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News & Editorials


February 19, 2001

by Jim Rarey


The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "No state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Everyone (liberals, conservatives and moderates) agree that means there will be no favoritism in the application of the laws, particularly the criminal laws.

"But there was one problem. The perpetrator was Clyde Cleveland, a Detroit City Councilman."

Michael Duggan, elected to the Office of Wayne County, Michigan Prosecutor last November, ran on a platform of tough law enforcement. He placed particular emphasis on strict enforcement of laws on domestic violence and gun violations.

After the November election, the state legislature passed, and the governor signed, a so-called "shall issue" law on permits to carry concealed weapons (CCW). The law requires issuing such a permit to anyone who requests it who is not disqualified under exceptions in the law.

Almost immediately a petition drive was started to overturn the state law spearheaded by Duggan and newly elected State Attorney General Jennifer Granholm Both maintain that allowing ordinary citizens to carry weapons for self defense would result in an increase in gun violence (contrary to statistics that show the opposite in states with "shall issue" laws). Duggan renewed his promise to vigorously enforce existing gun laws.

Then last week, like manna from heaven, a case fell into Duggan's lap that he could use to prove his campaign promises. A Detroit man had been accused by his wife of long-term domestic abuse culminating last week in her husband pistol whipping her and shoving her down a flight of stairs. The icing on the cake, the husband had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

But there was one problem. The perpetrator was Clyde Cleveland, a Detroit City Councilman. Cleveland's 30 years on the council makes him one of the longest serving African-American city officials in the country.

Cleveland was originally charged with felonious assault, aggravated domestic violence and a felony gun violation. At first he denied the charges but then worked out a "plea bargain" with the county prosecutor's office (Duggan). The two felony charges will be dismissed (which will allow Cleveland to stay on the council) and he will plead guilty to aggravated domestic violence.

The sentence includes 3 years probation, 2,000 hours of community service and he cannot possess a firearm for two years. He also agreed to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Hopefully the community service will not comprise counseling students on conflict resolution.

And what of Duggan's vow of strict enforcement against domestic violence and gun violations? Perhaps we have already reached the stage described by George Orwell in his book, "Animal Farm" where everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.

Permission is granted to reproduce this article in its entirety.

The author is a free lance writer based in Romulus, Michigan. He is a former newspaper editor and investigative reporter, a retired customs administrator and accountant, and a student of history and the U.S. Constitution.

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