Tyler Bergeron: The Other Side

-by Juan Lopez and Elizabeth Rubi-Murek

 

Prior O.D.U. student who allegedly threatened violence to his roommate

“I Hope That The Media Contacts Me And Does A Follow Up Story To Clear My Name, But The Original Videos And Articles Aren’t Ever Disappearing From The Internet. My Name Has Already Been Slandered. Potential Employers Have Only But To Google My Name And Be Astounded, Regardless Of Whether Or Not My Criminal Record Is Clean.”

 

One of the basic tenets of civic journalism is the examination of structural problems, and the subsequent engagement of community members in addressing such issues. Throughout the course of our research for this report, much of our attention has been given to the prevention of crimes. We have examined O.D.U. policies, police strategies, and some of the avoidable scenarios which often lead to criminal encounters. Cases such as those involving Brandi Barnes and Tyler Bergeron- where people have publicly exhibited alarming behaviors or intentions –raise many questions regarding the nature of crime and its contributing factors. As we began to delve further into the details of the Tyler Bergeron case, I was shocked by some of our discoveries.

The first thing I found surprising was the fact that when Tyler was arrested and suspended last year, the primary evidence against him were hearsay statements and one of Tyler’s journal entries which the police apparently found alarming. We also discovered from surveying other students at O.D.U., that many felt as if the issue had been way overblown. One current student, when asked if he was aware of the Tyler Bergeron incident, replied simply “that whole thing was (expletive)”.

So what is going on here? We have people getting shot at on 41’st street; girls are being sexually assaulted; military-students are being robbed just walking to physical training at 5 a.m.; and we sit smack dab in the middle of a high-crime area. Why Tyler? Or perhaps an even better question– why this reaction to Tyler? Prior media coverage briefly mentions the fact that Tyler was diagnosed with bipolar and having difficulties with his medication, but no real attention was given to this. O.D.U. has a mental health clinic for students, and two excellent psychiatrists. The question we are forced to ask is this: are we preventing crime by enacting reactionary and criminal sanctions against every person who speaks a bit oddly, or would we be better served to address the underlying causes of sociopathic behavior?

I first contacted Tyler not expecting a reply. The response I got floored me. He was ecstatic that someone had finally reached out to ask his side of the story. Amidst all of the prior media hype surrounding the incident, not one person (other than the police) had actually attempted an interview with Tyler himself. This raises questions– at least, in my mind –about how we fight crime in America. How can we possibly prevent violent crime if we don’t understand the underlying causes? We have discussed how economics can affect theft and robbery rates, and ways to improve standards of living, but what about the psychosocial factors which contribute to antisocial behaviors and the potential for violence? Is it more effective to segregate people through incarceration, or should we try and help those who suffer from psychological issues? Research abounds regarding social and psychological disorders and ways to treat them, but sometimes it is the voice of experience that we should pay closer attention to:

This Was A Very Surreal Experience For Me. To Be Told That My Connection With God Was Just A Chemically Induced Misconception. That I Would Have To Be Dependent On Medication For The Rest Of My Life. – (Tyler Bergeron)

I am not one to judge whether Tyler Bergeron is a dangerous person or a misunderstood free-thinker, but I have to wonder if we as a school, a community, and a society are not going about fighting crime in all the wrong ways.

Tyler maintains that the reports of his DMT use by a roommate’s friend were simply not true.

“I Made No Written Statement. There Is No Proof I Said Any Of What My Roommate Claims. I Had No Gun. No Intention. No Plot. No Plans. No Means. Nothing.”

Tyler is currently facing felony charges of attempted terrorism. If convicted, he could receive a sentence of twenty years to life in prison.

The Facebook comments that people found disturbing?

“[I Am] A Warrior Of God…A Minstrel Of The Multiverse…Love Is My Religion”.

Strange? Call me crazy, but I find it more disturbing that he capitalizes the first letter of every word when typing. However, there are worse things in this world.