November 3, 2006
In Letters To Finkelstein News
Subject: “Holocaust flashbacks” from 1947
Date: Thu, 02 Nov 2006 12:37:52 -0500
Here is a link to the major article on the front page of our local
Sunday paper, the Bristol Herald Courier, in Bristol,
Virginia/Tennessee, a small city in the far southwestern tip of
Virginia, bordering on Tennessee. The article describes claims that
would not ordinarily even be mentioned, except that the lady making
the claims says that because of actions of our local police “I’ve
been very sick and emotionally distraught, and I’ve been getting
flashbacks of abuse, flashbacks of the Holocaust.” Elsewhere in the
article, the lady, who now calls herself “Botswana Imani” says that
she was born in Hungary in 1947.
Apparently, neighbors on the mountain where she lives became worried
about her and called the police to check on her. Getting no
response, the police broke doors to gain entry to her little house
out in the country, to make sure that she wasn’t lying injured or
unconscious. Seems like ordinary police work, but in her
imagination the police have become the equivalent of stormtroopers
and communists. According to the article she has already got a
$13,000 settlement from Nationwide for her broken doors! But she
claims that she is having “Holocaust flashbacks” because the local
sheriff’s department won’t pick up the $1,000 deductible! But then
she also claims to have a 25,000 year old “medicine wheel” in her
yard, and asks the spirits for permission to approach her home.
This is a small matter, in a small town, involving a person who is
possibly emotionally disturbed. But it does show how easily cries
of the “Holocaust”, however implausible, guarrantee publicity – and
a very nice insurance settlement.
Thanks for your great website and your continuing good work for an
honest approach to these issues.
BY DEBRA McCOWN, BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
ABINGDON – Botswanna Imani returned home to find her house in shambles.
All three doors into the house were broken, the downstairs was covered in pieces of glass, and the carpet full of shards.
Then she found a small note from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office that read, “We got a call from your neighbor who was concerned about you. We had to break your door’s [sic] to get inside.”
According to an incident report, deputies broke into Imani’s house on June 21.
According to her insurance company, Nationwide, they did more than $13,000 worth of damage.
Imani is demanding an apology and payment of the $1,000 deductible on her insurance. So far, that hasn’t happened.
“They refuse to be accountable and responsible, and they put it on me like I’m the criminal here,” she said. “The people that are here to protect me have now destroyed my home.”
She has since taken her case to anyone who will listen, including most county officials.
“It feels to me that many people are just passing the buck or giving me the runaround, and it feels to me nobody so far has said, ‘gee, we’re responsible and we’re accountable and let’s help this woman,’” she said.
“When this thing happened and how it’s been happening, I’ve been feeling like it’s the Holocaust all over again.”
Imani, born in Hungary in 1947, says she spent her childhood in the shadow of the Holocaust, during which a number of her relatives died.
“Emotionally and mentally and spiritually, they were all pretty much destroyed,” she said of those who survived. They were “the walking dead.”’
In 1956, a communist revolution in Hungary brought terror all over again.
“In communist Hungary, children would be asked questions at school and if they would say something that the government did not agree with, they would come home and find out that their parents had been dragged off to Siberia,” she said.
America was supposed to be a safe haven. But even here, she said, she suffered abuse from her parents, who were scarred from the horrors they experienced.
Eleven years ago, she moved to Washington County because she felt the surroundings made it a place where she could heal. Her house sits atop 24 acres of steep wooded hillside, with a view toward Holston Mountain from the front porch and an almost 360-degree view of mountains from the ridge.
The property includes what she says is a 25,000-year-old medicine wheel, and she asks permission of the spirits before heading up the path behind her home.
But the place has not been the sanctuary she hoped it would be. The break-in, she said, has affected her in a way it would not affect someone who grew up in different circumstances.
“I’ve been very sick and emotionally very distraught, and I’ve been getting flashbacks of abuse, flashbacks of the Holocaust. I want to throw up, I don’t eat and sleep very well,” she said.
While no one is being shipped to a gas chamber, she said the break in trust is the same.
She said what is needed is an acknowledgement of responsibility, both in words and in the payment of her deductible – a concrete way of making things right.
Sheriff Fred Newman, who Imani said she believes should be accountable, said the issue had been turned over to the Division of Risk Management, a state agency that insures entities like the Sheriff’s Office.
“That’s what we do whenever there’s a potential claim surrounding our agency,” Newman said. “That’s just our protocol.”
Risk Management sent a letter to Imani, dated Aug. 21, which read in part, “We have received and reviewed correspondence in regard to the aforementioned and have determined that our office owes no payment for any negligence in this case.”
A call to the claim manager who sent the letter was transferred to Assistant Director Linda Lilly, who said the letter was self-explanatory. She refused comment on the case.
“She needs to call here, and we can discuss her claim with her,” Lilly said.
Imani said she has corresponded at least a dozen times with Risk Management.
In a letter dated Sept. 25, Nationwide Office Manager Carolyn Anderson said she spoke with Newman and he told her the $1,000 could be paid with Sheriff’s Office funds.
But Newman said he will abide by the recommendation of Risk Management.
Imani said she is “hoping that at some point the sheriff will just do the right thing.”
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