Oct 29, 2005

Concealed Carry Case Has Racial Overtones

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.


elric1488 said...

That stupid nigger should not even own a gun. Good thing. They should have destryed the nigger too.

historymike said...

Once again, leave it to elric1488 to start the day off with racist stupidity.

My day would not be complete without this sort of idiocy from you; thanks for your kind thoughts.

Anonymous said...

elric is right - niggers should not own guns because they don;t have the brains to use them.

Do said...

Mike - IF the situation is as written, then Mr. Green has a case. Precedent has already been set.

I am going to hope that the racist overtones are more of a misinterpretation.

And yes - you always seem to bring the idiots out of the village! ;-)

historymike said...

Yes, this is accurate, Do. Green is also an self-described Communist, and he believes there is a political angle to this as well.

I attended the hearing in which the gun was ordered destroyed. The judge asked the park rangers what they wanted, and they said they wanted it destroyed. Green's attorney objected, but Zmuda let it go.

This will be tied up in appeals for some time. I tink Zmuda knew this, and didn't want to waste time in his courtroom for motions on the gun.

Plus, anything he said would be brought up in the appeals process.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I agree with do on this one, but have to ask,

Was the possesion of alcohol and weapons common to all three cases, or only to Mr. Greeen's?

That would make a difference...

historymike said...

Szych - menacing (misdemeanor)

Beatty - possession of a weapon in a park (misdemeanor)

Green - CCW(felony), using a weapon in the commission of a crime (felony)

The "crime" in Green's case? Open intoxicants.

The second count was thrown out, and the first was reduced to a 4th degree misdemeanor.

Do said...

Open intoxicants? Are you kidding?

OK - so all the folks I see in some neighborhoods that are sitting on bus benches, sidewalks, store front curbs, etc. that are swigging from a 40 ounce bottle/can are not in possession of 'open intoxicants'? Or is it that TPD just doesn't happen to see them since nobody has made a complaint and/or they have not seen any of those folks in possession of a weapon (not gun - weapon)?

As for Judge Zmuda's ruling? I think he lept (sic) before he looked. And since when does a Park Ranger determine disposition of a court case? I always thought that was discussed by neutral parties that researched the statutes and parameters of the law PRIOR to a disposition. I must be thinking of a different type of court system....

I've only met Zmuda in passing a couple times so can't exactly pass a judgement/opinion, but you can bet I'm going to be a little more watchful of him.

I'm thinking my curiosity is going to get the better of me...

historymike said...

Yes, Do, it was quite a stretch to consider an open container of beer to be the crime that elevated a simple misdemeanor to double felonies.

To the system's credit, the felonies were knocked down. Also, I am not knocking Zmuda, as he is just another cog in that big ole machine of justice.

Beatty's case, in which he brought a loaded weapon into the park, was adjudicated with a $50 fine.

Green's case, in which he brought an unloaded weapon into a park, was adjudicated with a $170 fine.

All for an open can of beer.

Now, should Mr. Green be drinking beer in a park, or bringing an unloaded weapon (which was in his backpack) into a park?

No, in my opinion.

However, if you glance into any trash can in any park, I guarantee you will find tons of beer containers.

Would the rangers have even walked up to a white defendant?

I don't have the answer to that, but I suspect that a white defendant might not have merited a second look.