In 1979, a group of men hired to intimidate striking workers raped and killed a pretty 23 year old college student, and not one of them has spent a day in jail.
For more than a quarter century, the brutal sex slaying of Hope College student and hotel clerk Janet Chandler baffled law enforcement officials.
As the case grew colder with each passing year, it became less likely that whoever was responsible would be brought to justice.
And is it any wonder it took nearly 30 years to catch them?
According to the affidavit, Chandler was “intimate” with some of the Wackenhut Security guards who were staying at the inn while working at the strike-bound Chemtron Corp. in nearby Holland Township.
Wackenhut, if you’re not familiar with them, are old school strikebreakers from WAY back:
Wackenhut also offers security for employers experiencing poor relations with labor unions, including strike actions. Wackenhut has a poor reputation with labor unions as a result.
That’s putting it mildly.
Wackenhut isn’t just a handy source of muscle and intimidation to use against strikers, they’re also one of those private firms who the Grover Norquists of the world want to use to supplant the role that government should perform for its citizens:
(more from Wikipedia)
Having expanding into providing food services for prisons in the 1960s, Wackenhut in 1984 launched a subsidiary to design and manage jails and detention centers for the burgeoning private prison market in the United States and abroad. Wackenhut became the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison operator. Although the corrections branch of Wackenhut was financially successful, critics claimed the company’s guards abused inmates in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana.
In 1999, Wackenhut was stripped of a $12-million-a-year contract in Texas and fined $625,000 for failing to live up to promises in the running of a state jail after several guards were indicted for having sex with female inmates. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, five guards at a Wackenhut work-release facility were fired or punished for having sex with inmates. In April 1999 the state of Louisiana took over the running of Wackenhut’s 15-month-old juvenile prison after the U.S. Justice Department accused Wackenhut of subjecting its young inmates to “excessive abuse and neglect.” In the same year a New Mexico legislative report called for a near-total revamp of prison operations, including two run by Wackenhut. U.S. journalist Gregory Palast commented on the case: “New Mexico’s privately operated prisons are filled with America’s impoverished, violent outcasts — and those are the guards.”
(Hey, it’s Greg Palast…. Hi, Greg!)
But let’s get back the murder of poor Janet Chandler- gang raped by anti-union thugs, beaten to death and her body then dumped in the snow. Where did Wackenhut find these monsters?
Cox identified those arrested this week as: James Cleophas “Bubba” Nelson, 59, of Rand, West Virginia; Arthur Carlton “Carl” Paiva, 54, of Muskegon; Freddie Bass Parker, 49, of Powellton, West Virginia; Laurie Ann Swank, 48, of Nescopeck, Pennsylvania; and Anthony Eugene Williams, 55, of Boscobel, Wisconsin.
Now, why on earth would a bunch of strike breakers be hired out of West Virginia? Labor activists are rolling their eyes at that, I am sure. We know exactly why. There are lots of coal mines in West Virginia, and the owners of those mines have been more than willing to hire out-of-work men and professional thugs to beat, shoot and intimidate striking workers.
Mine and factory owners, Wackenhut, Pinkerton and an army of shiftless and otherwise unemployable muscle have historically used whatever means they deemed necessary to intimidate workers out of standing up for a contract that guaranteed them a decent living.
And here in Michigan, we see the wages of this brutality: Men paid to stand around and intimidate workers while doing no real productive work were engaged in intimidation and extortion, philandering and fear mongering. These sorts of guys swagger around on the periphery of strikes, knowing that they’re working on behalf of the Powers That Be, such as they are, and they get drunk on their impunity. In Michigan, their freewheeling partying and immunity from the law seems to have gone to their heads. They turned on a local college girl who had been sucked into their influence, and they beat, raped and killed her.
State police Lt. John Slenk, supervisor of the collaboration between the state police and Holland police, described the situation among guards at the inn and female staff as “a sordid affair, and it just went bad from top to bottom.”
“You have dozens of guards in and out of the hotel. There was a lot of alcohol and quite a bit of drugs,” he said. “You are going to get a band of renegades, and that’s what you got.”
The Chemtron strike ended two weeks after Chandler’s death. Threats against anyone who talked about the murder kept the slaying a mystery for decades as the guards scattered to other states, police say.
Wackenhut is the sort of company Grover Norquist would like to see handing the duties of the Federal Government. Are these “guards” the sort of men you want to be your police force? Do you want these men running your schools?