Friday, March 30, 2012

Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Apparently Not.

Michigan militia head, son plead guilty to gun charge

So this news article in and of itself, I could take or leave. It's a decent enough account presenting quotes and opinions from both sides of this trial. It doesn't seem particularly biased in one direction or another. Right now, everybody has an opinion about who is right or wrong, what they would have done differently, blah, blah, blah. That's not what bothers me in this article. What bothers me is that in a federal court these men were cleared of all charges of seditious conspiracy, they were cleared of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, they were cleared of all charges except for a couple of illegal firearms charges on only 2 of the defendants.

Here's the quote that is getting to me:

"Militia members are finding that resuming their lives isn't easy. Despite his acquittal, Michael Meeks of Manchester, Mich., said he can't open a bank account yet because the bank told him he's still on a terror watch list. Told of the troubles, McQuade didn't seem moved. 
"It's the consequences of their actions," the prosecutor told the AP"

Their actions? Their ACTIONS?? According to a federal court of law their actions were LEGAL. According to a well respected federal judge these men were being tried on circumstantial evidence. Their actions? A judge threw the case out because they couldn't PROVE any actions. None that were illegal anyway (with the aforementioned exception of 2 defendants having illegal firearms). Now I'm not defending anyone's statements, I'm not saying all of these guys are squeaky clean boy scouts who love everything about the good ol' U.S. of A. I'm saying they were cleared of these "terrorist" charges because of lack of evidence. In spite of this they are going to be on a terror watch list. They are going to be watched by government agencies for any suspicious activity for God knows how long. They can't even get a bank account now. Their homes have been vandalized. (Hutaree leader FBI's actions validates distrust by patriots last lines) And this woman, a person who has based her career on the law says, in essence, they deserve it? "It's the consequences of their actions"? Ummm... I thought your very own court system just cleared them of any illegal actions? So it must be the action of exercising free (if controversial) speech?

I think the thing that shocks me most is my own naivety. Somewhere in my heart, I still believe/d in the United States. I really believe/d that we were innocent until proven guilty. I did not know we were guilty even when proven innocent. People, when a U.S. attorney general can make a statement like that, and even a portion of the population backs her, we're all in trouble.


    I can't post an actual link on your comments, but if you copy and paste the web address above to your browser you will be taken to the 28 page document that is the Judges decision for dismissal.
    I think you are awesome for looking beyond the surface, and digging for your own truth.
    It is true that the defendants are still on the watch list. Their lawyers are working to get this taken care of. It should be a matter of time and red tape, but in the mean time they can not open a bank account, or qualify to receive credit. They also will be on a no fly list, and probably will not be able to purchase any means of public travel until their names have been removed from these terrorist lists.
    There will be many challenges for these people in their futures as they try to reintegrate back into society. Finding jobs, new homes, and acceptance from their peers is not going to be easy.
    I agree, to hear such statements from our government officials, from the very people who are supposed to uphold justice in our judicial system, is sickening.
    And while things could have been worse in the outcome of this situation, in researching this trial and investigation, I have come across many very similar cases across the country. I do believe our rights and freedoms are under attack, and our way of life is in jeopardy.
    I do not think it is too late to turn things around though. But it will take vigilance and action from far more than just you and I.
    If you keep giving people things to think about, and I keep speaking my mind, maybe, just maybe we can wake up a few more people and get them to do the same. It's a start anyway.

  2. I saw the links to the documents with an article the freep ran. I glanced over them, just happy that this trial was over and that Judge Roberts had the integrity not to be pushed into what would have been a more "popular" decision in the legal circles in which she moves. It was courageous on her part.

    As I stated, I'm most shocked by my own naivety and ignorance surrounding these kinds of processes. I think there are a lot of people out there like me. It's embarassing to realize your own lack of involvement and knowledge about the county in which we live. That's part of the beauty of freedom though. I've never had a day where I worried about police at my door because of something I said, the way I choose to worship God, or because I was aquainted with people who the government now sees as suspect. I've been sheltered. The vast majority of us have been. It's not until something like this happens that affects you on a personal level that you begin to explore the not so perfect side of our government.

    I agree with you that we are not beyond hope. This is not an out of control downward spiral that we are powerless to reign in. It will take far more than you and I blogging our little fingers off. What that looks like I don't know, but it has to start with people insisting on exercising the freedoms we have instead of being content to let that be someone elses problem.