After Scott Greene was arrested for the ambush murder of two Iowa police officers early Wednesday, a sign on the front lawn of the house he shares with his mother continued to announce a preference in the upcoming presidential election.
“They got a Trump sign,” said Richard Leutinger, who lives just across 70th Street in Urbandale. “But what’s that got to do with anything?”
Maybe everything, whether 46-year-old Scott Greene put up the sign or his 66-year-old mother, Patricia Greene, did, as the Trump people insist.
Not that anybody could rightly suggest that Donald Trump would support the killing of 24-year-old Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin as he sat in his radio car a dozen blocks up 70th Street from the Greene house at around 1 a.m. and then the killing of 39-year-old Des Moines Police Sgt. Tony Beminio 20 minutes later as he responded to reports of the first attack.
Trump was an hour and a half quicker than his opponent to offer his condolences.
“Praying for the families of the two Iowa police who were ambushed this morning. An attack on those who keep us safe is an attack on us all,” he tweeted at 9:30 a.m.
Hillary Clinton may have taken extra time to prepare a message, which ended with the single initial that is supposed to signal she personally composed the tweet.
“Heartbroken for the families of two brave officers who were killed in Iowa. There’s no justification for this kind of violence. -H,” she said at 11 a.m.
If Clinton really is heartbroken, she will soon be saying in future tweets and speeches that the death of these two brave officers is yet another instance of somebody who should never have been able to get his hands on a high-powered weapon, in this instance an assault rifle that littered the two crime scenes with spent .223 casings such as were also found at Sandy Hook and Aurora and San Bernardino and Orlando and Baton Rouge.
Clinton can also note that the first killing took place where Greene had videotaped himself in a confrontation with police back on Oct. 14, after he waved a Confederate flag in front of several black people during the playing of the national anthem at an Urbandale High School football game.
“I was offended by the blacks sitting through our anthem,” Greene would write online. “Thousands more whites fought and died for their freedom. However this is not about the Armed forces, they are cop haters.”
But it was a cop who hustled him from the stands to prevent trouble. He had already taken a selfie of himself in the stands getting the effect he wanted with the Confederate flag. He now recorded himself with several officers at the edge of the school grounds, announcing that he had been assaulted and that some of his property had been stolen.
“It was almost like a mugging,” he told the police.
“What did they steal from you?” a sergeant asked.
“The flag that officer is holding,” Greene said.
Greene meant the cop who had escorted him from the crowd and was now indeed holding the Confederate flag.
“He’s going to give that back to you right now,” the sergeant said.
The cop did as bid.
“I was standing there holding a flag during the national anthem,” Greene said. “They were African-American people who were behind me, I was about the 40-yard line… I was standing there as a peaceful person.”
“You weren’t disorderly in any way?” the sergeant asked.
“Absolutely not,” Greene said. “I did not cause any type of disturbance.”
“The school has decided you are no longer allowed on Urbandale High School property,” a man who was apparently a school representative said. “Were you here to watch a student?”
“I was here to exercise my constitutional right,” Greene replied.
Greene did not say his daughter attends the school and is on the varsity cheerleading squad and would be on the field rooting for Urbandale’s beloved J-Hawks.
“The flag you are holding is actually in violation of school code,” the representative said.
A cop offered some simple logic.
“You have got to understand in the current social climate that we’re in, when you fly a Confederate flag in front of several African-American people, that is going to cause a disturbance,” the cop said.
“It is my constitutional right,” Greene insisted.
“That is going to cause a disturbance whether you intend to or not, whether it is your right or not,” the cop said.
Greene went off into the night with his Confederate flag, which he apparently kept along with an American flag on a wall at home. He posted the video still of himself in the stands as well as the recording with the cops on YouTube two days later.
“Police Abuse, Civil Rights Violation at Urbandale High School 10/14/16,” he wrote. “This is an assault on a person exercising his constitution rights on free speech!”
Later that day, Greene made another recording, this of a dispute with his mother, Patricia Greene, that became loud enough for the police to respond. Scott Greene showed the officer his latest video, which appeared to establish that the scratch on his face had been caused by his mother. She was arrested and arraigned on assault charges, the judge setting $1,000 cash bail.
The criminal complaint suggests that the dispute was over a service dog belonging to Greene’s daughter. But the report may have gotten things a little jumbled, for the dispute allegedly turned physical after the mother saw Scott Greene wearing the dog tags his deceased father, Richard Greene, had worn in the service before returning home from Vietnam to raise a family and work 33 years in the postal service, along with 40 years at Walgreens.
The mother had offered a public measure of her feelings for her husband and her grief over his loss in a Facebook post on Aug. 26. She wrote, “Today would have been our 48th wedding anniversary. I met and fell in love with Richard when I was 16 years old. We were married for 9 days when he left with the Marines for Vietnam. What a 13 months of hell for him. We have 3 great kids and 8 great grandkids. His family meant the world to him and me.”
The following day, Aug. 27, she marked the sixth anniversary of his death from cancer with another Facebook post:
“I lost my hubby 6 years ago today. What a great hubby and daddy he was. Some people say just get over it but, it is not that easy and I will say to them it is not something you get over. I carry you in my heart always and will always love you.”
She also wrote, “To my MARINE in Heaven, I miss you greatly and love you. Thank you for your service my Darling. We will meet again.”
On seeing her son wearing her husband’s dog tags on Oct. 17, the mother seems to have been overcome and had allegedly tried to snatch them away. He had sought to stop her and she had supposedly pummeled and scratched him.
Neighbors would say they thought Scott Greene had served in the military in either Iraq or Afghanistan, but they may have only gotten that impression from his father’s dog tags. His own son, Scottie Greene, was in the Iowa National Guard and had, in fact, been deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. Scottie’s Facebook page shows him in full combat gear in the war zone, sighting down a military variation of the assault rifle.
“This is one of my favorite pictures of my grandson Scotty” Patricia Greene commented, adding with good cause, “I am so very proud of you. Love,Gma.”
In a Nov. 17, 2012, post, Scottie noted that the date had particular meaning for him every year.
“Happy Birthday to my best friend my role model My Grandap! R.I.P. I love you and miss you!”
No such tributes are offered by him to his father or by Patricia to her son. Patricia does praise Scott for tending to her aged and ailing dog, Chloe Bell, who finally had to be put down.
“Thank you Scott for taking her to the vet for me so many times and giving her her medication every day.”
In other postings, the mother shares offerings from Blue Lives Matter groups. One post on Oct. 11 is from the group Enough Is Enough.
“KILLING A POLICE OFFICER SHOULD BE A MANDATORY DEATH SENTENCE,” it reads.
Scott Greene did not post on YouTube the video of the confrontation with his mother over the dog tags, though he did post a number of himself with a dog named Casio.
“Good boy! Good boy!” Scott Greene can be heard telling the dog.
He also posted a video of himself during his first day on the job as a helper aboard a delivery truck. The man at the wheel beside him appears to be driving recklessly. Greene writes that when he showed the video to his boss, he himself was fired.
The most recent video Greene posted was on Saturday, this of his daughter at a cheerleading competition in Fort Dodge.
“Come on, baby!” he can be heard calling out.
On Monday, Scott Greene was in Polk County court for a brief proceeding, perhaps involving the assault case against his mother.
At 1 a.m. on Tuesday, young Officer Martin was found shot to death in his radio car at the edge of the Urbandale High School grounds. Sgt. Beminio—a married father—was murdered as he responded to the first shooting.
Somebody must have remembered the guy who had waved the Confederate flag in the stands and then videoed the ensuing confrontation with the police. Investigators noted that Scott Greene lived just down 70th Street. They also noted that he had been arrested back in 2014 for calling a stranger the N-word and threatening to kill him. The case had raised some questions about his mental condition, and the records note that he was on medication of some kind.
By dawn, the man who had gone to the high-school football game with a Confederate flag to wave it at black “cop haters” was the primary suspect in the killing of two cops with a civilian version of the weapon his son had carried in war. An alert went out for him and his vehicle.
Around 9 a.m., Greene approached an Iowa Department of Natural Resources employee. Greene asked the man to call the police and he was soon in custody.
Back on 70th Street, the Trump sign on the front lawn did not escape notice. The Trump campaign was quick to say that Patricia Greene had requested the sign, though her Facebook page makes no mention of the The Donald.
She does have Blue Lives Matter postings such as a Trump supporter might support, notably the one just three weeks ago that calls for the mandatory death penalty for cop killers. But the only political sign that appears on her page is a photo of one on a lawn offering a sentiment shared by much of the country:
“EVERYBODY SUCKSWE’RE SCREWED 2016”
If the Trump sign was put up by the mother, she may be just one of the many decent people who have fallen for the great con and believe his lies and buy his promise to Make America Great Again.
If the son put it up, then you can be sure he sees The Donald as representing sentiments such as he himself was voicing with his little one-man Trump rally at the start of the Urbandale High School game.
Very likely, Scott Greene was nasty and at least a little nuts long before Trump began running for president. He certainly appears to have already been freely using the N-word.
But there is no denying that when inciting and manipulating fear and bigotry, Trump encourages folks to release forces that are otherwise kept doubly in check by their conscience and by what is widely mocked as political correctness but is really personal correctness.
The effect is intensified by Trump’s dramatics and myriad falsehoods, which further untether hateful fantasies from logic and reality. A man who is already unbalanced is liable to go from protesting “black cop haters” to becoming a cop killer, whether it was he or his mother who actually put up a Trump sign.
What matters is that there was a Trump sign at all.