Two speakers from the floor at the Thursday, Feb. 6 Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting made an allegation to the board that Guilford County security officers and other county employees mistreated a blind war veteran at the county’s health department in High Point.
However, county officials say it was in reality a YouTube stunt orchestrated by the veteran. They add that the county has a great deal of evidence, to be released shortly, that county security and health employees – who were trying to protect the privacy of health department patrons – acted entirely appropriately.
At the Feb. 6 commissioners meeting, a woman who identified herself only as “Nina” and who did not list a last name on the speaker sign-in sheet, said that earlier this week a blind veteran who went into the county’s health department was “attacked” by security officers.
At the podium, she played an audio clip lasting for just over a minute that consisted largely of a man screaming things like “Help me!” and ‘You’re hurting me!” “Nina,” who declined to give her last name to the Rhino Times, added that the officers involved needed to be investigated and held accountable.
When the Rhino Times asked “Nina” after she spoke why the veteran was “attacked,” she said there was no justification for it and said that he was merely at the department asking questions about services.
Another man at the commissioner’s meeting who identified himself as “Jeff” also spoke of his outrage.
“What she just played was despicable,” he said. “That is a veteran – a blind veteran. He got slammed to the ground.”
The county has a formal response coming soon but several county officials very familiar with the incident were willing to comment on it. They said that video recording at the health department isn’t allowed because many people are there for treatment for medical conditions such as STD’s or teen pregnancy and they have a right to have their anonymity preserved.
The audio clip was a small part of a 29-minute video posted on the man’s “Blind Justice” activist YouTube channel. The channel, which has 29,000 subscribers, includes other video clips of the same blind veteran going into other places and having confrontations with security officers and government employees.
The first 17 minutes of the video from the health department consists of numerous county employees and security officers explaining very politely over and over again to the man that he is not allowed to record video in the health department because people are there with medical conditions. At the 17-minute mark, officers move to physically escort the man out of the building but the video goes dark and only the audio remains.
County security cameras did catch the incident and the county plans to release that video once the faces of bystanders can be blurred out to protect their privacy.
In addition to recording the incident for the YouTube channel, the man was also live-streaming the entire event on Facebook, so it appears clear that before he entered he felt as though some drama was about to ensue.
Commissioner Hank Henning, a veteran himself, said he is very familiar with what transpired, and, based on what he has seen and heard, he finds zero credence to the claim that county officials acted inappropriately.
Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne said the county is preparing an official response that he believes makes the county’s case in a very compelling way.
One county official who did not want his name used said the charges were completely baseless and said the veteran didn’t even want to give his name.
“He thinks he’s the whistleblower and is mad that his name is known,” the county official said. “He runs a YouTube channel and gets paid for clicks. He tries to get arrested and dramatizes his arrests. The video sounded like Johnny Knoxville from Jackass.”
Jackass is a YouTube channel, television show and movie series in which Knoxville and his team pull off wild stunts.