Action alert—stop the forced electroshock of a man in Minnesota

MindFreedom International — 7 November 2008
Human Rights Alert: Involuntary Electroshock
please forward

If it’s Wednesday, then Ray Sandford is Getting Escorted from His Home for Another Forced Electroshock

Minnesota Resident Gets Involuntary Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) On A Weekly Ongoing *Outpatient* Basis

ACTION: How You Can Easily E-mail Minnesota Governor

by David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

The past Wednesday morning after the historic USA election what were you doing?

I know what Ray Sandford, 54, was doing.

Each and every Wednesday, early in the morning, staff shows up at  Ray’s sheltered living home called Victory House in Columbia Heights,  Minnesota, adjacent to Minneapolis.

Staff escorts Ray the 15 miles to Mercy Hospital.

There, Ray is given another of his weekly electroconvulsive therapy  (ECT) treatments, also known as electroshock. All against his will. On an outpatient basis.

And it’s been going on for months.

Ray says the weekly forced electroshocks are “scary as hell.” He  absolutely opposes having the procedure. He says it’s causing poor  memory for names such as of friends and his favorite niece. “What am  I supposed to do, run away?” Instead, Ray phoned his local library’s  reference desk to ask about human rights groups, and the librarian referred him to MindFreedom International.

Ray called me at our office here at MindFreedom International about  two weeks ago. At first I wasn’t sure I believed him.

Of course, MindFreedom International has documented proven cases of electroshock against the expressed wishes of the subject all over the  world, including in the USA. MindFreedom succeeded in having the United Nations World Health Organization call in writing for a global ban on all involuntary electroshock.

But this is the first time I’ve been on the phone with someone getting court-ordered forced shock while living out in the community,  on an outpatient basis.

This is the ultimate double whammy.

I confirmed Ray’s story by calling two staff at Victory House as well  as his court-appointed conservator, Tonya Wilhelm of Luthern Support  Services of Minnesota.

Ms. Wilhelm said, “We are following the letter of the law.” She said  the State of Minnesota had secured a variety of court orders that  require Ray to have forced electroshock against his expressed wishes.  Ms. Wilehlm says it’s all legal and she can’t do anything about it.

Krista Erickson, chair of MindFreedom’s Shield Campaign, sees it  differently. “This is terrible. This is a serious human rights  violation that should stop. I hope MindFreedom members and supporters  speak out. Even if Minnesota is following the letter of the current  law, the law ought to be changed. And Ray has not had the legal power  to appeal to higher courts.”

I pointed out to Conservator Wilhelm that the public — when they find out about forced electroshock — is passionately opposed to their taxpayer money being used to force such brutality on citizens. Ms. Wilhelm did let slip that what is happening to Ray — involuntary outpatient electroshock — is not that uncommon in Minnesota.

But when Ms. Wilhelm found out we at MindFreedom are issuing one of our public human rights alert to you and others, at Ray’s repeated request, she said something chilling.

Ms. Wilhelm claimed she had a legal right to stop MindFreedom!

Ms. Wilhelm told me, “Only I can give you permission legally to say anything publicly about this.”

I pointed out we are not a medical facility, and that if she falsely claims we’re doing anything illegal then this is defamation. Which really is illegal.

Ms. Wilhelm laughed loudly in the phone, said “let our lawyers talk,” and hung up on me. I hope she hung up to read the First Amendment.

Let’s disobey Ms. Wilhelm!

Spread Ray’s alert far and wide! Speak out against this electrical torture, now!

Because… Remember… While the world marvels at the power of USA democracy:

If it’s Wednesday morning, then Ray Sandford is being led from his  home — which is supposed to be his castle — to get another weekly forced procedure that can cause brain damage and wipe out memories.

– David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International


Mind your freedom. Disobey Ray’s conservator now!

Forward this alert to all appropriate places on and off the Internet,  IMMEDIATELY!

And take the *below* actions. Thank you. Ray and I are counting on you!


* * * ACTION * * * ACTION * * * ACTION * * *

You can do this in a moment. It’s free! DO IT NOW!

E-mail your firm but polite message to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

SAMPLE MESSAGE — your own words are best:

“Investigate the weekly involuntary outpatient electroshock of Ray Sandford. Every Wednesday morning, MindFreedom says Ray is brought from Victory House in Columbia Heights, Minnesota to Mercy Hospital for forced electroshock. Stop all forced electroshock today! Taxpayer money should not fund torture!” [Your name/contact.]

E-mail address:

Or use this handy web form



1) E-mail a complaint to Luthern Social Services of Minnesota (LSSMN) about Ray’s conservator.

Sample message:

“Investigate allegations that LSSMN employee Tonya Wilhelm tried to stop a public human rights alert by MindFreedom International about her client, Ray Sandford, who is receiving weekly outpatient involuntary electroshock at Mercy Hospital in Minneapolis. If verified, please reprimand, fire and replace Ms. Wilhelm, and please place this in her permanent personnel record. Please support human
rights.” [Your name/contact.]

Use LSSMN’s web page

Or phone Luthern Social Services at: (218) 726-4888

You can copy your message to headquarters of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA):

From ELCA’s web site about their church: “It’s a story of a powerful and patient God who has boundless love for all people of the world, who brings justice for the oppressed.”

More right here

2) E-mail a complaint to Allina Hospital and Clinics, owner of Mercy Hospital.

Sample message:

“Investigate allegations that your patient Ray Sandford of Victory House is receiving involuntary outpatient electroconvulsive therapy against his will each Wednesday at Mercy Hospital.”

Use this web page

Or phone: (763) 236-6000

3) Ray is open to visitors and supportive postal mail:

Ray Sandford
Victory House
4427 Monroe St.
Columbia Heights, MN 55421-2880 USA

MindFreedom will print out and mail to Ray some of your e-mail messages to the Governor and others, and put some on the web. E-mail a copy of what you write to



Say “no” to mental health system censorship!

Disobey Ray’s conservator now!

PLEASE forward this public human alert to all appropriate places on and off the Internet, IMMEDIATELY! Thank you!

6 thoughts on “Action alert—stop the forced electroshock of a man in Minnesota

Add yours

  1. Gianna,
    I’ve just read the post you say you’re coping with withdrawal. Cannot read it all because I don’t want to “go there”. Too painful memories as I’ve already told you.
    Please, don’t push too hard on the withdrawal. Don’t do my mistake.
    I’ve already told you that now I see that I should have been on 35 mg Effexor for more than two months. I’m sure that even if I stood on this dose it would be better than being unable to live out of Effexor an have to go back taking it again.
    I’ve just read your comment and I agree that it would be great if we should unite whenever a necessary a Alert Action!
    Be at peace.

  2. Susan,
    no need to ask…this is not my piece of writing…I’m passing it on as MF asked anyone interested to do!!

    Please do copy it to your site.

    I know too many people who’ve been really messed up by ECT…

  3. In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew; And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.—Martin Niemöller

  4. In support, have e-mailed Tim Pawlenty and more folks should do the same.

    This is so unjust,

    I may not have all the details but I care and support your efforts for mass action.


    MindFreedom Kenya(MF-K)

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