By ____ _____1
Nelson Mandela is perhaps the best-known and most-revered political prisoner in history. His imprisonment in the Union of South Africa began in 1961 and spanned 3 decades, his struggle for freedom inextricably tied to the fight against Apartheid. Nelson Mandela’s personal prestige undermined the credibility of the South African regime in the eyes of the world and 4 years after his release from prison in 1990, he became South Africa’s first Black president.
No one disputes that Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner. But now let me present the story with a different emphasis:
The Union of South Africa was a member in good standing in the United Nations with government officials elected through popular vote. Like all civilized governments, South Africa had laws against bombings and terrorist activities, and it had close diplomatic relations with the U.S.
In 1961, Nelson Mandela was the leader of the African National Congress (ANC). The U.S. State Department regarded the ANC as a specially-designated global terrorist group. Nelson Mandela was charged in his role in bombings that killed people and he was provided the opportunity to defend himself in a criminal justice process not unlike the one established in the U.S. Convicted, Nelson Mandela was provided a series of appeals where his conviction was upheld and his trial ruled to be fair. The government of South Africa considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist whose imprisonment was necessary for the protection of the public. He remained in prison for 30 years.
These are the facts. The same Nelson Mandela befriended by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who became a poster-child for racial justice around the world, who appeared on Oprah Winfrey to a standing ovation and tears of joy from a U.S. Audience is the very same Nelson Mandela convicted of treason in 1961 and imprisoned as a terrorist who planned bombings that killed people.
He was the same Nelson Mandela recognized the world over as a political prisoner.
Is this confusing? Are you scratching your head and wondering how someone can be convicted of terrorist acts and then not only gain political prisoner recognition, but become the most-prominent political prisoner in modern history, and one of the most-beloved figures in the world? If this troubles you, let me attempt to clear things up for you:
Governments lie. Governments lie in order to further their agendas and to benefit the careers of the individual officials who make up the government. They corrupt and abuse official processes like trials and appeals in order to produce the predetermined outcomes they want– if the system is not already rigged to produce such outcomes in the first place. No government ever admits to abusing power and imprisoning to serve ulterior ends, but they all do it.
Nelson Mandela’s universal popularity is premised on the universal knowledge that governments lie. Since everybody knows that governments lie and that all government systems are designed for selective repression, the world never accepted the validity of the official proceedings against Nelson Mandela. In the eyes of the world, the zeal to prosecute Mandela only demonstrated the government’s serious desire to silence and neutralize him. Whether or not Nelson Mandela ever actually participated in planning ANC bombings, government officials undoubtedly had an ulterior motive for saying he did– an ulterior motive wholly unrelated to any legitimate government interest (if such a thing even exists). So even if the government had a valid belief that Mandela ordered bombings, and even if the government had real proof of Mandela’s guilt, it did not matter. His guilt or innocence aside, the question of Nelson Mandela’s political prisoner status did not hinge upon what Mandela had done or had not done, it hinged upon what the government did to him and why the government did it.
This can be said of any political prisoner: Bobby Sands of the Irish Republican Army was detained by occupation forces in Ireland because he rode in a car with illegal firearms, not because he was skilled in polemics. Mohandas Gandhi was detained many times for deliberate violations of British law. Mandela, Sands, and Gandhi were all political prisoners not because their conduct was legal; in most cases– if not all –their conduct was illegal. They were all political prisoners because the government motive to imprison them was not legitimate. Recognition of political prisoner status is not a referendum on the prisoner’s conduct, but a referendum on the government’s conduct toward the prisoner.
This is important to bear in mind. Without such an analysis, particularly when considering cases from our own country or state (where we have been indoctrinated to accept the integrity of the government system), as opposed to cases from other nations (where we naturally hold a suspicion of the government’s integrity), it becomes very easy to muddle the idea of what a political prisoner is. If we universally apply the standard for political prisoner status as it applied to Nelson Mandela– that it is the government‘s motive, not the prisoner’s conduct – then Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and a whole host of others have unquestionably been held as U.S. Political prisoners. The question is never what the prisoner did or did not do; the question is whether the government’s motive was pure and legitimate.
It is on the same basis that Nelson Mandela was recognized as a political prisoner that I claim to be a political prisoner of the alleged “State of Ohio.”2
In 1991, I shared an apartment with Diane Chiow and her 2 young sons. Both children were from previous relationships. The younger child was fathered by Andrew Crouch who, during their time together, had beaten Diane, attempted to light her hair on fire, and kicked her down a flight of steps– all while she was pregnant with this child. He then fought responding police until stunned several times with a stun gun. He never served a single day in prison because his aunt, Collette Crouch, was the Clerk of Courts and a high-ranking official in Erie County’s Democratic Party establishment.
In April 1991, Diane and Crouch had a phone dispute and Diane denied Crouch visitation until after the holding of a domestic relations hearing scheduled in less than two weeks. Crouch became irate and threatened Diane, who told Crouch she was leaving the apartment and would not be there if he chose to show up.
Later that afternoon, Crouch broke into the second-story apartment while I was there alone. He had been drinking. He pushed me, saying he would blow my head off, and he reached behind his back. In a panic, I stabbed him several times and immediately called 911.
Under Ohio law, I had killed Crouch in self-defense in my own home and had committed no crime. While Crouch had a lengthy record of drunken violence, I had not even a record of minor traffic tickets. Still I was charged with pre-meditated murder, largely because police and prosecutors withheld photographs of the break-in damage and then falsely presented that no break-in had occurred. They also claimed no gun was found at the scene, that Crouch was unarmed.
Photographs of the break-in damage surfaced 4 years after I was falsely convicted.
The withheld evidence of the break-in damage speaks not only to my actual innocence, but also demonstrates that police and prosecutors knew me to be innocent, and knew it was necessary to conceal vital evidence in order to convict me of a crime I did not commit. This demonstrates that government officials operated from an ulterior agenda to convict an innocent man. Whatever the government’s motive, it was not a legitimate motive in service to the public.
The government lied. It lied and corrupted official processes, acting from a motive wholly unrelated to any legitimate government interest (if such a thing actually exists.)
I am a political prisoner.
At trial, jury foreman Richard Ehbar falsely claimed to be unemployed, concealing the fact that he was a manager at Periodical Publishers, a local business that I had been attempting to unionize as a volunteer organizer. He lied, concealing that he supervised several witnesses for the prosecution, some of whom were proven to have lied in their testimony. It is unclear whether Ehbar lied of his own volition so he could stick it to the union organizer, or if he was directed by court officials to lie so that the verdict would be predetermined. It is also unclear what influence his placement on the jury had on the witnesses he supervised, and what coercion Periodical Publishers used to solicit false testimony against me.
It should also be kept in mind that the jury pool list was formulated by the Clerk of Courts office– the very position previously held by Collette Crouch, the aunt of the man I killed– the same aunt who previously used her influence to keep Crouch out of prison during his drunken, violent escapades. That jury pool list from the Clerk of Court’s office was compiled from tens of thousands of registered voters, ostensibly at random. It should also be kept in mind that there were only 5 managers at Periodical Publishers, the firm I was unionizing. The odds of Richard Ehbar, a Periodical Publishers’ manager, getting called for jury duty, then being placed in the pool for my trial, then appearing in the first twelve called, are too astronomical to figure by using a standard calculator.
Returning to the standard applied to Mandela: Government officials corrupted the judicial process in order to imprison, for motives wholly unrelated to my legitimate government interest (if such a thing actually exists).
I am a political prisoner.
After I was falsely convicted, I appealed. The appeals court reversed my conviction, ruling that my rights were violated, and the appeals court sent me back to the same trial court, to the same government officials who had conspired to falsely convict me.
They refused to follow the higher court mandate. Instead, I returned to prison with a void conviction and sentence. When I again brought my case before the court of appeals, the judge who had ruled my initial trial unfair was inexplicably removed from the appellate panel hearing my case. He was replaced by a friend of Collette Crouch, the aunt of the name I killed in self-defense, the former Clerk of Courts. All of this was unprecedented under Ohio law.
I remain imprisoned now for twenty years without a valid conviction or sentence. I still await the trial that was ordered by the appeals court. My numerous attempts to compel the courts to apply their own laws and afford me the process afforded to all other citizens have been denied or, in some cases, simply ignored.
Returning to the definition as applied to Mandela: The government lied. It acted under motives wholly unrelated to any legitimate government interest (if such a thing actually exists).
I am a political prisoner, I am an innocent man, known to be innocent by my captors (as demonstrated by their concealment of evidence), and held contrary to the government’s own laws. As the government has abandoned even the pretense of law, I am the victim of what amounts to a simple kidnapping, all without the standard process of law or the application of fundamental principles of justice.
I became eligible for parole in 2005. At my first hearing, I was continued until 2011 without explanation.
When I appeared before the board in 2011, board members were more interested in my political beliefs, writings, and activities than they were in my guilt or innocence. Questions related to my political writings and beliefs took the majority of the hearing time. Board member Jose Torres in particular grilled me in a hostile and combative manner about my public claim to political prisoner status. Several other questions related to the content of my published work in print and on-line, which includes scathing and justified criticism of this fascist police state. It was clear that my parole hearing was a referendum on my politics, not a referendum on twenty years of false and unlawful imprisonment and whether it should continue or not.
After referring me to a full board hearing where, by statute, the board would have to notify my counsel Andrea Reino and permit her to present my case, the board held my hearing in secret, contrary to law. So, while my counsel was preparing for the full board hearing, the board had already made a decision and a month later, it was slid under my cell door: my case was continued for 5 years.
At my every encounter with the alleged State of Ohio, the government has violated its own law in order to punish me for laws I never violated. The government is, if nothing else, consistent.
In its decision, the parole board continued my sentence for three stated reasons: 1 the facts of the case, 2 a lack of relevant programming, and 3 my institutional record. All 3 stated reasons are provably false justifications that conceal the government’s true motive for keeping me falsely and unlawfully imprisoned.
As to the stated reason of the facts of the case, these same facts were considered by the trial court that sentenced me to twenty years to life, rather than twenty give years to life. As such, those same facts could never conceivably be a justification for making me serve twenty-five years rather than twenty. Furthermore, it must be kept in mind that the parole board, with those same facts before the, previously asserted that those same facts warranted a continuance from 2005 to only 2011. How could facts that only warranted a six-year continuance now warrant an eleven-year continuance, when those facts did not change?
Whatever the government’s real reason for continuing my imprisonment, it is not that stated reason of “facts of the case.” The government is a liar.
As to my relevant programming, the second reason that the government gave for my continuance, I have taken all of the programs made available to me. In addition to taking all available programs, I took the maximum amount of education permitted, to include obtaining my Associate of Arts (and then continuing education through the G.I. Bill when my grants ran out), and the administrative office technologies vocational computer course. In addition to taking all available programs and educational opportunities, I worked as a tutor and also logged thousands of hours of community service volunteer work.
Whatever the government’s real reason for continuing my imprisonment, it is not the stated reason of my “lack of relevant programming.” The government is a liar.
Having eliminated the stated reasons the government gave for continuing my false and unlawful captivity, we can only conclude that 1 the government has lied about why it is really holding me captive, and 2 the real reason for my captivity must be an illegitimate one, which is why the government keeps it concealed.
If we recall that I am the only Ohio prisoner who has been placed upon the prison system’s “Security Threat Group” list, not for gang activity and not for involvement in a “security threat group,” but based solely upon my political and social beliefs; and if we recall that the parole board’s questions dealt largely with my political and social beliefs, it is easy to conclude what the government’s true focus really is. In fact, the government dose not really work very hard to conceal the undeniable reality that the government lied and gave 3 false justifications to continue my captivity, and it is an open secret that I am actually being held captive for strictly political reasons.3
The government lied. It selectively engaged official processes to punish me for an ulterior motive wholly unrelated to any legitimate government interest (if such a thing actually exists). The government lied to keep me captive because of my political and social beliefs, because of my published views.
I am a political prisoner.
To sum up my experience, the government employed the court system to convict me of a crime I did not commit– a crime the government knew I did not commit, as evidenced by the government’s illegal conduct in concealing determinative photographs that prove my innocence. When higher courts found the process used against me to be unfair, I was still denied the fair process required by law, and I am singularly and selectively still imprisoned for more than two decades awaiting the “fair” process afforded to everyone else. When eligible for parole, the government focused upon my political and social beliefs and my published views, ignored the statutory law governing full board hearings, and continued my false and unlawful captivity on the basis of 3 reasons which are provably untrue.
By any measure, I am a political prisoner of the alleged “State of Ohio.”
1The U.S. Courts stripped Sean Swain of all constitutional protections on the stated basis that Swain “promotes anarchy.” Sean Paul Swain v. William Fullenkamp, et. al., U.S. District Court Case No. 3:09-CV-02659-JZ, Circuit Court Case No. 10-3755, cert. Denied, Supreme Court Case No. 11-5704. As a consequence, Swain is the only U.S. citizen without free speech rights and cannot have his name assoicated with his published work for fear of reprisals from the fascist police state. So if he wrote this, and no one is saying he did, his name cannot appear in the by-line.
In a free country, this footnote would not be necessary.
2Ohio is not legally a state in union. The U.S. set aside most of Ohio as “Indian Territory” in the Treaty of Greenville, 1795. By Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, this treaty trumps any act undertaken by any state and renders any contrary state action void. Just 6 years later, Ohio included that Indian Territory as part of the incorporated “State of Ohio.” Because states are not permitted to abrogate federal treaty and take Indian Territory, the ratification of the Ohio Constitution and the establishment of Ohio as a state are void acts. See Worcester v. Georgia (1832), 31 U.S. 515, 6 Pet. 515, 6 Pet. 515, 1832 WL 3389, 8 L.Ed 483, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot violate U.S. treaty and assume authority over Indian Territory.
U.S Attorney General Francis Biddle admitted that the U.S. has no claim to the area now called the State of Ohio. See, U.S. Senate, Terminating the Existence of the Indian Claims Commission, Washington, DE: 84th Congress, 2d Session, Report 1727, April 11 1956. The legal existence of the alleged “State of Ohio” is currently challenged in the Inter-American Court of the Organization of American States, Sean Paul Swain vs. The United States of America and the Alleged “State of Ohio”, Case No. P-688-10. If successful, an international treaty organization will declare that Ohio has never legally been incorporated as a state of the United States.
3For anyone who doubts that this rogue state would engage in political repression against prisoners, see: Timothy Reed vs. State of New Mexico, ex. Rel. Manuel Ortiz, 947 P.2d 86, 124 NM 129, 1997 NMSC 055 (September 9, 1997(. Former Ohio prisoner-writer Timothy “Little Rock” Reed was granted asylum by New Mexico’s Supreme Court after proving the Ohio Adults Parole Authority conspired to have his parole revoked in retaliation for Reed’s published criticism, so that Reed could be returned to prison and killed. Reed was granted asylum because he proved the parole board had plotted his murder to silence his free speech.
Reed died in a single-car crash on an empty New Mexico highway not long after he proved Ohio government authorities planned to murder him.