It's December, which means it's time to look back at a year full of cry-babies, and decide which of those cry-babies was the cry-babiest cry-baby of all. Below are ten people, selected by me, from the list of people who have been named Cry-Baby of the Week over the last 12 months. At the bottom of the page, you can vote for your favorite.
This year's winner will join three previous Cry-Baby of the Year "champs": A TV reporter who got a man arrested because he grabbed her microphone, a family who threatened to sue their neighbors for installing a wheelchair ramp on their home, and a woman who tried to trick some men into raping a lady who had outbid her on a house. Here are the contenders.
Cry-Baby #1: Robyn Wilkins
The incident: A woman thought she saw a pentagram in a brake light.
The appropriate response: Nothing.
The actual response: She called her local news station because she thought it looked satanic.
In January, a woman named Robyn Wilkins was driving behind a school bus in Memphis, Tennessee, when she noticed that the brake lights resembled the shape of an upside-down star.
Wilkins snapped a photo, which you can see above, and sent it to her local news station, WMC Action News 5, complaining that the brake lights resembled a pentagram (which WMC Action News referred to as a "satanic symbol"). "Anyone who fears a god, if not God and Jesus Christ, should be outraged," Wilkins told the station. She then asked, "Would we allow a swastika, for instance, to be on the back of the bus?" That's a provocative question!
The news station approached the bus company and the school to get their sides of the "story," but both declined to comment.
Cry-Baby #2: The Texas Department of Public Safety and Transportation
Photo via Instagram
The incident: A state trooper posed for a photo with Snoop Dogg. The appropriate response: Nothing.
The actual response: The trooper was ordered to undergo counseling.
In March, while at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas State Trooper Sergeant Billy L. Spears posed for a photo with Snoop Dogg.
Snoop posted the photo on his Instagram page with the caption "Me n my deputy dogg," followed by gun and star emojis.
Later than month, a supervisor from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Transportation drove 40 miles to hand-deliver a counseling order to Billy.
Billy's lawyer, Ty Clevenger, posted the order online. "While working a secondary employment job, Trooper Spears took a photo with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges," it read. "It reflects poorly on the agency."
Ty claimed that his client didn't know about Snoop's criminal background. "Believe it or not, some folks don't watch TMZ or read People Magazine," he wrote on his blog. He also claimed that the real reason for the citation was an "act of retaliation against Billy," because the trooper had "reported misconduct by an officer from another agency" the previous year.
Billy is reportedly not able to appeal the citation because it technically doesn't count as formal disciplinary action. However, according to Ty, the counseling will still go into Billy's personnel record, and could harm his eligibility for future promotions.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety and Transportation refused to comment on the case, saying that the agency does not comment on personnel issues unless they result in disciplinary action.
Cry-Baby #3: Luke Gatti
The incident: A drunk guy was denied jalapeño bacon mac-and-cheese.
The appropriate response: Getting food elsewhere. Probably at home.
The actual response: He threw a tantrum so severe that he ended up arrested.
Back in October, Luke Gatti, a 19-year-old student at the University of Connecticut, attempted to buy some bacon and jalapeño macaroni-and-cheese from his school's cafeteria. He was denied service, apparently because he'd been drinking alcohol on the premises.
In a video of the incident, Luke can be seen repeatedly requesting some "fucking bacon jalapeño mac-and-cheese." When his requests are ignored, Luke tries a few different tactics, ranging from calling the manager a "fucking fag" to shoving him in the chest.
At one point during the encounter, Luke realizes he's being filmed, turns to the manager, and says, "This is gonna be posted somewhere, and you're gonna look like a fucking tool."
After shoving the manager a second time, another member of the cafeteria staff tackles Luke to the ground while screaming "You don't touch my boss!"
The video ends with Luke calling the manager a bitch, and seemingly spitting in his face. This prompts the responding officer to rush Luke out of the building, using his face to open the door. At the moment of impact, Luke makes an incredibly satisfying sound, that I guess I would transcribe as gwelpth.
Luke was charged with breach of peace in the second degree and criminal trespassing. He is currently seeking accelerated rehabilitation in his case. (This was not Luke's first brush with the law. Last year, he was reportedly arrested for disorderly conduct, which included calling a cop a "fucking nigger.")
Luke was expelled from UConn as a result of the cafeteria video. After it went viral, he issued a video apology.
Later that week, The Hartford Courant went to the cafeteria and tried the bacon jalapeño mac-and-cheese to see if it was worth getting expelled for. They said it was pretty good.
Cry-Baby #4: Robert A. Bonzani
The incident: A man went through a lengthy divorce.
The appropriate response: Doing everything you can to finalize it, then moving on.
The actual response: He allegedly desecrated the grave of his ex-wife's attorney's deceased daughter.
Robert Bonzani is a urologist living in Mokena, Illinois. In 2012, he and his wife divorced. Though this was several years ago, the divorce proceedings were, as of April, still ongoing. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the most recent filings at the time related to child support payments.
Throughout the divorce, Robert's wife was represented by an attorney named Edward Jaquays. Back in 2012, Edward's 17-year-old daughter Kiley died in a hiking accident in Utah, where she was attending a retreat for troubled teens.
According to charges brought against Robert, he has waged a campaign of harassment against Edward Jaquays to get revenge on the lawyer for representing his wife in their divorce.
Police say that Robert stole photos and an artificial tree from Kiley's grave site, and vandalized her headstone with spray paint. He also allegedly sent several letters to Edward and his wife that mentioned their daughter. The content of those letters has not been released, but CBS reports they were "designed to cause the divorce attorney and his wife emotional pain."
Robert turned himself into police in April and was charged with criminal damage to property, theft, and stalking.
Cry-Baby #5: Jay Foster
The incident: Some people cheered at a graduation ceremony after being told they weren't allowed to cheer.
The appropriate response: Shushing them or throwing them out.
The actual response: Warrants were issued for their arrest.
In May, 18-year-old Lanarcia Walker graduated from Senatobia High School in Senatobia, Mississippi.
As she made her way across the stage to collect her diploma at the school's graduation ceremony, several of her relatives in the audience shouted things at the stage. Normal, graduation-shouting things: Lanarcia's father shouted, "You did it, baby!" Another relative shouted the graduate's name.
This created a problem, as Jay Foster, the superintendent of Lanarcia's school, had asked the crowd not to applaud or cheer until the end of the ceremony. The audience had been told, according to a report on WREG Memphis, that doing so would get them kicked out of the event.
Following their outburst, four members of Lanarcia's family were asked to leave the graduation ceremony.
A couple of weeks later, the ejected family members were served with papers informing them that they were being charged with "DISTUBE PEACE," which, presumably, is the same thing as disturbing the peace.
The papers described how the family had used "loud boisterous noise" to "disturb the public peace of Jay Foster." Their bonds were set at $500 each.
"It's crazy. The fact that I might have to bond out of jail, pay court costs, or a $500 fine for expressing my love, it's ridiculous man. It's ridiculous," Henry Walker, one of the relatives served with the papers, told the press.
WREG attempted to speak to Jay Foster, the superintendent who pressed the charges. He refused to appear on camera, but reportedly told the news station that he was determined to have order at his school's graduation ceremonies.
After the story made national news, Jay Foster withdrew the charges against the family.
Cry-Baby #6: Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch
The incident: A woman heard someone speaking a foreign language in an Applebee's.
The appropriate response: Nothing.
The actual response: She allegedly threw a beer mug in the face of the non-English speaker.
In October, 43-year-old Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch (pictured above) was eating at an Applebee's in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, with her husband.
According to a report on Minneapolis news station KARE 11, Jodie "became upset" after noticing that a customer seated in the booth next to hers was speaking a language other than English. The customer, Asma Jama, was reportedly speaking Swahili. She was dining with her two cousins and four children, all of whom were under 11 years old.
Police say the restaurant's staff asked Jodie to leave, but she refused, instead yelling abuse at Asma. She then allegedly threw a large beer mug in Asma's face, cutting the woman's nose, eyebrow, and lips.
"Emotionally, that has destroyed me," Asma told Minnesota's Fox 9. "I've lived in Minnesota for 15 years—never has anyone even looked at me weird for not speaking English and wearing a hijab. I've seen hate crimes on TV, but for it to happen to me? I'm really a different person. I don't like it."
Jodie was arrested and charged with third degree assault.
Cry-Baby #7: Some students at Duke University
The incident: Some students at a university were asked to read the graphic novel Fun Home as part of a summer reading program.
The appropriate response: Reading it. Or looking it up on Wikipedia, and then pretending you read it.
The actual response: Several students refused to read the book, claiming the sex depicted in it violated their religious beliefs.
As part of its annual summer reading program, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina provided incoming freshmen in 2015 with a list of recommended books. One of the books on the list was Fun Home, an autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, which centers on the author's experience coming to terms with her homosexuality, as well as her relationship with her father, who was a closeted gay man. The book features several illustrations of women having sex.
According to a report in the Duke Chronicle, an incoming freshman named Brian Grasso posted on the school's Class of 2019 Facebook page, explaining why he was not willing to read the book. "I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it," Brian wrote.
The Chronicle reports that another student said she "could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity," and another told the school paper that he would not read the book due to its "pornographic nature."
Brian, the author of the Facebook post, also wrote an op-ed for theWashington Post, in which he goes into more detail about his decision not to read Fun Home.
"After researching the book's content and reading a portion of it, I chose to opt out of the assignment," Brian wrote. "My choice had nothing to do with the ideas presented. I'm not opposed to reading memoirs written by LGBTQ individuals or stories containing suicide. I'm not even opposed to reading Freud, Marx, or Darwin. I know that I'll have to grapple with ideas I don't agree with, even ideas that I find immoral."
He added that he would not be reading the book because the Bible forbids people from looking at pornographic images. "My beliefs extend to pop culture and even Renaissance art depicting sex," he wrote. Brian also believes that his professors have a duty to give him a heads-up when he might possibly be exposed to a boob: "And I believe professors should warn me about such material, not because I might consider them offensive or discomforting, but because I consider it immoral."
Cry-Baby #8: Bill Riley
The incident: A garbage man started his shift early.
The appropriate response: Asking him to start on time if this creates an issue. Possibly some kind of fine for repeat violations.
The actual response: He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
In early March, Kevin McGill, a garbage man in Sandy Springs, Georgia, started his garbage pickup at 5 AM.
Because Sandy Springs has a city ordinance limiting garbage collection to between the hours of 7 AM and 7 PM, Kevin was cited for a violation. Then he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, to be served over a series of weekends.
"It was terrible—I didn't want to go in," Kevin told VICE at the time. "I didn't know what to expect, and when I got in it was worse than anything I could have imagined."
According to his lawyer, in addition to his weekend incarcerations, Kevin was also sentenced to six months probation, during which time he would be required to pay a monthly fees to the City of Sandy Springs.
Sharon Kraun, a spokesperson for the city, says that early-morning garbage truck noise is not something Sandy Springs residents will tolerate.
The harsh sentence was requested by prosecutor Bill Riley (pictured above). Riley, who deserves to be bundled up and thrown into the back of Kevin's truck because he is fucking garbage, defended the harsh sentence to Atlanta's WSB-TV, claiming that local residents have been calling 911 when the garbage collectors come early (Jesus Christ).
"Fines don't seem to work," Riley told the news station. "The only thing that seems to stop the activity is actually going to jail."
The good news is that after a media backlash over Kevin's sentencing, charges against Kevin were dropped.
"There are times when taking a step back provides the opportunity for better perspective," the Sandy Springs Solicitor's Office wrote in a statement. At the time the charges were dropped, Kevin had spent two days in jail.
Cry-Baby #9: Jerquan Dickson
The incident: Some kids threw snowballs at a guy's car.
The appropriate response: Yelling something at them as you drive away.
The actual response: He shot one of them several times.
This past weekend, 22-year-old Jerquan Dickson (pictured above) was driving in York, Pennsylvania. As he passed a group of teenage boys, one of them allegedly threw a snowball at his car.
According to police, Jerquan got out of his car, chased the teens into an alleyway, and started shooting, firing six shots before fleeing. Several of these shots hit 15-year-old Johnel Barton in the arms and legs.
Jerquan was later found by police at his home. He admitted to shooting at the boy, but claims he had been trying to fire "warning shots" into the snow. He was charged with aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.
The kid who got shot was taken to hospital, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, local news channel Fox 43 reported at the time. In August, Jerquan was sentenced to up to 23 months in prison.
Cry-Baby #10: Nicholas Allegretto
The incident: A business posted a picture online of a man shoplifting from their store.
The appropriate response: Not shoplifting if you're not comfortable with that type of exposure.
The actual response: He complained to police that his human rights were being violated, which led to him being arrested.
In February, 23-year-old Nicholas Allegretto attempted to steal a magnet from Mackays, a hardware store in Cambridge, England. He was caught outside the store and made to give the magnet back. He then ran away.
After the incident, store owner Neil Mackay took a screencap of Nicholas from the security camera footage and sent it to the local newspaper. The image was also posted on social media.
"[We were] basically saying to him: 'We know who you are, our staff knows who you are, you're not very welcome, thank you very much indeed," Neil told the Daily Mail. "We'd rather you didn't come in the store."
According to Neil, the shoplifter then went to the local police station to complain that his "human rights were being abused."
The Cambridge News reports that Nicholas told police he had lost his job as a roofer, and that his sister had been bullied at school as a result of the image being made public.
According to Neil, "the police decided they had enough evidence once they looked at the CCTV images to prosecute, and that's what they've done."
Nicholas was charged with theft. He was supposed to appear in court in October, but didn't show up. He was found guilty in his absence.
"I suppose you could say he wasn't the sharpest tool in the box," said Neil. Which is a funny thing for him to say, because he owns a tool shop.
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