[nfbmi-talk] the kevin worley story

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Sat Dec 6 22:08:05 UTC 2014

And he stopped those of us fighting for civil rights of the blind from even documenting violations at the Leadership Seminar, and called those who did trouble makers?

>From The Braille Monitor April 1987


The Kevin Worley Story



by Peggy Pinder



(Editor's Comments: In the middle part of the nineteenth

century, America was torn by the question of slavery.  At that

time James Russell Lowell said:


Truth forever on the scafferd;

Wrong forever on the throne.

Yet, that scafferd sways the future,

And behind the dim unknown

Standeth God within the shadows,

Keeping watch above his own.


On another occasion Lowell said:


They are slaves who dare not be

In the right with two or three.


The kind of slavery which Lowell protested no longer exists

in America, but that does not mean that oppression has been

eliminated or slavery completely abolished.  As you read the

following article, ask yourself what you would have done if you

had stood in Kevan Worley's place in the line at the bus station.


How would you have felt as your small children, your wife, and

the crowd of bystanders witnessed your humiliation?  What scars

will be left on the nine-year-old son and the two-year-old


Ordinarily the Monitor does not make a practice of printing

offensive language, but we make an exception in the present

instance.  The blind of the nation and their friends must know

what was said by the police.  It is no game we play, this

business of self-organization and struggle for equal treatment.

It is as vital and important as the lives and destinies of us

all, and those who fear the consequences of the struggle for

freedom should consider carefully and quietly drop out of line.

There is a price to be paid, and the time of payment is now.

There is also a reward to be achieved.  Its name is freedom, and

we do not intend for it to be postponed until future generations.


We intend to have some of it now--some for ourselves, and even

more for the blind who come after us.  However, we can only have

it if we are prepared to work for it, sacrifice for it, and fight

for it.  Freedom is like that.  It is never given.  It must

always be earned.

With this in mind what are you prepared to do on a daily

basis as you interact with family, friends, acquaintances, and

strangers?  And what are you prepared to do to build and

strengthen the National Federation of the Blind?  Individual

action and collective action--both are required.  In short, you

and the Federation.  Each of us should think of these things and

ponder our own level of commitment as we contemplate the Kevan

Worley story.  Here it is in the words of Peggy Pinder, who

served as attorney for the Worleys.)


What happens in the United States if an individual stands up

and asserts rights guaranteed by law?  Our textbooks and our

traditions tell us that law protects us, that human and civil

rights lie at the very core of our nation's jurisprudence.  But

human and civil rights are the end result.  Someone had first to

stand up for those rights and often had to suffer for doing so.

A glance at American legal history reveals many victims, men

and women whose rights were trampled upon and who never

personally achieved redress in court.  The great case of Marbury

v. Madison established the Supreme Court as the final decider of

what is and is not permitted under our Constitution.  As a

footnote to history, William Marbury, who originally brought the

suit, lost completely.  The slave plaintiff Dred Scott lost his

case to compel his freedom, a defeat which helped to bring about

the Civil War.  Homer Plessy lost his case for equal treatment of

blacks and whites by railroad companies, ushering in the legal

permission to segregate people by race known as "separate but

equal" treatment.  Japanese-American internee Toyosubaro

Korematsu lost his case to have the World War II internment of

Japanese- Americans declared unconstitutional.  The Supreme

Court's permission for imprisonment based on race in Korematsu

provoked the Federation's founder Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, then a

university professor and legal scholar, to write a learned

protest which earned him a permanent place in American legal

tradition.  Dr. tenBroek's analysis is the starting point of

every first-year law student's study of the Fourteenth Amendment

to the United States Constitution, and his insights and language

are used routinely by today's lawyers.

History has slowly righted the wrongs inflicted in these

individual cases.  But many of the individuals who first asserted

important civil rights did not live to enjoy those rights


The suffering of these men and women did not begin with

their final defeat in court.  When a human or civil right is

violated, the pain and humiliation are immediate and last a

lifetime.  When one human being treats another as an inferior, as

second-class, as subhuman, both human beings are degraded.  The

one who receives the injury must be strong indeed to prevent it

from warping and embittering the outlook.

We blind people are accustomed to dealing with people who

believe us less capable than our neighbors.  The National

Federation of the Blind serves as our vehicle for righting these

wrongs and for bringing about a better world in which the blind

will be accepted as equals.  The Federation also serves each of

us as a source of strength, helping us to keep perspective and

teaching us that bitterness and resentment will not change the

world.  Only a strong belief in ourselves and a willingness to

work for creative change will bring the results we seek.

There is a long list of Federationists who have led the way

in suffering arrest and public harassment because they stood up

for their rights.  Judy Sanders, Russell Anderson, Steve and

Nadine Jacobson, Gary Mackenstadt, Barbara Pierce, Larry Krejci,

Sharon Gold, Sheryl Pickering, David Estes, Kevin Harris, and

Fred Schroeder have all been arrested in the last two years for

sitting in their assigned airline seats, seats which turned out

to be in exit rows.  Only Steve and Nadine Jacobson were ever

tried in a court of law.  As for all the others, they were never

even charged, or the charges were dropped by local prosecutors or

judges who knew that the blind person had committed no crime.

The Jacobsons told their story to a jury as did United Airlines.

The Jacobsons won, receiving a complete acquittal from the jury.

Other Federationists--President Maurer, Mary Ellen Reihing,

Bonnie O'Day, Paul Gabias, Curtis Chong, Jan Uribes, Steve

Hastalis --have been physically removed or barred from airplanes

or have been falsely told that their flight was "canceled,"

though the airlines did not have the courage to arrest these men

and women.  They were simply refused passage when they insisted

on sitting in their exit row seats--seats assigned to them (not

by their request) by the airlines.

Each of these men and women underwent the pain and

humiliation of public harassment when they stood up for their

rights.  Each was finally vindicated by the courts as completely

as by their own consciences.  Each has learned the lesson of

Federationism in a new way.  But even if a court had found each

and every one of them guilty of some criminal charge, every one

of them would still stand acquitted before their own beliefs.

Each of them chose their beliefs over immediate comfort, their

beliefs over the wishes of those around them, their beliefs over

the usual practice of complying with directives of those in

charge.  Each is stronger, and we are all stronger for it.

Each is stronger because he or she learned that, when you

seem most to be alone, when the people all around you seem to be

united against you, that is when you feel most strongly the

supporting force of 50,000 other blind people encouraging you to

endure for principle and belief.  The journey from second- class

citizenship to first-class status is never easy, but it is always

worth the effort and exceedingly rewarding.  In fact, it is

likely to be more painful than anything else except staying where

you are as a second-class citizen.

Kevan and Debbie Worley are Federationists from St. Louis

where Kevan serves as a chapter president.  Both are blind.

Neither had ever been arrested for insisting on equal treatment

before September 4, l986.  They had always been there when

someone else needed encouragement and support.  They knew that

their rights in Missouri were protected by a White Cane Law

making violation of the civil rights of a blind person a crime,

and they had a friend whose recent illness called them to make an

eighty-mile bus trip to cheer and encourage the long hours of


On September 4, l986, Kevan and Debbie Worley, both carrying

their white canes, arrived at the Trailways bus station in St.

Louis at about 7:00 a.m. with their son and daughter.  The

Worleys got in line while their son went to play video games.

When they arrived at the ticket counter, they stepped into that

twilight world where a person's simple dignity and humanity must

be fought for before the judge of conscience and belief.  Here in

their own words is what happened:




Affidavit of Kevan Worley


Comes now Kevan Worley and, being first duly sworn, deposes

and states as follows:

1.   My name is Kevan Worley.  My address is 5432 Odell

Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63139.  I am totally blind.

2.   On Thursday morning, September 4, 1986, my wife Deborah

and I and our two children, Jayson, age nine, and Megan Beth, age

two, took a cab from our home to the Trailways Bus station in

downtown St. Louis.  We left our home at approximately 6:50

Thursday morning, arriving at the bus station a little after

7:00.  Our son Jayson went to play video games, while Megan,

Deborah, and I got in line to buy tickets.  We were going to

visit friends in Festus, Missouri, some forty miles south of St.


3.   When it came our turn to purchase tickets, Deborah

asked the female ticket agent for two adult and one child's

ticket to Festus.  The ticket agent asked to see a doctor's

letter.  Deborah said we did not need a letter from a doctor

since we weren't asking for any half price fares, except for a

child's ticket which is always half fare.  The lady asked again

for a doctor's letter and Deborah said, "I don't understand.

We've never used a doctor's letter before, and anyway we want

full fare tickets for my husband and me and the full fare charged

for our children."

4.   The ticket agent got very loud and once again told

Deborah that she would not be allowed to buy tickets without a

doctor's letter.  At this point Deborah asked to see a supervisor

and was told that the supervisor would, "not be in until nine and

by that time your bus will be gone."

5.   At this point I decided that the ticket agent must be

confused about my white cane and the fact that Deborah had asked

for a half fare ticket for our son.  I explained that my wife and

I wanted full fare tickets and that the half fare ticket we

wanted was for our nine-year-old son.  I explained that we didn't

want any special treatment or reductions in fare because of

blindness, just the ordinary tickets for adults and for children.


The ticket agent angrily replied that she wasn't going to sell us

tickets.  I then said, "You've been rude to everyone in this

line. We've heard you. Please just sell us the tickets.  We do

not want special treatment from you and we have a right under the

law to buy regular tickets.  All we want to do is go to Festus."

The agent said, "I cannot sell you any Godamn tickets without a

doctor's statement."

6.   At that time I told the ticket agent that we would not

move until she sold us tickets.  She said, "I won't sell you any

fucking tickets so get out of my line." She then moved to the

next ticket window to my right.  I picked up my cane, moved to my

right, and attempted to bar that window with the cane by holding

it horizontally across my body, five to six inches out away from

my chest along the edge of the counter.  My right hand extended

down to the tip of the cane and my left hand was placed on the

handle of the cane.  At no time did my cane leave our side of the

window or rise higher than the level of the countertop.  My

attempt was to bar the window as a sign of defiance and I said,

"We won't be leaving if we're not allowed to buy tickets and go

to Festus, and neither will anybody else." As I moved to my

right, I accidentally brushed against an older lady.  Deborah put

her arm around me and said, "it's an older lady." At that time,

the older lady moved around behind me to the ticket window

located to my left where we had orignally been standing.  The

agent went back to that ticket window and they began to transact


7.   Realizing that I could accomplish nothing by preventing

others from buying tickets, I then moved farther down the counter

to my right.  As I did, I accidentally knocked over some object

sitting on the counter.  It sounded like one of those hard molded

plastic cases that they put on the counter to display schedules

or credit card applications.  The ticket agent then called the

police and said, "Somebody's bustin' up my station."

8.   I continued every twenty to thirty seconds to say, "I

would like for my family and me to be sold tickets to Festus.

Please sell us tickets.  Will someone from Trailways please sell

our family tickets to Festus.  Look, all I want are tickets to

Festus." Those kinds of things I was saying every time I heard

someone walking up to the counter to buy tickets.

9.   While I was doing this, I asked Deborah to go call the

police.  Our rights under the Missouri White Cane law were being

violated, and I felt that we should call for police assistance.

Deborah went to call while I continued saying, "Please sell us

tickets to Festus" for another five to seven minutes.

10.  As Deborah returned to my side with Megan in her arms

crying, police came up from behind us and asked Deborah, "Is this

the asshole busting up Trailways?  Why in the hell does he want

to go to Festus?" Deborah said, "I don't know.  You'll have to

ask him." They spun me around and the older sounding officer

said, "What the hell are you doing here?  Why don't you get out

of here? This isn't a play." The younger-sounding one (I learned

later his name is Steve) said, "Where are you from? I know you

can't be from St. Louis.  You're too fucking stupid." I had been

holding forty dollars in my hand the entire time. I held the two

twenty-dollar bills out to the officers and said, "I want to go

to Festus.  That's all we want to do is go to Festus.  You can

resolve this by talking to the agent.  Would you please buy the

tickets for us?  All we want to do is go to Festus." One of the

officers said, "You're not going anywhere.  Just get the fuck out

of here." I said, "I'm sorry.  I cannot leave if my family does

not get bus tickets to Festus."

11.  The next thing I remember is officer Steve telling me,

"We'll take you in for resisting arrest." At this time Deobrah

said, "Are you arresting him?  Is he under arrest? You can't do

that.  You haven't told him he's under arrest." "The fuck we

can't.  We can do anything we want.  We're St. Louis police

officers," Steve said.  Deborah asked, "Don't you have to read

his rights or anything?" "We don't have to read him shit," one of

the officers replied.  At this point, they wrenched the cane from

my hands while Deborah protested by saying, "You can't do that.

You can't take his cane away." One of the officers said, "The

hell we can't" as I was spun around and handcuffed.

12.  They started taking me to the door, and Deborah asked

if she could have the money in my front left pocket if they were

taking me in.  One officer yelled, "No you can't" and the other

one said she could.  All I knew at the time was that someone did

reach in my front left pocket and take the hundred-dollar bill.

(I later learned that Deborah had moved quickly to my side and

taken the bill before anyone tried to stop her.)

13.  The two officers then marched me out to the street in

handcuffs.  As they did, one of them said, "We'll take you down

with the niggers and see how your asshole likes that." The one

officer, Steve, was on my right.  He moved very fast, while the

other officer on my left walked very slowly and started bending

my elbow up at a peculiar angle.  This put me in an awkward and

painful position.  By the time we reached the street, my elbow

had been bent up high enough that, combined with the different

paces of the officers, I was suffering considerable pain. I had

to try somehow to get my elbow down a little to ease the


14.  It was at this point that one officer said, "Oh, you

want to struggle, huh, you mother fucker?" and threw me to the

ground.  The other officer said, "Oh, he wants to fuckin'

struggle, huh?" When I fell, I landed on my right side.  Steve

walked around me, prodding me with his shoes.  I turned on to my

stomach to protect my face.  Immediately the older sounding

officer called for an ambulance while Steve waived a billy club

over my head.  I could feel the air and hear the whistling sound

of the club being waved over my head as Steve cursed me and

threatened me.  He said, "Do you still want those fucking

Trailways tickets to Festus?  Why don't you beg for them and I'll

split your fucking brains all over the sidewalk."

15.  At this time I was very panicked and felt I should do

anything they said because I was feeling very threatened.  I

started saying, "I'm sorry, man.  Let's forget it, man." Steve

said, "Man?  I'm not 'man.' I'm a fucking St. Louis police

officer." He then said something about showing him respect.

16.  The officers then told me to get up.  I tried to get up

and found that the handcuffs made it difficult to get my balance.


I fell back slightly, so they both jerked me to my feet and

shoved me into the back of a car.  Steve got into the front seat

of the car while continuing to curse me by saying, "What in the

fuck do you think you're doing, you stupid, blind-assed mother

fucker." He continued to berate me with real anger and outrage.

I could hear real violence in his voice.  I was terrified and

said nothing.

17.  At this point I heard my wife approaching the car and

asking if she could have the house keys.  One of the officers

relayed the message from Deborah to Steve in the front seat.

Steve reached back and attempted to get in my right pocket.  He

was unsuccessful in getting the keys, so he got out of the car

and said, "I'm not going to strip search the son of a bitch out

here. I'm just not going to do it.  You don't need the fucking

keys." Deborah said, "Where will you be taking him?" Steve

replied, "We'll be taking him to the Twelfth and Clark police


18.  By this time there was at least one more officer (a

third one) on the scene--a police sergeant, I believe.  I heard

one of the officers talk to a passer-by.  The officer said

something about a civil matter and that this was a criminal

matter and the passer-by should "get the hell out of here." I

presume that this passer-by was offering information which would

help us.

19.  The police officers then laughed at Deborah, who was

attempting to get into a cab.  They said, "Look at the bitch now.


She's trying to take those kids home without her cane.  Where the

hell is her cane?  Why don't we arrest them both, throw them into

a cell and see how blind people fuck?" They all got a good laugh

out of this.

20.  "They'll probably win a civil action and get about half

a million dollars," one of the officers said.  "Why don't we just

put a gun to his head right now and ask for $10,000 in advance."

Again they all laughed heartily.

21.  At this point, I heard another vehicle drive up.  They

told me to get out of the car and asked me if I wanted to go to

the hospital.  I said, "That will be up to these gentlemen." They

said, "Look, you either want to go to the hospital or you don't."

I said, "I don't know what you want me to do.  I'll do whatever

it is you want to speed this thing up.  I don't know what you

want me to do." The woman and man (they were new arrivals) asked

me if I wanted to go to the hospital.  I said I didn't know.

They asked if I had any bruises or scratches and I said I had

some elbow scrapes, but I didn't know if they needed hospital

treatment.  They turned me around slowly and said they didn't

think I'd be treated.  I said I'd do whatever the officers wanted

me to do.  At that time they exchanged information.  I heard

papers shuffling.  I was put back in the car where I sat by

myself for three to five minutes.  I was then led out of the car

into a paddy wagon and taken to the police station.

22.  I was taken from the paddy wagon by one officer and led

into the police station.  On the way in, the other officer was

banging my cane on the ground repeatedly and quite hard.  One

officer said, "Does that damned thing have some kind of sensor?"

The officer with the cane banged it harder, and I heard the ring

from the tip slide up the cane.  He said, "It sure the fuck

doesn't now," and they both laughed about that.

23.  Once inside the police station I was with Steve alone.

He took me to different desks.  He didn't seem to know what was

going on.  He was asking people, "Where do I take him?  Where do

you want him?" He seemed to be confused about where to process

me.  I was finally taken upstairs.  It took almost half an hour

to fill out forms listing my property and getting information

such as my name and address, etc.  He asked me to take everything

out of my pockets and asked me to count my money.  I counted it

and said, "I believe there's about $5.80 there." He said he would

count it and said, "There's $6.10.  The stupid blind fucker can't

even count." The two officers then debated for a while what to

charge me with.  They didn't seem sure about this, and they

finally decided to say that I had assaulted each officer,

disturbed the peace, and resisted arrest.  When they had

mentioned all these charges, they talked them over, and each one

agreed that I had done all those things.

24.  I was then escorted by two other men to a cell after

waiting for a while for a woman to get sheets to put on a bed.

They talked about priding themselves on having special

accommodations and said they couldn't put me with others in the

jail.  I said I didn't need sheets and that I'd just sit on the

bed.  They again said they were able to deal with people "in your

condition." I was then locked in a cell for an hour and a half.

I was offered a honey bun which I did not accept.  I was taken to

pre-trial, where I talked with a man named Mr. Webber.  He said,

"You've got a business at the Municipal Court Building, don't

you?" I said, "Yes sir." Mr. Webber told me what my charges would

be and said a lawyer had already contacted them.  I asked which

lawyer, and he said he didn't know, but that I should be out

shortly.  I was then taken back to my cell for a time.  Then a

man who works for the Muncipal Court came and apologized for my

being in there so long. He said he recognized me from our

business.  He said, "I'd have been back here sooner, but I've

been so busy with all these real criminals.  You will be released

on your own recognizance without having to put up any money." He

gave me something to sign, which I did.  I waited for probably

another hour at which time I was taken to the finger- print man

named Stephen.  He did many fingerprints on me, taking thirty or

forty minutes.  Mug shots were also taken of me.  I was then

escorted by another policeman on an elevator downstairs where I

was given my summons as well as my personal property.  I next

went out to the lobby where I met my wife and my friend, Mr. Mark

Harris.  This was at approximately 2:00 in the afternoon.

25.  I later discovered that the jail officials had not

returned my wedding ring, a simple gold band, when they returned

my other property to me.


Kevan Worley

St. Louis, Missouri


This 8th day of September, 1986, KEVAN WORLEY personally

appeared before me.


Barbara A. Spoon, Notary Public




Affidavit of Deborah Worley


Comes now Deborah Worley and, being first duly sworn,

deposes and states as follows:

1.   My name is Deborah Worley.  My address is 5432 Odell

Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63139.  My husband is Kevan Worley.

Both of us are blind.

2.   On Thursday morning, September 4, 1986, I accompanied

my husband Kevan and my two children, Jayson and Megan, to the

Trailways bus station.  We were on our way to visit some friends

in Festus, Missouri.  Kevan and I had our long white canes with

us as we always do.  We arrived at the bus station at a little

after 7:00 in the morning. We went to the ticket counter and

waited in line.

3.   When we made it to the front of the line, I approached

the ticket agent, a woman, and told her that I wanted to purchase

a half-fare ticket for a child and two round trip adult tickets.

We did not need a ticket for our daughter since she is two and

would ride on one of our laps.  The agent told me that I needed a

doctor's statement in order to do this, and I said we did not.

The agent said that in order to travel with the handicapped fare

one had to have a doctor's report.  I said I did not want to

purchase a handicapped ticket and that I wanted to purchase

full-fare tickets for my husband and me, and a half-fare child's

ticket for my nine- year-old.  I asked to see a supervisor and

was told her supervisor was not there and would not be in until

nine o'clock.  She said that would be too late for our bus.

4.   At this time Kevan tried to explain to her that we were

not asking for special treatment.  She still refused to sell us

the tickets.  Kevan then told her that she would sell us the

tickets.  The agent again refused.  Kevan and the agent continued

to disagree and the agent became louder and louder as well as

beginning to swear.  She was abusive to Kevan.  At this point

Kevan moved down the counter to the right.  The agent called the


5.   Kevan told me to call the police.  I went to the pay

phone and called 911.  I told the person who answered that I

needed an officer sent to the Trailways bus station.  I gave her

my name and described the situation.  She said there was an

officer on the scene.  I said there was not an officer in the

station, and she insisted there was.  I explained that we were

blind and that Trailways was refusing to sell us tickets, which

is a violation of Missouri law.  She told me that Trailways did

not have to sell us a ticket if they didn't want to do so.  I

asked if she was refusing to send an officer and she replied that

she could not send an officer without an address.  I said we were

at the Trailways station downtown and that certainly any officer

would know its location.  I was told she would need a street

address.  I finally came up with the address and she said she

would send an officer.

6.   At this time I returned to Kevan.  My son joined us,

and my daughter was crying because she became frightened with

everyone starting to yell.  Soon two police officers arrived.

One of them asked me if this was "the asshole tearing up the

station" and "what does he think he's doing here?" I said, "I

don't know.  You'll have to talk to him." They began talking to

Kevan, asking him what he thought he was doing there.  Kevan

explained what we had tried to do, showed them the money in his

hand.  He even asked if the officer would purchase the tickets

and resolve the situation.  He explained that all we wanted to do

was to go on our trip.

7.   The officer told Kevan that we had to leave, and we

refused to do so because we thought that Missouri law protected

our right to be treated like everyone else.

8.   The officer said he was going to arrest Kevan for

resisting arrest.  I said, "Does this mean he is under arrest?

Are you arresting him?" The officer said he could do anything he

wanted to do.  His language was very foul.  The officer very

quickly grabbed Kevan and pulled Kevan's arms behind his back.

Kevan's cane was grabbed from his hand, and I reached for the

cane, saying, "You can't take that!  What are you doing?" An

officer slapped hand- cuffs on Kevan very roughly and said, "I

can do any fucking thing I want to do." I again asked if Kevan

was under arrest and said, "You have to tell him what his rights

are." He said, "I don't have to do a fucking thing."

9.   The officer also said, "I'll arrest you, too." At that

time I took a step or so backwards because my children were with


10.  They hurried Kevan outside.  I got my children as

quickly as I could out to the front of the station.  By the time

I got there, the officers had Kevan on the ground.  He was lying

face down on the sidewalk.  I ran over and said, " What are you

doing to him?" One of the officers was circling Kevan.  I believe

it was officer Steve Holt, and he was yelling at Kevan about

having to respect him because he was an officer of the law.  He

was again using foul language and I said, "What are you doing?"

He told me to get the fuck away from him.  I backed up again

because he seemed to be violent, and I felt that any minute he

very well might strike me or Kevan or possibly my children.  He

held a club as he circled Kevan.  He was screaming just like a

person who didn't know what he was doing.  There was no logic to

the things he was saying.

11.  I went into the station at this time, trying to think

of what to do.  I left my son standing there but carried my

daughter with me.  I knew I had to call for help from somebody.

I attempted to call Mark Harris, and in being frightened I first

dialed my home number.

12.  I went back outside.  At this time Kevan was in the

police car.  I again attempted to talk to the officer.  I asked

where Kevan was being taken and he told me to the Clark Street

station.  I said, "So, is he under arrest?" I asked if I could

get our house keys from Kevan.  At this time the officer became

angry and again threatened me with arrest.  I asked Kevan if he

was okay, and the officer started to move from the car.  He

picked up his club again and told me to, "Shut the fuck up; I'm

tired of messing with you.  Keep it up and I'll arrest you too."

At that time, Kevan yelled from the back seat instructing me to

call Mr. Maurer.

13.  Another police car pulled up along with a police van.

I approached one of the new officers, asking if I could get

Kevan's house key.  They refused to let me do this.  I was again

threatened with arrest by Officer Holt.

14.  At this time I was able to get a Laclede cab and I took

my children home.  My son climbed through a window in the house

because we did not have a key.  I then contacted Mr. Maurer of

the National Federation of the Blind.


Deborah Worley


SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN before me this 8th day of September,



Ardith I. Hammond, Notary Public




Despite the Worleys' belief, Missouri law did not protect

their rights at the Trailways bus station.  The National

Federation of the Blind immediately swung into action.  The next

day, Federationists from Missouri and three other states--more

than fifty blind people with less than twenty-four hours'

notice--converged on the St. Louis bus station to picket

Trailways and to protest the treatment of the Worleys.

Television, radio, and newspaper reports of these incredible

events spread throughout the St. Louis area.  The common reaction

throughout St. Louis was outrage that such a thing could occur.

The public responded in person as well.  Many people came

into Debbie Worley's vending location in the Municipal Building

(across from the court building) to express their support and

came back again and again as customers.  Debbie's business has

benefited, despite the threats of the police who arrested Kevan

that "We'll see how her business does now."

The day after Kevan was arrested, a Trailways spokesperson

further fanned the flames of resentment against his company by

defending its refusal to sell tickets to blind persons.  As he

put it, " We don't hire drivers to take the blind to the


The police remained firm through this barrage of bad

publicity.  They insisted that Kevan had kicked each officer,

thus committing two assaults.  They insisted that it was Kevan

who had disturbed the peace of the bus station.  And they

insisted that Kevan had resisted arrest.  They insisted that

charges be filed.

The two assault charges were immediately refused.  The state

prosecutor obviously didn't believe the police officers' story

that they were brutalized by a handcuffed blind man.  No

prosecution there.  But the city prosecutor backed the police.

After all, they are another arm of the same city government he

serves.  City charges of disturbing the peace and resisting

arrest were filed against Kevan Worley, and the trial was

scheduled for January 5, l987.

Painful though it was, the Worleys hoped that this would

provide an opportunity to tell their story in court.  They had

tried twice (once in the bus station and once afterwards) to file

charges against the ticket agent for violating their rights under

the Missouri White Cane Law.  Nobody would touch the case.  The

subject had gotten too hot to handle.  Their nine-year-old son, a

thoughtful and observant child, refused to talk with them about

the incident, retreating into hurt silence.  Their two-year-old

daughter started playing a game she had never played before.  She

would run up behind someone, grasp both wrists, and say, sternly

and unsmilingly, "I'm police." The police department refused the

Worleys' complaint against the two officers, denying that any

wrong had been done and denying that the wedding band had been

taken.  The courtroom was the only place left.

Court opened at l:00 p.m. Monday, January 5, 1987.  The

Worleys waited with their son in the courtroom until nearly 4:00

p.m. while the presiding judge, the Honorable Michael Riley,

handled other cases--accepting guilty pleas and conducting three

other trials scheduled before the Worleys'.  At about 4:00 p.m.,

the case of the City of St. Louis v. James Kevan Worley was

called for trial.

Anyone who has ever been involved in circumstances requiring

a blind person to stand up for his or her rights knows just what

happened next.  When we assert ourselves, insist on equal

treatment, maintain that we are full and equal members of

society, many of the people around us are so astonished and upset

by the thought that they magnify and expand everything the blind

person does a hundredfold.  Fellow passengers shout, swear at,

and physically threaten the blind person sitting peaceably in an

airline seat and later describe the blind person's demeanor as

loud, rude, and abusive.  Potential employers become angry and

resentful when pressed to treat a blind applicant fairly and

recall the articulate blind applicant's behavior as inappropriate

and rude.  The health club owner, the roller rink manager, the

horse stable master are all likely to excuse their discriminatory

behavior by insisting that the blind person did something wrong.

This is all part of the pattern, part of what people moving from

second-class status to first-class citizenship must face.  It is

what Kevan Worley knew he was about to face as his trial began.

It is why the Federation, with all its support and encouragement,

means so much to Kevan and to all blind people.

The City of St. Louis produced three witnesses to show that

Kevan had disturbed the peace and resisted arrest.  The three

were excluded from the courtroom except when they were testifying

so that they could not hear the testimony of the other two.

While in the hallway waiting to testify, excluded witnesses are

not allowed to speak to one another about the case.  Even in this

exclusion, the witnesses against Kevan could not bring themselves

to deal fairly with a blind person.  While the second witness was

testifying, the first and third were comparing their testimony

out in the hall.  This showed great disrespect for Kevan and the

case involving him.  But it also showed great disrespect for the

judge.  When he found out, the judge almost jumped off his bench

while the city prosecutor started dropping all his books and

papers as he sought to excuse himself from this violation of the

court's order that witnesses were to be separated.  When the

third witness came into court, he coolly told the judge under

oath that he had not been discussing the case in the hall, just

the other witness's grandchildren.

The testimony of the three witnesses against Kevan was like

testimony of three entirely different incidents.  The first

witness, Pauline McCelleary (pronounced like the vegetable) was

the ticket agent on September 4, l986.  She insisted under close

questioning that Kevan had asked for a half fare ticket and that

he had refused to provide the necessary documentation.  She said

that Debbie never spoke to her and did not have a white cane.

She said that Kevan "hollered and screamed" at Debbie while he

was being handcuffed, then "hollered and screamed" at the police

as they led him out.  She said that Kevan kicked each police

officer in the leg while the three were still inside the bus

station.  She said that Kevan struggled as he was being led out

and kicked over an ash can.  She said that Kevan held his cane by

its handle and, two separate times, leaned over the ticket

counter, waving the cane in her direction in an effort to strike

her with its end.  She said he missed her both times.

After these interesting statements were made under oath, the

first police officer came to the stand.  His name is Steve Holt

and he is identified in Kevan's narration as "the younger

officer." As he was testifying, McCelleary and the other police

officer were comparing notes outside.  Officer Holt stated that

he was never kicked inside the bus station.  He stated that Kevan

did not struggle or shout as he was led outside.  He stated that

Kevan did not kick over an ash can on his way out of the bus

station.  He said that anybody who said so would be mistaken.

Officer Holt stated that he was kicked by Kevan after they got

outside of the bus station.  He stated that, after being kicked,

he and his partner "gently placed" Kevan on the sidewalk and that

he then knelt by Kevan until Kevan "regained his composure." He

said this took place right outside the station door, sixteen to

twenty feet from the police car.  He denied using any foul

language, any threats, or any filthy sexual suggestions.  He also

said that, when he and his partner first approached Kevan, they

both carefully gave their names and their titles as police

officers. He stated that each officer then permitted Kevan to

feel their badges to satisfy himself that the two were really


Officer Holt repeatedly insisted that Kevan had "resisted

the officers" while everyone was still standing at the bus

counter.  He described this resistance as "tensing up" when an

officer first placed a hand on Kevan's arm.  He stated that, as

soon as Kevan was told he was under arrest, he submitted to being

handcuffed without protest.  He continued to refer to this as

"resisting" throughout his testimony.  He also recalled, under

questioning, Kevan's holding money in his hand and asking the

officers simply to buy the tickets and resolve the matter easily

that way.

When this officer was finished, the other officer, named

William Bereitshaft (pronounced BRRR-RIGHT-shaft) took the stand.


He said that he had not been kicked inside the bus station, that

Kevan had not struggled or hollered when being led from the

station, that Kevan did not kick over an ash can on his way out,

and that Kevan had not physically resisted the officers in any

way at the ticket counter.  He said that anyone who said so would

be mistaken.  He also claimed that he was kicked by Kevan outside

the station, though he insisted that he was kicked two to three

feet away from the police car and twenty feet or so away from the

station door.  He testified that Kevan tried to break away from

the officers, though Kevan had his hands cuffed behind his back

and had no cane.  The officer said he didn't know why Kevan was

trying to break away, but that he was.  He also stated that Kevan

was "gently placed" on the sidewalk to "give him time to compose

himself," though he insisted that he, not Officer Holt, was the

one who knelt by Kevan until calm returned.  He also denied using

any foul language and maintained that Kevan had been told their

names and felt their badges before any conversation occurred.

Both officers insisted that they had read Kevan's rights to

him.  Both officers insisted that Kevan had been trying to buy a

half-fare ticket without proper documentation.  Both officers

vigorously denied that either of them had threatened anyone with

a billy club.  Officer Holt even denied that he had his billy

club with him, but officer Breitschaft clearly recalled that both

officers had had their billy clubs at all times.

Kevan and Debbie both testified in accordance with their

affidavits and both added that no constitutional rights were ever

read to Kevan and no feeling of policemen's chests had been

invited by the officers or done by Kevan.  Kevan told the judge

that he wouldn't even know where to feel to find a badge.

By this time, it was nearly 7:00 p.m. and the judge informed

the courtroom that he had heard enough.  He dismissed both

charges against Kevan and the case was over.

Nine-year-old Jayson had come to court with his parents and

had sat quietly all afternoon waiting to testify.  When witnesses

were excluded, he went into the hall with the rest.  He was

scheduled to be the last witness and was still in the hall

(though the court marshal was with him because both his parents

were in the courtroom) when the judge began to rule.  The judge

stated that he did not need Jayson's testimony and sent someone

to bring Jayson back inside.  Jayson marched in, marched right up

the aisle, opened the gate, and was nearly up to the witness

chair before anyone realized that the youngster didn't know that

his father had already been cleared of the charges.  Jayson was

finally ready to talk, was eager to talk. It was a proud day for

the son when his father was finally declared innocent by a formal

court of law.

After the case was over, people who had been in the hallway

during the trial began comparing notes with the people who had

been in the courtroom.  They discovered that Officer Bereitschaft

who had sworn an oath to tell the whole truth, had then told only

a small corner of it.  After Pauline McCelleary testified, she

came out into the hallway and discussed her testimony and the

entire incident at length with Officer Bereitschaft as he waited

to go inside.  As she left, she mentioned that she was going to

see her grandchildren.  Officer Bereitschaft quite calmly told

the judge that he had not discussed the case with McCelleary at

all.  The rest of his testimony was equally truthful.

McCelleary also spent some time in the hall complaining to

the officer.  She said that she had had previous complaints about

her ticket selling, but that she had continued in that assignment

until the day the Worleys appeared.  After their incident, she

had been removed from ticket selling.  She resented this demotion

and blamed the Worleys for it.  This undoubtedly had a great deal

to do with her truthfulness under oath.

The courage and good spirits shown by Kevan, Debbie, and

Jayson Worley is the same courage and spirit shown by the other

Federationists who have been arrested and publicly humiliated

during the last two years. It is a courage based on the absolute

certainty that they were right in the stand they took.  It is a

courage based on the absolute certainty that their brothers and

sisters in the Federation would stand with them.

Kevan and Debbie are stronger because they stood up for

their rights.  The Federation is stronger.  We are all one step

nearer to that equality of treatment we seek because of what

happened in the St. Louis bus station and the St. Louis


Every Federationist who has stood up for equal treatment and

been arrested for it has been declared innocent by the courts of

this country.  But, even if every one of them had been found

guilty, they would still stand acquitted before the court of

their own consciences.  Each of these Federationists has given a

deeper meaning to the words spoken so prophetically by Dr.

Jernigan in his 1973 banquet speech "Blindness: Is History

Against Us?": "Whatever the cost, we shall pay it.  Whatever the

sacrifice, we shall make it.  We cannot turn back, or stand

still.  Instead, we must go forward.  We shall prevail--and

history will record it.  The future is ours."

Through the Federation, we seek a world where equal

treatment of blind persons is ordinary and commonplace.  We

haven't reached that yet, and much work remains to be done.  It

is certain that other Federationists will be called upon to stand

up for their rights, to suffer humiliation and even arrest for

their beliefs.  Those who have already suffered have added much

to our momentum toward freedom.  Others will come along to

increase the momentum even more.  It is part of what we seek and

believe in.  It is part of our pledge to Dr. tenBroek and to Dr.

Jernigan and to President Maurer.  We will not falter.  We will

not turn back.  With our brothers and sisters in the Federation,

we shall prevail.



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