U.S. Army veteran Billy Vinson thought his days of fighting for freedom were over when he retired from the army with 35 years military and law enforcement experience. But that was before he received a call from the Lubbock Police Department in response to his complaint to Councilman Victor Hernandez.
In early March, District 1 resident Billy Vinson said he had questions for Councilman Victor Hernandez.
"I started hearing you came into our house uninvited, and you brought your props with you and I'm like what does that mean? What is he saying? And I'm confused. I want to find out directly from him, do you actually believe what you're saying?" Vinson explained.
So Vinson says he did what many Lubbock citizens have done. He called Lubbock City Hall. He called several times trying to get in touch with Councilman Hernandez, and when he was finally able to get in contact with Councilman Hernandez, this war veteran spoke his mind.
"I was asking these questions, what are you talking about? Your statements, in my opinion, sound racist and bigoted," Vinson said.
He says what he received in return was an angry tirade.
"He [Hernandez] started yelling over the telephone. Look I'm not yelling at you, I'm not calling you bad names. I didn't call anyone up in city hall bad names. I just want to know what do you mean by only Hispanics can represent district one?" Vinson said.
Unwilling to allow someone to treat him disrespectfully, Vinson hung up on Hernandez and thought the incident was over.
That was until March 20 when a detective from the Lubbock Police Department called and informed Vinson that Victor Hernandez had filed a criminal complaint of harassment against him. Criminal harassment is defined by the Texas Penal Code Section 42.07 as a Class B misdemeanor. It is an offense that carries with it possible jail time.
"Harassment? As an American, as a citizen of Lubbock? To ask him questions I'm harassing him?"
In a move that could have a chilling effect on all citizens concerned with goings on at city hall, Hernandez alleged criminal behavior on the part of his fellow veteran.
"Now I'm worried to even call city hall. If I call city hall does that mean we may send the police out and we may investigate you," Vinson asked.
But after KCBD began calling Councilman Hernandez for comment Billy Vinson received another call from the Lubbock Police Department.
"I received a call from the detective informing me that Councilman Hernandez no longer wished to pursue the complaint."
Vinson has a warning for other Lubbockites thinking of asking questions at city hall.
"I caution the citizens of Lubbock, if you call up to city hall, and ask legitimate questions, because you might get a criminal complaint filed on you."
Councilman Hernandez did not return repeated calls from KCBD and the Sandstorm Scholar for comment.
Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson offered this comment:
"If Mr. Vinson just called Victor a bigot and a racist and Victor filed a criminal complaint then Victor is wrong. We have a first amendment right to free speech, especially where it concerns our elected officials. That's just intimidation by an elected official."
For more on this story go to www.SandstormScholar.com
Copyright 2014 KCBD. All rights reserved.