Fighting Bullies

No one likes a bully. So why are Rose Mofford, Janet Napolitano and MTV distancing themselves from Arizona's Safe Schools, Safe Students program?

The Beaumonts neglected to report the 1996 Land Rover plastered with anti-bully bumper stickers parked outside their office. State records show the car is owned by Rod Beaumont and was financed with a $26,556 loan from a Chicago bank.

The Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition allows the Beaumonts to reorganize their debts, holding creditors at bay while the couple tries to get back on solid financial footing, much like a Chapter 11 petition does for a business. It also puts on hold the lawsuit American Express filed against them in Yavapai County Superior Court a month before they declared bankruptcy, seeking more than $20,000 in unpaid charges.

The Beaumonts, records show, agreed to a payment schedule in which they would send their trustee $378 a month for three years. But they haven't made a payment since October.

Mary and Rod Beaumont are the founders of the anti-bully hotline in Prescott.
Paolo Vescia
Mary and Rod Beaumont are the founders of the anti-bully hotline in Prescott.
Louie Koch, 16, answers a call to the hotline while Elijah Otten, 16, helps him out.
Paolo Vescia
Louie Koch, 16, answers a call to the hotline while Elijah Otten, 16, helps him out.

It's been a wild six months for the anti-bully group.

"We feel a little bit like the boy who cried wolf," Rod Beaumont says. "Every other week, it seems there is a crisis."

But for all the desperate pleas for money -- which include repeated threats of shutting down the hotline, one actual shutdown because of the group's inability to pay the phone bill, and nearly hysterical "immediate" cries for cash -- the Beaumonts have not raised much. Their own Web site listing of donors (sometimes spelled "doners") reveals piddling amounts from individuals, $5,500 from an anonymous contributor and $5,000 from the Phoenix Coyotes Goals for Kids Foundation. The amount totals less than $17,000.

One $100 donation from the Jewish Temple in Prescott was sent in a day after a bizarre plea from Mary Beaumont. In a letter to the local rabbi that she sent "in confidence" while disseminating it to media contacts via e-mails, she recounts intimate details of the personal toll the hotline's money problems are taking. She tells of physical ailments, psychological suffering, stress and despair that are haunting her family and driving her to consider suicide.

This was only a month after the hotline opened.

The Beaumonts, neither of whom is Jewish, got more sympathy and support from the local and state Jewish community after a series of graffiti attacks on the anti-bully headquarters included anti-Semitic signs and slurs.

According to the group's press releases and reports on file with the Prescott Police Department, there have been four attacks on the plain painted brick building that houses the anti-bully hotline and its affiliated entities, Paradigm and School to Work News. On October 27, November 9, January 4 and January 9, the Beaumonts reported finding white supremacist graffiti painted in black paint on the outside of their offices.

Included were Nazi and white supremacist symbols, phrases like "Die, Jew, Die," "Fuck," "Hitler Rules," references to being bullied around, and an ominous "Last Warning . . . Fire." Near the front door of the January 4 attack were the words "Devil Dog" -- a reference to a Gilbert white supremacist gang that outraged Valley residents by its brutal physical attacks on its victims.

After each attack, indignant and defiant press releases were immediately sent out, calling for unity in the face of such hate, pleading for more money to fight against the dark forces. The most recent acts of vandalism -- and the press releases notifying everyone about them -- got the attention of the Arizona Jewish Defense League, which offered a $1,000 reward for the apprehension of the vandals, installed free security cameras on the anti-bully site and appeared with Rod Beaumont on a National Public Radio discussion of the attack.

(According to a police report, the Beaumonts said although they are not Jewish, "just because of their business, they are associated with that." Police later said they had no clue why someone might assume an anti-bully hotline would be run by Jews.)

The fourth attack also appeared to have raised the interest of the FBI, which the Beaumonts said in a press release was investigating the crime.

Ed Hall, spokesman for the FBI office in Phoenix, says no investigation has been launched -- just that the anti-bully people sent them reports and photos about the incidents.

Prescott police, who should have been the ones to contact the FBI if they felt more help was needed, didn't even know the group had contacted federal authorities.

Gilbert police, who weren't aware of the graffiti attacks in Prescott, at first said the crime didn't sound like the Devil Dogs' work. But then, Sergeant Ken Fixel said he learned one of the gang members had relocated to Prescott. And since the group did have a white supremacist theme and a history of graffiti (albeit not signing their names), he said there might be a possible connection.

Sergeant Mike Kabbel of the Prescott Police Department later discounted this, saying the Devil Dog in question was already in custody on an unrelated charge at the time of the attacks.

Rod Beaumont says it's pointless now to speculate who was behind the attacks. What's important, he says, is that police have a good idea who did it, they have managed to dissuade the person from acting again and, as a result, the attacks have stopped.

But that's not what police say. They say they have no idea who committed the crimes, they can't even say they are connected and they haven't labeled them hate crimes. They say once the resident Devil Dog was ruled out, their investigation came to a standstill.

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