How much is your long hair worth to you? Eight Ann Arbor brothers who were scalped during a short stay in the Washtenaw County jail think theirs is worth about $200,000.
This is the sum the eight, who were arrested following demonstrations against GE, on February 18th are suing Sheriff Doug Harvey and two deputies for. They are also seeking a court order restraining Harvey and his men from similar actions in the future.
Slameka told the Fifth Estate that this was done despite the fact that friends and relatives of those arrested were waiting at the jail to post the bond money. “Harvey arbitrarily kept them in jail another hour just so he could cut their hair,” Slameka said.
“It’s Sheriff Harvey getting even with long-haired freeks who he can’t stand. Sheriff Harvey has problems,” was the way Slameka summed up the motivation for the haircuts.
The eight, Paul Wilson, Mark Wellman, Robert Parsons, Mark Moss, Glenn Mitchell, Fred Miller, James Kirk, and James Forrester, Jr. are seeking $15,000 actual damages and $10,000 punitive damages each.
The eight page complaint against Harvey said the shearing violates the clients rights under the first, fifth, eighth, ninth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The suit is being brought under a Federal Civil Rights Act aimed at protecting citizens from unfair law enforcement
The suit was filed in Detroit Federal District Court by attorneys Ernest Goodman and Bob Slameka who state their clients were “compelled to have the hair on their heads totally clipped or shaved to the scalp.”
Slameka feels the plaintiffs have a good chance for a successful suit.
Sheriff Harvey said he thinks the suit is “ridiculous.” “I wasn’t there when the haircuts were given, but my men have standing orders to clean up all prisoners including shower, shave and haircuts,” he said. He conceded that the students may have had their hair “cropped a little closer than usual.”
“No one went out of here looking shameful. In fact they came out of here looking a hell of a lot better than when they came in,” was the sheriff’s estimation of the situation. Sure, he has to say that since that’s how he wears his hair.
The suit contends that the eight grew their hair long as a protest against the social and political values of this society and was an expression of free speech. Sheriff Harvey knew this of course. His military flat-top haircut approximates his political ideas and his act was a political and cultural assault on values that he is committed to destroying.
The arrests of the eight came in the aftermath of demonstrations opposing GE recruiters on campus. At least 2,500 students battled police and trashed windows in downtown Ann Arbor during a four hour period lasting into the night.
Other young men have had their hair shorn by Harvey’s goons following even minor arrests such as traffic violations.