I find it disturbing that it requires photographic evidence of atrocities against prisoners of war in Iraq for my people to critically examine the American war machine. I have been a prisoner of war in Traverse City where the Drug War is fought with the ferocity of racketeers hell bent on twisting the police and courts into a means of securing a monopoly on the vice market.
My nightmare in Traverse City began with an egregious series of constitutional rights violations perpetrated by the Traverse Narcotics Team. The violations continued to stack up for as long as I refused to invoke the only right I was allowed: the right to be railroaded into a guilty plea. Without a trial, without a sentence, and with my bail paid, I spent three months in some form of solitary confinement followed by two months of further incarceration. I endured a thorough dehumanization process in Grand Traverse County Jail, spending nearly three weeks of the solitary confinement with no property whatsoever. During six days of that time, my eyeglasses were confiscated on the pretense that I had attempted to stab a cop in the leg using them as a weapon. I was denied meals for refusing to speak. I was denied access to soap and toothpaste on the pretense that I might be able to create a weapon out of them. Some mornings, I shoveled my oatmeal into my mouth with my fingers since I was considered to be too outrageously dangerous to be allowed the use of a plastic spoon.
In maximun confinement (a form of solitary confinement with blockmates), I was psychologically tortured for days by a person who perpetually badgered me in order to deprive me of sleep and the comfort of peaceful solitude.
Over the course of the entire ordeal, more than a dozen of my constitutional rights were violated. Eventually, my will to resist broke, and I pled guilty to misdemeanors in order to secure my release, after which I was sentenced to time served and the cost of most of the bail I had posted many months earlier. I emerged as a broken man who had violated his own sacred word. There is no guilt in possession of plant matter, but I said that I was guilty anyway.
Nearly two years have passed since my release. The healing process has been long. I emerged into a Michigan I no longer know. At least my delusion has been lifted. I am now fully aware that constitutional protections are a scam. I know that I have no rights and will have no rights for as long as my fellow citizens tolerate drug courts ruled by racketeers. Judge Gilberts moral failing surprises me not. Of the four judges I faced during my ordeal, he was the least crooked.
The guards at Grand Traverse County Jail need to watch out. They appear to have some competition in Iraq.
Alan Wescoat Gaylord
Al Gore: on target
As I read Al Gores May 26th speech, which can be viewed at www.moveonpac.org/goreremarks, I realized that one overlooked tragedy of the election of 2000 is that we as a nation were robbed of the chance to hear President Gore regularly address the country with the articulate moral clarity we so yearn for, the likes of which George Bush is not only incapable of, but could never comprehend. Surely the act of evolving as a person to become more responsible, educated, open-minded and worldly should be rewarded. That should be the natural consequence of personal realization. Funny how just the opposite happened between Bush and Gore. As you read this brilliant speech which captures the thoughts and frustrations so many of us feel but arent able to convey as eloquently, try to imagine George Bush writing, speaking, or even thinking similarly.
Jerry OHearn TC
Keep it in Leland
We are writing to support keeping the Leelanau County Courthouse in Leland. We live within the village of Leland and have been citizen volunteers in virtually every phase of its community life. Knowing the countless hours and money spent by the township and county planning commission, we cannot understand why good planning principles, and the majority opinion of its members on March 23rd, are being ignored. To change the master plan of a neigboring township, as well as add another government building to a rural location seems the ultimate folly.
A visible, well functioning courthouse, surrounded as it is by county administrative offices is a tangible reminder of our duty as citizens. It maintains the character of a village as more than a resort or a collection of affluent residences, as many seem to view Leland. Our family has vivid memories of watching for enemy aircraft from the tower of the old courthouse during WWII, as well as learning about justice as children sitting in the courtroom. Preserving traditions and opportunities such as these keep a town alive!
We know that change and growth are inevitable. The greatest challenge to democratic citizens in the face of these is how to keep things SIMPLE. The simple solution is to expand the county courthouse in Leland without jeopardizing its local businesses and especially its quality of life.
We urge you to vote no on August 3 to moving the courthouse out of Leland.
Maryellen & Gene Hadjisky Leland
The Express has received an unsigned letter responding to a recent column on the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities. Another recent letter criticizes the performance and pay rates of Garfield Township officials, but is also unsigned with no return address.
Wed like to remind readers that the Express welcomes all viewpoints, but requires a signed letter for publication. Please resubmit your letter, with phone number for verification, so we can get your views in print. -- ed.