Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011-03-17 "Richmond pastor, family arrested after refusing to leave foreclosed church" by Karl Fischer from "Contra Costa Times" newspaper
Sheriff's deputies led a pastor out of his Richmond church in handcuffs Thursday afternoon after he refused to obey a court-ordered eviction notice.
Pastor Sidney Keys, his wife Patrice and his elderly mother all went to jail from the Bible Way Apostolic Church at 201 Macdonald Ave., where they stayed continuously since receiving a formal eviction notice Tuesday.
Two protesters also went to jail after sitting down in front of a sheriff's car in the church parking lot, near the corner of Macdonald and Second Street.
"We just got our license for child care and a preschool," said parishioner Gracie Ivy, part of a crowd of about 40 at the church gate. "It's for the community. It's for a need."
Protesters shouted and chanted "Let them go!" as the deputies led off Keys and his family. His 11-year-old daughter watched from the sidewalk, tears in her eyes.
"We never wanted it to reach this point," Contra Costa sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said. "But we have to enforce the court order."
The church's lender foreclosed on the property, effective Wednesday. But church supporters say it fell victim to a predatory loan, and that bank representatives did not meet in good faith to help them straighten out the matter.
An agent of the lender, Torrey Pines Bank, was on the premises during the protest, but declined to comment.
Activists said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin tried to intercede on behalf of the church, writing letters to the bank about its value in the Iron Triangle neighborhood. The church offers child care, cooked meals for children and families, and gives away groceries and clothing to the homeless.
McLaughlin aide Marilyn Langlois, along with an aide for Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and several prominent members of Richmond's black business community, also joined the protest.
The five people arrested were taken to West County Jail in Richmond, Lee said. Authorities had not decided Thursday evening whether to book them.

Sheriff's deputies try to move Protestors, including Paul Larudee, right, as Contra Costa County sheriffs execute an eviction at the Bible Way Apostolic Church in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, March 17, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff)
Patrice Keys, wife of Pastor Sidney Keys, is taken to a squad car while Contra Costa County sheriffs execute an eviction at the Bible Way Apostolic Church in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, March 17, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff)
Protestor Paul Larudee is carried away from blocking a sheriff's vehicle containing Pastor Sidney Keys while Contra Costa County sheriffs execute an eviction at the Bible Way Apostolic Church in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, March 17, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff)

2011-03-25 "Contra Costa Times Readers' Forum: Unacceptable use of force by sheriff's deputies" by Paul Larudee from "Contra Costa Times" daily newspaper
LET'S BE clear. Police often have to use force, and the law authorizes them to do so. However, it is unacceptable to use force when not necessary and greater force than necessary.
Part of my right hand is numb today, and I cannot fully extend my left arm. This is the result of police techniques that use pain. I was arrested on March 17 along with Pastor Sidney Keys and three members of his family as we nonviolently tried to prevent foreclosure of the Bibleway Apostolic Church in Richmond, which had unsuccessfully tried to renegotiate a predatory mortgage.
I am 65 years old, a practitioner of nonviolence, and have not struck anyone in self-defense since I was a teenager. The Contra Costa Sheriff's deputies used pain to try to make me walk. I refused to do that, but I was harming no one. Nevertheless, the officers insisted upon lifting me by my handcuffed arms while holding me upside down, thereby causing great pain to my shoulders and handcuffed wrists. Later, after placing me in a vehicle, they left the window open to use cold as coercion.
Police are apparently permitted to do that, and when it fails to achieve the intended result, they continue and possibly increase the torture to obtain compliance. The U.N. Convention Against Torture defines it as "... any act by which severe pain or suffering "... is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him "... information or a confession, ... or intimidating or coercing him ... ."
This is how the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department used torture in my case: to intimidate and coerce me into providing information and to assist in my own arrest. They could have simply carried me in a humane manner to wherever they had in mind, and they could have respected my right to remain silent. However, they refused to do so.
According to them, I could have ended the pain and suffering at any time by assisting the officers in my arrest procedure. Unfortunately, that is also part of the definition of torture, i.e. to apply pain and suffering until the victim provides what the torturer wants. They are also very good at their job. The twisting of limbs and application of cold temperature leaves no marks.
This is a sad commentary on our police culture and our society. Instead of a compassionate, professional force for good and reconciliation, risking their lives for the rest of us, we have a gang of hardened enforcers demanding unquestioning obedience through the threat and application of pain and arms. We deserve better from some of our highest paid public servants.

2011-03-25 "Readers' Forum: Deputies acted in legal, professional and fair manner" by David Livingston from "Contra Costa Times" daily newspaper
Guest Commentary: David Livingston is sheriff of Contra Costa County.
IT IS important to clarify some of the events regarding the March 17 eviction carried out by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office at the Bible Way Apostolic Church in Richmond.
The Sheriff's Office is not involved in the foreclosure of any property. The landlord and tenant have legal remedies and have had numerous opportunities to try resolving their issues. We are the last and final step in a long process.
When the case does reach the Sheriff's Office, it is in the form of a "notice to vacate" issued by the Contra Costa County Superior Court. This is a court order that we must carry out. The tenants are given ample warning and anyone remaining on the property is subject to removal and arrest. The eviction is no surprise to them, nor should it be.
In nearly all cases, by the time deputies arrive to carry out the eviction, the tenants are long gone; the few who remain are in the middle of removing their belongings. The property is then turned over to the landlord pursuant to the court order.
With respect to the Bible Way Apostolic Church, the notice to vacate was posted one week before the eviction. During the "protest" on March 17, it was apparent that there were individuals and "agitators" who were not affiliated with the church in any way.
While those with true ties to the church voluntarily complied with the deputies, others decided to practice disobedience by sitting on the roadway in front of a police vehicle thereby endangering themselves and others. This was not only dangerous to all involved, but illegal.
Deputies asked and then warned them to leave. When they did not, the deputies had no choice but to physically remove them. They were rightfully arrested for obstructing and delaying an officer. I have personally reviewed this incident and believe my staff acted appropriately, professionally and reasonably. In fact, they showed patience and restraint in face of the circumstances which confronted them.
Evictions are unpleasant experiences and an unfortunate reality. Each month, staff from the Sheriff's Office Civil Unit is called upon to enforce the court orders and handle evictions throughout the county. While there is nothing that my office can do to change that, I can assure you that the evictions are carried out in a legal, professional and fair manner.
If anyone believes that was not the case in their particular circumstance, they may call my office directly or the Professional Standards Unit at 925-335-1500.

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