The tiny village of Oakley, Michigan looks fairly unremarkable as you drive through it. Located along the M-52 highway, it consists of little more than a single traffic light, with a bar on one side and a gas station on the other. It’s a village of secrets, however, or so it would seem.
Oakley has 290 residents. They also have over 100 police, for some reason. Those police are also, more or less entirely anonymous.
Who those police are or what they are doing is a mystery, even to the village trustees, who say they don’t even have a proper list of their own of who all these people are, though they have been assured by the police chief that many of them have never even been to Oakley, and likely never will.
So what’s the game underpinning all this? There’ve been a series of lawsuits in recent years aiming to find out exactly that, leading the village to shut the police force down last month.
Here’s where it gets crazy. The village council shut the police down for not having any insurance, because they’re constantly getting sued. Days later, the police showed up again, announcing they’d bought their own insurance and didn’t need the village’s permission to continue to operate. They fund themselves through secret donations from secret benefactors. Weird, right?
Last week, after village council members filed a lawsuit, a judge finally ordered the police to shut down again. Days later, the council voted to finally respond to years of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and release the names of all those secret police. The list has yet to be released, and the council itself is waiting on the police chief to do that, since they don’t have any complete lists.
Today, letters showed up at the doors of the council members’ houses, on the letterhead of a high profile Detroit lawyer. The letters demanded that they recind the decision and stop the release of the FOIA documents, insisting that the police had been promised anonymity, and claiming that ISIS, yes that ISIS, was a potential threat to the police if their names were made public.
The letter went on to warn that because everyone knows ISIS is a thing, and knows ISIS would want to get ahold of Oakley police, releasing their names would be a malicious act, one for which punitive damages could be awards.