Va. veteran detained after strident Facebook posts

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former Marine involuntarily detained for psychiatric evaluation for posting strident anti-government messages on Facebook has received an outpouring of support from people who say authorities are trampling on his First Amendment rights.

Brandon J. Raub, 26, has been in custody since FBI, Secret Service agents and police in Virginia's Chesterfield County questioned him Thursday evening about what they said were ominous posts talking about a coming revolution. In one message earlier this month according to authorities, Raub wrote: "Sharpen my axe; I'm here to sever heads."

Police — acting under a state law that allows emergency, temporary psychiatric commitments upon the recommendation of a mental health professional — took Raub to the John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell. He was not charged with any crime.

A Virginia-based civil liberties group, The Rutherford Institute, dispatched one of its attorneys to the hospital to represent Raub at a hearing Monday. A judge ordered Raub detained for another month, Rutherford executive director John Whitehead said.

"For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon," Whitehead said.

Raub's mother, Cathleen Thomas, said by telephone that the government had overstepped its bounds.

"The bottom line is his freedom of speech has been violated," she said.

Thomas said her son, who served tours as a combat engineer in Iraq and Afghanistan, is "concerned about all the wars we've experienced" and believes the U.S. government was complicit in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One of his Facebook posts, she said, pictured the gaping hole in the Pentagon and asked "where's the plane?"

Whitehead said he found nothing alarming in Raub's social media commentaries. "The posts I read that supposedly were of concern were libertarian-type posts I see all the time," he said.

The big concern, Whitehead said, is whether government officials are monitoring citizens' private Facebook pages and detaining people with whom they disagree.

Dee Rybiski, an FBI spokeswoman in Richmond, said there was no Facebook snooping by her agency.

"We received quite a few complaints about what were perceived as threatening posts," she said. "Given the circumstances with the things that have gone on in the country with some of these mass shootings, it would be horrible for law enforcement not to pay attention to complaints."

Whitehead said some of the posts in question were made on a closed Facebook page that Raub had recently created so he questioned whether anyone from the public would have complained about them.

"Support Brandon Raub" Facebook pages have drawn significant interest, and other Internet sites had numerous comments from people outraged by the veteran's detention.

Raub's supporters characterized the detention as an arrest, complaining he was handcuffed and whisked away in a police cruiser without being served a warrant or read his rights. But authorities say it wasn't an arrest because Raub doesn't face criminal charges.

Col. Thierry Dupuis, the county police chief, said Raub was taken into custody upon the recommendation of mental health crisis intervention workers. He said the action was taken under the state's emergency custody statute, which allows a magistrate to order the civil detention and psychiatric evaluation of a person who is considered potentially dangerous.

He said Raub was handcuffed because he resisted officers' attempts to take him into custody.

___

Follow Larry O'Dell on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LarryOatAP

View Comments (729)

Recommended for You

  • Man sentenced to life with no parole walks free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge was freed Tuesday from a Missouri prison after being behind bars for two decades — a period in which the nation's attitudes toward pot have steadily softened.

    Associated Press30 mins ago
  • Police officer shot after responding to wrong home

    ATLANTA (AP) — A police officer was shot and critically wounded Monday when he responded to a call of a suspicious person and showed up at the wrong house, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • This year's El Nino weather pattern could be strongest on record: experts

    By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - The current El Nino weather phenomenon is expected peak between October and January and could turn into one of the strongest on record, experts from the World Meteorological Organization said at a news conference on Tuesday. Climate models and experts suggest surface…

    Reuters34 mins ago
  • U.S. court denies $2 million legal fees to conservatives in voting rights case

    By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday denied $2 million in legal fees sought from the federal government by conservative lawyers who persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 to strike down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Court of…

    Reuters
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announces she's pregnant with twins

    As with the birth of her son three years ago, Mayer writes that she plans to limit the amount of maternity leave she takes.

    CNET
  • Iran clothing with US, British flags sparks arrests

    Iranian police have arrested merchants for selling clothing that featured the flags of the United States and Britain, two longtime foes of the Islamic republic, local media reported Tuesday. Garments imprinted with "Satanic symbols" were also seized from stores in Tehran, city police chief General…

    AFP
  • 2016 Best Colleges Preview: Top 10 Best Value Schools

    For the majority of prospective college students and their families, cost is a major factor in determining which schools are viable options. Knowing which schools are best buys -- which colleges provide the highest quality education for the lowest price -- is imperative.

    U.S.News & World Report
  • Play

    Baby girl recovering from crash that killed her parents

    A baby girl survived a crash in Fresno County, Calif., that killed her parents.

    WPVI – Philadelphia
  • Sheriff: Suspect kills mother, stepfather, grandmother

    Outfitted in camouflage and armed with a high-powered rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, Robert Seth Denton fatally shot his mother, stepfather and grandmother while six children witnessed the carnage in the family's double-wide mobile home in eastern Tennessee, a sheriff said Monday.

    Associated Press
  • Why an Ohio Judge Is Using Unusual Punishments to Keep People Out of Jail

    From making a man wear a chicken suit to having a woman get sprayed in the face by what she thought was pepper spray, Judge Michael Cicconetti has become a viral sensation for his unique method of sentencing. Just last month, the municipal court judge got international attention for giving…

    ABC News50 mins ago
  • Painkillers to Heroin: the Pros and Cons of Treatments for Opioid Addiction

    The U.S. currently faces an unprecedented epidemic of opioid addiction -- painkillers, heroin and other drugs made from the same base chemical. The current problem differs from the opioid addiction outbreaks of the past in that it is also prevalent in the middle and affluent classes. Virtually…

    U.S.News & World Report
  • Coerced sterilization of Canadian indigenous women in 70s widespread: researcher

    By Chris Arsenault TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The coercive sterilization of indigenous women in Canadian health centers during the 1970s was more widespread than previously believed, with impoverished communities in the north disproportionately targeted, a researcher has found. The…

    Reuters
  • Obama slams 'completely unacceptable' cop killing

    President Barack Obama vowed Monday to push for police officer safety after a Texas sheriff's deputy was gunned down from behind and shot multiple times at close range. Darren Goforth, 47, was killed late Friday in the Houston area, and local officials have blamed ramped-up rhetoric against police…

    AFP
  • This versatile 15-in-1 Travel Jacket is Kickstarter’s most funded piece of clothing at $7.2M

    Remember the MacGyver Travel Jacket that has 15 compartments that each have their own designated functions? It turns out that so many people loved the idea of having such a “smart” jacket that the project became the most funded piece of clothing in Kickstarter history, topping $7.2 million in…

    BGR News
  • Note These Red Flags When Touring Medical Schools

    Every medical school wishes to impress potential students, but not every program will be right for you. While issues such as location and cost can be identified through a school's written or electronic materials, there are three red flags that you should keep in mind as you tour and evaluate your…

    U.S.News & World Report
  • View

    Kentucky county clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses (26 photos)

    Gay couples in a Kentucky county are expected at the courthouse door Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against a defiant clerk who has refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled against the county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses,…

    Yahoo News
  • Investigators: Arizona woman acknowledges drowning twin sons

    PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman told investigators that she drowned her 2-year-old twin sons and tried to kill her 3-year-old stepbrother in the same way because she didn't want them to live with the difficulties she faces.

    Associated Press
  • Daughter Deep In Debt Needs Counseling, Not More Money

    DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again…

    Dear Abby