Sunday, April 11, 2010

Humboldt County Sheriff assaults Redwood Curtain CopWatch

2010-04-11 "Action at DA's Office: Rotten System Reveals Itself (Again)"
message from Verbana: 
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.
I 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 the vervain email list and contacted Paul Gallegos with concerns about our cameras, he made a call to the Sheriff's Department so that the cameras would be returned. Gallegos' campaign manager called me at the end of the business day on Wednesday, April 7th; and when I went down to the Sheriff's Dept., it was too late to retrieve the cameras.
The next morning, I went and got the cameras and the video footage we had recorded with them- prior to and during our bogus arrests. When I called the DA's office for the umpteenth time and asked if we had been charged with anything, I was told the case was still "pending." Later that afternoon, we were at the DA's office to insist that the DA officially decline to charge us. Here is a link to the flier we delivered: []. The flier text is also below.

While we were at the office from about 2pm on, we chanted that we wanted to speak to 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 Dawson laid his hands on me. Within about 7 minutes after the assaults, a bunch of Sheriff's Deputies congregated in the DA's office and arrested each of us who were still there- six of us. 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 video 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."
Below is the flier we delivered. Also below is a REPORTBACK from Kathy Anderson, one of the people arrested at the DA's office. Video from the arrest of CopWatchers and from our action at the DA's office coming soon. Here is a link ( to the letter sent today again insisting that no charges be filed against us related to the arrests while we were legally observing and videotaping the cops.
If any of this is confusing, please feel free to email and get clarification!
In Defense of the Earth and Her Peoples',
[signed] Verbena

“In the interest of justice,” the Humboldt County District Attorney, Paul Gallegos, needs to decline from charging Kimberly Starr and Ray Thompson, of Redwood Curtain CopWatch, with any crimes stemming from their March 15, 2010 arrest. We insist that the DA's office today officially put this case to an end. The arrests of Ms. Starr and Mr. Thompson, while they were engaged in copwatch activities (observing and recording police activity), were warrantless, unjustified, and clear violations of their civil liberties. Now , almost a month later, the DA's office continues to say that the case is “pending.”
Ms. Starr and Mr. Thompson signed a 'promise to appear' on April 6th, and were prepared to do that, but were not on the court calendar. Now, if the DA decides to charge them within the next 11 months (he has a year to file charges), Ms. Starr and Mr. Thompson's civil liberties would again be at risk, neither having notice of such charges nor the correct date to appear. Warrants for their arrests would be issued by the court.
This happens all of the time. To many people.
In 2005, Ms. Starr was falsely arrested by the Sheriff's Dept., and when she was released from jail, she sent fax, email, phone calls, and a hand-delivered letter to DA Gallegos requesting NOTICE if and when he decided to file criminal charges against her. Despite his agreement to give her notice, he failed to, and a month later, warrant for Ms. Starr's arrest was issued by the court- without her knowledge.
This should not happen again.
When there is a warrant for someone's arrest, they are in constant danger of arrest, incarceration, and the accompanying loss of rights. If a person is driving a car, participating in protest, or simply identified by an officer while there is a warrant for her/his arrest, her/his life can be affected dramatically.
For Paul Gallegos to reject the charges now is the right thing to do- rather than drag this out and cause Ms. Starr and Mr. Thompson to walk around not knowing when or if there is a warrant out for their arrests. The arrests were bogus to begin with; we want an end to the harassment and ever-looming threat of yet another loss of liberty.

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.

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