Florida city challenges court ruling over police prayer vigil

Florida city challenges court ruling over police prayer vigil July 1, 2018

The city council of Ocala, Florida, is vigorously defending its Police Chief Greg Graham, above, who violated the Establishment Clause by organising a 2014 prayer vigil. He separately stands accused of sexual misconduct.
US District Judge Timothy J Corrigan ruled in May that Graham and city leaders broke the Establishment Clause when it held the vigil after a drive-by shooting injured several children.
Corrigan wrote in his order:

The government cannot initiate, organize, sponsor or conduct a community prayer vigil. That is what happened here.

The American Humanist Association (AHA), representing several local residents who took exception to the vigil, filed a lawsuit that claimed the police chief was “reckless and callously indifferent” because of his involvement in the planning and promotion of the event.
Graham and the city were ordered to pay just $3 in damages plus attorney fees, but the city council has filed a motion to vacate the judgement.
Todd Starnes, host of “Fox News & Commentary, wrote:

It really takes a perverted kind of reprobate to sue a police department for participating in a prayer vigil. 

And he pointed out that “renowned evangelist” Franklin Graham said prayer is a basic human right and public employees should be able to petition the Almighty.
He said the President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse tweeted:

George Washington prayed, Abraham Lincoln prayed, and other presidents have called on God publicly in times of war or crisis. Atheists have the right not to believe and not to call on God. People of faith have the right to pray, and it should not be taken away.

But AHA legal director David Niose said prayer rallies should be run by churches, not police departments.

In 2016 The Ocala Post tore into Ocala’s Mayor, Kent Guinn, above, for showing “favouritism” towards the police chief:

During a press conference Monday, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn displayed favoritism toward Ocala Police Chief Kenneth Gregory Graham, who has been accused of Sexual Harassment, Hostile Treatment, Retaliation, and Discrimination.
The complaint was filed on September 15, 2016.
Mayor Guinn also seemed to display arrogance toward the media as they asked legitimate questions about why Chief Graham had not been placed on administrative leave at the start of the investigation
Mayor Guinn, who is close personal friends with Chief Graham, said, “I stand by Chief Graham, I trust him.”
The mayor fell short of placing the blame on the three individuals who filed the Grievance against the Chief.
Mayor Guinn said, “I think the morale [of the police department] has been hurt by the actions of these individuals.”
“The Chief has been attacked, the Chief is well respected in this community and in this police department. People love him.”

Then, on June this year, The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that its investigation into a former Ocala police officer’s complaints provided evidence that “establishes a reasonable cause to believe that (Police Chief Greg Graham) discriminated against” the officer due to her sex.
Former Officer Rachel Mangum alleges she suffered unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and a hostile work environment caused by the chief while she worked at the Ocala Police Department. The EEOC has investigated her claims for the past 21 months.
In 2001, it was determined that then Sergeant Greg Graham, who was married at the time, had a sexual relationship with a Marion County sheriff’s deputy.
At that time, Graham stated that he regretted the incident, and that he and his family had moved on.
In 2003, Graham was investigated after he falsified his cell phone reimbursement forms. He falsified the reports to avoid paying the city for his personal use of the department-issued phone.

The investigator on that particular case was seeking felony charges against Graham, and even though the evidence was damning, he was never charged.

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  • Italian Scallion

    Hang ’em and hang ’em high. When are these idiots going to learn to keep church and state separate? As a matter of fact, “ALL” religion is evil and should be abolished as it serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

  • Italian Scallion

    How can anyone believe that some asshole in the sky is the king of the universe? His so called son is a bastard that came from the virgin whore.

  • AgentCormac

    Earlier this evening, while attempting to enjoy a pint or three in my village pub, I spent a very uncomfortable 15 minutes being talked at by a semi-drunk local couple who told me that everything Trump’s America is doing is absolutely fantastic as the views of ‘normal’ people are finally being heard. Normal people like Police Chief Greg Graham, presumably.
    They also told me that yesterday representatives from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had been on their farm tagging calves, as the law demands, so there’s a record of where the cattle came from and their movement can be tracked.
    ‘Why are they wasting time tagging and tracking cattle when they should be tagging immigrants?’ I was asked.
    Apparently immigrants are also bleeding the NHS dry – apart from the immigrant doctors, nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists, etc.,who keep us all healthy, I presume.
    I didn’t even finish my pint as I couldn’t take any more of their bigotry. But Greg Graham and his ilk are certainly winning the war right now. And quite frankly it’s scaring me to death.

  • E J

    Barry, if secular authorities must not show favour to any group does that mean you are against Police Stations in the UK flying the rainbow flag in support of gays?

  • gedediah

    @EJ, how are those things even comparable?

  • andym

    @AC. Grim times. Perhaps this quote can offer a straw of hope.I read this the other day.
    “Sooner or later you’re going to have to choose, Zen. The new Europe will be no place for rootless drifters and cosmopolitans with no sense of belonging. It will be full of frontiers, both physical and ideological, and they will be rigorously patrolled. You will have to be able to produce your papers or suffer the consequences.’
    He leant towards Zen, almost whispering.
    ‘There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.’”
    Sound familiar?Sound like a good description of a Europe lurching to the right? Actually they come from 1994, a novel called Dead Lagoon by the late Michael Dibdin. The speaker is a charismatic, populist Venetian nationalist. This was how the world was beginning to look in 1994. The initial liberal euphoria over the collapse of the Soviet Union and Apartheid became a fear of a new nationalism, unleashed by forces that had seemed progressive. The former Yugoslavia seemed to be a glimpse of the future.
    It never came to pass. Things were awful for a time in the Balkan region, but the UN and the EU did ,in the end, get their act together.Europe has stayed a pretty good place for “rootless drifters and cosmopolitans.”
    We’re not finished yet.