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Anwar Peace: A Man With A Target Sign Around His Neck

Anwar Peace, a clean-cut young man, with dark skin and an average build, wears a target sign around his neck (which is in the custody of the Seattle Police as of July 31, 2004), as he trails the Seattle Police, asking for answers...
Anwar Peace: A Man With A Target Sign Around His Neck
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

Anwar Peace, a clean-cut young man, with dark skin and an average build, wears a target sign around his neck (which is in the custody of the Seattle Police as of July 31, 2004), as he trails the Seattle Police, asking for answers. His many photo albums documenting police brutality and police breaking laws, do not endear him to local police. They were not amused, for instance, when he sat outside their precincts with a target sign around his neck, and a card table, full of educational materials for the public on the lack of police accountability in Seattle. He has been very vocal about the strange police killings of minority citizens in the NW, working with the families of John David Walker and Michael Randall Ealy, for example. Families have suffered unexplained assassinations of their loved ones by the SPD, and people like Anwar are not letting these things be forgotten. Anwar's vigilant presence is not welcome by most members of Seattle's police force, and the Police Chief has gone to odd measures to keep Anwar away from him.

I am one of Seattle's citizens who knows how difficult it is to get Seattle Police to follow simple laws, such as giving their names when asked and making their nametags visible, as required by Muni Code 3.28. I know that Seattle Police harass people who try to document *them* at protests and on the streets. So when Anwar showed up at the City Council Safety Committee meetings last year with photo albums of police without nametags rioting on unarmed citizens, saying he was harassed for taking those pictures, I believed him. Anwar said Seattle police made threats and quoted non-existing laws to try to make him stop taking their pictures as police rioted at the LEIU protests on June 2, 2004, for example. Those threats were blatant violations of Anwar's rights, but the police in Seattle are rarely the ones the prosecutors charge with crimes. Even with photographic evidence of the police committing crimes, and several hundred witnesses (such as on June 2, and March 22, 2004, for instance), the City Council and Mayor still have done nothing to stop the Seattle police from breaking laws with any of the vigilance they are spending on Anwar Peace. It is easier for them to just target Anwar, than deal with cleaning up their mess so that Anwar's arguments have no merit.

Police first tried to make Anwar out to be a violent cop-hater, which proved to be untrue. He has said repeatedly that he only wishes to sit down and speak with Police Chief Kerlikowski in a non-adversarial way. Anwar is non-violent. Instead of the Police Chief embracing this type of gallant citizen involvement, something we need much more of, the Police Chief issued a restraining order on Anwar in August 2003. During the July 31, 2004, Torchlight Parade in Seattle, Anwar was again arrested and held in jail until August 2. He was arrested for supposedly violating the restraining/no contact order regarding his distance from the Police Chief. When they arrested Anwar at last year's Torchlight Parade, first they charged Anwar with Criminal Trespass, then Obstruction of a Public Officer, then the charges were dropped with prejudice, meaning they can be resurrected if the prosecutor ever so desired.

The restraining order on Anwar says he cannot go within 500 feet of the Seattle Police Chief. But unless the Chief had a transmitter collar and Anwar the transmitter radio, how is Anwar supposed to know where the Police Chief is at any given moment at large events such as parades? To be able to stay away from him, not to be near him, he would need special information. The vague explanations of how the restraining order works would make a normal person afraid to go to any community event, lest the Chief be there and one would risk arrest. And what does Anwar do at community events? He educates on police brutality. So if he goes out and educates at say, the Governor's Convention protests, he could be arrested for violating the restraining order, if Chief Kerlikowski shows up. Likewise, if he shows up at community meetings, block watch meetings, or community meetings dealing with police, he can be charged with violating the order, if the Police Chief shows up. I believe the idea of the restraining order was and is to strike fear into Anwar and to restrict his public access, or more simply, to cripple his free speech rights.

After watching Anwar at work for over a year, I can sympathize with his cause and think that drastic measures are necessary in these drastic times. I think we do need a guy with a target sign standing near police, with photo albums of their misconduct, ready to talk to any member of the public who wants to thus engage. Anwar does a good job at talking to people who are even angry at him for protesting police. While my blood was boiling hearing some of the remarks ignorant people made defending the violent police, he kept his cool and slowly took them through the flaws in their arguments. I have seen Anwar be kind when talking to officers and the public, his adversaries and his supporters. I am sure now that Kerlikowski had him arrested at the Torchlight Parade, that he will ask the charges from last year now be resurrected and added. I am sick of the Seattle Police and Kerlikowski wasting tax payer money on prosecuting Anwar Peace repeatedly for supposed crimes that do not hurt anything or anyone. The only thing damaged by Anwar Peace ever, is the reputation of the Seattle Police and their Chief, and that is of their own doing. If they did not keep giving him *evidence* of their misconduct, and did not keep giving him something to protest, he would not be protesting. The Police need to quit targeting Anwar, and start targeting themselves for reform, as Anwar is not alone in his conviction and disgust at the unaccountable police behaviors occurring in Seattle. Yes, he is the one currently wearing the target sign, but we all know how to make our own target signs... and the more the police hassle Anwar, the closer I get to making and wearing my own target sign as a public statement.

homepage: homepage: http://www.kirstenanderberg.com

where's the interest? 04.Aug.2004 00:30


ms anderberg....you don't seem to get a lot of respect from indymedia readers, or at least interest in the way of responses....too bad...would't hurt for people in portland to up the heat on the cops who love to beat. People down here have got kind of sleepy again.