A member of the new Southern Oregon Independent Media (Rogue Indymedia) was arrested in Ashland, Oregon this last week. He was arrested after photographing activists being beaten by Southern Oregon police and sherriff's office. Below is a communication from Wes. Wes Brain is a long-time labor activist and community organizer. He is well known in Ashland and Southern Oregon as well as the Pacific Northwest. Wes has been active in posting Southern Oregon and Northern California stories and information to the Portland Indymedia website. As the truth starts breaking through the corporate media wall of propaganda in Oregon, we will see more harrassment of media activists. It is time or us to work in solidarity before we all lose our rights to speak our truth!
The corporate media in many towns and cities of Oregon are owned by one corporation, who until Indymedia, had total control of what would be reported. When hundreds of students and towns people took to the streets during a recent "Books not bombs" protest, the corporate media said little about the action. Nor did they show local police shoving and beating protestors. Rogue IMC media activists including Wes, were there to document police brutality and harrassment. Below is a link to the immerging Southern Oregon IMC (Rogue IMC) and Wes's communication about his arrest.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Friends and Activists:
LAST FRIDAY I WAS ARRESTED WHILE IN MY OFFICE DOING MY JOB FOR THE STATE OF OREGON.
At approximately 2:45 p.m. on 3/7/03 while at work for the Safety Department at Southern Oregon University I was sitting at my desk when an Ashland Police Department Officer stuck her head in the door and asked if I could talk to her for a few minutes. Since the Safety Dept. (occupational health and safety services for university employees) shares the same building with the SOU Security Dept. it was not strange at all seeing Ashland Police in our building. In fact I know many of the officers and although there are a few bad cops on the local force most of them do a good job, I have always thought.
I walked out back to the small porch attached to our building and noticed there were three officers in attendance. Since no one said anything I started the conversation, "What's Up?" The reply was most surprising: "Mr. Brain, put your hands behind your back. You are under arrest for disorderly conduct." They failed to reveal it, but later I found out that the charges for disorderly conduct are twofold with an additional impeeding a police officer charge. Two days later as I write this I am still in utter shock and disbelief...
Since anything I say can be used against me, and since I have not talked to my lawyer yet, and since I am paranoid that the FBI monitors my electronic messages, and since I believe our system of justice is fundamentaly corrupt... I will only give you the short and sweet version right now...
On 3/5/03 in Ashland Oregon there was a very successful and well attended peace march and rally called "Books Not Bombs", and ours was part of a national day of action against the impending Iraq war by students all across the U.S.. Our new Rogue Valley Independent Media Center had the best local media coverage of this event:
So on the day in question I took 4.5 hours of vacation time to be a journalist and video tape this event (activists never take real vacations, they use such time for peace and justice). Here in Southern Oregon we broadcast regular programming on Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV), that's our access televison station and the shows highlight progressive issues about Labor, Human Rights, and the Environment (M & W, 6PM, Ch.#31)...
That day I shot 1 hour and 41 minutes of raw footage which shows the colorful march and rally with 500 or 600 (some say more) students demonstrating that money for war needs spent instead on education (books not bombs). This footage shows some of the things not reported by the local mainstream media like the SWAT team that was called in from a neighboring county to square off against our peacefully protesting students. This footage looks like it is taken from another planet, I mean can you imagine riot cops squaring off agains young kids? Blanked from coverage in the local press, it happened. My footage also shows the tail-end of a scuffle in the street which shows the Ashland Police throwing people to the ground. I did not capture the beginning of this incident but do have an interview of someone who says she saw it from the start and that the police instigated the scuffle.
Well, two days later on March 7th they came and arrested me, I told you that part... I have no idea why. But am fearful that the war on terrorism is more a war against anybody who speaks out against the war mongering and foolish, corporate bought and paid for leadership of this country. Period.
Stay tuned. Arrainment is 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 11 in Municipal Court here in Ashland. More vacation time required, damnn it, so that I can prove myself innocent and stand proud for protecting our First Ammendment rights here in little ol' Ashland, Oregon. It is an important fight and I am ready for the cause.