Rampant Injustice in a Tullahoma “Terrorist” Case

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My comments on the oppression of the terrorist threat laws are not academic. I have received an e-mail alerting me to the conviction of a black man from Tullahoma, Tennessee for making a threat, and he could receive 12-20 years in prison for doing so. Sentencing is in August.

Lawmakers have literally created the crime of terrorism for possibly or allegedly ill-considered and/or extreme remarks made in a variety of emotional or mental states that include haste, anger, sarcasm, habit, ignorance, being under pressure, stress, the desire to fight back somehow, frustration, displacement, being under the influence of alcohol, or simply lack of restraint and bad judgment. People should not be put in prison for decades for being human and saying things that they have no intention of doing!

The man is Tyrone L. Watts, 43 years old. Facing a bureaucratic refusal for him and his wife to check his child out of school early, he was found guilty of threatening to return to the school with an AK-47 and kill everyone and himself. This was two days before Sandy Hook occurred.

Now, I’ll quote from the e-mail:

“The only evidence against this gentlemen was the hearsay of an  inarticulate office worker at his stepson’s school. I have met  Mr. Watts. He was for some time a local pizza delivery driver, a very polite man. Our families later became casually acquainted at various community events. When I was pregnant with my first child he delivered his wife’s old maternity clothes with our pizza.   It certainly did not work in Mr. Watts favor that he is an African-American  (to clarify, I am a white), nor that he was convicted for a felony ten years ago. Perhaps the most damning detail was that  this incident occurred two days before the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary became national news. On the day of the incident, police questioned a cooperative Watts and released him. Two days later, they returned to his home with a swat team and he was charged. The story was released to the local and state media and concerned parents were up in arms. Local police were beaming with pride that they had ‘stopped an act of terrorism.'”

The biblical call for a minimum of two witnesses is sensible, although no guarantee that justice will be done.

The U.S. government has been treating a number of other peoples in the world with extreme cruelty for decades. There is no surprise that it also turned its cruelty on its own people, particularly drug users, imprisoning huge numbers. It has acted cruelly to slow the development of health and life-preserving drugs. This is only a fraction of its cruel treatments of its own citizens.



6:43 pm on June 28, 2013