Saturday evening after the Festival had closed and the customers had cleared out, the staff let in the vendors vehicles from the back side of the park. I had closed up my booth at 6pm as instructed while my husband, F went to get the car. He was near the front of the line of vendors vehicles and when he pulled over to pick me up with my one tote and a cooler, all the other vendors vehicles passed him and blocked the way between the vendors booths towards the exit at the fountain end of the gardens. I was the last vendor at the back end and it was clear of vehicles and people from where we were to go out the back way, so he started to drive our car out of the gardens in that direction to avoid becoming part of the horrible traffic jam.
An officer on a bicycle came flying down the hill on our right saying, “Oh No……HELL NO!” He stopped in front of the car waving his arms and yelling at us to stop the car, yelling we can’t go that way. I told him out my window that I was a vendor, it’d been a long day and couldn’t we just go out that way instead of driving into the traffic jam between the vendors booths. F told him I’d had a bad day. He kept saying no, you can’t go that way, he and I yelled at each other some more trying to make our points. He asked if I’d done the festival before, I said yes, he said I should know its always a madhouse, I said not like this and threatened not to do business at the festival again if this is the way they treat small local businesses, and complained again that I’d had a hard day and I picked up at 6pm like I was told to and I just want to go home, he said I should be mad at my fellow vendors, it was their fault I had to wait because they didn’t close up on time.
He ordered my husband to back up the car right there, turn the car around and get in line. I asked for his name, he told me he was Sgt. L., and asked my name. I told him I who I was
F turned the car around and we had almost reached the fountain entrance of the gardens a half hour later when we were stopped by another traffic jam, traffic was bumper to bumper. A vendor who was on foot said through my window to me, “Did you have to stop right in front of me, I’m trying to get across here.” I replied, “Don’t blame me, the stupid cop made us come this way”. Sgt. L overheard me and got very angry. He ran up to my window and told me he had come down here to tell the staff my complaint and now he had to hear me say that! He demanded an apology and I said I apologize and then kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over but he kept yelling, harassing me until I felt like he was trying to provoke me into getting out of the car and assaulting him. I kept apologizing and crying until one of the festival staff stepped in front of him at my passenger window and asked me what the problem was. I told him briefly what had happened. He asked what number my space was but I was very upset by then and couldn’t remember. F told him we’d talk to him the next morning. As we passed the fountain going out of the gardens I noticed it was 7:09pm.
We went home. I was crying and very upset for hours. After F got me calmed down he stayed up almost all night writing up his account of what had happened to show the festival staff in the morning. I was afraid they’d kick me out of the festival for causing a fuss. F assured me it wasn’t my fault and was very upset with Sgt. L. F said if he’d treated me that way in public, he would have gone to jail and I had to agree. In the morning when I went to my booth he went straight to D., the festival manager, to tell her what happened and what he was afraid could have happened. F was very afraid there could have been a riot if either of us had got out of the car to argue with Sgt. L. Since the shooting of a civilian by a policeman in North Charleston a couple weeks before, F has been very frightened about dealing with the police. He was disabled by the VA for PTSD among other things. He was sure a riot would have occurred if he’d got out of the car to ask the cop to be more respectful to me. He even said he was glad he hadn’t brought a weapon or things might have gone really really bad. D. came down to my booth that Sunday morning and apologized for the problems I’d had on Saturday evening. The festival staff has always been very accommodating which is why I thought we could go out the other way the night before. She said of course we could do that and at the end of the day she escorted us out the back way so we didn’t have to face the traffic jam or an out-of-control angry policeman again.