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November 10, 2005

The Weekly Wrap

Controversial arrests at Critical Mass
Police actions questioned in wake of rally

8 Questions for Simona Keat

The Weekly Wrap

EUREKA MURDER: Police are investigating the murder of 24-year-old Shawn Cameron Garfield of Eureka. Garfield was shot Monday night in an apartment in the 100 block of West Del Norte Street in Eureka. The shooting suspect is 20-year-old Richard Lyle Sanderson Jr., of Hoopa. Eureka Police Detective Curt Honeycutt, who was the initial investigator of the case, could not release many details about the homicide but said that other people were in the apartment at the time of the murder, and that Sanderson had a previous warrant out for his arrest. The motive of the shooting is still unclear, Honeycutt said. According to police, Sanderson is likely still in the area and is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information should contact EPD Det. Ron Harpham at 441-4315.

HOLD UP: Another day, another bank robbery. This time it was US Bank on F Street in Henderson Center in Eureka, where on Nov. 3 police allege that 18-year-old Jacob "Jake" Webber Gabriel told a teller that he was strapped with a bomb and demanded money. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and is still at large. Before the Eureka teen was identified through surveillance photos, he was described as 28 - 34 years old, between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 foot 8 inches in height, with a crew cut, brown eyes and no facial hair. This is the third Eureka bank heist in a little over a month. In October, 23-year-old Jared Lloyd Wiley Shaff of Brookings, Ore, robbed Bank of America in downtown Eureka and North Valley Bank on 4th and F streets. He was later apprehended after holding up another bank in Oregon. Anyone with information on Jacob Gabriel's whereabouts should call 441-4307.

A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT: The latest court ruling on two issues in the County of Humboldt vs. Robert C. McKee, et al. Tooby Ranch land-transfer case has defendants jubilantly whispering that the wicked witch is dead, and the whole case melted. The plaintiff is taking a more measured approach. The county sued McKee over his subdivision and sale of patent parcels on the 13,000-acre Tooby Ranch in Southern Humboldt County, saying that Williamson Act guideline changes made in 1978 and 2000 allow only parcels of 600 acres or more to be transferred. (The Williamson Act is a state program that allows landowners to enter contracts with the county to preserve agricultural lands, in exchange for significant tax breaks.) McKee, who bought the ranch in 2000 from the Arthur Tooby estate, argued that since the ranch was under a 1977 Williamson Act contract (which allowed the transfer of parcels of 160 acres or more), the county's subsequent updates didn't apply to it. The patent parcels McKee sold averaged 300 acres, said one of McKee's attorneys, Bill Bertain.

On Nov. 2, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge W. Bruce Watson ruled that the county does not have the power to void McKee's subdivision because "each transfer from McKee to third party buyers exceeds the 160-acre minimum as agreed upon in the 1977 contract." Watson further ruled that the county's 1978 amendments to its Williamson Act guidelines "may not be applied to McKee's 1977 contract." The county code enforcement unit issued a news release two days later expressing disagreement with the judge's decision, and on Tuesday the county forwarded a statement from the California Department of Conservation, which oversees the overall Williamson Act program, also disagreeing with the court's ruling. "The Legislature expects counties to update their Williamson Act regulations as new legislation is adopted and as local circumstances change," wrote the state. "Legislation and the decisions of higher courts have served as the basis for our advice to local governments that any duly enacted rule modifications apply to existing contracts as well as prospective contracts." But Bertain says the county's been getting some bad advice from the state. He says the case "clears up a number of things, and the county needs to step back and reassess their whole approach. Because what they have been doing is going to lead to the destruction of the Williamson Act program. Since 2000, they've been tramping on people's property rights and ignoring the rule of law they've developed a new and erroneous concept of what a contract is, and Judge Watson has set them straight." Bertain says it "remains to be seen whether there is anything left of the county's case." The main trial in the case is set for Feb. 6, and a number of issues remain, says Deputy County Counsel Richard Hendry. "The judge's ruling doesn't really dispose of the rest of the case," he said. One of the remaining issues is whether the transfers violated the Subdivision Map Act, the state law that governs subdivisions of real property. Bertain, meanwhile, says the property buyers are pursuing a cross-complaint against the county to try to get the county assessor to finally register the transferred properties -- something the county has resisted while seeking to prove the land sales invalid. Hendry said it was premature to say what precedent-setting impact the ruling might have, if any, on other Williamson Act contracts.

COX PULLS OUT: Cox Communications is leaving the boondocks, the company reported last week. The cable television provider decided to pull out of its rural markets in Humboldt County, Bakersfield and other Midwest and southern states. The operations have been sold to Cebridge Connections Inc. a smaller cable company that serves 940,000 customers. After the sale is complete sometime in the second quarter of 2006, Cebridge will become the eighth largest carrier in the country, with 1.3 million consumers. Cox's customer base will drop to 5.4 million. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the deal was worth $2.5 billion to $3 billion. In March, Cox Communications announced that it was looking to sell four of its cable systems in order to reduce corporate debt and become more competitive.

HATFIELDS WIN?: Ernie and Lisa Hatfield thought they'd finally prevailed in their nearly two-year feud with the City of Arcata over a shared dirt road off Old Arcata Road. On Oct. 20, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John T. Feeney ruled in favor of the Hatfields and co-plaintiffs Robert and Dongna Kearns, who sought a preliminary injunction against the city over use of the road by its tenant, the Arcata Educational Farm. The Hatfields, who live at the end of the dead-end skinny road that passes by the educational farm, complain that activities and events at the farm often clog the road, create hazards at the entrance to Old Arcata Road and lead too many cars down to the Hatfields place, where there's space to turn around. Judge Feeney found "that great or irreparable injury would result to plaintiffs in the absence of injunctive relief," and so granted the preliminary injunction. The injunction orders the City of Arcata to "halt all public events" on the farm "until such time as safe public access is created," or to provide off-site parking and post notification of it at the road's entrance. It defines public events as "any event or activity wherein four [people or more] are asked, encouraged or invited to meet" at any date and time at the farm. The order also directs the city to notify the tenants of the rules, and evict them if they fail to comply. So, they won, right? Not really, says Ernie Hatfield, who on Tuesday sounded like a guy who'd reached the end of his rope. "The tenants have pretty much disregarded the order," he said. "It's business as usual for them. They're running traffic through as normal, with 30 people on Tuesdays and 30 people on Fridays." Those are "farm-share days," when people come to the farm to pick up the produce they paid for in advance. The Hatfields get their farm share on Fridays -- 'course, they just amble down the road on foot for it. "I don't really know what's going on," said Hatfield. "I'm a citizen of Arcata, right? I'm a taxpayer. And I'm a neighbor. Gosh, that's three things that ought to be heard. And then I have a judge who rules in my favor! So, what's a guy supposed to do?" One thing the plaintiffs are considering is filing a contempt of court against the city. Meanwhile, Judge Feeney has set a case management conference for Dec. 12.

DASTARDLY DEEDS DEPARTMENT : On Nov. 7, Rio Dell resident John David Hughes pled guilty to allowing his motor home, back in March, to leak raw sewage onto the ground, where it was observed by a police officer to be running under a fence and pooling in the neighbor's yard, according to a news release from the Humboldt County District Attorney's office. Humboldt County Superior Court Judge W. Bruce Watson fined Hughes $660, suspended $210 of it and gave him a year's probation. While Hughes owned up to the leaky motor home, he said he hadn't been aware of it until it was pointed out to him. He has since cleaned up the mess and bleached the ground, and the public works department determined that the city's water had not been affected. Also on Nov. 7, Ted Ronald Blair (of Shelter Cove) and Christopher Columbus King (of Whitethorn) were sentenced for poaching 232 illegal fish: 183 rockfish, 20 lingcod, two canary rockfish and 57 Dungeness crab while sport fishing in Shelter Cove. Co-defendant Samuel Dakota Stafslien (of Whitethorn) was sentenced for the same crimes on Oct. 17. Their most unsportsmanly behavior has netted them a total of $8,400 in fines -- $2,800 each -- and two years of probation, according to a news release from the county district attorney's office. They also have had their sports and commercial fishing privileges yanked for the first year of probation. Stafslien got 30 days of jail time. Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos called the illegal takes "an outrage." Finally, the California Department of Fish and Game is looking for the culprit(s) who illegally shot a blacktail buck in the throat and left it to die alongside Fickle Hill Road last Thursday. This isn't deer hunting season -- it's deer breeding season -- and the DFG is keen on finding the poacher(s). Tipsters can call 822-6771 or 822-8360.


Controversial arrests at Critical Mass
Police actions questioned in wake of rally


Over a week after the California Highway Patrol and the Eureka Police Department arrested four protestors and issued numerous tickets during events held in conjunction with a nationwide anti-war protest last Wednesday, the appropriateness of the police response to the event is still being contested.

The arrests took place during a bicycle ride organized by the group Critical Mass down Highway 101. Critical Mass activists charged that that they were physically mistreated by both the CHP and Eureka Police. Video footage taken by one of the activists shows that at least one EPD officer seemed to handle one of the suspects in a physically aggressive manner.

Before the end of the ride was over, HSU student Kat Zimmerman, one of the organizers, was charged with five counts of unlawful conduct, including assaulting a police officer, evading arrest and drivinPhoto of Police chasing bicyclists at Target near the end of the Critical Mass ride. Photo by Ella Dochertyg on the highway at an unsafe speed. Three other students -- Elise Castle, Amanda Barker and Sierra Barnes -- were charged lesser crimes, including resisting arrest

Right: Police chase bicyclists at Target near the end of the Critical Mass ride. Photo by Ella Docherty.

"This is in my estimation a clear example of an excessive display of police presence, but also a clear example of excessive force by the individual police officers," said Eureka resident David Cobb, who said he has been working to find attorneys and raise money for the women arrested during the ride.

The protest, like similar ones around the country, was intended to mark the anniversary of President George Bush's second inauguration last year.

Nearly 40 bicyclists joined the Critical Mass ride Wednesday morning, following a small anti-war rally on the HSU campus. They were traveling to Eureka to join a larger protest just getting underway at the Old Post Office, which houses the local offices of many federal agencies.

Along the route, as they rode on the highway's shoulder and in the slow lane of southbound traffic, they were attended by a CHP helicopter and several squad cars. At three points, at least, the riders came into direct confrontation with the police.

The CHP erected a small barricade at the Bracut Industrial Park, with a police car parked straddling the slow lane and the shoulder. The department's Sgt. Hal Rosendahl later said that the intent was to get the bikers out of traffic and onto the shoulder.

photo of Eureka Police and protestors near the old post office. Photo by Bob DoranAccording to accounts offered by both activists and the police, Zimmerman did not stop when she came to the parked CHP car -- rather, she swerved around to the right with the intention of continuing.

Left: Eureka Police and protestors near the old post office. Photo by Bob Doran

At that point, she collided with Sgt. Randy Price, falling from her bike and causing other bicyclists to crash behind her. Activists said later that Price had lunged out at Zimmerman as she passed by. According to the CHP's version of events, Zimmerman appeared to be aiming her bike directly at Price.

At that point, Sierra Barnes went around the car into the left lane of traffic, stopping there to protest the treatment of Zimmerman she said. The officers at the scene took Barnes into custody, allowing Zimmerman to ride on, despite injuries.

When the bicyclists reached the outskirts of Eureka, they paused to gaze across the bridge at the Target store, where several police cars were parked. At that point, another CHP officer exited his car near the group and chased Zimmerman, who had started riding again, on foot. According to both the police and several of the activists present, Zimmerman rode across southbound 101 and onto the median in order to elude the officer. The other bicyclists proceeded across the bridge.

The CHP, aided by the Eureka Police Department, had set up a presence at Target. There, they grabbed Zimmerman and took her into custody. The two other women -- Elise Castle and Amanda Barnes -- were also arrested there and charged with failing to obey an officer and resisting arrest.

Footage of the event taken by Arcata bicycle advocate Bill Burton shows two officers from the Eureka Police Department grab Castle and roughly force her down to a landscaped area outside the Target store, grabbing her hair to control her head. Moments later, one of the officers pointed a non-lethal machine gun-style weapon at Castle's mother, Stella Robbins, who was asking the officers to release her daughter.

Robbins, who is visiting the area from North Carolina, said that her daughter did not stop when the officer told her to, but believed that it was only because her attention had been distracted for a moment when she came over the bridge.

"He did tell her to stop, but she was looking at us and she headed toward us. That's when she dodged around him, and that's when he grabbed hold of her bicycle," Robbins said.

Rosendahl later said that from the department's point of view, all the confrontations could have been avoided if the riders had followed their instructions to get off the highway.

"Had they just complied with our lawful orders, none of the arrests, none of the traffic congestion would have occurred," he said.

Many of the activists later questioned why a police helicopter would have been ordered to shadow the ride. Officer Paul Dahlen, spokesperson for the local CHP office, said that Monday that the helicopter, which is based at the CHP's Redding office, is sent to Humboldt County on a semi-regular schedule a couple of times a month -- and just happened to be present on the day of the rally.

On Friday afternoon, Zimmerman was arraigned in the courtroom of Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson after spending two days in jail. After Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said that he had no objections to Zimmerman's release from jail while charges were pending, Wilson allowed her to be discharged from jail without having to post a bond.

Eureka attorney Stephen Davies, a member of the board of directors of the local chapter of the ACLU who had visited Zimmerman in jail, later confirmed that he would be representing her in any civil action she might choose to bring against the CHP.

"She is definitely considering filing a government Tort Claims Act form in the near future," he said, referring to the initial step required in a certain lawsuits against state agencies.

After Zimmerman's arraignment, Davies showed reporters pictures he had taken of her in jail Wednesday evening. They showed that she had suffered fairly severe bruising to her head and back, as well as a nasty abrasion on her elbow.

Things went off much more smoothly at the downtown rally, despite the fact that a large contingency of Eureka police officers -- as well as agents of the U.S. Marshal Service, whose offices are in the Old Post Office -- were on hand. They were supported by the CHP helicopter and one of the department's airplanes, which was sent over from Redding while the Critical Mass event was underway, according to Dahlen.

EPD spokesperson Suzie Owsley later said that her department issued at least 11 tickets to the approximately 60 protestors at the rally, the majority of them handed out for crossing the street against the pedestrian walk/do-not-walk signal.

"When you look at how many people took part in it, and when you have those people coming into town on bicycles, you want to make sure everyone's safe," Owsley said Tuesday. "And that's why we had the officers we did out there."

But one of the downtown protestors, Petrolia resident Ellen Taylor, said Tuesday that people at the demonstration were not impeding the movement of vehicles, and that people were mostly ticketed for being in the crosswalk after the pedestrian do-not-walk signals turned from blinking to solid and before the traffic lights had changed.

Taylor said that the pattern of ticketing, in addition to the large police presence around the post office, was excessive, given the relatively small size and non-confrontational nature of the protest.

"It was certainly an effort to intimidate, and they may have been looking for some sort of pretense to be more aggressive," she said.

The four Critical Mass riders arrested during the event will appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m., in Courtroom 8 of the Humboldt County Courthouse.

Staff writers Helen Sanderson and Bob Doran contributed to this report.


8 Questions for Simona Keat


photo of Simona KeatFor its second annual fundraiser, Girls Inc. of the Redwood Coast, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower underprivileged adolescent girls, will honor three area women for their achievements this weekend, Nov. 12, at the Bayside Grange. Sylvia Jutila, former director of the Eureka American Cancer Society, Mary Keehn, founder of Cypress Grove Chevre, and Simona Keat [left], coordinator for the Humboldt County Office of Education Gang Risk Intervention Program (GRIP) will be recognized at the "Feast of Inspiration: Celebrating Strong, Smart and Bold Women." (See the Calendar listing for details.)

Simona Keat, 46, began working with at-risk youth at 18 years old, when she interned with the Riverside County Probation Department, managing a caseload whose numbers fluctuated regularly as gang members were either killed or overdosed on drugs. In 1994 she moved to the North Coast and began working with at-risk youth at local schools. In 1998 she was named California's Latina Woman of the Year. Keat talked with the Journal about what inspires her and the state of gang activity in Humboldt County.

1. Around age 6 you came from Mexico to Southern California, where you worked in farm labor camps. How did your early experiences shape your adulthood, education, career?

I think it shaped the whole thing, because growing up I was part of a migrant family of farm workers and we moved from place to place for work. The one thing that I think helped our family and myself was that even though we moved a lot, following the crops, my father always left us at the same school from September to the end. Other people who worked the same way went from school to school. But we did experience bad housing in farm labor camps. The families there dealt with their lives through alcohol and drugs. So we saw a lot of domestic violence. There were nine girls in my family, and my dad was always on guard for us, but he was an alcoholic, too.

I think all of what I saw was what got me to say, it could be better. As I got older I thought, how can I stop the kind of stuff that's been going on with these families? Then it clicked in high school, when I was picked to be in a peer counseling program. We had a speaker come who was an African American probation officer. He spoke about the things he was doing, and I thought, that's what I want to do with the kids. From then on that was my goal.

2. You lived in Indio before coming here in 1994. How did you wind up in Humboldt County?

My husband [Wes Keat] got a job with the District Attorney's office.

3. You probably get this question a lot, but is there really a gang problem in Humboldt County?

There is a problem. All these years it's been in the beginning stages, and that's because we've been able to work with the kids and get them to see a different view. But we are starting to have people move in who are very hardcore and are starting to recruit our kids, like the skinheads are, and prison gangs. It's starting. And if we don't pay attention we are going to have a bigger problem. Maybe right now it is manageable, but it can become unmanageable. That's how my community started down in Indio. When I was growing up it was just starting and then it exploded and they've had an issue ever since. It goes in waves; it goes up and down.

I don't want to see that happen here. That's why I work with kids. I don't want to see this community become like Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Willits. All those communities have had it explode on them already and we're not too far from that.

4. What problems related to gang activity are specific to Humboldt County?

The more I work with kids, the more I see that the kids here get involved over racism, socio-economics, bullying. The kids experience racism not just in the school but in the community. That's why we have the multicultural club, to educate people about everyone else. Now we're doing Challenge Day -- you challenge yourself to be respectful, to include everyone. You acknowledge the problems around you and challenge yourself to do something about it. We have to look at different ways of dealing with [gangs].

5. GRIP began as a way to reduce violence between different cultural groups. Are there fewer gangs or less violence than when the program started? Is GRIP working?

We've been able to make a difference with the kids that we work with, which are students at the high schools. We're not able to reach out to adults that are moving in -- law enforcement needs to do that. It's up to us, law enforcement, the DAs office; everyone needs to work together. I can only do one piece of it, which is by intervention and prevention. Law enforcement needs to do the cessation part and the DAs need to do the incarceration part. The community needs to give their support as well, by letting people know what they are seeing, what's going on.

6. In particular, how do gangs affect girls and young women?

Girls need to know that they are not the guys' little puppets. That is how they get introduced, by being sexual objects, and they wind up controlled and abused. They need to learn to respect themselves and their bodies, that they are somebody and that they can have goals and achieve those goals. A lot of them are looking for love and they end up thinking they're getting love, but they're not. Now, girls have their own gangs and they are very violent because they are competing with the guys. It's not happening here yet and I don't want it to happen.

7. Who was your role model as a kid -- or as an adult, for that matter?

I had a supervisor in my internship and when I started working at Juvenile Hall and the Probation Department in Riverside who guided me a lot. He was like my dad. He was a very compassionate person. He was my role model. As I learned more, I think I looked at Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. I grew up with Cesar Chavez, I followed him a lot in the marches for equality for farm workers. Those were the people I was learning from. When I was younger, I had a schoolteacher who was a Cuban refugee who took me on. She was the first one who told me I could go to college -- the first one that said, you can do it.

8. Now you're a role model for young women. How does it feel?

I have a hard time accepting it. I am only a person trying to do the best I can. I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do. The girls and the boys both say, I want to do what you're doing. I hope they do.



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