WHY WE PROTESTED AT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
On Thursday, April 8, 2010, fifteen to twenty community members gathered in the reception area of the District Attorney's office, fourth floor of the courthouse, to address Paul Gallegos regarding a recent incident and the systematic injustice related to that and many other instances. As you may remember, on March 15th of this year, two people from Redwood Curtain CopWatch were arrested because Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Marsh did not want to be videotaped while he was detaining and searching a man in Eureka.
On April 6, 2010, the two of us who were arrested learned that the DA had not (yet) charged us with any crime related to our arrests. After we were arrested and in jail, we signed Agreements to Appear in court on April 6th. When signing an Agreement to Appear, the document informs the signer that if s/he does not appear on that date, s/he can be arrested again.
On April 6, we were not on the court schedule, which means the DA had not yet decided what charges or if he would charge us at all.
We called the DA's office many times over a 3 week period, emailed him, and had personally delivered a letter regarding the bunk arrest and the holding of our copwatch cameras. Because Paul Gallegos' campaign manager received the (open) letter through an email list and contacted Paul Gallegos with concerns about our cameras, he apparently made a call to the Sheriff's Department so that the cameras would be returned. Gallegos' campaign manager called us at the end of the business day on Wednesday, April 7th; but when Kim Starr went down to the Sheriff's Dept., it was too late to retrieve the cameras.
The next morning, we went and got the cameras and the video footage we had recorded with them- prior to and during our bogus arrests. When we called the DA's office for the umpteenth time and asked if we had been charged with anything, we were told the case was still "pending." Later that afternoon, 15-20 community members were at the DA's office to insist that the DA officially decline to charge the copwatchers who had been arrested.
WHY WE WERE ARRESTED AT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
While we were at the office from about 2pm on, we made clear that we wanted to speak to DA Paul Gallegos. We said we wanted justice. Gallegos never showed. About 10 minutes before the office would close for the day, one of the DA's investigators, James Dawson, walked through the group and, out of anger, shoved our friend's trumpet into his lips and then laid his hands on Kim Starr. Within about 7 minutes after the assaults by Dawson, a bunch of Sheriff's Deputies congregated in the DA's office and arrested each of us who were still there- five of us, and cited our friend with the trumpet. This is how the system functions when there is abuse by state officers. If a cop or other government agent hurts a person, that person will soon be criminalized, charged with a crime, forced to defend her/himself in court. Now it is up to the DA to decide if he will charge the six of us who were exercising our Constitutional rights to protest ("redress grievances") at his office. Unfortunately, Gallegos is always willing to corroborate a cover-up for 'his' officers. Let's make sure that does not happen.
There are specific injustices that this whole situation has highlighted. We will be talking about them, and taking action.
--Targeting of CopWatch or ANYONE who stops to observe and videotape police activity.
--Deprivation of due process rights through the systematic setup of what we're calling "floating charges"- wherein a person must sign a promise to appear on a specific date, charges are not filed by that date, and the next thing s/he knows, there is a warrant for her/his arrest!
--Filing of criminal charges against a person who has been abused by an officer BECAUSE s/he has been abused- in order to coverup for the officer's actions and distract the person who has been mistreated by putting them on the defensive.
--Unnecessary and violent escalation of situations by police. "There's no situation which the presence of an officer can't make worse."
**April 8th and 9th were called as West Coast Days of Action Against Police Killings and Police Brutality. From Seattle to Los Angeles, people were participating in acts of resistance to the SYSTEM THAT SANCTIONS MURDER AND ABUSE BY THE POLICE. We stand in solidarity with those actions.**
Here is a link (http://www.box.net/shared/mo1um8i4tm) to the letter sent today again insisting that no charges be filed against the copwatchers related to the arrests in March while we were legally observing and videotaping the cops.
REPORTBACK FROM KATHY ANDERSON
Yesterday, April 8, 2010 I (Kathy Anderson) joined a group of people to talk to the DA about dropping floating charges on a couple of CopWatchers who were illegally arrested and cameras confiscated. The cameras were returned yesterday morning but the charges have yet to be filed.
Since this was an illegal arrest all charges should have been dropped. The DA "floats" charges to have time to gather more evidence to build up weak charges. It could be March of 2011 before charges are filed and notice is NOT given to the now defendant, just a warrant issued and then you are surprised by a second arrest. This is not honoring the constitutional right to a "fair and speedy trial" and I felt it necessary, in the spirit of justice to make the point that COPWATCH is an honorable service to the community and deserves respect and the assurance of protection from violent police.
After making our presence known for 2 hours an officer with the DA's office entered the lobby, shoved a trumpet against the mouth of Carrington, leaving a welt on his upper and bottom lip and chipping his tooth, and walking up to Verbena, grabbing her wrist with his hand. As I was taping this violent action by a "mature" and seasoned officer at one point it seemed as if he was going to attack Verbena again. Not one person in the office came to Verbena's or Carrington's aid.
This pillar of society in Humboldt County, The District Attorney's Office, has failed to train it's employees to have self-control and treat people with dignity and respect.
There is a poster in the DA's lobby saying that the DA's office is committed to serving crime victims with respect and dignity, yet has failed to do so when someone is assaulted in his own office!
We made it very clear that injuries had occurred. The DA's office responded by arresting 5 of us, not Carrington, he was cited on the spot.
This does not come as a surprise to me. In my lifetime I've seen and met people who have been horribly abused by police officers and other officers of the court. I've known people who've been killed by police and families who have been destroyed by police who are protected by "The Blue Shield". It goes on and on with no end in sight and I'm not going to be quiet about this perversion of duty.