DALLAS, August 23rd, 2012 - After a special hearing today, Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharret declared the commitment order granted to federal authorities for Brandon Raub’s arrest and detainment was invalid.
Raub, the 26-year-old former Marine, pro-liberty activist and Virginia resident, was seized by FBI, Secret Service and local authorities over Facebook posts allegedly “terrorist in nature”.
According to court documents, a swift evaluation by social worker Michael Campbell determined Raub’s involuntary admission. The following day, a magistrate Michael S. Znotens ordered his detention at John Randolph Hospital. Raub was evaluated for an additional 15 minutes by Dr. James A. Correll and later ordered by Special Justice Walter Douglass Stoke to remain for 30 days at VA Hospital in Salem, VA.
John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil rights organization, rushed to Raub’s defense, filing multiple motions later denied, including a plea preventing Raub’s transfer away from family and legal counsel. Once denied, another appeal noting Raub’s initial detention orders did not follow the law Chesterfield PD was filed.
Judge Sharret agreed the arrest and detention actions were illegal and will request Raub’s discharge. As the Richmond-Times Dispatch reports, he was shocked by the failure of the magistrate to include in the order any grounds for holding Raub.
“The initial order was rubber-stamped”, says John Whitehead. “The special justice is very old. He had trouble hearing Brandon. He brought into the courtroom a personal cassette player – we tried to listen to it and you can hardly hear what’s being said. This is the so-called judge – he’s a lawyer, not a real judge – it’s like what you would see in a bad movie.”
“There’s a system here that is corrupt. And this guy is caught in it,” Whitehead told Business Insider. “I’m friends with the local police; I could call them right now and probably get you committed if you were in Virginia. They can arrive at your door based on somebody’s testimony or your Facebook page and take you away to a mental hospital.”
Whitehead stated that 20,000 people are committed under similar circumstances in Virginia annually. “That means a lot of people are disappearing under the pretext of mental illness”.
Many of Raub’s posts were controversial, including forecasting a popular revolution against the federal government, anti-establishment statements and pro-conspiracy remarks. But authorities claimed concerned citizens anonymously reported Raub’s statements while Whitehead clarified the statements “terrorist in nature” were out-of-context messages shared privately via a Facebook game Raub played with siblings, which the FBI spied on.
As Whitehead told Virginia’s NBC 12, “Quoting some lyrics from a rock group called ‘Swollen Members’ they were joking around. His brother and his sister and that’s it and that’s why he’s in this situation. All he was doing was expressing himself in a Facebook game.” Whitehead’s clarifications were ignored by federal and judicial authorities.
Usually apolitical Americans mobilized with veterans and activists in defense of Raub’s First Amendment rights, contacting his state and federal legislators consistently since the saga began. Many join his council believing Raub was targeted by overzealous, illegal police action.
Tristan Tucker, a libertarian activist and veteran believes Raub’s arrest was an important reminder that the First Amendment is the cornerstone of American freedom:
“I think it’s disgusting. This guy posted some conspiracy theory-esque posts and intimidated the Feds. So I think he either was targeted for terror suspicion anyway or he hit close to home with his accusations. Either way, I have been expecting this for some time, since DHS put out that memorandum last year saying that right-wing leaning veterans that vocally dissent should be considered terror suspects.”
Supporters that organized online are elated and thankful to the public for rallying to Raub’s defense, which they believe sets a precedent that federal authorities do not have unchecked power.
“I think I speak for us all when I say that we couldn’t be happier. I hope this decision sticks. I personally plan to stay vigilant about topics like this, so a similar incident doesn’t occur again. Brandon is a true patriot and we are all so very proud of him and glad to hear of his release,” said leaders of the Brandon Raub Truth Investigation group.
Another commenter agreed, “They saw a storm coming and backed off. The Bill of Rights is not negotiable. It’s amazing what happens when the people read, listen and speak out.”
Updates are expected to develop. Check back with Communities @WashingtonTimes.com as details emerge.
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