Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What I would have, will say

I am here today to speak about the state of law enforcement in this county and the lack of accountability.

Last Thursday was Cotton day here in Humboldt County. It has been 5 years since 4 members of EPD beat a man to death while other cops stood silently by. The city lost a multimillion dollar law suit but not one of the killers have been fired.

When you allow killers to go unpunished you create a climate of lawlessness in the institution that rots it at its core. In a free society it is imperative that the integrity of the law enforcement agencies be above reproach. That and the presumption of innocence are the cornerstones of our system of justice. The police are allowed to carry weapons even in places a member of the larger society cannot. In this day and age the police are armed more in the manner of an invading army. When a few people protested outside the court house with tents the police arrived in riot gear with military style weaponry and attacked peaceful protestors exercising their rights granted in both the United States and State of California Constitutions.

We have not purged our departments of those that have disgraced the members that wish to honorably serve their community. By not doing so we have weakened the community. When we erode the faith people place in the institutions we turn those institutions into oppressive forces.
The policeman on the beat unbound by the law in his own mind oversteps his authority and people that have done no harm to society spends weeks in jail for protesting the destruction of our environment or the corruption in our financial sector. People are arrested for riding a bicycle while having an accent.

The making of bad laws undermines that faith as well. When your Board chose to ignore the first amendment and volumes of case law in an effort to remove the right to redress grievances from the people of Humboldt county it made a mistake. The overwhelming public sentiment against that action was ignored and a bad law was passed. A law that many people feel compelled to break because it is an affront to free people in a constitutional republic.

The jurors as part of the system of checks and balances has rejected that law and you are planning to try and amend it. I would like to see that that process is done in a manner open to the public. Repeal the Urgency Ordinance in total, Either abandon the idea that you should try to regulate protesting or Schedule well publicized public hearings in all parts of the county rather then the sham process that has been followed so far.

I would also ask that the Board of Supervisors join members of the community in condemning the Arcata Police department overstepping their authority and acting as an ICE agent, profiling people with accents. It is bad enough that local police would issue citations to obvious tourists that were not causing any harm but simply made a wrong turn while riding their bicycles rather then just give them some directions and help them on their way. To demand papers from someone based on obvious profiling should be grounds for dismissal. That is probably too much to hope for in a county where the police regularly kill with impunity.

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