GUEST COLUMN: Unequal justice is no justice at all

Kurt Skarjune

Many residents in Livingston County are concerned about a recent incendiary tweet directed at the City of Howell, as they should be. They are also disappointed in how this social media threat is being handled by our county criminal justice system.

On May 30, 2020, a tweet was posted on Twitter days before a planned June 4 Black Lives Matter protest was scheduled for the city of Howell. The tweet stated: “the first city in Michigan to burn should be Howell, all in favor say I.” It received over 2,500 likes. It also received many replies from county residents who were appalled by it.

The Howell Police were later notified by residents of the threat. Through investigation, police were able to identify the female source, along with her place of employment. (The State of Michigan). A few days later, they presented their request for a warrant to the county prosecutor. The charge asked for was terroristic threat. The county prosecutor sent it back to City of Howell police for further investigation.

As of today, there is no warrant, and the State of Michigan suspended the female for 10 days.

In 2017, a disgruntled 17-year-old Howell High School student tweeted words to the effect that Howell High School should be shot up. Again, the Howell Police Department investigated and were able to identify the girl, get a warrant from the prosecutor, and arrest her all in the same day. No additional investigation was asked for. Bond was placed at $100,000.

To the untrained mind of an ordinary citizen this appears to be unequal justice. I am a trained, 23-year retired law enforcement officer, and in my mind, I have to agree.

Questions I have to ask are:

1.) What is there left to investigate? The female has apparently admitted to the tweet to her employer the State of Michigan.

2.) How did Howell Police get it right in 2017 and not right on this?

3.) Isn’t a tweet that garnered over 2,500 likes more dangerous than a tweet from a 17-year-old. How many likes did she get?

Citizens like myself can only wonder how the high schooler’s tweet could result in immediate warrant and arrest, and probable expulsion from school along with a felony arrest record, when the city threat has only so far resulted in a 10-day suspension from work. We can only scratch our heads and ask: “Who dropped the ball?”

Kurt Skarjune, a Livingston County resident since 2011, retired from the Oak Park Department of Public Safety after 23 years. He is active in condo association matters in both Michigan and Florida.

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