Police veteran gets 29-day sentence for wearing anti-cop shirt to court
A 25-year police veteran remains in jail for a third week after a Wayne County, Mich., circuit court judge locked him up for wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Kourts, Krooks, Kops” into her courtroom.
And Henry Dudzinski, a member of the Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality, will remain in jail until May 6, when his 29-day sentence ends, or until he apologizes to the judge for wearing the shirt.
“He’s not going to do that,” said Ron Scott, a fellow member of the Detroit Coalition. “He felt he had a right to wear that shirt.”
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Isidore Torres jailed Dudzinski, 77, on April 12 after the police veteran refused to remove the sweatshirt during a court hearing. The hearing concerned a secret report about a Detroit police officer who shot to death three people.
Detroit Police Sgt. Eugene Brown had been cleared of charges in all of the shootings. One such incident involved the death of Lamar Grable, a 20-year-old man shot by Brown in a field near Detroit in 1996.
The April 12 hearing involved a civil lawsuit the Grable family filed against Brown and the Detroit Police Department. The family asked the judge to force the city to turn over a 1999 report detailing the investigation of Brown’s shootings.
Brown contends Grable shot at him first, even though no gun was ever recovered. A new investigation last year into the shootings, conducted by the Detroit Police and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, found no new evidence that Brown should face criminal charges.
During the hearing, Brown asked Torres to order Dudzinski to remove the shirt to avoid prejudice during the proceedings. Torres recalled telling Dudzinski last year to remove a similar shirt and charged him with contempt.
Scott said Dudzinski declined to remove his shirt and attempted to read a statement about his First Amendment rights. But court bailiffs removed Dudzinski from the courtroom before he finished.
Three days later, on Easter Sunday, protesters carried picket signs around the courthouse. The signs read “Free Henry” and “Justice for Lamar Grable.”
“The First Amendment doesn’t end at the courtroom door,” Scott said. “But some attorneys here say the judge pretty much has absolute authority in her courtroom. No one in America has absolute authority.”
Scott said attempts to persuade the judge to release Dudzinski haven’t been successful. He wondered whether, if police officers had worn black armbands in the courtroom, Torres would have ordered the officers to remove them.
Spokespeople for both the judge and the police department declined to comment about the incident.
Dudzinski had also been arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor in 1992 in Livonia for picketing the mayor’s house after police ignored his request to investigate a child-abuse allegation in a custody case.