An online publication by Commissioner Wes Nakagiri has renewed tensions over a recent vandalism incident and the subsequent investigation.
On his personal website, Nakagiri released FOIA’d information from a police report on an instance of vandalism near Julie Ohashi’s property.
In late March, Julie Ohashi launched a get-out-the-vote campaign in support of the Hartland Schools millage. In the following days, she said her personal information was maliciously shared by an anti-millage Facebook group, though the original posts have since been removed. On April 1st, Ohashi found a large swastika spray painted, and partially burned, on a tree just off of her property line near Dunham Lake. The incident was investigated by the police and FBI as a hate crime, and the story made news in early May.
Now, three and a half months after the media chronicled the incident, details and circumstances of the vandalism and the subsequent police reports are being called into question. The topic was brought up during the Hartland School Board’s call to the public, where several individuals– including a coalition led by Jeannine Gogoleski, the wife of Hartland Trustee Glenn Gogoleski- used the information presented in Nakagiri’s report to try and discredit and dismiss the efforts of Livingston Integrity and its sister organization Stand Against Extremism.
Nakagiri claims that Ohashi made “significant misrepresentations to local and federal law enforcement agencies.” Chief among these misrepresentations, Nakagiri asserted, was that she referred to her husband as “being the only Black man in the neighborhood” when he is actually of Hawaiian descent. Ohashi also claimed at a Hartland school board meeting that she was a Hartland parent, though she technically lives in Highland Township and doesn’t have children currently enrolled in the district. These two facts led Nakagiri to conclude that the incident was merely a “well-orchestrated public relations campaign to smear her opponents.”
However, the police report concluded no such thing, instead saying there was no proof a crime had been committed specifically against Ohashi and that because “no suspects/complainant for the possible MDOP to the neighborhood park tree the case will be closed. The case can be reopened if new information is received.”
Nakagiri’s assertion that the swastika incident was not a crime is also based on his conclusion that the symbol was not burned on the tree, as Ohashi claimed it appeared to be, only painted on. However, the police report indicates that Highland Township Fire Marshal Shawn Bell, “stated there may be a spot of charring that looked like the paint was ignited in some areas.”
Nakagiri also emphasized that the incident took place in Oakland County, although in an interview with GIGO News, Ohashi clarified that her home is located on the border of Oakland and Livingston Counties. Additionally, Nakagiri claims, and the police report confirms, that Ohashi repeatedly referred to herself to the deputy as a teacher at Hartland Consolidated Schools. While Ohashi did note before the board that she is a teacher with a Master’s in Education, she never stated publicly that she was an employee of HCS.
Board Trustee Michelle Blondeel stated that this was now a personal matter, and felt that Ohashi’s comments on May 8th were a personal attack on the Clean Slate members.
“Not only did she allude to the fact that myself, Greg, and Glenn had something to do with this false flag, but she’s implicating the Hartland community in her story,” Blondeel stated.
Ohashi’s comments were not specifically targeted towards the Clean Slate, as she simply asserted that “the views of the board members elected under the Clean Slate– Gogoleski, Blondeel, and Keller – are not shared by the majority of the community.” She did quote GOP leader Dan Wholihan, who claimed that the millage was a means of using children as leverage– perhaps highlighting a perceived connection between the Republican leader and the GOP-backed Clean Slate.
Regardless, Blondeel went on to state that she’d be looking into taking legal action against Ohashi, alleging defamation. Blondeel claimed that Ohashi was “creating a fictional life to propel her very unpopular agenda of turning Hartland blue by slandering and lying about board members in an effort to destroy our wonderful community.”
It should be noted that leaders of Livingston Integrity– Ohashi included– have emphasized that the organization was initially created to combat political extremism and serve as “a landing place for people on all ends of the political spectrum.”
An official statement from Livingston Integrity critiqued Nakagiri’s report as a “slanderous crusade against a private citizen and a parent who acted responsibly by contacting law enforcement after discovering hateful vandalism near her home.”
It further stated that the “defamatory “false flag” accusations and inferences against her on social media by the far right are an atrocious attack on a mother of a young child who is guilty of nothing more than reporting a crime in her own neighborhood. The perpetrator(s) of this hateful crime are still at large. The crime is still a crime.”