The Role of Homeland Security in the May 30 Arrest of anti-Pesticide Demonstrators
The Role of Homeland Security in My Arrest with Reaction to Verifiably False Statements Made by Two of Their Agents in the Police Report on the Taser Incident
Only yesterday did I - one of the three arrestees from the May 30th Taser Incident - finally get to read the police reports on the incident. I have to admit, if I had not been there and witnessed things with my own eyes, the police reports would seem very compelling. However, because I was there, I notice clear falsehoods, misleading statements, and plenty of probably honest mistakes in the reports. In this letter I will address several key falsehoods/mistakes. I will begin with the biggest shocker: THE KEY ROLE PLAYED BY HOMELAND SECURITY in not only my arrest, but in instigating the entire ugly affair. I will point out several verifiable falsehoods in their reports.
One day after the May 30th event I mailed out a media release that told a very different account than the police media release that formed the basis of the initial media stories. My version was in harmony with two dozen other witness reports. Toward the end of my release I reported that Homeland Security had not only been present but seemed to play a lead role. Then, at the June 16 meeting of the Police Civilian Review Board - the meeting where they voted 5 to 0 to designate this a Community Impact Case - three of the witnesses who testified specifically addressed the issue of Homeland Security's apparent lead role in the incident, a role that included instigating the initial police intervention. One of those witnesses (not me) asked that the Police Civilian Review Board investigate the role of Homeland Security in this incident. What were federal agents doing at this rally?
Thus far not one media account has mentioned the term 'Homeland Security' in relation to the May 30th event. I understand why! It would seem a bit 'conspiracy-theory-like' to say the least. BUT NOW WE HAVE THE POLICE REPORTS! Included in the police reports and arrest records now in my possession are two reports by Homeland Security agents. And in those reports they acknowledge that they were staking the event out in an unmarked car, and that it was Homeland Security that called the Eugene Police and suggested that they intervene, specifically naming Ian Van Ornum, the eighteen year old organizer of the event, as having stepped into the road and blocked traffic and having a bottle of unknown contents. At the time they made that call, by strange coincidence, the last of the media had just left the scene. One folksinger was going to sing two songs and the event would have been over without controversy. JUS THINK: No Taser scandal, no arrests, no controversy... if Homeland Security had not been staking the event out and made a call to Eugene police suggesting that they grab Ian.
Worse yet, the Homeland Security reports on the incident include verifiable falsehoods. Those falsehoods cast doubt even on the truthfulness of what they claim to have seen Ian do. Their reports also make clear the reason these federal agents were staking out an event that was not linked to a federal building and that should have been strictly the jurisdiction of Eugene Police.
My attorney, Lauren Regan, executive director of Civil Liberties Defense Center, believes, and told the Eugene Weekly in an article to appear Thursday, June 26, that Homeland Security illegally monitored the rally. She says, "It was obviously unconstitutional", citing COINTELPRO investigations that targeted dissident organizations and the resulting court decisions.
IMPORTANT: The police report by Homeland Security agent William Turner includes the interesting information that during this episode he was in radio contact with the "Denver MegaCenter". The 'Denver MegaCenter' is one of four Homeland Security Federal Protection Service centers that monitor and dispatch agents around the clock. So, not only was this police action in Eugene not first initiated by the Eugene Police, but the Homeland Security agent who called the Eugene Police in to grab Ian was in radio contact with Denver.
Imagine my shock, reading the reports by Homeland Security Federal Protective Service agents T.C. Keedy and William Turner, to learn that they identify my group, The Pitchfork Rebellion, as the organizers of the May 30 event (verifiably false) and that they also name us as the organizers of a rally on March 7 that included, in their words, an attempt to storm the Federal Courthouse (verifiably false) and that those facts constituted the reason that Homeland Security was staking out the May 30 rally. Here follows their specific quotes from the police reports; I will follow those quotations with proof of falsehood.
Homeland Security Agent T.C. Keedy writes: "The rally [May 30] was sponsored by 'The Pitchfork Rebellion', a protest group from Lane County which is against the spraying of herbicides and pesticides. On 3/7/2008, the Pitchfork Rebellion held another protest rally and marched through city streets. During that event, the protesters became disorderly and attempted to storm the u.s. courthouse located at 405 E 8th ave in Eugene (see report number D08001609) On 5/30/2008, I parked my unmarked government vehicle approximately one half-block from Kesey Square in order to monitor the protest, in case the group should again begin to march toward a Federal facility."
Verifiable falsehoods in the above official police report by Homeland Security agent T.C. Keedy are:
The May 30 rally was not organized or co-sponsored in any way by The Pitchfork Rebellion. Rather, I accepted - at the last minute - a guest speaking invitation. I was asked to speak on the topic: "Pesticides and the Environment". The May 30 rally was organized by a U of O student group concerned about forest issues and pesticides. This is verifiable in that they sent out media releases advertising their event and naming themselves as the organizers. Besides myself being a speaker, not one other member of The Pitchfork Rebellion was even present at the May 30 rally.
The assertion that The Pitchfork Rebellion was also the organizer of the rally on March 7 that included 'storming the federal courthouse' is verifiably false. That rally was organized by U of O students and originated at their campus. They marched to the Federal Courthouse where a legal, outdoor rally was held. I was an invited guest speaker - this time on the topic of: How Big Timber and Big Pesticide Influence the State and Federal Government Agencies that Oversee our Environment - but, other than accepting an invitation to speak (I am an accomplished public speaker and do lectures on various topics at diverse venues) I had no role in organizing the event and was the only member of The Pitchfork Rebellion in attendance at the rally. I DID NOT EVEN PARTICIPATE IN THE MARCH. I ARRIVED AFTER THE MARCH AT THE RALLY LOCATION TO DO MY TALK.
William Turner, Federal Protective Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Agent Turner, in his official police report on the May 30th incident, writes:
"I was advised by EPD Officer Pat Willis that they had PC to arrest at least one of the subjects in the crowd. After several minutes I heard Sgt. Mike Gilbert tell Owen that he was under arrest. Sgt. Gilbert had a hold on Owen's right wrist. Owen was actively resisting by pulling away from Sgt. Gilbert with his body weight. I immediately grabbed Owen's left wrist, advised him he was under arrest and told him to stop resisting. Owen actively resisted me by twisting his wrist and pulling away. I continued to tell him to stop resisting as Sgt. Gilbert applied the handcuffs to Owen. I could see the crowd approaching us and yelling at us. Sgt. Gilbert and I escorted Owen to the back of a Patrol car. I asked Owen to separate his feet so I could conduct a search for weapons and implements of escape. He refused to reply, initially. I placed my right foot on the inside of his left foot in an attempt to control his movement. He began to yell at the crowd that we were hurting his knees. He then bent his knees and resisted by becoming dead weight. Neither Sgt. Gilbert or I were impacting or hurting his knees in any way. It was obvious he was lying in an attempt to further fuel the angry crowd. He eventually stood up and complied with our orders."
Verifiable falsehoods in the above official police report by Homeland Security agent T.C. Keedy are:
Homeland Security agent Keedy asserts that I resisted arrest at the outset of my arrest and then a second time after they walked me to the outside back of a squad car to pat me down. Videotape in my possession proves that I did not resist arrest at either point. Any member of the media that wants to meet with me to view the video may do so. Call me at: (541) 927-3017 Anyone who reads the above report detailing my body movements and then watches the innocent reality of the video will realize the clear falsehood and deliberate attempt to manufacture a resistance that never really occurred.
What is glaring in omission is any attempt to describe the actual circumstances of my arrest: the glaring fact that they arrested me just as I was beginning to give a television interview about the taser incident. A half hour after the taser incident, with only a handful of rally participants left at the scene, the first television crew showed up. The reporter (I believe she was from channel 9 but that can be easily established) asked if she could interview me about the taser incident. I said, "Yes". She instructed her camera man to set up in front of me. I then noticed the Homeland Security officer across the street point at me and whisper to a Eugene policeman. The Eugene policeman then hollered across the street to me these words: "Mr Owen, could you please come across the street, we would like to speak with you." I told the reporter I would be right back and crossed the street. The police officer who had asked me the question had backed up from the front of the sidewalk to a spot deeper back where I could not be seen by the reporter or crowd. As I approached him I asked, "Can we talk after my interview?" He replied, "You're not going to do that interview." (He did not say that I was under arrest.) Assuming he was insinuating that he was about to place me under arrest, I turned and took a step back to where I could be seen by the reporter (I had told her I would be right back) and hollered that they were arresting me and that it's so I can not do the interview. At that same moment the officers stepped toward me from behind and did in fact start placing me under arrest. The video shows I did not resist and that I have accurately described the above. The video also shows I did not resist at the back outside of the squad car during the pat down. Yes, I look excited - wouldn't you (anybody would if all this had just happened) - but the only words I hollered across the street were the above reported one's to the reporter - and instructions for my friend to make sure my car (parked at a pay meter!) did not get towed. As I was being walked to the squad car I also hollered to a friend to pick up my books and notes (associated with my rally speech) from the podium. But I did not physically do anything that could be reasonably called "resisting arrest".
My shout across the street to the news crew about why I was being arrested caused one of the police reports to address the issue in a ludicrous manner: once the news crew was there they (the ten or so police officers) could safely arrest me because I wouldn't want to attack them in front of the media! (If this did not really happen to me in Eugene's Kesey Square, I would swear it could only happen in Tiananmen Square!)
Homeland Security agent Keedy stated the following in the above excerpt from the police report; speaking in the first-person he states: "I placed my right foot on the inside of his [Owen] left foot in an attempt to control his movement. He began to yell at the crowd that we were hurting his knees. He then bent his knees and resisted by becoming dead weight. Neither Sgt. Gilbert or I were impacting or hurting his knees in any way. It was obvious he was lying in an attempt to further fuel the angry crowd. He eventually stood up and complied with our orders." The video of my arrest shows that I did not act inappropriately at the outside rear of the squad car during my pat-down (which is what agent Keedy is referring to). I very much object to the very inappropriate statement in what is supposed to be a police report of actual facts by agent Keedy that I was "obviously lying" about my knee pain when he used his foot to literally kick my foot wider than I could comfortably stand. While someone in my situation might be lying, would it not be reasonable that someone in my age bracket - 50 - who had a half-hour earlier been thrown to the ground by a police officer might truly have an injured knee? I hit the pavement hard! In what should be a professional police report free from statements like "he was obviously lying" we get obviously prejudicial language intended to discredit the arrestee. When, in his report on my pat down he describes finding a knife in my pocket, he does not see fit to use the far more descriptive term: tiny pocket knife (grandpa gave it to me as a kid). Since he can't actually say the knife was actually 'long', he plants that idea in the mind of the reader - like an expert propagandist - by saying that when he conducted the pat-down he felt something that felt like it could be a 'large knife'. Then he does not describe the actual tiny pocket knife it turned out to be. By not including the word 'pocket' in his report and by planting the word 'large' in the readers mind, he craftily creates an impression of something that was not true. His entire report reads that way, has that flavor, and thus should have little credibility amongst the fair-minded. Especially the highly educated fair-minded readers who are fully aware of how language can be expertly manipulated to create false impressions.
I am willing to let reporters look at my personal doctor's report on my injuries - which includes documentation that my head had been injured - and will also share copies of the Jail Medical Department report that includes verification that I vomited (I vomited twice with blood) while in their medical observation room and was released so that I could seek medical attention.
3) In the last sentence of the above excerpt from Homeland Security agent Keedy we read: He eventually stood up and complied with our orders." He is speaking about the outside back of the squad car while they did the pat-down. The words just quoted - that I eventually stood up - would imply that I had not been standing up. As the video shows, I was standing the entire time and Keedy is referring to me 'straightening up'. As the video shows, they had previously directed me to bend my chest over and lean on the back of the squad car. I did that until they directed me to stand upright. I followed their commands perfectly, as shown on video. Again, reading these police reports, they are shockingly misleading in that they obfuscate the truth in such a consistent manner that it seems very deliberate.
Before leaving the topic of The Role of Homeland Security in My Arrest, the following statement by Eugene Police Officer M. Gilbert is worth noting, as it drives home the point that Homeland Security consistently provided false intelligence to the Eugene Police in regard to the role of Pitchfork Rebellion and myself in organizing this event.
Eugene Police Officer M. Gilbert writes in his police report:
"There were several people in the group that were angry about the initial police response and a couple made contact with me. One of those individuals was Owen, who Inspector Turner [William Turner of Homeland Security] had identified as one of the organizers of the protest. Owen told me his observations of the arrest of Van Ornum by Sgt. Solesbee and claimed to have seen officers throw him down for no reason. He claimed the officers started slamming Van Ornum's head into the ground. He [Owen] said that when he went to ask what the arrest was for he was thrown down and his head was slammed into the ground for no reason... . As I was busy monitoring the overall situation and Farley, I referred Owen to the Auditor's office."
THE MOTIVE OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Homeland Security has been for Several Months the Subject of an Investigation being Conducted by The Pitchfork Rebellion
While I do not claim to know with any certainty their motive for 'picking on the pitchforkers', I have a theory! They are aware that we have been investigating links between certain of their 'citizen executives' and private industry. As was mentioned in my Register Guard Guest Viewpoint of December 6, 2007, we have been conducting an investigation called The Pitchfork Inquiry Into the Influence of Big Business on State and Federal Agencies. We are now a year and a half into a planned three year investigation. Since we don't have financing, we do not hire investigators; rather, we use the internet and old-fashioned letters, phone calls, and simply research things like: a) Who are the appointees to head each agency (EPA, BLM, Board of Forestry, Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, etc. b) What private sector jobs did those appointees come from; etc AT ONE POINT WE STUMBLED ON SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT HOMELAND SECURITY AND DECIDED IT WARRANTED INVESTIGATION. We discovered that the Department of Homeland Security is itself divided into various 'departments' or 'divisions', one of which is devoted to protecting the economic security of American businesses. Each State branch of Homeland Security has a citizen appointee that heads that division. We wondered who they were and began investigating. We are still doing so.
When we began our investigation, the Oregon Department of Homeland Security webpage had an organizational chart that could be easily accessed. It has now mysteriously disappeared from their webpage. More mysteriously, the same thing is true for the other States that we were researching (we wanted to know who heads those divisions in each state); all the organizational charts that had been up suddenly disappeared. Our interest was, and remains, to discover if the sort of influence of multinational corporations that we found in other State and Federal government agencies also exists in Homeland Security. We are currently investigating what companies get the lucrative (often no-bid) contracts to do things for Homeland Security. Our research is in its infancy and will be published at the conclusion of our Inquiry into the Influence of Big Business on State and Federal Agencies.
(I am fully aware that Homeland Security may not at all be concerned about our investigation and our current negative treatment by them may well be coincidental.)
AS A SEPARATE DOCUMENT from this reaction to the Homeland Security role in my arrest, I AM CURRENTLY PREPARING
A SIMILAR RESPONSE TO THE NON-HOMELAND SECURITY POLICE REPORTS TO REFUTE THE MANY FALSEHOODS THEREIN.
Sincerely, Day Owen, co-founder, The Pitchfork Rebellion.
P.S. The Pitchfork Rebellion embraces the Gandhian precepts of nonviolent struggle for social change. Nothing we have done, or plan to do, should warrant the scrutiny of Homeland Security.
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