News Briefs: Grand Jury Subpoenas Videographer | Human Rights Activists Ring Trials Events | Culture & Cash at the Trials | WEC Plans Public Events | War Dead | Activist Alert |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Two gatherings examine the role of police
The Kindest Cut
Logging to restore native habitats on Mt. Pisgah
Sears Pit Proposals
Projects range from student apartments to community center
Less Smoke Fires Up Health
Stove Team wants to change lives in Central America
Bulls On Parade
Dispatches from inside the Olympic Trials hoopla
Happening Person: Ellen Furstner
GRAND JURY SUBPOENAS VIDEOGRAPHER
In case you missed the breaking news on EW’s blog last week, Lane County is convening a grand jury investigating the May 30 anti-pesticide rally that ended with the Tasering of UO student Ian Van Ornum. Local independent media videographer Tim Lewis of Picture Eugene, whose footage of the event appears on EW’s blog and on YouTube, has been subpoenaed in the case.
The subpoena demands “all videotape or video recordings” Lewis has of the May 30 incident and demands that Lewis appear before the grand jury with those items at 9 am Tuesday, July 15. Failure to cooperate with the grand jury could result in a contempt of court charge and jail time for Lewis.
The grand jury investigation is not looking into the allegations of police brutality in the incident but is investigating whether to press state felony charges against Van Ornum, Day Owen and Anthony Farley as well as others involved in the rally. EW also broke the news that the Department of Homeland Security was also involved in the case and contacted the EPD about the rally while it was in progress.
The Eugene Municipal Court dropped its charges against the three activists who were arrested in response to Lane County District Attorney Douglas Harcleroad’s request that the county examine the cases and determine whether state charges should be filed instead.
Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, which is involved in the case, says she’s afraid the witnesses who have filed complaints and made public statements about the EPD’s brutality will be forced to testify before the grand jury. “It’s almost like a retaliatory slap that they’re going to be roped into a grand jury.” She says, “It’s a real usurpation of what the citizens thought they were doing by coming forward.”
Many activists object to the grand jury system. It has unrestricted powers that many regard as dangerous to civil liberties. According to the American Bar Association, a grand jury “simply acts as a rubber stamp for the prosecutor.”
Others, like witness Mary Stephens, fear that by coming forward and speaking out against the Tasering, they have made themselves targets for the investigation.
Also as a result of Harcleroad’s investigation, the Eugene Citizen Review Board’s inquiry into allegations of police brutality will now be delayed.
The internal police review of the case has also been postponed. Sgt. Scott McKee of Internal Affairs, which conducts internal reviews of cases like this that allege misconduct by EPD officers, originally led the police misconduct investigation. He is now leading the county’s investigation into potential felony charges against the protesters. Several people who were involved in the rally and received emails from McKee requesting interviews about the allegations of police misconduct are troubled by McKee’s switching the topic of their interviews to the criminal case involving the grand jury.
That’s “cops investigating cops” says Lewis, who was presented his grand jury subpoena by Sgt. McKee at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Lewis was there to get a press credential to document the Trials.
“Have they subpoenaed any of the television stations that were there?” asks Lewis, a longtime Eugene videographer and one of the founders of Eugene’s CopWatch. In previous grand jury cases involving media footage, the grand jury was only allowed to subpoena the published material, not all the raw tape that was filmed, says Regan. Lewis “intends to protect his proprietary footage,” she says.
“They pretend that it [the grand jury] is somehow going to be neutral,” says Regan who objects to the use of grand juries by prosecutors like Harcleroad. “Grand juries will indict a ham sandwich.”
Updates on the grand jury and the Taser investigation will continue to break as they happen at blogs.eugeneweekly.com — Camilla Mortensen
HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS RING TRIALS EVENTS
Protestors and activists from around the globe gathered strategically around the Olympic Trials this week focusing on the lack of support for human rights by China, the Summer Olympics host.
In the EMU Amphitheater, Camp Darfur set up tents to commemorate the major genocides in recent history highlighting Armenia, the Holocaust during WW II, Cambodia, Rwanda and the current massacre in Darfur.
The Lane County Darfur Coalition (LCDC) sold postcards with photos of refugees displaced by the Sudanese government-sponsored Janjáweed militia and was offering items to be purchased for school kits for refugee children.
The goal is to “use the Olympic Trials as individuals and a community to reach out and get closer to each other — to be involved in the world,” activist Seth Long said.
|Ngalo Tulku asks Olympic spectators to help free Tibet|
At a Darfur table, Roz Slovic and Kailyn Knight, both LCDC members, described China’s role in supporting genocide in Darfur by supplying arms, purchasing Sudanese oil and, as a member of the U.N. Council, by using its veto power to block any assistance or protection for peacekeepers stationed there.
Members of the Janjáweed military are reportedly killing, burning villages, raping and mutilating. They are putting corpses in wells and starving the people as part of their domination tactics, according to Knight, who sported the light blue armband with the words, “Please China” on it as a plea for China to support human rights.
Firewood dolls, representing Darfur women who risk their lives to gather firewood outside of their refugee camps, are draped in clothing made of recycled T-shirts by artist Ellen Furstner. She said,“the images of women in the [Darfur refugee] camps spoke to me that I need to do something.” It was these images that inspired her to create the awareness and fund raising dolls.
“I can’t not take action, I can’t not be involved,” said Long, district manager for M’Jai Restaurant Management, which owns Ring of Fire Restaurant and Lava Lounge, Café Lucky Noodle and Jo Federigo’s Hour House. The eateries held a silent auction Monday, June 30, and donated 10 percent of their revenues to the Darfur relief efforts.
Near the main Festival entrance in front of the student recreation center, the Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association of Portland drew attention to their cause by waving Tibetan flags and handing out flyers. Ngalo Tulku, a Tibetan Buddhist monk waving a flag in his religious garb, head shaven, described the slaughter of monks and nuns and of monasteries, which are destroyed because of the lack of religious freedom. “Please help us,” he said. “We are here to appeal to the world for freedom in Tibet.”
Tulku translated for Tashi Dorjee who left Tibet in 1962. He said that recently many, many people have been killed by the Chinese government. “There is no right to speak up; people are just shot and killed. That is why we are appealing to the world. We have no human rights in our country since occupation by the Chinese. In the United States you can peace protest. This is not allowed in Tibet. The Chinese government captures, tortures and kills you,” he said.
Tulku referred to a speech given by Rep. Nancy Pelosi this March in Dharamsala, India, in which she said, “If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against Chinese oppression and China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world.”
Under the watchful eye of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service Police and a K-9 Unit a few feet away, three additional student groups supporting freedom for Tibet stationed themselves at the athlete’s entry gate on 18th Avenue, handing packages with T-shirts to any athlete who would accept them. Tsering Palden, president of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress for New York and New Jersey, said the groups’ goal was enlisting the support of athletes to give an international platform to their message at the Olympics. The shirts had the image of two hands raised with their palms facing out with the right thumb folded down, a silent gesture to support freedom for Tibet. Other symbols of support such as carrying Tibetan flags at the Olympics or an athlete shaving their head can be found at athletewanted.org and studentsforafreetibet.org — Victoria Stephens
CULTURE & CASH AT THE TRIALS
In stark contrast to the human rights advocates drawing international attention is a conglomeration of corporate entities marketing and promoting their commercial enterprises in the Eugene 08 festival.
Bank of America is giving out Olympic towels in exchange for opening new accounts and has a satellite-topped armored van with ATMs; Safeway is sporting exercise bikes; Sacred Heart is giving blood pressure tests and pulmonary function screenings and dispensing large postcards with images of the new RiverBend hospital; and Visa is sponsoring the main stage events.
|Kids in trees at the Trials|
Several casinos, Budweiser beer and the Oregon Lottery are also featured prominently, with Budweiser stations at either end of the food tent that runs along Agate Street. The Oregon Lottery gives souvenir tote bags for walking through their tree-filled display complete with recorded bird sounds.
Alcohol monitors make sure the crowd remains orderly. One of the monitors, Kari Putnam of TCB Event Services, says they are watching for “underage drinking, over-intoxication and drinking outside of the designated fence line areas.”
Besides the glut of media and security, the Army has a military presence in the form of a ranging display consisting of a large truck, covered table, climbing post and survey kiosks set up the street in front of the Army ROTC building on Agate Street.
The survey gathers personal information. Each kiosk screen is topped with a web-type camera for a required photo, the ID card and dog tags that are made up to appear as Army souvenirs.
The cities of Newport and Eugene both have booths. Eugene is making free athlete buttons with photos of UO teams, track heroes and current athletes as well as customized requests printed from images found online.
The UO is also promoting itself at the event. Numbered edition Olympic-style gold medal souvenirs can be earned by having a card punched at five of 16 locations on or near campus, says Cora Bennett, director of student orientation. This gives visitors a “chance to see campus” and visit exhibits, displays and galleries.
Three campus tours are held daily according to Mary Evans, UO ambassador director, at 11:30 am, 3 pm and 7 pm.
Swinging on ropes suspended in a very tall tree across from Hayward Field, youngsters and arborists climb together in hard hats to a platform perched high in a cluster of leafy branches. This is sponsored by the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute, a recreational tree climbing company that takes anyone who wants to climb a tree up to a tree boat or hammock. The company, owned by Rob Miron and Jason Seppa, usually hosts climbs in the old-growth forests around Fall Creek or to House Rock up Highway 20 by Sweet Home.
By day the pair of certified arborists are employed by Sperry Tree Care. Miron related a story of one of their clients who was an 82-year-old grandfather who went for an excursion with his 13-year-old granddaughter and spent the night at 200 feet. — Victoria Stephens
WEC PLANS PUBLIC EVENTS
The West Eugene Collaborative (WEC) has brought together two dozen citizens representing many parts of Eugene’s diverse community to find solutions to the traffic problems of West Eugene following the decision to not build the West Eugene Parkway through federally protected wetlands.
The WEC and its committees have been meeting for the past 18 months and have now scheduled four neighborhood public meetings to gather input before drafting specific recommendations.
The first two open houses will be from 6:30 to 8:30 pm Tuesday, July 8, at Petersen Barn Community Center, 870 Berntzen Road, and concurrently at the Veneta Community Center on East Broadway.
The second day of open houses will be from 6:30 to 8:30 pm Thursday, July 10, at the Eugene Public Library Bascom/Tykeson Rooms; and from 7 to 9 pm at the Boys and Girls Club, 1545 W. 22nd Ave.
For more information, visit www.orconsensus.pdx.edu
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,113 U.S. troops killed* (4,104)
• 29,978 U.S. troops injured* (29,978)
• 145 U.S. military suicides* (145)
• 314 coalition troops killed** (313)
• 1,123 contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 93,065 to one million Iraqi civilians killed*** (92,871)
• $532.7 billion cost of war ($530.8 billion)
• $151.5 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($150.4 million)
* through June 30, 2008; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** estimate; source: icasualties.org
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 to one million.
• A general meeting of the Whiteaker Community Council is set for 7 to 9 pm Wednesday, July 9, at the Whiteaker Community Center at Clark and North Jackson. On the agenda is infill and development standards. The Rattler, WCC’s new cyber newsletter, is at www.therattler.org
• A public workshop on “Coordinated Regional Planning” is coming up from 4:30 to 6:30 pm Wednesday, July 9, at the Eugene Public Library. Ideas and opinions are being gathered by the cities of Eugene and Springfield, and Lane County regarding our region’s future growth. More information at www.lcog.org/coordination
• The Pitchfork Rebellion will be joining anti-WOPR activists in a major forest practices rally planned for noon Sunday, July 27, at Portland’s Pioneer Square on SW 6th Avenue. This all-afternoon event with numerous Eugene speakers and musicians kicks off the second annual West Coast Convergence for Climate Action, located near Eugene July 28 to Aug. 4. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
• We have not heard the last from the Taser incident downtown May 30, and some good might come out of this scandal after all. Tougher standards for the use of Tasers might be coming. We’re getting a clearer view of the odd role of federal agents in Eugene politics. We’re seeing attention focused on our embattled independent police auditor system, and we’re getting a sense of where the flaws might be in the process. Sounds like some of those flaws could involve the roles of the city manager and district attorney. The new assistant police auditor at the Brewhaha forum last week hinted at problems her office has in participating in police interviews regarding complaints. And Councilor Bonny Bettman this week wrote a letter to City Manager Jon Ruiz saying a complaint filed with Internal Affairs had not been forwarded to the auditor’s office for classification, documentation and routing, as required by city ordinance. Obstacles to the auditor’s office, whether intentional or bureaucratic, need to be removed immediately in order for her to function effectively.
• The topic of community policing came up again last week at both the Brewhaha forum and the City Club. Everyone seems to agree that the concept of getting cops out of their squad cars and on the streets talking to people is a good idea, but it’s expensive. We need to work toward that model, keeping in mind that the police model we have now is not working well. Meanwhile, Chuck Dalton has an interesting “Adopt a Cop” idea. “There’s only about 150 of them,” he says, “so we could adopt them all.” Take one to lunch or an Ems game, “notice that they are human beings. Turn down the heat a little bit, meet adversity with love and human kindness.”
Our news story this week “Rule of Law” quotes Commissioner Pete Sorenson saying if the EPD doesn’t take responsibility and show leadership in fixing chronic problems, the community will take even more power away from the cops. What would that look like beyond the Police Commission and the fledgling independent complaint oversight system already in place? In many cities our size the police chief answers not to the city manager but rather to an elected city councilor or city commissioner. This kind of revision to our city charter would ensure a more direct supervisory link between the people and the police. And with that connection could come a higher level of accountability, and in turn, a higher level of trust.
• We haven’t seen many letters yet regarding our June 19 cover story on unlicensed contractors. One letter is running this week pointing out that contractors who work under the table are not paying their fair share of taxes that support our community. But we are also hearing some off-the-record grumbles about how expensive it is to be licensed, bonded and insured. Some readers eager to tell their stories are likely paranoid about going public.
Lane County has a huge underground economy, and it’s not just drug dealers, prostitutes and burglars who drive it. Thousands of people through word of mouth carry on all kinds of exchanges of goods and services. Your uncle gave you an old hot tub and you need it wired? You can pay a licensed electrician $600 or you can talk to your neighbor who knows someone who will do it for $80 plus parts. Just like the licensed electrician, the handyperson knows that good work will bring him or her more work. Electrocuting your customers is bad for business.
Is the underground construction economy inherently unfair and evil? It has its traps and drawbacks, but it’s also how a whole population of struggling people feed themselves and their families. It’s how many low-income people can afford repairs and maintenance. And the more responsible and dependable underground tradesfolk will eventually step up to more income and less worry by jumping through the hoops to make themselves legal. Meanwhile, it’s buyer beware.
• We wrote about the West Eugene Collaborative in this column June 19, predicting the group will soon come up with some recommendations on how to solve traffic and associated problems in west Eugene. Well, it’s been a long process, and it’s not over yet. We hear the group is hesitant to settle on specific recommendations without more opportunities for public input. This is a wise idea for several reasons: Some folks who were involved in this long process earlier might want to take a fresh look; many people are likely unaware of the WEC since it’s gotten scant coverage in the media; and it’s always a good idea to get supporters and critics involved in any proposals that may require public support later on. See the dates and times of neighborhood meetings in our News Briefs this week.
•You might have noticed that we are now asking letter writers to email their 250-word gems to letters at eugeneweekly dot com and we’re happy to report that we are already getting spam at that address. The editor@ address gets about 200 messages a day, so we hope the new address will keep letters from getting buried.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, email@example.com
Born in Amsterdam, artist and activist Ellen Furstner migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area with her family at age 13. She cut her teeth on activism in high school, boycotting Safeway with the United Farm Workers, and later got into women’s issues as a lay midwife (illegal at the time) in Fremont. “I did a lot of home births,” she says. After she and her then-husband moved to the rural Mohawk Valley in 1986, she served as president of the Lane County chapter of NOW in the 1990s. The mother of three grown sons, she remains active as a volunteer in Marcola schools. “My focus is at-risk youth,” she says. “I ran an after-school program from ’97 to ’01.” Appalled by reports of violence targeting women in Darfur, Furstner joined the Lane County Darfur Coalition (lcdarfurcoalition.org) at its beginnings in 2005. She has made the women of Darfur, with their brightly colored clothing, the focus of art work, including the women-of-Darfur dolls seen in the photo, made of recycled materials, each carrying a bundle of kindling or a water jug. The dolls are sold at events to benefit rape victims in Darfur.