Freedom News

Tom Gilliam: “Dissent and reprisal”

Tom Gilliam is a survivor of the Vietnam War.  He was a Navy medic, a conscientious objector medic, assigned to a Marine Corps combat unit during the war.  Throughout his time in Vietnam, Tom was surrounded by the noise, the disorientation, and the butchery of raw combat.  He still has shrapnel in his body from the experience of that war.  Nevertheless, Tom did not run.  More than a few Marines owe their lives to him, as he patched them up and kept them from bleeding to death in the jungles of the night.
Then immediately on returning to the United States from Vietnam, Tom stripped off his military uniform and threw it into the nearest garbage can.  Later, suddenly remembering that he had a second uniform, he pulled it out of his bag and went back and threw it into the same garbage can.

Tom Gilliam is a very dedicated social activist.  He is a member of VETERANS FOR PEACE.  He is also a member of the Syndicalist Action Network (SAN).  In January of 2010, Thomas P. Gilliam was elected as the President of the Lake Superior Chapter of VETERANS FOR PEACE.  He held that post through December of 2012.  We are not the first to report that there has been more government and right-wing “surveillance” nationally of VETERANS FOR PEACE than any other left-of-center or radical organization in the country.  Much of this “surveillance” has been crude and abusive.

During the last several weeks of July 2013, and on more than one occasion, Tom Gilliam reported to several friends that he had been followed by “a man in a black pick up truck.”  Tom, an avid bicyclist, and invariably transporting himself back-and-forth by his bicycle, said that he had never seen this “pick up truck” man before.  This pick up truck would overtake Tom and then speed up, only to re-appear later behind Tom again.  And that man, Tom said, on more than one occasion, shouted threats at him.  But Tom chose to ignore the situation.  He did not know the man.  He did not understand his problem.  Tom brushed the matter away.


On Saturday, 3 August 2013, WDIO-TV EYEWITNESS NEWS presented a report about a solidarity rally for Bradley Manning in Duluth, Minnesota.  Members of SAN, with others, to persuade by example, initiated this rally …

EYEWITNESS NEWS interviewed Tom Gilliam as follows …

“We’re all in support of a great American hero and a patriot, somebody who blew the whistle on lies,” said Thomas Gilliam, a Vietnam veteran and 13-year member of VETERANS FOR PEACE.  “And in an open society you need the truth.  The truth is extremely important.  Certainly he broke the law, but the truth is always above the law.”


On Sunday evening, 4 August 2013, Tom Gilliam as usual pedaled his bicycle to work.  As usual, he had lights at the front and lights at the back of his bicycle.  Then at approximately 3:00 a.m. on Monday, 5 August 2013, having completed his work-shift, Tom was pedaling his bicycle back home.  But he did not get to his home.

On Superior Street west of Mesabi Avenue, just west of the fork in the road where Michigan Street separates again from Superior Street, Tom Gilliam was directly struck from behind by a dark blue mini-van.  It was 3:13 a.m.  Todd Francis Miller, the first witness, described the impact as “a loud thud.”  The impact was strong enough that the van’s side-mirror unit was broken-off completely and fell on the street.  Also, other debris from the van fell on the street.  The driver of the van immediately fled the scene.

The bicycle was badly damaged, but it was not as badly damaged as Tom Gilliam.  Tom, with broken ribs and many fractured bones, was taken by Gold Cross Ambulance to St. Luke’s Hospital.  Tom has no memory of the assault and no memory of flying through the air.  Tom does remember a large crowd gathering around him as he lay on the street.  He also remembers the paramedics “hurrying” to pick him up from the pavement.  The records of St. Luke’s Hospital indicate that Tom did not arrive at the Emergency Room until 6:42 a.m.  If the paramedics were in a “hurry” then why did it take them so long to make a 6 minute drive to the Hospital?

Members of SAN heard rumors of a number of homeless people who had built a small campfire on an opening in the rocks just above the location of this assault on Tom Gilliam.  This extensive outcropping of rocks is called “Goat Hill.”  These homeless people, we were told, had come down from the rocks and formed part of the crowd that gathered around Tom.  They fled from the scene as the police arrived.  We have attempted to find them, as witnesses, but we were not successful.

The first policeman to arrive at the scene of the attack on Tom Gilliam was Officer Nathaniel Hughes, with badge number 496.  Immediately he made a brief statement to the crowd.  He was quoted by several witnesses as saying “We will probably never know who did this.”  It was Todd Miller, the first witness, who pointed to the evidence that was scattered on the street.  Otherwise the police seemed to ignore it.


Early Wednesday morning, 7 August 2013, several members of SAN visited the big new PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING in Duluth.  We had some difficulty finding the place, as there is very little signage to mark the location.  The police sergeant on duty, behind a huge 4-inch thick sheet of bullet-proof glass, told us there was no “Incident File” for Thomas P. Gilliam and/or the assault on Tom of 5 August 2013.  The Sergeant began to do search after search in his computer.  He insisted that there was no file on this Gilliam.  Then the Sergeant went through every hit-and-run incident for the last month.  It took him fully twenty minutes to do this.  He insisted there was no file.  He said we should speak with the State Patrol.  “They do not share computer files with us,” he said.  “They do not share incident reports,” he added.  We asked if there might be a work-in-progress report, a preliminary report, not yet filed.  The Sergeant answered “NO!”  He said the name at least would have been entered in the computer.

At 12:42 p.m. on Wednesday, 7 August 2013, one member of SAN sent an e-mail to Sergeant Curtis S. Mowers in Duluth, the Regional Public Information Officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.  Our friend simply asked if the state police had an “Incident File” for the assault on Tom Gilliam.  Sgt. Mowers, DPS, responded with “Are you an attorney?  An insurance company?  I need to know who is requesting information.  Meanwhile, I am checking on it.”

This SAN member responded by e-mail : “Dear Sgt. Mowers, I am not an attorney.  I am not an insurance company.  I am a friend of Mr. Gilliam, acting out of concern for him.”  At 12:47 p.m. Sgt. Mowers replied, writing “State Patrol records show nothing near that time on either date in Duluth.  Sorry.  You can also disregard then on my question of who you are representing for this information.”

Etc., etc., etc.


Later that same day, a police official contacted Tom Gilliam at St. Luke’s Hospital.  Tom was heavily sedated at this time.  The police official indicated that they were “starting” an “Incident File” for the attack on Tom.  He identified it as “Incident File Number 13159753.”  Curious, why hadn’t the police “started” a file concerning the attack on August 5th or August 6th?


On Wednesday afternoon, 7 August 2013, members of SAN provided information about the attack against Tom Gilliam to WDIO-TV EYEWITNESS NEWS and the reporter Emily Haavik.  “Perhaps you have the possibility for more of a story here than you would ever have realized,” we insisted.  However, Haavik and WDIO-TV declined to report what had happened to Tom after the rally in support of Bradley Manning.


On Monday, 12 August 2013, mid-afternoon, several members of SAN encountered Frank Jewell, the first district County Commissioner of the St. Louis County Board, at a grocery store near the Mount Royal Library in Duluth.  This was unusual.  We hadn’t seen Mr. Jewell face-to-face for many years.  (Jewell is an “ex”-Anarchist.)  Jewell, who had known Tom Gilliam over the years, told us he had been conversing with police officials about the “accident.”  Jewell said, “I found out a lot about Tom.  Yes, I found out a lot about Tom.  I found out A LOT about Tom.  But I still don’t have the answer.”  We asked him what he meant by this remark.  He replied, “I still haven’t spoken to the investigating officer.”  Then Mr. Jewell scurried away.  (He’s always in a hurry.)

So what did this mean?  Were the Duluth police officials investigating Tom Gilliam, the victim, but not the perpetrator of the crime against Tom?

Commissioner Jewell said he would phone us after he spoke with the detective.  We are still waiting for his phone-call.


On Tuesday, 13 August 2013, one member of SAN received a phone-call from Sergeant Ryan C. Morris, the detective assigned to investigate the attack on Tom Gilliam.  Sgt. Morris said “We will probably never know who did this.”  He said that the Duluth police “do not have the staff or budget that would allow them to investigate” this attack.  He said that “most crimes reported to the police are not investigated.”

Our friend responded, describing the evidence in the case.  Sgt. Morris acknowledged that “there is more evidence than usual in this case.”

Then, after complaining that the witness Todd Miller was no longer returning his phone-calls, Sgt. Morris stated that he would send out a Press Release to the news-media, asking for the public to help identify the damaged blue mini-van.

However, no such appeal to the public, specific to the date, time, and location of the attack on Tom Gilliam, was ever presented through news-media in Northeastern Minnesota.  How could anyone help to identify the damaged mini-van since the bulk of the population did not understand that there was an issue?


We live in a time when every vehicle in the state, and every driver, is filed, recorded, licensed, documented, and inspected in one sophisticated computer data-base or another.  So, just how much staff and how much budget would be needed to conduct a few meaningful and targeted searches in these data-bases?


On Labor Day, 2 September 2013, Tom rode on the VETERANS FOR PEACE float in the Labor Day Parade at Cloquet, Minnesota.  (Tom was not the first Anarchist to appear in a Labor Day Parade in Cloquet.)  Tom had to be tied in place with a huge metal brace.  Over and over again Tom said “We will not be intimidated into silence!”


On Wednesday, 2 October 2013, surgeons at St. Luke’s Hospital removed much of a kidney of Tom Gilliam.  Unable to work because of injuries and complications resulting from the attack of 5 August 2013, the struggle of daily life was becoming difficult for Tom.


A brother of Tom hired two lawyers to investigate the incomprehensible problems and difficulties surrounding the attack.  On Tuesday, 19 November 2013, Dan Homolka and Markus Yira, based at the IDS Building in Minneapolis, told Tom that never in their professional lives had they encountered so much stonewalling by police!


There is one important question the police do not answer : Did this attack on Tom Gilliam qualify as a “hate crime” under federal and state statutory definitions?

1.)  On his return to the U.S. from the Vietnam War, Tom Gilliam worked several years for GAY COMMUNITY NEWS in Boston, Massachusetts before returning to Minnesota.

2.)  During December of 2000, Tom Gilliam was a delegate to the XXI Congress of the AIT/IWA, the Syndicalist International, meeting at Granada, Spain.  Also, Tom was a solidarity activist during the ten month long MEI foundry strike and lockout in Duluth during 1999 and 2000.  Tom was part of the group that sparked a point-of-production sympathy strike at Mezzomerico, Italy in support of the workers striking in Duluth.  (These foundries in Mezzomerico and Duluth were owned and controlled by the same international conglomerate.)

So, if Duluth police did not have the staff or budget that would allow them to investigate the attack on Tom Gilliam, even though there was more evidence than usual in this case, why didn’t they refer the case to Federal authorities instead ?


Send a solidarity message to Tom at …

E-mail : <>

Phone : +218.727.1295


Send a Complaint or a Protest to …




However, Tom says, “the best protest in solidarity would be a renewed commitment from everyone receiving this message to ACT FOR YOURSELVES! in reasonable critique and peaceable opposition to authoritarianism, government deceit, corporate and government spying, and endless war, mindless war.”


In this age of State-Capitalism, when the government and capitalism have interpenetrated to such an extent that we cannot tell where one leaves off and the other begins, government itself is not a source of justice, virtue, restraint, objectivity, or compassion.

Peaceful regards,


323 Fourth Street,
Cloquet, Minnesota,
55720 – 2051

Phone : +218.879.8628

Main photo licensed for reuse under Creative Commons by Jasen1997

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