August 9th is Cotton Day

Please join together for COTTON DAY, Thursday August 9th
Street music (acoustic) CONCERT at 4:00 pm
Clarke Plaza 3rd and E Sts, Eureka
Bring your own chair. Bring a sign.
Peoples music.

Remember Martin Cotton.  Resist the Injustice... which continues....

We will not forget. 

Click the link to hear Cotton Day by Two Smooth Stones:  Cotton Day Song.

On August 9, 2007 Eureka Police officers beat 26 year old, Martin "Fred" Cotton II, in front of the Eureka Rescue Mission. 

The officers pepper sprayed him multiple times, swung batons at his body, kicked and kneed him, and slammed his head repeatedly on the concrete.  Martin was living on the streets at the time, vulnerable and emotionally fragile. Martin did nothing to the police; in fact, they started the whole spraying and beating while he was just standing there, unarmed, then they pummeled him extensively on the ground.  The officers then brought him to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility and left him to die.  Martin received no medical help and died on the floor of the cell- blunt force head trauma, bleeding on his brain.  Horrible and painful. 


Martin is survived by a sweet little daughter named Siehna.  On behalf of Siehna, who was about two years old when her father was murdered, and Martin's father, Marty Cotton Sr., a civil rights/wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in Oakland. 


Prior to the trial, the police, coroner, city and county officials, jail guards, Chief of Eureka Police, Humboldt Sheriff, District Attorney, and Bryan Hall of the Eureka Rescue Mission, lied and covered up what really happened. However, many people witnessed the beating- and were traumatized.


In 2011, Martin's family won the lawsuit.  Eureka Police Officers, Justin Winkle (who banged Martin's head repeatedly on the concrete and inflicted other violence), Adam Laird (who was the arresting officer and who brutally beat Martin and did nothing to get him medical treatment), and Gary Whitmer (who fatally shot Gabriel Muldenado two years before) who arrived later, saw his fellow officers beating Martin face down on the ground, and ran up, kicked him with his motorcycle boots, and got in on the beating.  All three of the men pepper sprayed Martin and kicked and kneed him.  None of the officers sought medical treatment for Martin.  There were five other officers there, too, who only inflicted pain and/or allowed the horrible and fatal beating: Sgt. Watson, Joshua Siipola, Tim Jones (who used nunchukas on Martin's limbs for the purpose of causing more pain after Martin was handcuffed), Chandler Baird, and Bryon Franco. 


Only Winkle, Laird and Whitmer were brought to trial.  (Siipola went back to Afghanistan for about 6 months to miss the trial)  The officer were found by the jury to be liable (guilty).   No media from Eureka/Humboldt covered the trial or showed any interest.  Here is a letter to the editor that was never published in the local Times-Standard or North Coast Journal, where it was sent:


Dear Editor,

I am dismayed by the lack of coverage from the Times-Standard regarding the federal civil case of Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka. Residents of Eureka should know that three police officers, currently employed by the City of Eureka, have stood trial in Oakland federal court the past two weeks for the Aug.9, 2007 death of Martin Cotton II. I went to Oakland for a day of trial and heard testimony from two civilian witnesses and one of the accused EPD officers, Adam Laird. Both civilian witnesses saw Eureka police viciously beat Martin Cotton, including seeing officers “hammerfist” punch Martin in the head multiple times. Laird first admitted that he and EPD's Justin Winkle immediately and simultaneously peppersprayed Martin; he then admitted beating on Martin continuously. While Martin, the victim, was defenselessly prone on the sidewalk, officers repeatedly hit, kneed, and kicked him, and battered him with a metal baton. Martin died soon after the beating due to blunt force head trauma. After hearing witnesses describe the brutal beating, I questioned the integrity of District Attorney, Paul Gallegos, for letting such a serious crime go unprosecuted, claiming “insufficient evidence.” Since when is not just one but two eyewitness insufficient for a case to go trial? If a civilian brutally beat someone to death, I am quite sure they would be criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent. Where's the JUSTICE for Martin Cotton and his family? Why isn't the Times-Standard covering the civil trial?

The local media took no interest in the trial, ignoring updates about testimony, video shown to the jury, etc. and had the gall to report on the verdict as if everything that happened to Martin was a mystery.  They ignored what came out very clearly in trial- from the mouths of witnesses and the officers themselves.


Video of Press Conference September 21, 2011.

One consistent observer of the trial said “The cops are claiming that they pepper-sprayed Martin, got on top of him and beat him repeatedly, even with a metal baton, just to get Martin's hands out from under him. It is absurd, or more accurately, obscene...and it killed him.” Also, the officers testified that they did not think Martin was hurt and did nothing to get him checked out or treated - after “exhausting” themselves beating and spraying him. A video of Martin dying in the jail cell was shown at trial.

What is additionally despicable, is that on the local front, interim Police Chief (Murl Harpham)'s spoke of how wronged the killer cops were, and about how they were awarded and promoted. Eureka Police Chief Harpham says ignore verdict and cop-haters, killers not vicious.  The denial is very dangerous for people in Eureka, although not a surprise from Harpham, a long time crook.  All of these officers continue to abuse people.  They all need to be fired (including Murl Harpham) and never again allowed to carry weapons.

Officers abuse people every day, and people living on the streets are especially vulnerable and targeted for police violence and murder.

We need a strong community effort to end police violence, and specifically to get Winkle, Laird, and Whitmer off of our streets and unarmed.