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Saturday, August 30, 2008

This Week In The News

The arrest of Asa Eslocker in Denver
There have been several interesting stories in the news over the last couple days, so let's take a look...

Media Feels The Wrath of Police Miconduct?

Let's look outside of Seattle for a second first....

With the seemingly unlawful arrest of an ABC news reporter and producer in Denver Colorado at a hotel near the Democratic Party's National Convention this week we certainly thought that maybe the media would be a bit more sensitive about complaints of police misconduct and unlawful activities that could have political motivation, such as what occured in Seattle at the Seattle Police Officer's Guild during a Republican candidate for governor's public press conference just a week before the arrest of Asa Eslocker in Denver.

Well, while several other questionable police actions in Denver were ignored by the press, some media sources have picked up on how the police in Minnesota have taken to the practice of preemptively arresting, seizing the property of, and harassing people they suspect MIGHT protest during the Republican Party's Convention in Minneapolis next week. Some reports are even indicating that children as young as five have been caught up in the raids having been handcuffed with guns pointed at their heads.

We'll have to wait and see how this develops and if the press remains biased towards the police version of events as the build up to the convention continues. In any case, it's a very disturbing precursor to the upcoming convention.

(UPDATE: More up-to-date information on the, apparently ongoing, raids is available at

More News From Sturgis

State's Attorney Jesse Sondreal has issued a statement to the press suggesting that the Hell's Angels member who was shot by off-duty Seattle Police detective Ron Smith had instigated the fight between the two that has resulted in the HA member, Joseph McGuire, being brought up on assault charges.

However, there is still no explanation as to why Detective Smith was also brought up on charges of aggravated assault and perjury, both felonies, as well as carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. The perjury charge is particularly worrisome in this case as it suggests that Detective Smith misled the grand jury when he testified a day after the August 9th incident.

Sondreal suggested that others might be charged but has not commented on the video evidence presented to the grand jury nor any specific testimony given that would explain why Smith, and other Iron Pigs motorcycle club members were also charged in the barroom brawl and subsequent shooting.

(More coverage of the Sturgis shooting can be found HERE and HERE.)

Critical Mass Rides Again

The monthly Critical Mass ride went off without a hitch yesterday after last month's violence in response to a hit and run driver where police did their best to blame the bicyclists instead of the motorist that hit them. Of course the police are taking credit for the uneventful event, even though the ride went off without a hitch for many years without a problem before and without such an aggressive police presence. Police have hinted that, while they escorted this month's ride, they documented all traffic violations made by the riders and will likely use that information to crack down on participants during their next ride.

I watched a portion of the ride and, frankly, the only real threat to public safety that I saw was a motorcycle cop almost hit a kid on a sidewalk just to catch up to the main group of riders after he had stopped to talk to a woman on a corner. He stopped short of the kid, who was between his parents, and gruffly said "Get out of the way!" before speeding off down the SIDEWALK and then onto a one way street going the WRONG WAY... Seems the rides were safer without the cops.

(I would have taken a picture of the incident I witnessed but I still haven't been able to replace the camera that mysteriously ended up missing from my baggage during my last business trip)

That Folklife Shooting

Seems I might have been right when I suggested that the person accused of shooting three at Seattle's Folklife festival may not have done it intentionally, but as a result over a struggle for his gun, for which he had a legal concealed carry permit. Although he had plead guilty to third degree asssault over the shooting, a judge released Clinton Chad Grainger to two years of community supervision after he had served 78 days in jail awaiting trial and sentencing.

Grainger's lawyer, Kearney Lee Hammer, seems to have successfully argued that Grainger "had become involved in a scuffle with an acquaintance at the festival" and that "The second man lunged for a holster holding the weapon on Grainger's ankle in an attempt to seize the gun and use it against Grainger." While the police and prosecutors attempted to paint Grainger as mentally ill, they failed to provide any evidence of this or of their presumed version of events.

Photos in the news after the attack showed a bloodied and obviously beaten Grainger being paraded through crowds at the festival while being pelted with garbage in a lynch-mob type scene. Of course, there have been no charges pressed against any of the other participants in the melee that resulted in the accidental discharge of the weapon nor the subsequent beating Grainger received.

...interestingly enough, Grainger appears to have said that he obtained his CCW permit while in the process of studying to be a cop.

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