The story of Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham sparked widespread interest and outrage across the internet this week. As we reported, Grisham was out hiking with his 15-year-old son over the weekend when he says he was stopped by police for "rudely displaying" a rifle. But that's just Grisham's side of the story.
As this is an ongoing case, I haven't been able to get specific details from the local police department. I have, however, looked more into Grisham and his outspoken history on the issue and wonder if the self-proclaimed "constitutionalist" didn't set out on his hike with something to prove.
According to his own blog site, Grisham "is no stranger to controversy." In 2009, Grisham caught flak for using his milblog to take a political stance against President Obama and proposed gun control measures. "The reality is that the American people can NOT take the President at his word," he wrote at the time. Taking such public & political positions is beyond frowned upon for active duty soldiers. The Army Intelligence and Security Command's inspector general opened an investigation but no action was taken.
That same year, Grisham again came under fire for acting out during a parent meeting at his kids' school. On the docket was a discussion about school uniforms -- not exactly a big constitutional debate, but things got heated nonetheless:
While discussing plans to implement a school uniform policy at the parent meeting, Grisham felt some parents didn't get an equal say in the discussion, Grisham told The Times in an interview before Thursday's board meeting.
Grisham acknowledged standing up on his seat and slamming his fist at the parent meeting, but said his behavior was not alarming.
Others apparently disagreed.
Superintendent Ann Roy Moore said she received e-mails from parents who claimed to be uncomfortable with Grisham's behavior at the parent meeting. She said the school's principal, Avis Williams, contacted a Redstone liaison officer about the situation but not Grisham's commanding officer.
As a result of those complaints, Grisham says his military superiors demoted him from first sergeant to master sergeant. Grisham later took the issue before the school board -- along with his camcorder and the local media. He eventually threatened to sue and even established a legal defense fund to solicit contributions from supporters. The case never went to court.
Fast-forward to last month. Once again, Grisham garnered attention for taking another outspoken stance -- this time in support of a resolution supporting the 2nd Amendment during a local city council meeting:
“When Temple resident C.J. Grisham, a U.S. Army master sergeant, presented the Temple City Council with a gun rights resolution, the city became one of a series of Texas cities and counties being called on to articulate commitment to Texas residents’ Second Amendment rights.Per the Temple Daily Telegram, Grisham asked the council to ‘declare that citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms will not be infringed upon.’”
“Right now, there are no less than six bills sitting in various committees designed to limit or negate the constitutional rights of citizens of this country, specifically the right to keep and bear arms,” Grisham said of his effort. “We can no longer count on the federal government to secure our rights.”
When the city mayor responded to Grisham's gun rights resolution by encouraging him to discuss the issue with state and federal policymakers, Grisham decided to press the issue. Just three days prior to his now-infamous run-in with the police, Grisham wrote on his blog:
This response only tells me one thing: the mayor and/or council thinks I’m the only one that cares about this. Well, I’m going to change that. I have only been emboldened to work harder and prove to the council that this is an issue that the citizens of Temple care deeply about and we want to hear from our elected officials what their specific stand is. I will pack the council meetings with like-minded citizens that also care about the downward spiral of this country and its continuing encroachments upon our rights. If the council won’t listen to me, maybe they’ll listen to all of us!
Now attracting national attention to his case, Grisham faces misdemeanor charges of “interfering with a peace officer while performing a duty” and has pledged to challenge them. Meanwhile, he's reportedly signed a retainer with Killeen Attorney Brett Prichard and has plans to sue the city. He's also established another legal defense fund and already raked in more than $35,000.
As more details of this case emerge, there remain many more questions to be answered: Is CJ Grisham just unlucky with the law or is he a PR hound looking for an axe to grind?
As we've noted, military blogger and author Michael Yon has his doubts. Grisham is "very good at manipulating people," Yon says, but his real concern is that Grisham's case is a symptom of a larger problem within the American military:
Master Sergeant C.J. Grisham (next stop Sergeant Major) has become a de facto representative of the US Army. The Army permits him to promote his agendas while wearing a uniform purchased by American taxpayers. He uses his rank, his uniform, and the Army in his many public writings. He may be free to speak, but he is not free to invoke his employer without permission. That the Pentagon allows him to speak while using its name makes him a de facto spokesman. Grisham speaks on behalf of the US Army and its intelligence community, whether we like it or not.
Stay tuned for continuing updates. FOIA requests have been ushered up to the Temple city attorney's office and you can be sure there'll be more to this story. In the meantime, let us know what you think -- leave a comment below!