[col. writ. 5/24/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal
The early April raid on the homes and headquarters of the Eldorado, Texas-based branch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) on sexual abuse charges, has always struck me as a foul, prejudicial and a stark example of governmental overreach.
In conversations with other guys on Death Row, I opined that the raid lacked probable cause, as it was based on reports that weren't substantiated.
The recent Texas appellate court decision reversing the lower court actually went a good deal farther, ruling that the grounds for the raid offered by the government were "legally and factually insufficient", and that there was no evidence of immediate danger of sexual abuse. Some children have since been returned to their mothers.
The El Dorado raid, which resulted in the stat's seizure of some 450 children, was as much a paramilitary attack as a legal one, and it brought to mind the infamous raids on the MOVE house on May 13th, 1985, and Waco, Texas on the Branch Davidians on April 19th, 1993, both of which led to great loss of life, and which were based on state lies and exaggerations.
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What was almost more remarkable than the raids, though, was the muted responses, and the nature of them, as well.
On a popular women's talk program, discussion centered more on the mothers' weird hairdos and their conservative long dresses, than the sheer injustice of the state separating 450 children from their parents and their brothers and sisters.
It revealed how the State can isolate and attack those seen as different, with the support of the corporate media.
While I'm no fan of polygamy, and definitely oppose the sexual abuse of anybody, I don't recall any kind of similar raids on Catholic churches or parish houses, where the abuse of kids happened for generations, and was, if anything, an open secret.
The Mormons formally rejected polygamy (until then a central tenet of their faith), in 1890 in part as the price of joining the Union as the state of Utah (it was formerly named the State of Deseret). It's not surprising that some Mormon families would hold to their beliefs, and reject the official line.
But in the name of protecting children, Texas caused immense trauma to hundreds of innocent mothers, innocent fathers, and innocent children. For what can be more traumatic than to snatch a nursing infant from her mother's breast?
What can be more traumatic that separating a mother from her child? Or father from wife and children? Or what of brothers from sisters?
States do this every day, because they have the power to do so, but to quote MOVE's John Africa, " Just because it's legal, don't make it right."
-(c) '08 maj