Free Speech Leads to Involuntary Psychiatric Hospital Visit for Retired Marine

by | Sep 3, 2012

Free speech and first amendment rights were ignored recently in Virginia where former Marine Brandon Raub was greeted at the door of his home on August 16th by local police, FBI and Secret Service agents. They had supposedly received reports about things he had posted on Facebook which implied to them he was perhaps a domestic terrorist in the making. He was detained without charge, not read his rights, handcuffed and taken to the psychiatric hospital ward for Behavioral Health at John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell for psychiatric evaluation. Soon his attorneys filed an emergency motion to prevent Raub from being transferred to another psychiatric hospital, Veterans Hospital in Salem, which was about 300 miles from his legal team, family and friends. The motion was denied.
Finally, Raub’s attorneys at The Rutherford Institute secured his release on August 23rd following a full week of detention psychiatric hospitals without any charges being pressed during that time.
When ordering that Brandon Raub be released immediately from the psychiatric hospital, Virginia Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett”s signed statement said. “The petition is so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” The Judge could not believe Raub had been detained in that way.
After being released, Brandon has continued to exercise his right to free speech and love of his country. In a recent video interview he explained the whole story:
He had served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat engineer. He has no grudge against the military but is concerned that the country is moving in a “1984” Big Brother direction. He cites the increase of Executive Orders issued by the previous and current Presidents which bypass Congress and are essentially new laws written by one person. He feels these Executive Orders now allow government to seize private property and industries and to control the internet when deemed necessary by them. He also spoke of Bill Clinton stating we need a “Ministry of Truth” to police the internet and said that same phrase is used in the book “1984” where is was a means of controlling all speech.
His Facebook posts included some political comments, some song lyrics and a game he had helped create. Brandon explained how these were being taken out of context but this fell on deaf FBI and Secret Service ears at the time of his arrest. On the video he explained his comment “Sharpen up my axe; I’m here to sever heads.” as being a metaphor – a sword being the truth and truth is very powerful and has the ability to cut through lies by being very specific.
The video interview shows him to be genuinely concerned about the future of the country he has fought to defend. He urges Americans to get educated on the threats to our liberty (such as drones that can look through walls and record people’s conversations in their homes) and to “pursue all peaceful methods of disseminating information and keeping your rights”
Of course, the psychiatric hospital staff didn’t observe these qualities in him.
One psychiatrist asked him, “Do you hear voices?”
Another psychiatrist told Brandon, “I am going to brainwash you.”
Attorney John W. Whitehead is a constitutional lawyer and author who founded the Rutherford Institute in 1982 with the mission to provide free legal services in the defense of religious and civil liberties and to educate the public on important issues affecting their constitutional freedoms.
Acting on Brandon Raub’s request the attorneys at Rutherford are now filing a civil lawsuit against the government officials for wrongful arrest and detention in a psychiatric hospital ward.
The attack upon Brandon Raub’s free speech rights is not an isolated case. The government has a pattern of seizing American citizens, especially ex-military, for involuntary psychiatric hospital commitments. Military veterans from across the USA have been contacting Rutherford Institute particularly since a video showing Brandon’s arrest by police and FBI went viral on YouTube. They have learned that more than 20,000 civil commitments for psychiatric evaluation were carried out just in Virginia 2011.
Persons who have knowledge of such instances of involuntary commitment to psychiatric hospitals can contact or – another organization that educates people on their legal rights and can help with cases of involuntary commitment abuse.
The lawsuit will show that persons exercising their free speech rights to comment on unconstitutional actions by the federal government and military are being targeted by Virginia. The suit alleges the state is misusing Virginia’s commitment laws which state that a person may only be involuntarily committed upon clear and convincing evidence that he or she has a mental illness, that there is substantial likelihood that the person will cause serious physical harm to himself or others in the near future, and that there is evidence of recent, actual behavior of causing, attempting, or threatening harm to others.
John Rutherford recently described the situation like this – “Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that seems to be targeting Americans—especially military veterans—for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state. As we are learning, Brandon Raub is not the first veteran to be targeted for speaking out against the government, detained against his will—despite having threatened no one, and isolated from his family, friends and attorneys. Hopefully, by holding officials accountable, we can ensure that Brandon is the last to suffer in this way.”
It seems clear that as a government moves toward more and more control of its citizens, it often uses commitment to a psychiatric hospital to stop those whose free speech makes that government feel threatened. It would be wise to consider carefully what one posts on Facebook.


  1. herbork

    Thanks to CCHR for a public service by posting this story. Councilor Whitehead deserves to be wider recognized for his determined and principled defense of freedom. Lastly, …20,000 dealt with like this in Virginia alone? During upcoming public meetings and press conferences attending the election of the new Governor, this statistic ought to be brought up loudly and clearly, accompanied by a question as to what each candidate is prepared to say and do about this terrifying abrogation of citizens’ rights.

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