All For the Right to Pray (24)

Part Five – Sweet Freedom

Chapter 24 – Arrested With No Charges

By Ghost Dancer

On May 11, 1995, after a little more than a month of leisurely travels in our motorhome with our wolves and towing Cat’s car, I was arrested at the border as we attempted to cross into Alaska.

Once I arrived in Fairbanks, I was provided a Native American lawyer. This is required under Alaska laws so that Native Americans get someone who truly understands and does their best to protect them and their rights. Also under Alaskan laws, tribal elders and leaders are allowed to come visit every day. This happened for me immediately and the elders made sure I had everything I needed or was allowed to have. I was kept in isolation until the elders and tribal leaders demanded that I be placed in population with the other native prisoners.

My lawyer, Retta Ray Randle, was very good and represented me well when I had my hearing in federal court. The U.S. Attorney stated that there was a warrant out for me as John Doe #3 suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. The judge or magistrate threw out the warrant and told the U.S. attorney that it was no good, that there is no way I could possibly even remotely have been able to be in that area much less involved because he already knew how I was arrested, where and the reports on my travels.

The U.S. Attorney told the judge that Washington, D.C. would be issuing a new warrant and that U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno would be issuing a mandatory emergency transfer to bring me back state side. The judge told him they had better do a better job of charging me with something that is plausible because this charge is ridiculous.

I was taken back to jail and Cat was allowed to visit me. They had me chained by one leg and one hand to the floor and ceiling and we visited thru plexiglass talking on a telephone. The next day they took DNA samples from me, used infrared lights and black lights checking for explosives residue. Everything came back negative. Cat was allowed to visit me every day for a few days before I was transferred.

Now since Janet Reno issued the mandated transfer under the power of the Attorney General’s office I would be leaving soon. The judge had me brought back to court and explained that it was now out of his hands but he wished me the best and made a court order stating: It is hereby ordered that no one is allowed to question this man without the presence of his attorney. No one should even attempt to question while he is being transported or held in any detention. This is to ensure that his rights are protected and that no claim of any statement can be made by any over-zealous agent or officer. He then wished me the best of luck in being cleared of all this nonsense.

The next day I was taken to the airport and made to wait on the runway in snow and ice with a Windchill far below zero. I stood there for more than an hour wearing only a t-shirt, slippers and a thin pair of khaki pants with planes coming and going blowing the snow and ice all over me. Legged shackled, belly chained, cuffed and black boxed, I was loaded into the cargo hold of a small Cessna airplane. The Cessna did not have a pressurized cargo hold with oxygen. The agents had oxygen but not me so I surely would be tested flying like this with no oxygen.

This was a very rough journey with heavy wind turbulence and air pockets. I was tossed and beaten up by all the bouncing and ups and downs. My nose began bleeding profusely from the altitude and lack of oxygen. My ears felt like thy were bursting and my body went thru pure contortions. Finally the plane landed at Cook’s Inlet and I was taken to the jail in Anchorage. I stayed there for a few days and then was flown to Seattle, Washington with stops in several Alaskan ports to refuel. There I was taken to a federal facility called Sea Tech. Later I was flown to Florence, Colorado and placed in solitary confinement at the maximum security prison there while waiting to be transferred on to Oklahoma.

Finally I arrived in Oklahoma and was taken before agents there who showed me to several different people to determine if they could identify me. Again my DNA and the swab test for explosives residue all came back negative and my finger prints did not match. I was taken to the federal courthouse where a public defender and two U.S. attorneys were waiting to speak with me. They had the public defender talk to me first and he said they are aware that nothing adds up to me being involved in anyway whatsoever, but they would like to ask me questions. I asked why and he said there were questions that I may be involved in other crimes that involved supplying weapons to militia groups in Montana and Arizona. They put me on video so people in Montana  and Arizona could look at me for possible identification. That possible charge was also dropped that day.

I asked to be released but they said there was a call from Washington, D.C. that I be held now on a fugitive warrant. I asked on what charge and was told I was under suspicion of a crime. I asked what the crime was but never given an answer. I was then taken to Texas, and people viewed me there. Still no one said that I was the wanted person and no evidence matched me. Then I was taken next to Tallahassee, Florida. Once again there was no warrant and I was not charged with any crime. At the federal court in Tallahassee, I asked to be released once again and was told now I was being held until another person came. Once again I was viewed but was not identified.

It was now late in the day, and low and behold who walks in the detention area but an old acquaintance from the past, someone who truly hated me. Someone whose passion was going after and persecuting Native Americans, most especially members of A.I.M. (American Indian Movement). His name was Joseph Tierney. He was an FBI Special Agent and a man known far and wide as a person who would do anything and get others to say anything as long as it got a Native placed in prison. He didn’t care what laws he broke or who he threatened or even if you were innocent. If you were Native American and associated in anyway with A.I.M. then he would do whatever he had to do to get rid of you.

As a point of reference, understand this: Joseph Tierney had been working directly with Agent Larry T. Lucky, an ATF agent who came to see me in 1975 when I was first arrested and jailed in Cullman, Alabama. (Ch 14).  Tierney was also behind another FBI agent, Larry Gerard, who was supposedly the brother of Sandy, the woman I was forced to marry. (Ch 15) Gerard was dark complected and worked undercover, using the aliases A-rab or Indian Boy. Gerard attempted to infiltrate the A.I.M. gathering at Pine Ridge but was never allowed among the spiritual leaders and never knew who I was. Tierney was also there in an official capacity as an FBI agent investigating the corruption on the reservation. He tried to butter up the people by telling them he was Native but they never trusted him. All three of these federal agents were personally responsible for putting me in prison every time, both in Alabama and in Florida. All along, Joseph Tierney had been the superior officer ordering these others to do what needed to be done.

When he walked in, I saw Tierney looking heavily and hard at me. He talked to the U.S. Marshals and in a short time I was once again being chained up and this time placed in an SUV with blackened out windows and security bars and screen. Not one word was said about where they were taking me even when I asked them. They never spoke to me. They took secondary roads for about an hour or more. When I asked them again where they were taking me this time they said I’d find out when I got there. Finally we pulled into a jail sally port. I found out later that I was in Panama City, Florida. Here I was placed in a tiny room and later three men entered. One was Joseph Tierney. He was just as sadistic looking as always.

One of the other men said that he needed me to allow them to take DNA samples from me. I reminded them that I was under a federal court order not to speak to any of them until and unless my attorney was present. They ignored me. I refused to let them take DNA. Others had already done this two times since I was first arrested so this time I told them to get a federal court order. They kept trying to question me about all kinds of things. Repeatedly I invoked my rights to have an attorney present and my right to remain silent. Finally Tierney told them they didn’t need anything, that they already have my DNA from other places and they could request it be sent to them.

Then Tierney looked at me and the words he spoke have been forever branded in my memory:
Well, Ghost you do know that I'm sick of putting you away and they keep letting you back out. So you know what? This time I will make sure you never ever get free again. You know me, I can do anything I want. No one is going to believe you or anyone connected to you. You are a convicted felon and you are nothing but a headache to a lot of people. We are tired of you and tired of you causing problems. It is over this time. I will find those who will help me do this and say whatever I tell them to say. You are finished being an aggravation to all of us. When are you going to get it in your head that we already defeated you people? You shouldn't be alive and I would never have believed you could still have lived after we sent you to prison in Alabama. Those good old boys promised me you would never get out and here you are again. Don't worry, this time you will never get free. You will die in prison this time. I guarantee it.

The next day, June 7, 1995 I was taken to federal court and before a U.S. magistrate. The magistrate asked Tierney why there was no indictment or anything on me. Tierney told the magistrate that he had been busy but he would be getting on it. The Assistant U.S. Attorney told the judge it would take at least a week before he could get a grand jury to sit for a hearing. So the judge gave them two weeks to come up with an indictment. I asked for a bond. The government objected claiming I was a flight risk and considered to be a very violent man. The judge denied my request.

Two more weeks would pass before the grand jury convened and I was officially charged. Joseph Tierney had no qualms about lying to the grand jury and the U.S. Attorney did nothing to stop him.

People might not remember this now but in late April and early May 1995 all the newspapers and TV news reports were filled with stories about the Oklahoma City bombing. During this time there were both print and network TV reports about the search for John Doe #3 as one of the suspects. Even though these news reports did not mention me by name they gave very specific details about this “person of interest.” He was said to have been a Native American who was former military, lived in Florida, had recently made numerous trips to Oklahoma and was currently in Canada. Later on, news reports after my trial included mention that I had been a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing.

FBI Agent Joseph Tierney knew from my parole records that I had traveled several times to Oklahoma to visit friends, family, spiritual leaders and tribal leaders. He also knew that I had permission to travel to Canada and that I was an honorably/medically discharged veteran. His biased hatred towards me and any member of A.I.M. or association with A.I.M. drove him to become obsessed with doing anything or saying anything to get what he wanted done. Despite the fact that I had absolutely nothing to do with the Oklahoma City bombing or any of the other incidents, the damage to my character and credibility was done. Even the label “terrorist” would remain on my record.

See, those in positions of power in all levels of government use propaganda, a process as ancient as the human urge for power and control, to turn friends, acquaintances, and the public against anyone who goes against the system, the desires of those in power, wealth, majority, authority. By making statements like this they can successfully cause anyone who calls you friend, family or acquaintance to deny you, stay away from you, or turn against you lest they be persecuted by everyone too.

In the United States the government has used this false media reporting technique for centuries to turn the public against anyone they wish to get rid of or to discredit them from anyone listening to what they have to say. To destroy a person’s reputation is a key factor in destroying the person’s character. This is the main battle. After that they can do whatever they want and nobody will care whatsoever. People will believe what lies have been told and it becomes all too easy to convict this person and throw away any chance for true justice.

Ever since my parole, Cat and I had been busy building up our reputations and our character. We had made lots of friends in all walks of life. Everywhere we went. people truly liked us, respected and loved us. This is why they did this to me for without destroying our names and causing people to turn away it would have made it a lot harder for them to ever get a conviction. 

The propaganda did in fact work on many people, some of whom were our friends and even a few family members. Anyone who spoke up for us became a target to be ridiculed, put down and viciously attacked. Some till this day still believe the lies and will have nothing to do with us, even blame us for their own problems. 

Such character assassination effectively destroys everything any reformer or activist says or tries to get done. I wanted to explain all this so you can stop and think about everything you have read to date about my past history and even today, how easily someone gets labeled and ridiculed as being crazy, insane, violent, a monster, a terrorist, an enemy.


Editor’s Note: Ghost Dancer is currently in the process of undergoing several urgently needed corrective surgeries and will need to put his writing on hold for a while. He thanks everyone who has come this far with him and promises to be back to tell “the rest of the story” just as soon as he is able to sit at the computer and type. We will also be making some changes, additions and updates to the present chapters. Thank you for your patience, love and support.

Would you like to know Ghost better, see what he’s been doing since he was released from prison or follow his recovery progress? You are welcome to request membership in his Facebook group page: Ghost Dancer & Friends.

Published by Sings Many Songs

I'm an 80-something child of the great depression and WWII. Throughout my life I have been a seeker, an outsider, never quite belonging anywhere, still always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. A lifelong student with many interests and a love of writing and editing, my elder's path led to encouraging and assisting some remarkable people to write out their amazing stories. This calling became the magic elixir that keeps me growing, keeps me alive.

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