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Gray line: Standoff starts another Waco disaster?

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JOHN PARSONS
Special to the Ellis County Press

TRINIDAD - Concern over media misinformation on outstanding warrants and a court order is keeping the John Joe Gray family secluded on its property.

That has set up a standoff with authorities - one some observers say is similar to the Branch Davidian disaster outside Waco. Because of the Grays' distrust of the legal system, especially in this area, and the publicity surrounding the case, the family is afraid justice will not be served. They point to many similar examples.

To help counter media distortion, an Ellis County Press representative has talked with the Gray family at their home and offered an opportunity to tell their story. Gary's wife, Alicia, provided a press release which supplied excepts for this article. The full text is online at EllisCounty.com.

First, the basic facts:

John Joe Gray has a warrant out for his arrest from Anderson County for assault and disarming a peace officer. Gray contends the charges are bogus.

Following an incident last December, the Grays have refused to leave their property.

Joe's daughter, Lisa, has custody of two children a court decision court has given to the father, Keith Tarkington. Lisa says she has never been served papers to yield the children.

The Grays have said again and again they simply want to be left alone to live their lives peacefully. Those who know them say the Grays are not the type of people portrayed by some media. They have stated a willingness to negotiate on matters not concerning constitutional rights and Biblical Law.

Here are excepts from the press release written by Alicia Gray:

'On Dec. 24, 1999, an individual with whom we're acquainted, named Curtis Hartin, arrived at our house and suggested we take a ride to Palestine to look at a cabin which Joe had built for a friend,' Alicia said in the press release.

'During the trip, Curtis continued to exceed the speed limit, and Joe cautioned him. Curtis insisted he had the latest anti-radar gear.

'As they approached Palestine, Curtis sped past a DPS car with two officers inside. The officers turned around, followed and stopped the vehicle in which Joe was a passenger. After being told to get out, Curtis quickly exited the vehicle and said, 'Sorry, Joe.'

'The other officer went around to Joe's side, opened the door and asked Joe if he was armed. Joe sat there quietly and replied he was. After the officer asked if he had a concealed carry permit, Joe replied he didn't need one, that it was a God-given right and confirmed by the Constitution,' Alicia said.

'The officer shouted it was not a right, drew his pistol, aimed at Joe and screamed for him to get out of the car. As Joe reached down to move the automatic seatbelt so he could exit, the officer started shouting, 'He's going for his gun; he's going for his gun!'

'Joe calmly replied he wasn't going for his gun and sat back down with his feet on the ground as the officer continued to shout.

'The other officer at this time jumped in the back seat, grabbed Joe's arm and handcuffed it. As the officer started pulling on Joe's arm and trying to get his other arm, Joe pushed back against the officer,' Alicia said.

'At some point Joe was hit in the side of the head by one of the officers. Following that, both Joe and an officer ended up on the grass with the officer's arm around Joe's head and face. At that moment, Joe bit down. The officer started yelling, and the other officer started spraying Joe with pepper spray. Joe then quit biting the officer.

'After first aid from an EMT, who had arrived, Joe was taken to the county jail in Palestine. He remained in jail for two weeks without any charges being filed.

'During the time he was in jail, they attempted to inject Joe with a white fluid, saying it was a TB test. Joe described the needle and syringe as the kind intended for large livestock. Joe refused and was kept in solitary confinement much of the time. Joe was not allowed any phone calls for the first three days.

After two weeks, during which I paid my locally obtained attorney $1,000 to file a writ, Joe had a hearing, which he assumed was related to the writ. No writ was ever filed. The hearing was a bond reduction hearing,' Alicia said.

'Originally, Joe's bond was set at $300,000 despite not being charged with anything. After Joe's bond was reduced to $52,000, again no charges. We used a rent house we owned as collateral and bonded Joe out.'

Alicia's statement also commented:

'Other contributing factors included Joe's distribution of constitutional information to local judges and police departments and sheriff's departments. None seem to have any interest in real law. By their very actions, they are outlaws -- outside the law,' Alicia said in the press release.

'So I guess we're known as some of those weird people who still believe in the constitution as well as the Bible.

'God's Word is the sole guide for our family. We are not members of the Kingdom of Heaven Church. We believe in God's Word as it is written. We also believe the constitution is the law of the land as it says, and we believe and will follow it as it is written and as our founders wrote and intended it to be.

'Our faith in God is strong and unbending. Our resolve is without compromise.'

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