This evening at about 5:25 pm, I was witness to a dreadful incident at the meadow at bluebell park. The sky was still light enough that the ranger headlights and flashing yellow top lights were surprising, as was the loudspeaker at top volume telling us to leave the park immediately. Those few of us, perhaps 4 or 5 in number, with dogs and cars in the lot began to gather our dogs, say our goodbyes and go to our vehicles.
Apparently we were not speedy enough for the ranger, because he proceeded to drive up onto the meadow itself, and using his high volume loudspeaker, attempted to herd us out of the park with his vehicle. I shouted to him from a distance (because it was cold and his windows were closed) to get off the meadow: it is a pet peeve that rangers drive across the meadow, damage the ground, break the very rules they are there to uphold. He, using his vehicle to herd me, and his loudspeaker to communicate, yelled at me and berated me and threatened me with fines and tickets. My dogs got scared and bolted not for the car but for home, so I turned toward the ranger's SUV to round them up again, and watched as one of the other park users approached the ranger to speak with him directly.
By now, maybe 6 minutes since the ranger had arrived, there were just the two of us in the meadow with the ranger driving on the meadow to herd me out, me chasing my frightened dogs, and the man trying to talk to the ranger face to face.
Once the ranger rolled his window down, he began shouting at the man who had approached him. Suddenly he threw open his door, and the man fell to the ground. I could hear the thud of the door hitting him. The ranger, unbelievably, kept yelling and shouting at the man.
Not once did he stop to say, wow, I am sorry, are you ok, are you hurt, I didn't mean to hurt you. Instead he denied opening the door on the man, even as blood was coursing down the man's face. And continued to yell at him.
Having grabbed my dogs, I ran for my car, shouting to the 2 people at their cars to call the police. I can say I was genuinely frightened for the hurt man. I am unclear about details after that; somehow we all managed to get past the gate and waited for police to arrive to make a statement, since it was clear there would be no simple conflict resolution.
Questions: Why didn't the ranger simply drive away and lock the gate if he couldn't wait the 10 minutes it would take clear the lot? Why didn't the ranger ever once apologize for hitting the man with his car door, but instead continued to rage and shout and stand aggressively over the man he had hurt? Why was a ranger driving his SUV over the meadow in the first place, herding people like cattle?
Anyone could see we were trying to leave. The entire incident didn't take 15 minutes; we waited more than an hour for police. So much for the ranger's big hurry.
Please realize that this was a gate-closing incident, just that. Dogs were off-leash, but all except mine who were frightened by the vehicle chasing them on the meadow, were quickly gathered and put into cars to leave.
We as a society need to hold those in authority to higher standards of behavior than we ask of citizens. Rage behavior doesn't belong in ranger gate closing, and hurting a citizen with no provocation calls for kindness and apologies, not aggression.
Any thoughts how to handle this gate closing more safely? Any ideas on how to hire rangers with fewer aggression issues, more care and compassion for the park and its users?
I feel so sorry for the man who got his face smashed by the ranger's car door. I don't believe he approached the ranger aggressively, or with intent to cause trouble. He might have been trying to buy me a few seconds to capture my frightened dogs. I don't know because I don't know the man socially but rather because I see him out with his dog sometimes. And now he has been damaged. Without apology. Simply to get the park gate closed some hours before the park is scheduled to close.
I would appreciate feedback from all of you, Neighbors. This feels like a travesty to me.