by Jamie Lowell for The Compassion Chronicles
The elections are over and the citizens of Oakland County and the state of Michigan are left with another term of Republican Sheriff Michael Bouchard and Democrat Prosecutor Jessica Cooper. Both have proven to stand in opposition of their constituents wishes, which would rather their leadership direct precious resources toward fighting real issues such as violent crime, instead of working against the will of the people and concerning themselves with legal activity that poses no threat to society.
Bouchard and Cooper were retained by a fair vote in this year’s election. The atrocities they committed went largely unnoticed, however, and the press chose not to recount their stumbles on the medical marijuana issue. There was also a law suit against Bouchard and company, filed just days before the election, for authorizing a helicopter to fly dangerously low to a crowd at the2012 Woodward Cruise. The helicopter stunt caused injury to people and damage to expensive show cars, but the ensuing law suit was not widely covered by media so close to the elections.
Former Mayor of Ferndale and County Commissioner Craig Covey did submit a piece to the Berkley Patch reminding voters of the gross over-reach of authority exhibited by Cooper and Bouchard. The Oakland Press also did cover the helicopter stunt. Neither story was enough to unseat the incumbents.
Since these civil servants are still in place, and will likely hold on to their narrow visions concerning marijuana reform and the rights and protections that people are supposed to be afforded, they must be held accountable on issues concerning medical marijuana. They do not have to ever personally like cannabis or understand the benefits of its use or the attached civil and human rights issues, but they should have to properly carry out the responsibilities of their jobs.
Bouchard and company committed a series of paramilitary attacks on several innocent people. In addition, a related business, licensed by the city and approved of by the mayor, was closed after the raids took place.
Instead of asking a judge to civilly decide if anyone was actually breaking the law, as was done in Isabella County and elsewhere, Bouchard ordered his soldiers to break into people’s homes, terrorize their families, and steal their money and possessions. That seems to be how Oakland County handles a law they don’t like or understand.
During the raids, at one of the targeted homes, the bullet-proof vested, jack booted soldiers brandishing automatic weapons took on some very innocent and very scared children. As the soldiers held guns to the children’s heads, they discussed shooting the family dog. The terrified children were left wondering why those who are supposed to be protecting them are in their home standing in position to kill them.
By law, the items of value taken in these raids are kept, liquidated, put in the coffers to fund the next raid and to purchase the next round of machine guns, flash bombs and battering rams. The raid victims whose homes and businesses are invaded and items of value taken, are often not even charged, let alone convicted. Often times, left with no resources to defend themselves.
Michigan is one of the most vulnerable and worst states for forfeiture laws- unless you are Bouchard and Cooper, in which it is one of the best. The Institute For Justice published a report in 2010 called “Policing for Profit.” It is a valuable resource for those interested in this issue. Each state was graded, Michigan received a D-. When there is financial incentive and no repercussions for injustice, the abuses are inevitable.
The invading soldiers did not kill the dog, but the same kids, as did other close family members and friends, had to hear of the death of their innocent grandfather, a few days later, who also had his home invaded by this same military force. Many family members and friends were illegitimately charged with multiple felonies, and their items of value forfeited. The kid’s piggy bank had a little money in it, so they took that too.
Innocent people and their families have had their lives turned upside downby the militarized aggression of Bouchard and Cooper. The helicopter stunt is just symptomatic of how the Department, under the watch of Bouchard, operates.
This scenario of a very few, in positions of power, working in opposition to the will of the people, is all too common. It will be a dynamic in the emergence of other cities, counties and states taking steps to move forward with marijuana law reform efforts. The people in states such as Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and other places where marijuana law reform of some kind seems likely, will undoubtedly have to experience their own version of this.
Although the elections did not unseat those unworthy of power, the Oakland County citizenry- and the rest of the state as well- is more attuned to the legitimacy of medical marijuana businesses. The social consequences of the Oakland County administration’s attacks are clear, and recent Court decisions favor the protection of patients. It may be more difficult now for Bouchard and Cooper to violate the rights of registered patients and legitimate businesses, but they will try again. Watchdog groups and aggressive attorneys will remain vigilant against a resurgence of unfounded actions. The true solution rests in candidates willing to go the distance to unseat these persons from their offices in 2016.