Veterans Walk in Solidarity
Fred Potter, an 88-year-old Korean War veteran, was arrested on May 18 for contempt of court following a court order to return all of his belongings to Waldron. His arrest, which some say was unjustified, prompted fellow U.S. military veterans to walk through downtown Waldron in solidarity on Sunday afternoon.
“We feel like what’s being done here is an extreme injustice to the service he’s done to this country,” said Mikel Brooks, a U.S. Army veteran and speaker at the walk.
Fred Potter’s arrest stems from a court order to return everything he had moved when he left Waldron after Cassaundra Holmes, his late wife’s niece, managed a trust he and his wife set up before her death, said Thomas Hudson, founder of Veterans March and the event organizer. Holmes filed a court order for Fred Potter to return everything he owned to Waldron after he had moved, Hudson said.
Fred Potter filed a complaint against Holmes with the circuit court in 2016. Holmes appeal of the complaint with the circuit court on Feb. 7 on grounds that it should have been dismissed because Fred Potter had previously taken a voluntary nonsuit, which releases the defendant from liability.
Holmes’ appeal dismissed Fred Potter’s complaint and reinstated the court order to return the items. Some of the items ordered to be returned included a Stradivarius violin and a silver bullion, according to a court order filed in Scott County Circuit Court in May.
“The Plaintiff, Fredrick R. Potter, has disobeyed, and continues to disobey, the previous orders of this court,” the May court order reads.
Allen Potter, Fred Potter’s nephew, said Fred Potter doesn’t own either of these items and didn’t remember anyone showing him the documentation ordering their return. He also pointed out that there are only 650 Stradivarius violins in existence, several of which cost in the millions of dollars.
“It just looks like he’s not being treated fairly,” said Alma mayor and U.S. Army veteran Keith Greene, who was in attendance on Sunday. “There are too many coincidences that really don’t add up.”
The veterans chose Sunday — the day before Allen Potter and others appear in court for a motion against Holmes’ Feb. 7 appeal — as the day to march for Fred Potter. Hudson said Potter’s cause is personal to him.
“We cannot stand by,” Hudson said of the veterans in attendance on Sunday. “We might have arguments over the years and joke about each other’s branches, but if you have a tragedy like this happen, we’re going to come together and support you.”
“It’s actually discrimination against a very senior citizen who is a veteran,” Allen Potter, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, said. “He signed the paper, raised his hand and is part of the veteran brotherhood. When you mess with one vet, you mess with them all.”
In light of this case, Hudson and Allen Potter said they would eventually like to see long-term action taken to protect the elderly in civil disputes. Both said they eventually would like to lobby for legislation that would address the matter.
In the meantime, they will both be in court for the motion hearing on Monday.
“We hope for a good review of the proceedings,” Allen Potter said.