portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary oregon & cascadia

forest defense | genetic engineering | police / legal wto sacramento

Report from UC-Davis activist

Thoughts on the action and aftermath of the UC Davis Tuesday action
Hello supporters and miscreants, much thanks to everyone who has helped out at and since the action at UC Davis on Tuesday. I was one of them hangin' out in Davis ( http://biotechimc.org/or/2003/06/1055.shtml), the one on the left with glasses. This is my first chance to debrief, so I guess I'll sum it up by saying that we've had a lot of good support from people, a lot of people haven't even heard about the Davis action which is sad, but at least it made the front page of the Davis Enterprise. Not sure what other media it made, cept for some TV the next day. Anyhow, we all know that that is not particularly the point, the corporate media coverage. We're all dealing with bullshit felony charges, and four misdemeanors, but we don't expect any of it to stick. We could definitely use any financial support anyone is willing to contribute ( http://biotechimc.org/or/2003/06/1263.shtml), that would be much appreciated. Took $3000 to spring us, and we'll probably be getting some legal fees.
First thing I want to say, because we didn't say so earlier, is that this was a CASCADIA SUMMER action. One of us were worried that this information would lead to his name and ID being tracked down, so we didn't publicize that earlier... a mistake. We are proud Cascadia Summer activists, two of us (the hangers) are from Portland, and Doug Fir is from Colorado.
First night in jail, we weren't given blankets because they said we might try to kill ourselves with them. This was a very odd thing indeed, because the only people who did get blankets were on suicide watch, at any rate they got "suicide-proof" blankets. You'd think that they could've just given suicide-proof blankets to people not on suicide watch, but apparently this was beyond their capacity to comprehend. Pacific Yew, having noticed this phenomenon, told a jailer "I'm so cold I want to kill myself," and voila, he got a nice new outfit, complete with a blanket. Very odd.
The next day we got some phone calls, and they kept asking us what our names were, but we never told them. They sent someone by to ask probably every hour or so. We got served only mammal the first 24 hours (balogna sandwiches) so we declared an informal hunger strike pending some vegan food becoming available. They complied, to their, or maybe our, credit. We eventually got booked and "housed", which means getting what little clothing they left on you taken away, and being carted away to the main cells, rather than in the holding area out front (known as the drunk tank). It was a little tricky for Pacific to get off suicide watch, but I was housed along with Doug Fir, so that was cool, I got to know him pretty well. Most of the jailers on the inside were assholes and the people we interacted with in jail were very friendly and fascinated by our story, and brought us things like books and magazines. Not much to choose from.
It took two days before we were arraigned. They lied to us constantly too. They told us that by using fake names that we were committing a felony, as it turns out, they had just decided that we were getting *some* felony, doesn't particularly matter what, so that's what they first threatened us with, to get us to give our names, didn't work. I don't like it when people lie to me, it's hard to trust them. Anyhow, they eventually came up with the conspiracy felony, and apparently that's what the DA is sticking to. Even up to the day of the arraignment, they told us that we weren't on "the list" and that our arraignment was the next day. This served to sink our spirits, but as it turned out, we went that day.
The judge had a fun time making light of our not giving up our names. "Pacific Yew, is that your real name?" No, of course not, we each replied. He thought that Port Orford was a location, but I informed him that it was also an endangered cedar in addition to the name of a place. Unfortunately for Doug, his prints brought up a name, so he didn't get quite as much fun keeping a fun name like Pacific and I did. He was good about not responding to the name they said his prints brought up, though, and telling them to call him Doug.
Bail set at 10,000 dollars each, 1 felony, and 4 misdemeanors. They really are trying to make an example of anyone trying to raise their voice above the "acceptable" decible level in this community. And I always associated Davis with progressive politics. Hm.
While we waited to be transported back, the sink in the waiting room went out of control and flooded half the room. When we eventually did get back, after a nice conversation with a Raymond Montes, who said he's looking at 28 years, and is in the process of fighting police brutality on the inside "not for myself, but because I don't want my kids or grandkids to have to deal with this bullshit", we were informed that we had 10 minutes left of our "time out." Time out is when you can make phone calls, when you can throw around a handball, and when you can look at the three half-missing books on the book cart. It's supposed to be an hour, but if it conflicts with anything for any reason, tough shit.
The next day, our time out was between 8 and 9, and since there was a "prison run" during that time, they turned off the phones. Two days in a row, I wasn't able to call, we weren't even able to get more toilet paper or books because there was a "sick line." It was a very radicalizing experience, just is how stupid the jail system is. It's fairly purely hierarchical, with the officer in charge of making these decisions, the lieutenant in charge of making these decisions, and the sergeant in charge of making these decisions, etc. No real process for dissent, fairly fascist. And when they are so inflexible that we could go two days without even being able to make a fairly expensive phone call (at our expense) to support the corporation the jail contracted out with, so that we could get some, ANY, information from the outside, that is when you know you are in jail, that someone, or at the very least, the system, doesn't like your humanity.
I'll write more later, but this is already pretty long. I want to leave y'all with a very simple reflective question. Was this useful? I am not critical of our action at all, I'm very proud of us, many people are. But it generated fairly little media in comparison with how much energy it's already pulled from the movement. I had a lot of interaction with Sureņos in the jail, that's a pretty wide-spread latino gang. My understanding (which very well could be wrong) of the way gangs deal with people who get in legal trouble, is that if it's more trouble for the collective (or gang) than it's worth they ditch them, and let them fend for themselves. I'm worried that this legal trouble is going to be a headache, a fucking pain in the ass really. I have to drive back down to Davis for my pre-trial on July 11 (or be faced with another felony). I don't want to drag anyone else down with us, bring more trouble on the social justice movement than it's worth.
But- if you want to help out- if you can in any way, send an email. Come down with us for pre-trial if you're not doing anything around then, we hope to do a couple-day trip with a vegetable oil car. Send some money (see link above) to help out with bail if you can, we're probably going to be doing time, and might end up losing jobs over this. Keep posted for the trial date, we want there to be as much media coverage as possible of that.
On the one hand, we're talking about further cracking down, further threats to our civil liberties, and ability to protest (especially creatively). But on the other hand, we're just three guys, and other activists need to be helped out an defended. What do you think?
Peace, love, humanity.
-pdx radical youth

phone: phone: 503-819-4128

thanks! 30.Jun.2003 11:39

cascade

Thank you Port Orford!!!! you are your 2 comrades ROCK!!!!!!!!!
I certainly hope that all the thousands of people in the northwest that call themselves activists, radicals, revolutionaries, etc, etc. will help you all out.
I will be there for you all and will help in every way I can.

and, cheers to Cascadia Summer!!!

Worth your Time 01.Jul.2003 11:23

Pelican Bay (psst. not my real name, just a fun name)

Thanks for the story of your visit to jail. It was quite amusing and brightened my day considerably. So you found the jail to be fairly facist with no opportunity for dissent? I'm surprised. I would have thought you would have been allowed to march up and down the corridors chanting slogans. I'm sure the jailers would have enjoyed a spirted debate on clear-cutting and genetically engineered trees. If going to jail and facing trumped up charges bothers you, quit hanging around on other peoples property. There's a price to pay when your'e a free-speech nuisance. I admit the felony charges are ridiculous, but so were your actions. Find a better forum to get your message out.