Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Dreyfus Syndrome

This small Winter Park home has sported red white and blue for years. Grover C. Walker was a former army and air force intelligence officer who also served as a special agent for the Pentagon. In September 1965 he was assigned to the secretive 7113th Special Activities Group at Rhein-Main, Germany. He soon found reason to suspect there were corrupt and subversive activities being carried out possibly by his superiors. he threatened to “blow the whistle” on what was going on, he was whisked-off under guard to a superficial psychiatric exam that lasted only a few hours but branded him "chronically paranoid." He was as sane as any man and in an instant had been labeled crazy. He says it was a conspiracy to discredit him if he spoke out. “Who will believe you when you’ve been labeled?” His story parallels closely the 1894 case of Alfred Dreyfus, Jewish lieutenant in the French army, who as the result of a conspired political injustice was sentenced to Devil’s Island.

A sign on the front lawn defines the Dreyfus Syndrome: Character liquidation. As a tyranny in the midst of freedom. It stands as a treat to us all. Assassination of the mind where conscientious sanity is cast into the hole of inanity, and there is no way out. Whistle blowers in government are the primary target. It is alien to the norms of the American System and recognized human rights. Hundreds of thousand of American lives have been destroyed spanning decades.

The large American flag used to be hung upside down as a universal sign of distress. After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center it was decided to hand the flag right side up again. For decades, Walker flew a giant flag upside down on the 90-foot flagpole in front of his Winter Park home, painted red, white and blue, and staged loud protests and publicity stunts that often ended with him, and his children, behind bars.

His family stamped protest messages on millions of dollar bills that circulated around the world. When the county threatened to take his home after he refused to pay steep fines levied for his protests, Walker threatened to fill the house to the rafters with concrete. An Orange County official once asked Walker when he would end his protest, and he answered, "When the world ends! When hell freezes over!"

There used to be far more signs on the lawn but the city of Winter Park fought the family at every turn to downplay their private property protest. Only 2 signs remain. The family was brought to court multiple times and Grover Walker and his wife were arrested and put in jail. His wife collected seeds from the food in jail and planted her own garden she also swept up the cell block every night. She was missed when her incarceration was over. The son I spoke with had also been in jail over this protest and while incarcerated he found that he had a talent for sketching.

When Grover Walker died in 2005 several of his seven children wanted to sell the property but one son, decided instead to take up the charge and keep the property and it's display of protest in tact. He chatted with me as I sketched. He showed me a photo from the 1970s of the entire family raising their hand in oath as they faced a court hearing about their property. Grover said that someone can take your property and you can recover but if they take your identity than there is nothing left to recover. I was seated in a small triangular park between three streets and found out that it had been landscaped beautifully by the present home owner. There were milkweeds to attract the many Monarch butterflies and Bromeliads which had red flowers that attract hummingbirds every afternoon. This property is a reminder of an American protest over 50 years old while also being a quiet and beautiful oasis if  you take the time to soak it in.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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