MindFreedom International — 7 November 2008 Human Rights Alert: Involuntary Electroshock
by David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International
The past Wednesday morning after the historic USA election what were you doing?
I know what Ray Sandford, 54, was doing.
Each and every Wednesday, early in the morning, staff shows up at Ray’s sheltered living home called Victory House in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, adjacent to Minneapolis.
Staff escorts Ray the 15 miles to Mercy Hospital. There, Ray is given another of his weekly electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments, also known as electroshock. All against his will. On an outpatient basis.
And it’s been going on for months.
Ray says the weekly forced electroshocks are “scary as hell.” He absolutely opposes having the procedure. He says it’s causing poor memory for names such as of friends and his favorite niece. “What am I supposed to do, run away?” Instead, Ray phoned his local library’s reference desk to ask about human rights groups, and the librarian referred him to MindFreedom International.
Ray called me at our office here at MindFreedom International about two weeks ago. At first I wasn’t sure I believed him.
Of course, MindFreedom International has documented proven cases of electroshock against the expressed wishes of the subject all over the world, including in the USA. MindFreedom succeeded in having the United Nations World Health Organization call in writing for a global ban on all involuntary electroshock.
But this is the first time I’ve been on the phone with someone getting court-ordered forced shock while living out in the community, on an outpatient basis.
This is the ultimate double whammy. I confirmed Ray’s story by calling two staff at Victory House as well as his court-appointed conservator, Tonya Wilhelm of Luthern Support Services of Minnesota.
Ms. Wilhelm said, “We are following the letter of the law.” She said the State of Minnesota had secured a variety of court orders that require Ray to have forced electroshock against his expressed wishes. Ms. Wilehlm says it’s all legal and she can’t do anything about it.
Krista Erickson, chair of MindFreedom’s Shield Campaign, sees it differently. “This is terrible. This is a serious human rights violation that should stop. I hope MindFreedom members and supporters speak out. Even if Minnesota is following the letter of the current law, the law ought to be changed. And Ray has not had the legal power to appeal to higher courts.”
I pointed out to Conservator Wilhelm that the public — when they find out about forced electroshock — is passionately opposed to their taxpayer money being used to force such brutality on citizens. Ms. Wilhelm did let slip that what is happening to Ray — involuntary outpatient electroshock — is not that uncommon in Minnesota.
But when Ms. Wilhelm found out we at MindFreedom are issuing one of our public human rights alert to you and others, at Ray’s repeated request, she said something chilling.
Ms. Wilhelm claimed she had a legal right to stop MindFreedom! Ms. Wilhelm told me, “Only I can give you permission legally to say anything publicly about this.”
I pointed out we are not a medical facility, and that if she falsely claims we’re doing anything illegal then this is defamation. Which really is illegal. Ms. Wilhelm laughed loudly in the phone, said “let our lawyers talk,” and hung up on me. I hope she hung up to read the First Amendment.
Let’s disobey Ms. Wilhelm!
Spread Ray’s alert far and wide! Speak out against this electrical torture, now!
Because… Remember… While the world marvels at the power of USA democracy:
If it’s Wednesday morning, then Ray Sandford is being led from his home — which is supposed to be his castle — to get another weekly forced procedure that can cause brain damage and wipe out memories.
Want to do something? Follow the jump.
Mind your freedom. Disobey Ray’s conservator now!
Forward this alert to all appropriate places on and off the Internet, IMMEDIATELY!
And take the *below* actions. Thank you. Ray and I are counting on you!
* * * ACTION * * * ACTION * * * ACTION * * *
You can do this in a moment. It’s free! DO IT NOW!
E-mail your firm but polite message to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
SAMPLE MESSAGE — your own words are best:
“Investigate the weekly involuntary outpatient electroshock of Ray Sandford. Every Wednesday morning, MindFreedom says Ray is brought from Victory House in Columbia Heights, Minnesota to Mercy Hospital for forced electroshock. Stop all forced electroshock today! Taxpayer money should not fund torture!” [Your name/contact.]
E-mail address: email@example.com
Or use this handy web form
* * * ADDITIONAL ACTIONS TO SUPPORT RAY! * * *
1) E-mail a complaint to Luthern Social Services of Minnesota (LSSMN) about Ray’s conservator.
“Investigate allegations that LSSMN employee Tonya Wilhelm tried to stop a public human rights alert by MindFreedom International about her client, Ray Sandford, who is receiving weekly outpatient involuntary electroshock at Mercy Hospital in Minneapolis. If verified, please reprimand, fire and replace Ms. Wilhelm, and please place this in her permanent personnel record. Please support human rights.” [Your name/contact.]
Use LSSMN’s web page
Or phone Luthern Social Services at: (218) 726-4888
You can copy your message to headquarters of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA):
From ELCA’s web site about their church: “It’s a story of a powerful and patient God who has boundless love for all people of the world, who brings justice for the oppressed.”
More right here
2) E-mail a complaint to Allina Hospital and Clinics, owner of Mercy Hospital.
“Investigate allegations that your patient Ray Sandford of Victory House is receiving involuntary outpatient electroconvulsive therapy against his will each Wednesday at Mercy Hospital.”
Use this web page
Or phone: (763) 236-6000
3) Ray is open to visitors and supportive postal mail:
Ray Sandford Victory House 4427 Monroe St. Columbia Heights, MN 55421-2880 USA
MindFreedom will print out and mail to Ray some of your e-mail messages to the Governor and others, and put some on the web. E-mail a copy of what you write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND ONE MORE THING!
Say “no” to mental health system censorship!
Disobey Ray’s conservator now!
PLEASE forward this public human alert to all appropriate places on and off the Internet, IMMEDIATELY! Thank you!