To The Editor:
I know bullying when I see it and, even more clearly I know it, when I experience it. I begin with my experience and end with a few references to Sen. Nieves’ pattern of bullying.
I witnessed in proximity of 10 feet Sen. Nieves’ shouting and name-calling and moving to less than three inches from Mr. Smith’s body and face, all seeming to be efforts to incite Smith to retaliate. At one point I held out my hands next to the two and asked if they could sit down and start over in a civil conversation.
Sen. Nieves then shouted at me and repeated his foul language and his intention to accuse and abuse Smith. Also during this tirade of abuse, Sen. Nieves held out the e-mail and LTE which Smith had composed and sent to the newspaper and to Sen. Nieves. He told Smith to take them and to take what turned out to be the police report which Shawn Bell had written when he experienced a far worse, physical abuse from the senator.
Progressively during this totally unexpected rage, Sen. Nieves’ aides closed both the inner office door and the outer waiting room door to the Capitol halls. When we tried to leave his office Sen. Nieves kept circling Smith and yelling. I tried to shake his hand, but Sen. Nieves refused to respect anyone who didn’t agree with his accusations.
On reflection I suspect that Sen. Nieves prepared this attack on Mr. Smith after learning that Smith had signed in to visit with the senator. On sharing this with my spouse and two adult children, our whole family was affected as are the victims of any act of violence.
What we experienced in Sen. Nieves’ office in the Capitol is an act of bullying, certainly not behavior becoming a senator interacting with his constituents. Now a national concern, what does this bullying by an elected official say to our children? Just as schools are required to do with students, we need to see that this bullying be brought to justice and face the appropriate consequences.
P.S. Sen. Nieves continued to radio-bully Mr. Smith by reviling him on May 18 and 19 — “Nieves Patriot Enclave Radio Talk Show,” including revealing Mr. Smith’s home address — talk about endangering one’s family.
*Bullying is broadly defined as intentional and repeated acts of a threatening or demeaning nature that occur through direct verbal (e.g., threatening, name-calling), direct physical (e.g., hitting, kicking), and indirect (e.g., spreading rumors, influencing relationships, cyberbullying) means and that typically occur in situations in which there is a power or status difference (Olweus, D. 1993. Bullying at School. Oxford, UK: Blackwell).