Left: Hi-Point .45 caliber pistol
(Toledo, OH) Labor activist Michael Franklin Green recently received good news, as a felony gun possession charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. However, unlike white defendants charged with similar crimes, Green's weapon was ordered destroyed by Judge Gene Zmuda.
Green was initially ticketed with a pair of misdemeanors on May 28 for possession of alcohol and a handgun in Swan Creek Metropark. When he showed up for his hearing on June 2, however, he found that the charges had been increased to felonies.
Brian Ramsey, Green’s attorney, convinced the court to reduce the charge and for Green to be free without bond.
Green said that, while he was pleased with the court’s decision to lessen his charge, he is still frustrated over what he termed a “racist prosecutorial system.”
“I have been unable to practice my trade as a merchant marine while the felony charge was hanging over my head, because I was not allowed to leave Lucas County,” he said. “I also could not take a job offer helping with the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans.”
Despite being allowed to leave the county for work, however, Green said that assistant prosecutor Anita Mathew successfully convinced Judge Frederick McDonald to prohibit him from attending a September peace rally in Washington, DC.
“I am being denied my constitutional rights,” he said, watching fellow demonstrators prepare to board the DC-bound busses. “How many other people facing simple misdemeanors are barred from freedom of association and freedom of speech?”
Green said that he is filing a civil lawsuit against the county and the Metroparks police for infringement upon his rights.
“I have suffered significant financial loss because of the prosecutor’s ridiculous decision to try and charge me with a felony,” he said, adding that the fear of jail time has been quite stressful. “Why is it that white defendants like Bruce Beatty and Thomas Szych get charged with misdemeanors, while black defendants get charged with felonies?”
Even more galling to Green is the fact that his weapon was ordered destroyed.
"They give back the weapons of white men, but a black man's gun should be destoyed?" Green asked. "It is clear to me that the court has double standards when it comes to race."
This is an updated article of mine that recently appeared in the Toledo Free Press, a terrific weekly paper.