Some may recall the chant by Chicago protestors in 1968: “The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching.” It drew attention to actions taken by the Chicago police during that year’s Democratic National Convention. Fast forward to Livingston County now, following a tumultuous Summer of 2020, when nationwide protests seemed to be the norm.
Our own Livingston County was not unscathed, receiving its own threat from a State of Michigan employee who tweeted: “The first city to burn in Michigan should be Howell.” This tweet was posted days prior to a planned Black Lives Matter protest planned for Howell. This threat drew over 2,500 positive responses until the tweeter cancelled her account. Keep in mind, Twitter did not cancel this account as it does now for offensive posts; she did it herself. This state employee later received a paltry 10-day suspension meted out by officials of the Whitmer Administration. Keep in mind, this was the same governor who demanded that a Northern Michigan County Commissioner resign for uttering insensitive words during a conversation he thought was private.
Additional local action was taken by the Howell Police Department, which sought a felony terrorist warrant from then-Livingston County Prosecutor William Valliencourt. This warrant request was sent back to police by Valliencourt, who requested further investigation. This must have been a shock to Howell Police as they had been through this same process a few years earlier with successful results. Then, a 17-year-old Howell High School student was indicted and arrested a few hours after her threat appeared on Twitter. Prosecutor Valliencourt was involved with both incidents. Now, almost eight months later, we are still awaiting action.
Months after this incident occurred, a contentious election pitted Valliencourt against retired Circuit Court Judge David Reader. Reader’s campaign literature drew attention to lack of action taken by Valliencourt on this incident. Much was also written about this travesty of justice in our local news source: The Livingston Post. In fact, this story was labeled as the Top Story for 2020 by The Livingston Post. Indeed, citizen distaste for how this was handled may have been the reason for Reader’s landslide victory.
Now, eight months into a new year, elected officials have done nothing. The clock on the statute of limitations is ticking. We should now turn our attention to Prosecutor Reader and resurrect a modified chant for Prosecutor Reader: “The whole county is watching. The whole county is watching.” Maybe then justice will come out on top.