Losing Candidate Gets Restraining Order Against City Activist for "Repeat Violence"
Perennial candidate Freda Stevens has never been shy about going to authorities or the courts when things go wrong for her seemingly forever stifled political career.
Stevens went to the FBI against state Rep. Evan Jenne after he beat her (nothing has come of her complaint). In March, after she lost a bid for Davie Town Council to Caryl Casey Hattan, she sued Hattan and Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes. In the suit, she claims that Hattan harassed black voters and that voting machines didn't work for black voters while "miraculously" functioning well for white ones.
restraining order for repeat violence against an activist who opposed her campaign and now opposes the lawsuit. In addition to granting the injunction, Broward Circuit Judge Michael Kaplan forced the activist, Ellen Christopher, a 67-year-old former Miami-Dade police officer, to hand over her gun.
Oh, and there's also a 911 call and an ongoing police stalking investigation prompted by Stevens' complaints against Christopher and Hattan.
The injunction is somewhat odd in that no violence was ever alleged. The restraining order seems to have been based solely on Stevens' allegations that Christopher and her "co-conspirators" -- who allegedly include Hattan -- made "prank calls" and levied threats on her voice-mail, email, and Facebook page.
There are also mentions of mysterious cars driving by her home in the middle of the night and a black truck with a Confederate flag on the back.
Here's what Stevens wrote in her petition for the injunction: "[Christopher] and co-conspirators made unwelcome trips or visits to my home between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. [Christopher] threatened me on several occasions bye [sic] mail and phone... The threats she made to me on July 20, 2010 -- I better be prepared to defend myself because she will be in my area tonight with her friends."
Stevens continues: "Between March and July she is constantly stalking me, specifically cyber stalking me. She has been warned by the police and myself to stay away from my home, my family and to stop e-mailing me and calling me. Every time, her threats and conversations become more harassing, intimidating, and
emotionally stressful. This entire ordeal has caused great emotional distress including fear for my personal and family members safety. This lady started harassing me when I was a candidate for Davie Town Council District 2. The harassment began in February and has increased ever since. The police report was made in March 2010.
"Between March and July she threatened to 1) get rid of me, 2) expose me, 3) Do me in, 4) destroy me for life, 5) see that I am not heard of again.
"On one occasion the respondent followed me in a black truck, driven by a man, with a confederate flag on the back of the truck. They followed me home from the Davie Town Hall. I was in great fear for my personal safety because I was walking home from a Town Hall Meeting."
Stevens' petition was initially rejected when the court found that "the facts, as stated in the Petition alone and without a hearing on the matter, do not demonstrate that Petitioner is a victim of domestic, repeat, dating or sexual violence or that Petitioner has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic or dating violence."
When a hearing was held on August 4, Judge Kaplan granted the injunction, though Christopher claimed in a motion asking for a new hearing that she didn't get a chance to properly tell her side and that Stevens simply "came to court with nothing but a piece of paper she waved around talking about what the police detective said to her. She did not have any police reports. She did not have any telephone records. She did not have any voice-mail messages. She did not have any emails. She did not have any messages to her Facebook friends."
I testified that I made between 10 and 20 phone calls to [Stevens]. These phone calls were to [Stevens] and/or various entities she reported she was affiliated with. These phone calls, based upon information and belief, had a legitimate purpose since [Stevens] was running for Town Council, District 2 in Davie FL (my town and my voting district). None of the phone calls were threats of violence or prank calls.
They were calls to get some answers about where this candidate stood on the various issues facing the Town of Davie and whether or not this candidate was financially sound. Even up to the day the Petitioner filed the petition, the Petitioner appeared to be still campaigning for Town Council.
The respondent's petition was vague regarding the "prank calls and threatening messages."
My testimony and evidence might have shown the Court... that I did not harass the Petitioner... I did not cause [Stevens] substantial emotional distress... what I was doing DID serve a legitimate purpose... [Stevens] was not truthful in the Petition and has not been truthful in other situations... There was no testimony that specifically addressed my firearm and the alleged harassment/violence and therefore the Court should not have ordered me to surrender my firearm... [Stevens} continuously refers to more than one person bothering her and harassing her and she was not specific about what I personally did to her... [Stevens] appears to be obsessed with CARYL CASEY HATTAN (CCH), who won the election... and this obsession extends to anyone who happens to support CCH.
She wrote that she did call Stevens on July 20, the day before Stevens filed her petition, and left a phone message.
"The message I left for [Stevens] was something like, 'Hey Freda Stevens, still campaigning, I thought it was over. What are you running for now Freda? Anyway, just giving you a heads up for tomorrow, Town of Davie is having an open meeting, come and defend yourself,'" Christopher wrote in her motion. "[Steven's] version of the phone mail message is quite different from what I actually said. I believe the detective handling this case has an audio copy of the message and I understand [Stevens] gave the police detective a copy of the phone message."
Christopher provided a lot of records and evidence that was missing from the injunction. She even got a copy of a 911 call Stevens made on July 20, according to her motion. Here's the transcript she included in the motion:
911: What's your emergency?
CALLER: Yeah. I'm sorry. I don't know if I should make this report tonight or maybe tomorrow because you all have serious life -- life-threatening emergencies. I don't know what to do here. I made a police report a few months back against some whack jobs that keeps harassing me, and I just got some more calls from them tonight.
911: OK. I'll be more than happy to have a unit go out in reference to these harassing phone calls, ma'am. What's your address?
CALLER: It's at ---
911: What city are you in?
911: OK. Is this a private house or an apartment?
CALLER: It's a house. I rather hate... to do it tonight because I know you all have life-threatening things, but these people just will not leave me alone.
911: I can help you, ma'am.
CALLER: And I've reported this already multiple times, and the detective told me if they keep on harassing me, he can make like a cyber stalking ha... harassment or something. These people are... they just will not leave me alone, and they've been coming around my house. It's just, it's crazy.
911: OK. I've already put a call in for service. We're going to have the next available unit go out and assist you. OK?
CALLER: All right. Thank you.
911: You too, bye-bye.
Christopher also provided a post she claimed Stevens' wrote on her Facebook page from that night:
"I cannot take it anymore. This evening I went to the Broward Democratic Party meeting at Deicke Auditorium. When the meeting was over I was talking with political friends that I have not seen in months... I was completely and entirely minding my own business. When I looked down at my cell phone I noticed a missed call from an unknown or unrecognized number. I called back. The person answered but did not say anything. I thought it was simply because there was so much noise in the background at the meeting that it was hard to hear the person. Then the nutjob called again and did not say anything when I answered. I came home only to find a strange and disturbing message on my campaign voice mail. The police have warned Hattan (CCH) and her 'friends' to stop calling me or charges would be filed against them."
There's more, but the information-packed motion was unsuccessful; Christopher's request for a new hearing was rejected by the court. It's just another part of this story that makes little sense. This is a heated situation involving not only a political election but also a lawsuit. Reputations are on the line. Why not air out the evidence?
And if you think the drama is going to stop anytime soon, think again. I found this on Stevens' Facebook page posted on August 25.
"My goodness it is really getting ridiculous," Stevens wrote. "I was well past agitated when I filed it. Now it is just a clear clear cut attitude of white supremacy. I mean they are not even trying to pretend like they are not stalking or harassing me. They are not even trying to pretend to have wholesome reasons for their behavior. This is REALLY ridiculous. I honestly don't know what to do at this point."
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