Response to Outrageous Gov't Premise for Police Action Against Occupy Eureka

Jan 7, 2011
Open Letter to Humboldt County District Attorney, Paul Gallegos:

We have reviewed your November 2, 2011 email to the Humboldt County Sheriff, County Counsel, and the County Administrative Officer in which you direct that the tents of Occupy Eureka be removed from the front of the Humboldt County Courthouse. The “go get 'em” email, obtained through a California Public Records Request, instigated, with no legal basis, the November 7 militarized raid, arrests, and civil rights violations by the Eureka Police Department [EPD] and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department (and presumably the subsequent raids, arrests, and civil rights violations) and creates a conflict as you attempt to prosecute people arrested in those raids and related police actions. Most egregious, however, is that your email to the County is a malicious work of “shock and awe” deceit that should be retracted immediately. You wrote of Occupy Eureka protesters as if they might be terrorists with “explosives” in their tents. Redwood Curtain CopWatch is outraged and disgusted at your dangerous, wholly unfounded, and secret implications regarding non-violent Occupy Eureka protesters. Undoubtedly, thousands of people who will learn of your disingenuous and inflammatory Nov 2 email and the subsequent similar emails will also be appalled and offended by your actions.

 

You are the District Attorney in a county that painfully remembers the bombing of non-violent Earth First! activists and organizers, Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, and the government's baseless attempt to depict these victims of horrendous violence, and their fellow activists, as terrorists, in order to destroy their movement. Congress and Obama have just passed a bill allowing for indefinite military detention of anyone the government chooses to deem a possible terrorist. Having endured McCarthyism in the 1950's, still experiencing the affects and injustices of COINTELPRO, suffering Iraq to preemptive attacks and years of war based on suspected “weapons of mass destruction,” we are in the age of the post-911 USA PATRIOT ACT, Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, “Islamaphobia,” the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and other atrocious affronts to due process, democracy and humanity. You conjured up a basis for the ongoing conspiracy to violate Occupy Eureka protesters' civil rights relying on a similar to that which produced the above-mentioned bigoted and repressive campaigns. Your Nov 2 email and subsequent nefarious emails wherein you speak of “security concerns” regarding Occupy Eureka has now earned you a place with other government officials and propagandists who strip people of their fundamental right to fairness and use spurious allegations and labels such as “terrorist” to suppress dissent.

 

The “War on Terror” is based on manufactured fear of a nebulous idea. When Americans are fearful, they allow their military to invade countries illegally and immorally and are willing to surrender their civil liberties. Your rationale for invading tents (and possibly cars and homes) regarding “potential” explosives is the same 'war on terror' based on creating fear. The paranoid directive you gave police regarding Occupy Eureka has led them to treat backpacks, blankets, anything that is under a tarp or a table as illegal or suspect, and they steal and even destroy that property.

 

You claim in your Nov 2 email that you are “not aware of who occupies those tents” and imply that such a fact is ground for legal suspicion, which it is not. It is also unbelievable that you are “not aware” being that Occupy Eureka demonstrators have been living in the public view. Your Nov 2 email degenerates to a record low when you put forward the most ludicrous, offensive and incendiary statement : “While I do not suspect that any of those tents contain any explosive or otherwise dangerous materials, I cannot confirm that they do not and I do not believe that we can allow the risk of such an occurrence to continue.” What “occurrence”? Are you asserting that your duty includes creating fear and suspicion upon which to predicate preemptive raids and arrests? Are/were you seeking Homeland Security monies by crying wolf, when you know your implications are not true? Your orders and unlawful accusations have already been used locally as the premise for a long list of wrongs perpetrated by the EPD and Humboldt Sheriff's against Occupy Eureka, and they have the potential to ruin peoples' lives forever.

 

Why did you lie to the public, claiming that Occupy Eureka gets raided because of broken camping laws and municipal codes? There is nothing in your emails that alludes to the illegality of the tents, nothing requesting enforcement of the “crime” of displaying signs and banners, nothing that gives officers a legal basis for mass arrests or clearing all protesters from the sidewalks and lawn near the Courthouse, nothing that instructs officers to arrest people filming their activity, and nothing that alleges Occupy Eureka demonstrators were harming any property, government business, or other people. (In fact, you specifically state that you do not believe Occupy Eureka demonstrators are harming property, government business, or other people). Nevertheless, the officers have consistently pretended that all of those things are the reasons for their unlawful actions, and you have told the media the same.

 

You remind the recipients of your Nov 2 email that “the courthouse is, in effect, the seat of all Humboldt County government.” That is the primary reason why Occupy Eureka is located in front of the courthouse. You defame the character of people engaged in constitutional activity with your preposterous suggestion of explosives.

 

In mid-November, you acknowledged in a message to County Supervisor, Mark Lovelace, that the [Occupy] movement “has been somewhat co-opted locally by our professional protesters.” Putting aside the absurdity of such a statement, we do understand the implication that you recognize some of the non-violent protesters and that you believe they are experienced, know what they are doing. However, you repeatedly suggest that “All you need is 1 McVeigh guy... and the whole seat of government is gone.” How dare you correlate such an inflammatory idea with Occupy Eureka. How dare you create such a false and secretive premise and then tell the public that the police (through their illegal activities) are protecting the community and the safety of the “300 employees and 300 jail inmates.”

 

You have protected no one.

 

We understand now that you use menacing and inflammatory “what ifs” to prompt officers to raid Occupy Eureka in riot gear with semi-automatic weapons, to interfere day and night with every form of first amendment expression, to oppose release from jail for protesters held on non-violent misdemeanor charges, and to order warrants and arrests that have no legal grounds. Perhaps you have forgotten that people still have basic legal protections including the presumption of innocence, the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure, the requirement of probable cause before arrest, and the right to due process. These rights and others have been completely disregarded beginning on November 7th when Eureka Police began its raids, wrongful arrests, and unrelenting theft from Occupy Eureka. If the reason for the raids and daily harassment began with suspicion of explosives, the police should have had a search warrant, some kind of legal investigation. But you know, and so do the Eureka Police and Humboldt County Sheriff's, that there was never a threat of explosives at Occupy Eureka. It is incredulous that you are worried about “1 McVeigh guy” who “doesn't even have to [be] from here.” If you are acting on a concern that anyone from anywhere could come and harm everyone in the courthouse/jail building, perhaps you are too paranoid and delusional to hold an office. Invoking a tragic incident with many victims that occurred in another state over fifteen years ago does not give you legal grounds to create more victims by violating the rights of people peacefully assembling and redressing grievances.

 

In addition to laying the groundwork for a string of civil rights violations against Occupy Eureka participants (and anyone who happens to be in front of the courthouse when the police decide to handcuff, steal, intimidate, etc.), your dangerous and unlawful framing of Occupy Eureka protesters as potential terrorists resulted in Eureka Police Officer, Louis Altic, telling protesters recently that he wanted to search a bag because “it may have a bomb in it.” People refused to consent; Altic did not get a warrant; he did not search the bag; the bag continued to hold clothes and toiletries for its owner. If there was a legitimate suspicion that the bag contained a bomb, it would have been criminally negligent for Altic to not search the bag. The fact that he did not only proves that he never had a legitimate suspicion and used a baseless accusation as a flimsy pretext for harassment. This dishonest behavior in dealing with the Occupy protest seems to be standard operating procedure for not only the EPD, but the office of the District Attorney as well.

 

Stop deceiving the public and stop targeting the Occupy Eureka protest.

 

You have not only defied the law at the expense of many peoples' civil liberties, property, and well being, but you are wiping out any remaining trust from the 'progressive' community that put you in office. Your terrorist rhetoric has no place here.

 

Redwood Curtain CopWatch