NCFM NOTE: Elijah Ward will be reporting on the progress of enlivening Committees of Redress of Grievances or whatever they may be called state by state. After reading this you might consider looking at your state constitution to see if it allows for and or established such an entity. The Committee in New Hampshire has voted to impeach four judges, one has resigned under fire. Stay tuned. Mr. Ward will be sending us updates and guidance to help you in your state.
HOW WE BEGAN
by Elijah Ward
Most of us have a picture of New England towns as picturesque, buccolic places of tranquility, and that is the picture-perfect truth, but New England has been fundamentally changed in the last few decades, as has the rest of America. Not by bulldozers and developments, but by the bulldozers of doctrine and the developments of public entitlements. The forces of political change are invisible, yet far more powerful than any physical bulldozer.
The Friday before Father’s Day 2011, Thomas Ball an honorably discharged veteran from Massachusetts burned himself alive on the steps of Cheshire Superior Court in Keene, New Hampshire, in the first politically motivated immolation in American history. The site of the immolation was clearly visible and a literal stain on the courthouse, so the judges ordered it to be painted over immediately. Citizens in town went to the court to request video footage of the man, staggering in flames and collapsing before the main entrance, but the court sealed, and by now probably destroyed, the public videos. The day before this, Thomas Ball sent a 10-page letter to the local paper the Keene Sentinel, which published short excerpts and pronounced Ball mentally ill. Alternative news sources researched the court records in a search for the truth.
It seems that over ten years before, Thomas Ball had been accused of child abuse by his wife. He had slapped his daughter after she refused to do what he asked. The police were called, child protective services appeared, investigations launched. The local visitation center was brought in and determined this was child abuse, but in the end, after trial, under the law of New Hampshire, a parent can corporeally discipline his child. Even child protective services opined this was all right. But what did the Judge John Arnold of Cheshire Superior Court do? He ordered that Thomas Ball see his children only in the visitation center, the place that got it all wrong. Ball balked. He said they would manufacture evidence against him and block him. So he did not go to the center. Then he lost his job and took a far inferior one, had to move away to Massachusetts for the work he could find. He applied to have his child support reduced because of reduced income, but Judge Arnold again refused, causing Ball to slip into arrears.
As the years passed, Thomas Ball still sought to see his two daughters, but Judge Arnold would allow it only at the location that Ball felt was out to railroad him. (It turned out that Ball’s opinion was later confirmed, when another father, Ed Bryans, was accused of abusing his four-year-old daughter in the center. When Bryans asked to view the video proof, it had been deleted by management, who were all subsequently fired.) Ball became unemployed for about two years. He sought relief from the court to lower his payments, but this was not granted; instead, a Show Cause hearing was scheduled that required Ball to show why he should not be jailed until he paid the arrears of about $ 3,000. He had no assets other than his house and, given the housing market in Massachusetts in 2011, he did not think he could even sell it. If he did sell it, where would he live? It was a downward spiral.
He had been found innocent of abusing his daughter, yet the court created a structural bar to his seeing her for ten years. He was ordered to pay support on income which did not exist any more. Without the non-existent income, Ball would go to a fully existent jail, probably for the rest of life, because he could not pay the debt. He knew of other fathers who had been incarcerated for non-payment of support for decades and released at age 65, after 30 years in jail for failure to pay a debt, because the state no longer wanted to pay upkeep on an old man.
So he chose the only option he felt he had: suicide as a political statement. They can take his girls, they can take his money, but they would not take his liberty.
But in his statement of action sent the day before his immolation, Ball made a call to arms. He said his act was an opening. He wanted people aggrieved by the courts to throw Molotov cocktails through the courthouse windows all across New Hampshire. And he may have gotten his wish. In spite of the media black out of Ball’s immolation, people heard about it. Fathers abused by the system all across the state understood exactly why Ball did it. Mothers also caught up in a capricious and malevolent system that destroys families also knew. Legislators and attorneys knew. Ball wanted the courts destroyed, but the people of New Hampshire are not destroying them, they are reclaiming them.
A small group of fathers and their new wives and families, grandmothers and grandfathers, all started standing up in New Hampshire. The Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Bill O’Brien, re-instituted a two-century old committee, the Committee on Redress of Grievances, that would call these judges to account, that would call court officers to account. Petitioners rose up spontaneously with their stories before the committee. When they realized that the family law attorneys they had paid tens of thousands of dollars to represent them would not bring the law to the courts, they learned the law themselves and helped one another to understand it. They appeared at each others hearings. When it was clear the media would remain silent on these problems, they created their own media through the internet and their own television programs. When the public prosecutors refused to prosecute judges for criminal violations of law, they filed private prosecutions of judges.
We are getting the laws changed, the constitution changed, and we are getting the state changed to restore justice to the people. In short, our goal is to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and to turn the hearts of the children back to the fathers, where they first were set.
Thomas Ball literally darkened the door, revealing the malevolence that inhabits so many courthouses today. But the average citizen in New Hampshire is taking back his liberty, restoring the bedrock of families, and reforming the courts and the constitution. If New Hampshire can do this, other states can follow. This is how people of good faith, strangers all, have joined together to reclaim their government. If the people of New Hampshire can do this, the other states can too.