“White man’s justice” in Detroit courts has again been offered to members of the city’s hip community, the Fifth Estate learned this week in two separate reports from Detroit longhairs.
“White man’s justice” is that peculiar form of legal blindness which punishes black people equally and allows errant white middle-class youths the chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of their society. It is evident usually in marijuana cases, where hippies are offered probation and a fine in exchange for going straight, i.e. cutting their hair, putting on decent clothes, and returning to school or a job. The alternative, of course, is a quick lock-up.
Pun Plamondon, proprietor of the 100 Camels Bookstore on Plum Street and a full-time Trans-Love worker, was arrested by two Narcotics Bureau patrolmen in plain clothes on Plum Street early in July. He was charged with driving without a license after a search of person and automobile turned up no grass.
Pun had been out of the car five minutes when the police arrived. He was taken to Beaubien Station and released three hours later when Trans-Love posted a $50 bond.
In court September 5th to plead for a postponement of his case until his redeemed driver’s license arrived from Lansing, Plamondon’s Neighborhood Legal Services attorney advised him to plead guilty to the charge since he had learned that the two patrolmen would tell the court that they had observed Pun making a U-turn on one—way Plum Street in order to get the conviction. Following the lawyer’s advice, Plamondon pleaded guilty and was subjected to a lecture from Traffic Court Judge Richard Maher that went like this:
Maher: Are you an actor?
Pun: No, sir.
Maher: Then why all the hair?
Pun: It grows that way, sir.
Maher: Well, son, I’ll tell you what: you cut your hair and shave and I’ll give you a suspended sentence.
Pun: I don’t see what hair has to do with law and order.
Maher: That’s where you’re wrong, son, that’s where you’re wrong.
When Pun turned down the judge’s offer he was sentenced to a $50 fine or ten days in the House of Correction. He had relinquished his right to appeal by pleading guilty and had to pay the fine.
On the same day, Dave Ennest appeared before Judge Robert P. Van Wiemeersch in Harper Woods Municipal Court on a charge of disorderly person, a low misdemeanor. Ennest was standing on the sidewalk at the Eastland Shopping Center one evening in August when he was ordered by a private guard to move on. When he refused to obey the officer’s command he was ticketed with the “disorderly person” charge.
In Judge Van Wiemeersch’s courtroom Ennest was told to go home and get his hair cut before coming to be tried on the charge. The judge confiscated a tin sheriff’s badge Ennest had pinned to his shirt and told him that he would be found guilty and punished if he came back without a haircut, but could have his case dismissed if he would just go along with the program. Ennest was still wondering at press-time if his hair was worth it.