“Silent No More: Out of the Shadows” Rally
Reported by Derek W. Logue
Saturday, December 1, 2007, updated April 16, 2015
April 2015 Update: I added the link to the Columbus Dispatch article from December 2007 and the Rally Brochure
A historical note: The “Silent No More” Rally was actually the second rally held by members of the growing Anti-Registry Movement (the first was held in Miami in June 2007), and was the first to gain any degree of media attention. About 50 people attended the rally, outnumbering the counter-protesters 2-to-1. This rally was created as a response to Ohio becoming the first state to adopt the federal Adam Walsh Act (known in Ohio as SB 10). This rally helped reorganize the growing Anti-Registry Movement into a more influential and organized movement.
The 50 or so attendees braved both the extreme winter chill and a number of hostile protesters representing Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), Judy Cornett’s “Predator Patrol” and “Women Against Sexual Predators” (a group created by Mark Lunsford and was connected to an online vigilante group called “Absolute Zero United”). This article was one of the first articles posted to Once Fallen when it was created in December 2007. The original article has been unedited to preserve its historical value.
VIEW THE SILENT NO MORE BROCHURE HERE
WATCH THE ENTIRE RALLY ON YOUTUBE HERE
ORIGINAL ARTICLE WRITTEN DECEMBER 5, 2007
The morning sun did little to warm the cold air in Columbus as I arrived at the state house to attend the “Silent No More” rally. Perhaps more bitter than the cold wind was the colder reception given by those to protest the SOClear Media’s rally against Ohio’s SB10, which made Ohio compliant with the controversial “Adam Walsh Act.” The protesters, dressed in biker gear, showed up in an attempt to intimidate or harass attendees of the rally, holding up signs saying, “cry me a river, sex offender,” and, “sex offenders have the right to remain silent.” Some took pictures of attendees, while others openly heckled the growing crowd. Despite the cold weather and even colder welcome, around 50 brave souls attended this landmark event.
While the numbers seem insignificant, the mere fact the rally was even held in the first place was indeed significant. Every great movement has a number of defining moments. The Silent No More Rally is significant in many ways. For the first time, a number of those individuals afraid of speaking out due to their stigma stood together in public in a show of unity. It was a unique opportunity for advocates, researchers, legal workers, and others who support our cause to meet face-to-face rather than through the internet, many for the first time. Perhaps most importantly, the worst fears of sex offenders speaking out were not realized. Despite the heckling, there were no threats of violence; I had even spoken with the protesters after the rally. Some of the protesters even listened to the rally and accepted the information passed out during the rally.
The question of the success of the rally depends on your expectations. In my opinion, I feel the rally was a success; we faced our fears, stood in unity, and gave the facts. I prepared an information CD I passed out during the rally to assist in educating the people on the issue. Even the opposition listened. If you believe the goal was to educate even one person and bring them to understand why sex offender laws are wrong, then we have succeeded. If you believe a show of unity was necessary or facing a hostile crowd while proclaiming your belief in an equal society for people who have finished their sentences, then we have succeeded. However, if you expected the rally to be the final blow to the war on sex offender laws, you will be sadly disappointed. Rome was not built in a day. We must fight for those rights denied to us. Christians fought for three hundred years to gain acceptance. We must be willing to take a chance, to stand up, to not “hide in the shadows,” and to confront the wrongs of our society. If we are to be successful, we must take part, accept the risks and the dangers, and to show courage even while scared to death internally. Again, whether you believe this rally was a success is entirely up to you.
Quotes From The Rally:
Tom Madison, SO Clear President, on the sex offender label:
“Think about it for a moment; even the term ‘sex offender’ implies always guilty all the time. It’s a current category, you cannot be out of the category if you’re in that category…”
Tom Madison on unity:
“We have got to make contributions, we have got to get involved, get to know each other, both here in this state and all across the country, and start participating in our own liberty because I promise you, its not going to come back to us unless we fight for it…”
Margie Slagle, Attorney at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, on residency restrictions:
“The tide has started to change. Many of you may be aware of the Mikaloff decision in a federal court in northern Ohio, where the judge said residency restrictions are punishment and cannot be applied retroactively… [regarding the Hyle v. Porter case] We don’t know what the Ohio Supreme Court will decide, but one thing I can tell you, with our brief, we filed a brief that was signed onto by sheriffs’ associations, prosecutors, national victim’s rights groups, explaining to the courts that these
laws don’t work…”
Margie Slagle on Registries:
“Maine has decided to revisit whether their registration laws have become so severe they are now punishment. Many of you don’t know this, but our own Ohio Supreme Court has decided to do the same thing. There are two justices who have already said that now that you can never get off the registry and you’re getting kicked out of your homes, it is no longer a remedial law. That is punishment!”
Ohio Public Defender’s Office Website has a “Pro Se packet” available online to assist in filing paperwork for reclassification hearings. Type in Ohio Public Defender on a search engine to find the site. You only have 60 days to challenge the reclassification from the time you get your letter.
Slagle on what we can do:
- Educate the public
- Vote (Ohio felons can vote), Get involved in local politics
- Contributing your time, talent, effort and financial support to the cause
Dr. William Samek, clinical/ forensic psychologist, director of FL Sexual Abuse Treatment Program and founder and president of the American Justice Foundation, on recidivism and other SO myths:
“There’s a lot of myths that say sex offenders have high recidivism rates but the data don’t show that. The data shows naturally occurring recidivism is low for sex offenders… When you look at treatment, the studies show that treatment does work for sex offenders… I have find that good sex offender programs typically have less than 5% recidivism, the programs I have been involved with, less than 2%.”
Dr. Samek on why over 10% of RSOs in Dade Co., FL have failed to register:
“And I think that’s significant in part because of how onerous, how horrible, how intrusive it is to be on the registry.”
Dr. Samek on coping strategies:
- Don’t feel sorry for yourself, and don’t run away (abscond)
- Count your blessings
- Prepare to tell your story briefly and honestly, tell those closest to you
- Realize you cannot control others’ reactions
Dr. Samek on the reality of why sex offender laws don’t work, a hypebolic example:
“We’ll never have ‘no children sexually abused,’ but if society wanted to set up a system in which we had no children sexually abused, it’s fairly easy to do that, and that’s simply make a law that says no child can live in a home with a father, a boy friend, or any male over the age of 12…”
Cheryl Griffin, SOSEN Media Director (www.sosen.us), on the gravity of the situation:
“We have over 600,000 registered sex offenders in the US. I will use conservative figures and say that half of those are married. America has 2.5 children. Lets say they have 2. Ok, we have 300,000 spouses, we’ve got 600,000 kids, that’s a million and a half people. That’s a million and a half people whose lives are being destroyed by these laws… This isn’t Russia, it’s not China, it’s not a third world nation, this is the United States, and we are destroying the lives of a million and a half people, and that number is growing… they have essentially life sentences…”
Cheryl Griffin on politics:
“The politicians know the facts. They understand the facts. But they… have told me to my face that they cannot change these laws because the public demands it. They tell me that it is political suicide to try and change these laws or to appear soft on sex offenders.”
Jane Major, RN, activist and wife of RSO, on collateral damage of RSO:
“The sad irony is that in an effort to save all children, the children of SOs are the sacrificial lambs of today. Yet today it is a proven fact that no child has been saved by the registry. In fact statistics show that 95% of the next crimes will be committed by someone who is not on the registry, and the remaining 5% of the crimes will not be prevented as a result of the public registry.”
Jane Major on civil rights:
“How has the social consciousness and political atmosphere of this country come full circle from awarding civil rights to blacks, acknowledging women’s and gay rights, and supporting religious freedoms to squashing the basic freedoms of a group of families and children, those related to a sex offender. In their frenzied quest for a panacea to an age-old problem, our esteemed politicians, without factual research and consideration of ramifications, are enacting draconian laws equivalent to tar and feathering.”
Linda Pherson, President of SOSEN, on dehumanizing people:
“We dehumanize people, that way we pretend that the issue cannot touch us… This issue touches everyone… Why are we basing laws on the 3% to 5% [of RSO who are predators] of the population and ignoring the 95% that it represents?”
Dr. Steven Davidson, pastoral counselor, on taking a stand:
“If churches, if people, if they will not receive you into their churches, if they will not embrace you, if they are afraid to run with you, to encourage you, or give you hope, shut them down!”
Dr. Davidson, on a darker future on the horizon:
“In Revelation 13, it talks about a time soon coming in history when those persons that do not have the mark of a lawless government will be identified. People, you are that ‘Beta System.’ You tell the preacher, you tell the bishop, you tell the Sunday school person, ‘I may be on the registration system right now, but Christians are coming, and the time is near; Satan always has disguised his true intentions for something. That registration system is backed by government, sanctioned by the courts, people can see your face and your address, the vigilantes come in, congress ostracizes you. I submit to you that is the same system that Christians will be on, and it simply means that the time is near! You have been chosen to get the message out.”
Also on the speaker roll, who gave speeches that reiterated many of the key points of the other speakers:
- Tamara Jackson: Former SO Counselor, SO Clear member
- Betty Price: President of Roar For Freedom
- Jackie Sparling: COO of SO Clear
- A speaker, name and info withheld, who gave the best speech of the day, so good in fact it even silenced the protesters. Sadly, info is withheld at speaker’s request
PRESS ON THE RALLY
Sex offenders rally against laws
By Holly Zachariah
The Columbus Dispatch • Sunday December 2, 2007 11:50 PM
Sex offenders rally against laws –
Sex offenders and their supporters ignored a booing crowd during a rally in front of the Statehouse yesterday to protest the toughening of Ohio’s registration laws.
Thomas Madison, a convicted sex offender from Oregon who founded a nonprofit group in defense of sex- offender rights, helped organize the nearly three-hour event. He told a crowd of about 50 supporters that sex-offender registration laws do the public no good, and that no one should feel any shame for standing up for what they believe in.
As 12 speakers took turns at the podium and decried Ohio’s registry law, about 25 people gathered along High Street to represent the other side. They brought with them little sympathy.
Jessica Cherchio, 30, carried a handwritten sign: Cry me a river, sex offender.
“This sickens me, and I’m here because I’m not going to take this crap,” said Cherchio, of Columbus. “They don’t want to register any longer? Well, I think they all should register for life. I’m outraged they have any rights at all.”
Madison said he chose Ohio for a “Silent No More” rally because the recently approved changes to this state’s sex-offender registration requirements are unfair.
“The government cannot protect your children,” he said. “Parents must do that.”
To bring Ohio into compliance with a federal law, lawmakers and Gov. Ted Strickland approved changes this year to the classification, registration and notification requirements imposed on sex offenders. The changes, which take effect Jan. 1, will extend the required registration time for many offenders. A constitutional challenge to the law has been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court.
Cherchio said she was surprised that so many people showed up in support of Madison and his message. Currently, 16,316 registered sex offenders are listed on Ohio’s electronic notification Web site.
Madison, despite writing in printed materials that he is required to register as a sex offender, is not listed on the Web site of offenders in the state of Oregon.
According to literature, a goal of his group is to dismantle publicly available sex-offender registries. Law-abiding citizens who have done their time should be left alone, he said.
One high-school sophomore from Paulding County in western Ohio agrees. Ali Metz, 16, has an older brother in jail, convicted of pandering sexually oriented material. His mother said he took pictures of his underage girlfriend.
Under Ohio’s new classification system, Metz’s brother must register with authorities for 15 years once out of jail. Metz defended him at the rally.
“The laws have to be changed so that people like him can live a normal life,” she said. “All he did was fall in love with a girl.”
Booed by protesters, supporters say offenders who have done time should be left alone.