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SO WHERE IS THE FBI?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 4, 2010) — LCDR Walter Fitzpatrick, III called The Post & Email today and reported on inmates’ access to materials to prepare for their own defense as well as more details on the detention facility where he has been held for the last eight days after four sheriff’s deputies broke down the door to his residence, tasered and beat him before taking him to jail for having missed a hearing about which he was not properly notified. The “warrant” for his arrest was not signed, and court employees have refused to speak on the record about it.
LCDR: I’m not sleeping on the concrete floor any more.
SHARON: Did the jailers initiate this?
LCDR: No, the inmates in here insisted that I get up off the floor, and two men offered me their rack, and the one that I ended up in was Mr. Bragg’s. George McCowan and Daniel Bragg are the two people who insisted, along with the other inmates, and Mr. Bragg is now on the floor and I’m not.
SHARON: How long is that arrangement good for?
LCDR: As long as I’m here, I guess.
SHARON: There’s a lot going on that I can’t tell you over the phone.
LCDR: Sharon, that’s OK; there’s a lot that I can’t tell you, either. I’m sending messages out in a bottle, and there are people whom I’ve asked to contact you. I hope that that’s happening.
SHARON: I am getting a lot of contact from people. I don’t know if the jail will deliver…I probably shouldn’t even say this.
LCDR: No, no, no, it’s OK. Relax, relax. There’s interaction going on, and that’s fine.
SHARON: OK. Everybody is so worried about you. People are up in arms. Things are being done, I can assure you.
LCDR: OK. Sharon, I cannot tell you…nothing in this community is going to get fixed…there has to be a federal intervention; I’ve said that before. The court system is completely out of control. They have taken over the community; they run everything. It’s as I said: a dictatorship. There is no other word than “totalitarian dictatorship.” I can’t think of a better way to describe it. That’s exactly what’s going on here. The judges and the sheriffs are all part of this. Even the prosecutors and defense attorneys are part of this process.
Sharon, I have heard one story after the next after the next. These men, this whole community, is under siege. It’s just outrageous.
SHARON: That’s what I’m hearing as well. Are there people in there with you who have been physically abused?
LCDR: Not that I have seen first-hand. But I have heard reports separately about that kind of thing going on. I don’t believe that these jailers would be stupid enough to pull that stunt with me in here.
SHARON: Are you seeing people coming in bleeding or banged up on any given day the way you were?
LCDR: No. I haven’t seen that repeated since I’ve been here…what is it, nine days now. I would report something like that to you if I had seen it. There’s one soldier in here, a Silver Star recipient, Jackie Hurst, Sergeant in the United States Army, and he has his ears bleeding, but they’re going to medically treat him. There are other narratives that are being reported to you separately, I’m sure.
SHARON: Why are his ears bleeding?
LCDR: I don’t know; it happened. They’re going to take a look at him. But that’s not because of any physical abuse; I think it was a injury from his time in the service.
SHARON: Oh, it a was a prior injury?
LCDR: Yes, a grenade went off.
SHARON: Have there been any hearings since Tuesday?
LCDR: No. My next hearing, I understand, is on Tuesday morning. That’s the hearing status right now. I did receive one letter; actually, it was one envelope with three letters in it yesterday, which was very encouraging, from a family from North Carolina. Everybody in here read the letters, and it was very uplifting.
SHARON: I wondered if someone mailed a letter, would you get it?
LCDR: I have, yes.
SHARON: That’s very encouraging, because I know that something else has been mailed which could be important.
Did you get a visit from a Father PJ yesterday?
LCDR: Father McGuinness stopped by yesterday for a few seconds, and we talked. The phone system here – they’re on the outside, you’re on the inside – doesn’t work. So he was here for a little bit. The phones don’t work at all. This is terrible. He said, “Are you OK?” and I said, “Yes, Father, I’m fine, all things considered.” He took a look at me and I thanked him for his visit, and that was that.
SHARON: So how long would you say he was there?
LCDR: He was waiting longer than we actually met. I don’t know how long he was physically here, because they called up once and the phones were broken and they had to fix them, and then I came back in and we talked for just a few minutes.
SHARON: Did you happen to talk about the injuries you had sustained?
LCDR: No, he didn’t ask any questions like that, and I didn’t get into it with him. I didn’t know what it was he wanted to listen to, and as I said, the phones weren’t working. We were having trouble just communicating. You’d start a sentence, and then it would break up in the middle of the sentence. So we just exchanged pleasantries, pretty much, and the phones weren’t working, so he said, “God bless you” and took off. So the phones not being operative was the major malfunction.
This is a dungeon, for goodness’ sakes, Sharon. This is what this is. It’s a dungeon.
SHARON: Someone asked if you have a medical condition for which you need medication and you’re not getting it?
LCDR: No, I wasn’t taking medications when I came in here, and I’m not taking any medications now.
SHARON: So it’s not as though anything has been denied you that you medically need?
LCDR: No, but other people are in that situation where they have real medical needs and they’re not being addressed. That’s what’s going on here.
There’s one other thing which is important to note. There are men in here who are trying to handle part of their own cases, and they have legal documents where they’ve made copies from law books to which they had some limited exposure or accessibility. They made copies, and they’ve been waiting days and days and days and days to get a couple of copies. Other cases are being delayed in similar ways. These men are not being represented in any way at all. We’re told that the copies have been made and that they’re sitting up on a box in a file upstairs or some inbox or something like that, and I’ve asked on behalf of these guys, “Hey, can you give them their copies they’ve been asking for? Their cases are days away.” And these jailers here refuse to respond to that. And we’re still living in a meat locker here; it’s as cold as can be.
SHARON: Are there any blankets at night?
LCDR: Yes, we’ve got blankets and things like that, but it’s still colder than all get-out.
SHARON: So they’re not turning on the heat.
LCDR: Oh, no. You can hang meat in here.
SHARON: Is there access to a law library?
LCDR: They take people to what they call a “day room,” and you can ask for two books from the Tennessee Code, but they’re not the full version. It’s an old edition of the TCA, and you only get to have two books at a time. But the pages are missing; there are annotations that are missing, pamphlets and updates that should be there and they’re not. And the men can look at only two at a time, only for an hour or so, and then you make copies from those law books, and the jailers hold onto the copies. This is oppression writ large. This is outrageous behavior. These men make copies so that they can defend themselves and look into the law and what’s happened to them and find out what kind of charges they’re facing, and then the guards do not give them the copies that have been made. They don’t have typewriters. The things that are supposed to be made available to these men are not here. If you came in here with an Inspector General, this place would be shut down quick. It’s a dungeon, and these people are just taking full advantage of what they’re doing here.
They have men here who don’t belong here; they’re keeping them here longer than they should. This facility gets money; they get so many dollars for each inmate, and depending on their status, they get more money than they might otherwise. This is a racket.
SHARON: Seeing as Judge Blackwood said you couldn’t bring in an outside attorney, how are you supposed to prepare your defense, given those conditions?
LCDR: There is no way I can prepare my case in here like this. And I’m not going to try. There needs to be federal intervention. The judge has just violently broken the law. This is nothing but an ambush; another one.
Also, my glasses are sitting back at the house, and without them, I can’t read small print. There are some things I can read, the larger-print stuff, but small print, there’s no way. Sharon, this is nothing but a Tennessee ambush. Here’s what’s going on: they’re trying to make me look really, really bad. They’re trying to do everything they can to change the subject away from the judges and the rigging of the juries by the judges; the criminal conduct by the prosecutors, the public defenders…they’re trying to get everybody to look away from the real criminal enterprise that’s here. I don’t know how to describe it other than that it’s massive. It’s just extraordinary; it’s breathtaking; it’s titanic. These people in this community have been under siege for years. The government has taken over. This is a dictatorship, a totalitarian dictatorship. It’s outrageous.
SHARON: This report will go out tonight. The reason it took me so long to connect to you is that the long-distance company the jail uses said that I’ve reached my limit for collect calls, so I had to give them a credit card, which is fine, but I think they just raised the rates.
LCDR: I’ll do my best to pay the phone bill when I’m out of here, Sharon…
SHARON: No, that’s not what I was saying…
Automated Operator: You have one minute remaining.
LCDR: We’ve got one more minute. I’m going to try to call you in the mornings because it’s quieter then. I tried to call this morning, but the phones were turned off. They’ve got them back on now.
SHARON: It’s not a problem for me; I think it’s another way that the jail is making money.
LCDR: Keep the pressure on, Sharon. Burn the phones at the FBI.
SHARON: We’re working really hard. I know people are calling and praying…
Automated Operator: Your time is up.
Editor’s Note: The following email was received this evening from the long-distance phone company which the jail uses for inmates’ calls:
Sent: Thu 11/04/10 2:02 PM
Thu November 4th, 2010
Dear Rondeau , Sharon,
This message is to inform you that your payment of $28.00 has been received.
Payment ID: Redacted
Date: Thu November 4th, 2010
Type: Card # Redacted
You have a credit balance of $28.00.
Future charges will be deducted from this balance before billing you again.
Thank you for your business.
The prepaid amount will pay for today’s call and one more call. The Post & Email has been informed that the military uses the same long-distance system, which makes it quite expensive for both members of the military and those who are incarcerated around the country to keep in touch with their families.