March 5, 2003 Student Protest Aftermath
March 14, 2003
More Details On Videographer's Arrest

I finally heard back from Wes Brain about his arrest last week. Turns out, there was a scuffle of sorts during the protest that was the basis for his arrest.

Again, officially, he was not arrested for videoing the conference per se. (Whew!)

That said, it would still appear that he was arrested for approaching a woman in her car and asking her to be more careful after she almost hit several student protesters. If speaking to people who almost hit you with their cars is now a crime, I suppose we'll all be brought in sooner or later.

The Lt. Police Chief quoted in the article stated that he feels that the rights of people in cars driving by protesters are more important than the rights of the protesters to not be hit by them. This better not be upheld in the courts or it will be open season on protesters.

The cop also admits that Brain was singled out because the cops were familiar with him and recognized who he was -- while they had no way of going after the rest of the crowd because they didn't know their identities. Freaky.

According to witnesses (see clip below), Brain also took the liberty of chastising police officers about traumatizing children. (Perhaps not the best idea -- yet, arguably not illegal activity.)

Here's what Wes wrote back to me:


Below is a quick update, mainly in the form of the story reported in the Ashland Daily Tidings, our local newspaper. I have received much support and the room packed full of community supporters at Monday morning's arrainment was absolutely fantastic! Words could never explain how that felt. Here is the story. If you click on the link you'll see a photo.

Most Grateful for the solidarity,
Wes-

Here's an article with all of the details from the

Videographer pleads 'not guilty'

By Sean Wolfe and Myles Murphy for the Ashland Daily Tidings.


Brain, who works for Southern Oregon University as an environmental health and safety technologist, was arrested by Ashland Police at his workplace, two days after the protest...

He was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct, and one count of impeding police. He was then jailed and released on $10,000 bail.

At his arraignment today in Ashland, Brain was backed by a packed house of
supporters and fellow demonstrators. Brain pleaded not guilty to the charges, and asked for copies of the police reports.

A trial date is expected to be set after April 1...

Even though at least 6OO people were breaking laws in the un-permitted march
- mainly obstructing traffic - only one man was arrested at the time. That arrest was an act of conscious civil disobedience on the part of Southern Oregon University freshman Cameron Brooks. Brooks, a criminology major, was
arrested after ignoring Ashland Police Department demands to remove himself
from the street.

Since then, two others have been charged for alleged criminal action during
the march.

A 20-year-old transient Jeremy Dahl was cited for obstructing traffic and
causing a public alarm, and Brain's arrest.

According to Ashland Police Lt. Rich Walsh - who was the incident commander
during the march - police were more than justified to single out Brain and Dahl because they "terrorized" a woman attempting to drive through the Plaza area between Oak and Pioneer at the time of the march. The woman - who police declined to identify - was frightened when Brain and Dahl repeatedly jumped in front of her car, and Brain allegedly yelled at her. With a child in the car, and herself pregnant, the woman was very alarmed, Walsh said.

"She was really upset," Walsh said. "Wes Brain was yelling at her and she
appeared scared to death.

"We have someone terrified in a car because of these two individuals," Walsh
added. "That incensed me. That woman had more rights at that point in time
than they did."

Brain said he had approached a vehicle after it had nearly run down two
protesters.

"I said to her, lady, slow down, these are our kids. But I didn't yell at her," Brain said.

The police report confirms Dahl's arrest as stemming from actions at that time and place, about 1:30 p.m. at East Main and Pioneer streets. However, the police report on Brain's arrest places his alleged criminal activity at 2:24 p.m. between Mountain Avenue and Southern Oregon University, not at Oak and Main, where he allegedly frightened the unidentified pregnant woman with a child in her car.

"People need to understand what civil disobedience is." Walsh said. "When you get out in the road and block traffic, you're committing a crime."

According to Walsh, another point which led to Brain's late arrest was the fact that police officers knew him and could identify him later, while the majority of the crowd was relatively anonymous...

According to Walsh, police attempted to clear a lane for vehicle traffic. One man refused to get out of the lane. This led to police placing a woman under arrest. When another man attempted to intervene, he was also arrested. Then police lost control of the crowd.

"About 20 protesters jumped in and pulled the officers off the second person and helped him escape," Walsh said. "It happened pretty quickly. Those officers showed incredible restraint at that point - they backed off."

John Fricker, a sound engineer living in Ashland, said the scuffle began as the result of three officers attempting to clear a lane after protesters had passed through the Pioneer Street intersection.

Fricker, who said he attended the demonstration as "a peacekeeper," said he
saw officers Teresa Selby, Phil Gray, and School Resource Officer Mike Vanderlip approach the demonstrators from behind, asking them to move out of the left lane.

"My immediate response was to follow them as the mass of people was very
large and my initial thought was that their task was impossible," Fricker said.

The scuffle began, according to Fricker, when officers approached a couple and spoke to them.

"At first the couple did not respond and then it appeared one officer placed their hand on the shoulder of one of the pair. One protester turned, and the other appeared to trip and fall. It appeared that the couple and one officer then fell to the ground," Fricker said.

At that point according to multiple eyewitnesses, a female demonstrator was
thrown to the ground. Another protester was then thrown against a parked car
by Gray.

At that point a group of protesters - roughly 20 - surrounded the officers and called for calm.

"The officers were together at all times, and I did not see any protester grab, block, or attack an officer," Fricker said.

Brain said he was about 80 feet away from the incident, and filmed the latter part of the events. He has not yet released a copy of his video to The Tidings, pending advice from his attorney.

A family of demonstrators who arrived at the courthouse today to support
Brain said they also witnessed the fracas.

Edgar Morton, 33, said he saw two officers wrestling two individuals to the ground, and that they were approached by a third person, who was "sent
headfirst into a parked car by Officer Vanderlip."

At that point Morton, his wife and roughly 18 other demonstrators surrounded
the three officers. Morton's two children, aged 4 and 10, also witnessed the
scene.

"At this point the officers were no longer physically dominating the kids because they were aware of their surroundings," Morton said.

Morton said he saw Brain approach the officers with his video camera.

"He told the policemen they should be ashamed of themselves for traumatizing
little children," Morton said.

Margaret Morton, Edgar's wife, said she found the whole scene intimidating.

"All the kids were screaming and crying," she said.

Paul Morton,10, concurred with his mother's view.

"When I saw the cops start throwing people down, it made me angry, and then
I got scared," he said.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.dailytidings.com/2003/news0311/031103n1.shtml

Videographer pleads 'not guilty'

By Sean Wolfe and Myles Murphy
Ashland Daily Tidings

The recent arrest of videographer Wes Brain is just one of the many
controversies now bubbling up from the March 5 protest event in Ashland.

Brain, who works for Southern Oregon University as an environmental health
and safety technologist, was arrested by Ashland Police at his workplace,
two days after the protest.

"My presence with the video camera was very much there, and my gut reaction
is that the police didn't like that," Brain said.

Wes Brain (with cap) awaits the start of his arraignment proceedings with a
full crowd of supporters this morning in Ashland's Municipal Court. Photo by
Denise Baratta

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brain, who is also a union shop steward, said he attended the rally to shoot
footage for Rogue Valley Community Television. He was charged with two
counts of disorderly conduct, and one count of impeding police. He was then
jailed and released on $10,000 bail.

At his arraignment today in Ashland, Brain was backed by a packed house of
supporters and fellow demonstrators. Brain pleaded not guilty to the
charges, and asked for copies of the police reports.

A trial date is expected to be set after April 1.

Following his arraignment, Brain said he looked forward to "justice being
done."

"This will be a big trial. It's not just about me, or about Cameron
(Brooks), but a lot of people being booked up across the U.S. right now,"
Brain said.

Even though at least 6OO people were breaking laws in the un-permitted march
- mainly obstructing traffic - only one man was arrested at the time. That
arrest was an act of conscious civil disobedience on the part of Southern
Oregon University freshman Cameron Brooks. Brooks, a criminology major, was
arrested after ignoring Ashland Police Department demands to remove himself
from the street.

Since then, two others have been charged for alleged criminal action during
the march.

A 20-year-old transient Jeremy Dahl was cited for obstructing traffic and
causing a public alarm, and Brain's arrest.

According to Ashland Police Lt. Rich Walsh - who was the incident commander
during the march - police were more than justified to single out Brain and
Dahl because they "terrorized" a woman attempting to drive through the Plaza
area between Oak and Pioneer at the time of the march. The woman - who
police declined to identify - was frightened when Brain and Dahl repeatedly
jumped in front of her car, and Brain allegedly yelled at her. With a child
in the car, and herself pregnant, the woman was very alarmed, Walsh said.

"She was really upset," Walsh said. "Wes Brain was yelling at her and she
appeared scared to death.

"We have someone terrified in a car because of these two individuals," Walsh
added. "That incensed me. That woman had more rights at that point in time
than they did."

Brain said he had approached a vehicle after it had nearly run down two
protesters.

"I said to her, lady, slow down, these are our kids. But I didn't yell at
her," Brain said.

The police report confirms Dahl's arrest as stemming from actions at that
time and place, about 1:30 p.m. at East Main and Pioneer streets. However,
the police report on Brain's arrest places his alleged criminal activity at
2:24 p.m. between Mountain Avenue and Southern Oregon University, not at Oak
and Main, where he allegedly frightened the unidentified pregnant woman with
a child in her car.

"People need to understand what civil disobedience is." Walsh said. "When
you get out in the road and block traffic, you're committing a crime."

According to Walsh, another point which led to Brain's late arrest was the
fact that police officers knew him and could identify him later, while the
majority of the crowd was relatively anonymous.

Even before the march, APD officials were concerned about what might happen
when children and young adults from Ashland Middle School, Ashland High
School, and Southern Oregon University gathered for the march.

"Based on the information I had, i didn't know what to expect," Walsh said.
"I hoped for the best but prepared for the worst."

In a written statement, Brain detailed what he did the day of the protest.

"That day I shot one 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 should instead be spent on education (books
not bombs)," Brain wrote.

"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 against young kids? 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."

The SWAT team in question was actually a mobile response team and an arrest
team - 26 in all - contributed by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department,
according to county sheriff Mike Winters.

With respect to the scuffle, police and demonstrators have come forward with
different accounts.

According to Walsh, police attempted to clear a lane for vehicle traffic.
One man refused to get out of the lane. This led to police placing a woman
under arrest. When another man attempted to intervene, he was also arrested.
Then police lost control of the crowd.

"About 20 protesters jumped in and pulled the officers off the second person
and helped him escape," Walsh said. "It happened pretty quickly. Those
officers showed incredible restraint at that point - they backed off."

John Fricker, a sound engineer living in Ashland, said the scuffle began as
the result of three officers attempting to clear a lane after protesters had
passed through the Pioneer Street intersection.

Fricker, who said he attended the demonstration as "a peacekeeper," said he
saw officers Teresa Selby, Phil Gray, and School Resource Officer Mike
Vanderlip approach the demonstrators from behind, asking them to move out of
the left lane.

"My immediate response was to follow them as the mass of people was very
large and my initial thought was that their task was impossible," Fricker
said.

The scuffle began, according to Fricker, when officers approached a couple
and spoke to them.

"At first the couple did not respond and then it appeared one officer placed
their hand on the shoulder of one of the pair. One protester turned, and the
other appeared to trip and fall. It appeared that the couple and one officer
then fell to the ground," Fricker said.

At that point according to multiple eyewitnesses, a female demonstrator was
thrown to the ground. Another protester was then thrown against a parked car
by Gray.

At that point a group of protesters - roughly 20 - surrounded the officers
and called for calm.

"The officers were together at all times, and I did not see any protester
grab, block, or attack an officer," Fricker said.

Brain said he was about 80 feet away from the incident, and filmed the
latter part of the events. He has not yet released a copy of his video to
The Tidings, pending advice from his attorney.

A family of demonstrators who arrived at the courthouse today to support
Brain said they also witnessed the fracas.

Edgar Morton, 33, said he saw two officers wrestling two individuals to the
ground, and that they were approached by a third person, who was "sent
headfirst into a parked car by Officer Vanderlip."

At that point Morton, his wife and roughly 18 other demonstrators surrounded
the three officers. Morton's two children, aged 4 and 10, also witnessed the
scene.

"At this point the officers were no longer physically dominating the kids
because they were aware of their surroundings," Morton said.

Morton said he saw Brain approach the officers with his video camera.

"He told the policemen they should be ashamed of themselves for traumatizing
little children," Morton said.

Margaret Morton, Edgar's wife, said she found the whole scene intimidating.

"All the kids were screaming and crying," she said.

Paul Morton,10, concurred with his mother's view.

"When I saw the cops start throwing people down, it made me angry, and then
I got scared," he said.

Posted by Lisa at March 14, 2003 09:30 PM | TrackBack
Me A to Z (A Work In Progress)