fighting a city with a 7 billion dollar annual budget. This is a city inside a state that ranks 8th as the WORLD’S largest economy, just behind Italy. Their city attorneys are probably not phased by my efforts to do the right thing. I do it because someone should. That’s really it.



      • Kathie, You are so right. I’ll do my best to help you. I PMed you & have some ideas. Lets see how they fly.

        In Charlie’s case I’m more focused on how David’s case was singled out & handled differently than the other dog bites horse cases.The same officer was the dangerous dog investigator,judge & jury on whether Charlie should live. Something is wrong with that set up. The owner was given back Charlie, with ‘he’s a good dog,just scared. just keep him on a leash’ THEN,10 days later the same person deemed him to death. That whole system is wacked. The city Attorney,the mayor & others turned a blind eye. The director of SFACC was commenting on the hating page. Who does that & still keeps her job?

        But YES, the Charlie case had an outpouring,… & as I share Dylan’s story,I get’ that is so sad.’
        I admire your Mother’s passion.



    • […] Watch for “part two.” In the meantime, I encourage you to read her iPinion column, and subsequent poem, and visit her Suicide Baiting Prevention Facebook page. Kathie is channeling her grief and despair […]



    • Our trial is scheduled to begin August 25, 2014, in San Francisco’s Civic Center Courthouse, the Honorable Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee, presiding.



    • All eyes will be watching! Waiting for justice!



    • Our trial was denied for the second time, this time at the state level in Superior Court by Judge A. James Robertson, II who stated the defendant, the San Francisco police officers “did not owe a duty to arrest the hecklers.” This is news, indeed, America, and illustrates how out-of-touch with reality the San Francisco courts are. The next time the SFPD witnesses a felony taking place — a rape, a robbery, an assault — they do NOT have to enforce laws or make arrests!!! Why we call police “law enforcement officers” escapes me!! This is neither the America we want nor the police services we THINK we pay for. Our trial was yanked off the table on July 23, only 32 days before its scheduled start date of August 25, 2014. Words are inadequate to express this plaintiff’s outrage at such continued injustice. Those defending suicide baiting lack any decent standard of morality.



    • Oral Arguments in “Kathie Yount et al. v. City and County of San Francisco et al.” will be heard August 20, 2015, in the First District Court of Appeal, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco, at 11:00. Room number is unknown at this time.



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