Marine's Detention at John Randolph Medical Center Prompts Protests
By Sarah Steele Wilson with additional reporting by Caitlin Davis
Aug 20, 2012, 17:50
Photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Meg McLain holds a sign outside John Randolph Medical Center
After former Marine Brandon J. Raub, 26, was taken into custody by Chesterfield County Police on Thursday, Aug. 16, controversy broke out over Raub's detention in the behavioral health center at John Randolph Medical Center.
Chesterfield Police Col. Thierry Dupuis said in a statement that the local police department was assisting the Federal Bureau of Investigation in efforts to interview Raub regarding several Facebook posts that were perceived as threatening.
"There were a number of concerned citizens who had contacted our office to file formal complaints about his perceived threatening posts," said Richmond FBI spokesperson Dee Rybiski.
On Aug. 13, Raub posted "sharpen up my axe, I'm here to sever heads," a line from a song by a Canadian hip hop group.
The next day, he posted the comment, "The Revolution will come for me. Men will be at my door soon to pick me up to lead it ; )," the semicolon and parenthesis symbolizing a winking smile. On Aug. 15, he wrote "The Revolution is here and I will lead it."
He also made comments suggesting he considered the United States government to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
The protesters outside of John Randolph Medical Center on Monday morning said that taking Raub into custody for the posts was a violation of his first amendment right to free speech.
"We are protecting freedom of speech," said Chesterfield resident Kacey Messier. "...He was just posting his opinion of Facebook, which is just what everyone else does. It could just as easily have been me."
According to the release from Chesterfield Police, officers who spoke with Raub regarding the posts believed him to be in need of further psychiatric evaluation and contacted Chesterfield Mental Health Crisis Intervention.
Raub was taken into custody and handcuffed after he resisted officers' attempts to take him into custody, according to the release from Chesterfield Police.
The detention was captured on film and posted on Youtube, under the title "Marine Vet detained for FB posts – Brandon J Raub being 'arrested.'"
Hopewell resident Brandon Howard, who began his vigil outside John Randolph Medical Center on Saturday morning, said he had taken Monday off from work to maintain his post.
"I am out here for one reason, to protect the first amendment," he said.
He said that Raub, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, had risked his life in the name of a right he was being denied.
"The same right he fought for and went to war for, they are punishing him for," Howard said. "He fought for that same right we all have."
After he was evaluated by a Chesterfield mental health official, Raub was placed under a temporary detention order and taken to John Randolph Medical Center for additional evaluation.
"Raub was not arrested and he faces no criminal charges in Chesterfield," Depuis stated in the release. "As this is not a criminal matter, Chesterfield police have no further comment."
Raub's case has been taken up by the Charlottesville, Virginia based Rutherford Institute, which describes itself as a civil liberties organization that provides free legal services to people who believe their constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.
John Whitehead, the president and founder of the organization, said the Chesterfield Police are misrepresenting what happened to Raub.
"He was arrested," Whitehead said. "When you put handcuffs on somebody, put them behind their back and put them in a police car, they are arrested...The police are lying. They're not telling the truth."
Both the police statement and FBI spokesperson Rybiski said that no charges have been filed against Raub and none are pending.
Whitehead said detaining an individual without charges is a problem.
"What's dangerous here is they arrested him with no charges and took him to a mental institution. That's very dangerous....This is like something out of '1984,'" he said, referencing George Orwell's famous novel depicting a dystopian future.
Whitehead said he sees Raub's case as being primarily related to freedom of speech, but also believes Raub's fourth amendment rights, which would require warrants issued due to probable cause, were violated. Whitehead said the police did not present any warrants when they took Raub into custody. He also suspects that the FBI did not have a warrant to watch Raub's Facebook page and said that the police did not read Raub his rights when they took him into custody.
"We are going to wait and try to figure our the situation with the warrant and court order to see if they did cross the line," said protester Meg McLain.
"He hasn't made any threats," McLain added. "No one is in danger because of this man."
At a Monday morning hearing held at the hospital and attended by two of Raub's family members and his court appointed attorney, the decision was made to keep Raub in custody.
"We're appealing the results of the hearing today to the circuit court," said Whitehead, who did not get involved in the case until after the hearing. "We're going to try to get him out of the facility."
He said that hearings like the one on Monday tend to be quick affairs where the courts "rubber stamp" decisions.
"If you get caught in this triangle, you're going to be in a mental hospital, so be careful what you say on Facebook," Whitehead said. "Or in text messages, by the way."
Whitehead said that Raub's statements could not be considered warning signs of plans to commit acts of violence and were no more threatening than many other Facebook posts he has seen.
"The police should have done their job," he said. "They should have found out this guy was a twice decorated Marine, a patriot, he doesn't own a weapon, he's never been violent, so there's no indication he would do anything."
He claimed that Raub was being held for a different reason.
"People go to the mental institution because they don't agree with the government," he said. "That's the issue in this case. If you look at it clearly, that's it."
As of Monday afternoon, Raub was still being detained at John Randolph Medical Center.