Camilla Mortensen's blog
Lane County is convening a grand jury next week to investigate 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 was featured on EW! A Blog and YouTube, has been subpoenaed in the case.
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. It was recently revealed 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 that were arrested in response to Lane County District Attorney Douglas Harcleroad's request that the county examine (and prosecute) the cases and determine whether state charges will be filed.
Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, which is involved in the case, says sheâ€™s afraid the witnesses who have filed complaints and made public statements about the EPDâ€™s brutality will be forced to testify before the grand jury. â€œItâ€™s almost like a retaliator slap that theyâ€™re going to be roped into a grand jury.â€ She says, â€œItâ€™s a real usurpation of what the citizens thought they were doing by coming forward.â€
Others, like witness Mary Stephens, fear that by coming forward and speaking out against the Tasering they have made themselves targets for the investigation.
As a result of Harcleroad's investigation, the inquiry into the allegations of police brutality by the Eugene Citizen's Review Board 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, is leading the countyâ€™s investigation into potential felony charges against the protesters.
Thatâ€™s â€œcops investigating copsâ€ 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.
The subpoena demands â€œall videotape or video recordingsâ€ Lewis has of the May 30th incident and demands that Lewis appear before the grand jury with those items on July 3 at 9 am.
â€œHave they subpoenaed any of the television stations that were there?â€ asks Lewis a longtime Eugene videographer and one of the founders of Eugeneâ€™s CopWatch. In previous grand jury cases involving news footage, the grand jury was only allowed to subpoena the published footage, not all the raw footage that was filmed, says Regan. Lewis â€œintends to protect his proprietary footage,â€ she says.
Many activists, both locally and across the nation, object to the grand jury system. It has unrestricted powers that many regard as dangerous to civil liberties. It was originally used to be a buffer between a king and his subjects, according to the American Bar Association, but â€œnow it simply acts as a rubber stamp for the prosecutor.â€ Other countries like England and Australia have banned the grand jury system.
Unlike in regular trials, grand jurors are not screened for bias, and anyone can be called to testify before a grand jury without probable cause. Failure to testify can result in jail sentences, like that of Jeff Hogg who was held in Lane County Jail for almost six months for his refusal to testify before a grand jury in the Operation Backfire cases.
â€œThey pretend that it [the grand jury] is somehow going to be neutral,â€ says Regan who objects to the use of grand juries by prosecutors like Harcleroad. â€œGrand juries will indict a ham sandwich.â€
The Lane County Commissioners have unanimously voted to impose an infinite moratorium on county pesticide use, reports Vegetation Management Advistory Committee member Jan Nelson.
Lane County has had a "last resort" use policy since 2003 on chemical controls of weeds, but the policy had been called into question recently.
In May, a rally to support Lane County's last resort policy and ask the Oregon Department of Transportation to avoid roadside spraying of pesticides drew attention when the Eugene Police Department Tasered at least one and arrested three rally participants.
I just feel like this is some sort of metaphor for something at the University of Oregon.
Or maybe I've just had too much caffeine and too little sleep.
Any suggestions for a "I'm voting Jim Torrey" version of this?
Let me get you started:
I'm voting Jim Torry because I don't think we should preserve endangered species that exist around Eugene. Butterflies suck; we need more high-traffic areas!
The future of environmentalism is here: ranchers and conservationists collaborating to build the first ever frog fence.
An Oregon spotted frog fence.
Just to be clear: The fence isn't spotted. The frog is.
The planned frog fence "is welcome news for the Oregon spotted frog,â€ said Noah Greenwald, science director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The press release doesn't indicate whether Greenwald was serious, or slightly tongue-in-cheek.
The frog fence won't so much keep the froggies in, it will keep the cattle (aka frog stompers) out of critical spotted frog breeding habitat in Eastern Oregon.
To further aid the frogs, the enviros plan to reintroduce beaver. Beaver, or at least their ponds, are apparently good for the frog lifestyle, or so says the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center is perhaps best known for its passionate defense of Paris Hilton's "imperiled kinkajou" (or as Paris preferred to call the raccoon-like mammal, "Baby Luv").
It's unclear as to exactly what the frog fence will look like, beyond the fact it will prevent the cows of Jack Creek from continuing their bovine decimation of the Kermit-like creatures.
"I believe this is the first frog fence in the United States,â€ said James Johnston of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. â€œIt is definitely the first frog fence Iâ€™ve ever inspected."
(Tongue-in-cheek? It's your call.)
There IS at least one other known "frog fence." It's in Vermont and was created to save the leopard frogs from meeting their deaths in traffic. Leopard frogs, also spotted. Coincidence or â€¦ ?
For a graphic depiction of what happens to unfenced frogs in Vermont, go here.
While the Bush administration has been quick to build walls, it hasn't been quick to protect species like the spotted frog.
Jack Creek is actually one of fewer than 50 known sites where the frogs exist and with only 21 "frog egg masses" up against 400 cows, it's clearly not easy being green if you are an endangered frog on a cattle grazing allotment.
It wasn't reported in the R-G today but a call for President George W. Bush's impeachment is making international headlines.
Following up on his call to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich called for the impeachment of President Bush yesterday.
Rep. Kucinich of Ohio introduced 35 articles of impeachment against Bush on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, amid noise and calls to get the House "in order."
Kucinich accused Bush and Cheney of lying to Congress and the American people. The president set out to deceive U.S. citizens and violated his oath of office by beginning the Iraq war, Kucinich said, as he read a list of allegations against Bush.
"Bush misled the American people and members of Congress to believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction so as to manufacture a false case for war. President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office," Kucinich said.
According to a press release from Kucinich's office, the representative's re-election website "was shut down this morning by a series of suspicious and fast-moving events" within hours of Kucinich introducing the articles of impeachment.
In other (potential) presidential news, apparently John McCain really needs a beer. Or maybe not, since he says he would veto every single beer that came across his desk if he became the leader of the free world...
News of the May 30th Tasering of UO student and pesticide protestor Ian Van Ornum has made its way to the Organic Consumers Association and they are not happy .
Van Ornum was Tasered while rallying to call attention to the use of pesticides on Oregon highways. The OCA is providing a letter for people to sign and send to the Eugene Police Department. The letter cites Taser-death statistics from Amnesty International (277 deaths since 2001). The EPD has a history with the human rights group â€” the Eugene police were accused of â€œtortureâ€ about 10 years ago after excessive use of pepper spray against a protestor .
On another note, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (and Suzi who is up on science fiction references), the word "Taser" comes from a kid's book series: Tom Swift. Taser is the first letters in the phrase: Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.
On a kinder gentler literary note, Tom Swift also originated the "tom swifty," which is a kind of Wellerism in which a quoted sentence becomes a kind of pun through its adverbial attribution.
"We must hurry," said Tom swiftly.
"I have a split personality," said Tom, being frank.
A Eugene example might be:
"I'm going to Tase you!" said the policeman shockingly.
We're all naked underneath our clothes, or so the saying goes, but this week it's Barbie and Ken without their clothes on the cover of the EW. If the naked doll bottoms are banned from your neighborhood newsstands, be sure to let us know. Mainly because I'm curious. I mean, it's Barbie. You HAVE to take her clothes off in order to get her out of her "Nurse Barbie" outfit and into her "Cheerleader Barbie" outfit.
I came across, in the course of my research on nudity, one interesting fact that didn't make it into the article â€” it appears that June 21 is naked hiking day. You honor the solstice "skyclad" or something like that. I also found at least one nude hiker blogger, who also happens to be from the Northwest. Warning: If you didn't like naked Barbie, you really won't like this. He doesn't just hike in the nude, he takes pictures of himself.
If you plan to naked hike, you can go here for some top 10 tips on how to romp through the woods in your alltogether. The advice to put vaseline between your thighs was interesting, but I was perplexed by this advice: "... since clearcuts afford less than ideal scenery, you are not likely to meet any other hikers. I have many times been able to hike and ride my mountain bike nude all day long in clearcuts and only rarely have met anyone out there."
Ok, but who wants to hike a clearcut? Clearcuts are UGLY. But now I am wondering how often Eugene's tree-huggers are running into nude hikers and bikers when they go out to document a clearcut?
But the question is: Where do the denizens of Lane County like to go when they get naked? We hear tell there is a good naked swimming hole out Fall Creek, but never got directions (also it's been kind of overcast, and not prime naked-person weather). So please do tell all.