By Scotty Boman, Editor
Lansing, MI – Most Michigan Libertarians are aware of Martin Mashon’s involvement with the Capital Area Libertarian Party, but it is his humanitarian efforts that captured the ire of the Lansing city government. Those deeds didn’t go unpunished.
It all started on January 26th in the midst of the arctic blast. The wind chill had fallen to -4.4 oC (-40 oF) This wasn’t the first time Martin Mashon and fellow “Punks with Lunch” founder Julia Anne Miller made an effort to help out the homeless, but this time a security guard and police officer tried to stop them. The location was the heated bus terminal of the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA). A few homeless people were in the building to avoid the lethal temperatures outside. Mashon and Miller had purchased bus tokens for them so they would not technically be loitering.
When Mashon heard a police officer, Dylan Zehr, say that everyone would have to leave on the next bus to their destination, he initiated a conversation with the officer. He pointed out that it was a public place saying, “Actually this is a warm place that I help pay for.” After a few more words were exchanged Mashon was arrested. During the arrest Zehr’s body cam went blank. The CATA stations cameras as well as the preceding body cam recordings show Mashon complaining about being touched, but he took no physical action to resist the arrest. Shortly after this Miller asked police to leave Mashon alone. Shortly after which police arrested her as she was leaving the building.
Both Mashon and Miller were charged with trespassing. Only Mashon was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest. During the jury trial Mashon commented,
Heading to day 2 of our trial. Yes, day 2. That’s quite a bit of taxpayer money the city is spending on pushing their aggression. City is very serious about wanting to convict us.
Remember… This city offered ME no plea deal that they kept on the table. The attorney offered first to have it go away completely if we agreed not to sue the city. When we accepted they decided they didn’t want that deal, and wanted a conviction. Second time was yesterday when the judge pushed to have this settled with a simple fine and off the record in 6 months, but the city refused to accept the deal, again making it clear they want a conviction.
Additionally, this prosecutor has lied twice in front of the jury that I saw. She claimed that we weren’t buying bus tokens, that we didn’t buy nor hand out bus tokens. The city received the same CATA footage as us, and if they chose not to review nor present all the evidence then they’ve mishandled this or are outright lying. They also stated I was lying when I said courts had ruled that “protect and serve” doesn’t apply to cops anymore. It’s fact. I’m not as upset at this one… The cop who had just stated they still have a duty to protect and serve followed it up with again saying he didn’t care about the safety of homeless people. That’s on official record, twice now. A cop who Mayor Schor has said acted appropriately and gave props to.
Twisted even more… A week ago the mayor announced that the city of Lansing had resolved it’s homeless vet problem and there are no more homeless vets. I’ve got a few homeless vets I’m familiar with that were very happy to hear that their shacks are now considered homes by the city. Perhaps that means the city won’t be tearing them down and stealing all their belongings. Even crazier, the chief commented last night at the love Lansing event that their police officers are doing a great job in the community with the homeless and mentally ill. Guess he didn’t realize he just had one of his cops admit on the stand that he doesn’t care about protecting the homeless, and making it clear that they have a standing order to harass, intimidate and aggress against the homeless.
On Wednesday May 16th the Jury found both activists “not guilty” of trespassing, but found Mashon guilty of resisting arrest. According to an article in the Lansing State Journal, Mashon & Miller’s attorney, Patrick O’Keefe, argued that they had broken none of the 10 listed rules at the CATA station. Mashon queried, “If you’re being illegally arrested by police, you are supposed to take it and not resist it?” In the case of Bad Elk v. United States, 177 U.S. 529 (1900) the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that it was legal to resist an unlawful arrest.
The night before the verdict, Julia Anne Miller was honored as a community builder during a Love Lansing event.
In a conversation with the Michigan Libertarian Miller expressed displeasure with the limited scope of charitable behavior that is respected by the establishment:
There is definitely a war against poor people. Against homeless people, not homelessness. Organizations get a profit from “helping” the homeless and only profit if they stay homeless.
I wish we could do more, slowly but surely we are doing more. If all we do is give some love to people to keep them going long enough to survive and make the choices that leads them to a better housing/job/mental situation we’ve succeeded. If we can continue to build strength and solidarity in the community, and inspire people to take direct action, we’ve succeeded.
The presiding judge, Judge Hugh B. Clarke Jr. gave Martin Mashon what would seem like a light sentence. He reduced the fine to $125 and gave him 40 hours of community service at a homeless shelter. On the surface this would seem like a gift. Mashon was sentenced to doing what he liked doing anyway: helping the homeless. Early on he posted, “Only in America can you get arrested for feeding the Homeless and get sentenced to community service.” However, the sentence hasn’t been working out so well. The first problem was that he had to serve the sentence during incompatible times, “Yeah, a whole extra work week (40hrs) I have to find a way to pack in the next 7 weeks. Not easy. Even worse most of the spots are during the week, which means I’ll likely be taking my yearly vacation to do this punishment. Don’t help people kids… Government will fuck your life up.” Mashon noted.
Mashon more recently posted,
Total hours volunteered since court (2.5 weeks ago): 16 hours.
Total hours of community service completed since court: 0 hours.
At this rate I’ll have done over 50 hours of volunteer work with the homeless and at risk community within the 8 weeks provided to complete the community service, and zero actual community service hours. My debt to society might be harder to repay than I thought, as what I do isn’t considered good for society apparently.
There is currently a petition being circulated to change CATA’s policy to allow suspend the loitering rule during emergencies when the temperature drops below 10 oF.
On Sunday June 2nd the Libertarian Executive Committee approved the following resolution pertaining to Martin Mashon and Julia Miller:
Whereas injustice is most destructive when committed by those institutions charged with the safety and security of that society;
Whereas those victims of injustice have no proper recourse and their only hope is that people will choose to stand with them in protest;
Whereas protest and political activism are a inalienable right, yet that right is increasingly being oppressed;
Whereas Martin Mashon and Julia Miller have been prosecuted for saving the lives of our homeless comrades;
Whereas Brian Ellison has been prosecuted for demanding an end to reckless killings by police;
Resolved, that the LPM demands that these heroes be pardoned of their supposed crimes and reimbursed for their sacrifices.