Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Melina Harris needs our help... please read, help how you can and circulate this widely. This could be you.

Melina Harris, a professional, union carpenter who lives in Kent, Washington, had a get-together with friends at her house on October 29th, 2011  Two officers were called to the house in regard to a noise complaint and as Melina explains below, the situation immediately turned violent as she tells here: 

The photos you see (see at the very bottom), are of me moments after a short minor noise complaint call, I spoke to the older officer and refused to speak to the younger officer, as he was hyper aggressive and threatening.

I and the older officer concluded that just shutting the windows would suffice. That as well as turning down the stereo had already been done, as guests had noticed the police and I talking in the yard.

The older officer told the younger cop, “We are done here” and turned to leave and walked to his car, I turned and walked quickly toward the front door, before I made it, the younger cop, stepped into my path, accosted me with his flash light and then assaulted me, hitting me hard enough to leave a hole in my face 3/4". The older officer could not and did not see the assault, as he had made if far enough down the drive, and with the slope, trees and a car parked in the way, his view was blocked. He came back up the drive in answer to a yell, (my scream for help) . To find me on the ground with the young officer straddling me.

But for Melina the story didn't end there. Instead of being able to bring to light the fact that the officer had hit her hard enough as she stood with her arm over her eyes, trying to block the flashlight, held close to her face, to put a 3/4 inch hole through her face. She was charged with assault on a police officer which is a felony charge.  She attempted to fight the charges in court, but lost.  According to Melina,  "The crime of being assaulted by a cop is a felony. Any time a situation gets out of hand and “Force” is used, the officer charges the citizen with assault, resisting or obstruction to cover their ass. Unfortunately this is also true if the officer doesn’t like what you have to say, or in this case, don’t say, and they reach out and knock you off your feet, for no better reason, than, they can. The County Prosecutors then press the charges and play the plea down game, to cover the ass of the city."

"Reality sucks that King County Washington is actually one of the worst in the nation for protecting bad cops."

Of course those who follow cases of police brutality and have suffered it know full well that the "thin blue line" symbolizes not only solidarity among their job, but all too often also symbolizes the tendency of cops to protect their own, even in cases of abuse or transgression of authority.  To many cops, the ethical difference between protecting to save each other's lives or protecting to save each other's reputation has become blurred, or even invisible.

Worse, in an effort to cover their tracks, as Melina mentions above, officers will all too often rationalize or belittle the damage done to not only justice, but to the victim's life.  As if the assault itself didn't do enough damage, the victim must also face the bizarro world possibility of the cops claiming that the victim made an assault, or threatened them in some imagined way.  This leaves the victim to defend themselves up against a group that has already established authority within the system; oftentimes cops that know the local prosecutors and judges and often have mutual respect for each other.  Judges and prosecutors will most often believe those they know and trust, no matter how outrageous the claims or the evidence to support them (in this case the pictures that Melina had of her injuries). 

Melina is facing the possibility of being sentenced to a number of years in prison; she already has a felony charge on her.  As she states,  "The maximum sentence for Assault of an officer is 5 years, maximum for obstruction is 3 years. I have no prior Felony so of course sentencing will be much less than that. "

As Melina says, "I was asked to stand and take it as far as I could to address the issue of an officer who should not have a badge. If he decked me for ignoring him, imagine what will happen when someone in Righteous indignation tells him off?"

All too often people naively think that "taking a stand" and "going as far as you can" will somehow magically make the halls of justice ring out loud and clear. Unfortunately that does not happen as the wheels of justice will only move if someone in power to move them decides to.  Unfortunately, by casting Melina not as the victim, but now in the court as the defendant fighting to disprove happenings and actions that never existed and thus are difficult to refute (try proving that something doesn't exist if someone else, especially someone with credibility, insists it does).

Melina adds, "I was also asked to try to take the civil case for the assault and maiming, and resulting medical costs, as far as I can. Truth being, I cannot address that until the criminal case has been dealt with. I will be lucky to do so before the statute of limitations runs out. The appeal will likely take 2 years to come around."

But Melina reminds that she cannot move on with a civil case until she the criminal case is out of the way, "I cannot, until I deal with the criminal charges, and then only if I win, put in a federal civil rights complaint that I was falsely arrested, falsely charged, and assaulted. Filing charges against the citizen narrows those pesky complaints down to about the same odds in our state as winning the lottery."

Presently, while Melina waits for her sentencing which will be coming up in 3 days, she asks everyone to write to the persons listed below to at least draw attention to the case.  "There are example letters now posted on the event page." (http://www.facebook.com/events/501885959845258/).  

"If you wish to write a letter, saying how you see me as a human being, to be given to the judge before sentencing."  Melina also encourages people to write to the mayor of Kent, Washington, " on your feelings about this incident and the out of control issue of police brutality."  She also has about 20 or so folks who have started a letter writing campaign to the governor asking for clemency in this case.

In the interest of further drawing attention to the issue of police brutality, Melina suggests that people write to the Department of Justice Civil Rights, pointing up the need for a more thorough investigation into the Kent, Washington police department. 

"It need not be fancy, Melina says, "it need not be long, but it will take hundreds to rattle cages to expand and up the priority of the subject of Police Brutality. Just make sure it’s from the heart, and that you add your name and mailing address. Please feel welcome to add your title, trade, local, etc. If you have a story of police brutality or misconduct, please share it in the letter."

Melina says, "I am grateful for those of you writing in, it is the only thing that is bringing this case, into the light, with others of it’s kind. Welcome are letters from near and far, those who know me just enough, and those who know me all to well."

Melina would like those who write a letter to send her a copy that she can archive for her hearing and appeal and she requests also that people cross-copy their letters to each of the different politicians and state and federal agencies responsible for over seeing and handling police abuse of authority and power.  "One bad cop can seriously screw up thousands of lives in his career. So stand I have and this is what that means and what it takes. None of this has been pleasant. I am still stuck with the fact I was maimed that evening."

"I cannot lift more than a pound or 3 above chest height, and I can’t do that very long, so of course, I cannot work as a union carpenter, until after I have surgery on both shoulder joints and then recuperate. Jobs with medical are slim at this time and so I am stuck in a common limbo, hence the work being done to address Americans lack of medical."

Please cross-copy your letters to the following people:

Melina says, "I greatly appreciated those of you who can take a few moments to write in, it will at least help shed light on the issue of Police Brutality, it is prevalent here, and in my county, the Seattle Police are under investigation as well as the County Sheriffs office (who investigated two use of force complaints in the prior whole year) for excessive use of force, and lack of reporting it."

"If you could copy and paste your letter on the event page to share with others to use as an example, it would be helpful. Some are better than others at letter writing, and seeing examples helps much."

Melina Harris, shyeshye@gmail.com 

Mayor Suzette Cooke, mayor@kentwa.gov

Kent City Council, councilmembers@kentwa.gov

Chris Daniels, cdaniels@king5.com

Christine Clarridge, cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas at, KThomas@kentwa.gov

Kent Internal Investigations, Patrick Lowery, plowery@kentwa.gov

Public Defender Kristen Gestaut , Kristen.Gestaut@acapd.org 

Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board, CPBoard@atg.wa.gov 

WW DOJ Civil Rights, Special.Litigation@usdoj.gov

Governor Christine Gregoire Fax: (360) 753-4110

Cover letter for Pardon Petition

I suppose it would help to explain why your office has incoming with my name in it if I backed up a bit. Police union, Thompson statement, Police Chief
In 2004 some tradeswomen in the Seattle/Tacoma area wanted to start a local tradeswomen org to mentor and support the few women we had in Washington State, we met through the end of 2005 and in 2006, I had come back from running work on the east coast and spent a month granting what was asked for. I has said, when I turned 40 I would give 5 years back to the world. 

Tradeswomen are still at 2%, the same numbers they were at in 1978, when President Carter gave the executive order to address the issue. 

I incorporated it, built a website, got a P.O. Box, bank account, business cards, filed with the state charities and other agencies, and put in our request that was later granted to become a 501C3 nonprofit, and paid for most of it. As we didn’t know how to run a tradeswomen org, we reached out on the internet and found that the other orgs were not connected. As a solution to that, I started the Sisters Alliance Project, networking the women in trades and women in construction groups and orgs, and the women at large, as far as we could reach, sharing news, projects, programs, ideas, photos, issues, solutions, etc. This effort breathed life into existing orgs, turned The Women Build California conference into Women Build The Nation conference, it helped start new orgs, like the first tradeswomen nonprofit in Australia. It expanded, shared, started and grew programs and projects from coast to coast. 

April of 2011, the org was struggling with local politics due to winning international recognition from our industries largest data management company, McGraw Hill Engineering News Record, by making news maker of the year, as well as dealing with severely limited funding due to the fall of the industry. Two local industry leaders did their best to take the org out. I am sure you understand that there are still plenty of men who take offence to women with influence or power. I took sisters with me to NY for the Awards in Times Sq, set up a East-West Coast Gathering at the oldest trades school in NY, brought the conference organizer from the California Building Trades as well, and worked on breaking the record for attendance at an all crafts tradeswomen conference. We then headed to Boston for another East-West gathering for the same. Getting women from across the states and tradeswomen orgs, show up and connect, as well as some from Canada, we beat the record hard enough to get funding to have the conference again funded nationally.   I announced I was beat, done, fried, and burned out… I needed a break to decided on where to go from here, I had given my five years, fully, no dates, no movies, no books, no TV, just make it happen. 

I then got a call from the U of W, would I come speak as the expert at the five state university consortium regarding the Skilled Trades Disaster Response Project in June?  After that, I took a break, went on a date, to the movies, bought a good book, and ignored the computer for large chunks of time.

 In October I flew down to California to the Tradeswomen Inc Annual awards banquet and announced I would give another two years. When I announced it up here in Washington, several of my 52 god children delightedly decided, with the holiday coming up, we should have a formal costume required Halloween Party as part of the celebration. We did so, October 29th, 2011.
As the public defender and the civil rights attorney have insisted I do not make a statement, besides that I made on the stand, and that I don’t have the cash to get the transcripts. I will make a very basic statement here to fill in the blanks. There are a few hundred women out there, insisting I complete the run through appeal. 

At about 11:30 the night of the celebration, police arrived for a noise complaint. There were two officers, one was normal and pleasant and I had worked with prior, as one of the god children had needed to turn himself in as a run away. The officer had left him in my custody at the end of the call. 

There was a younger officer whom I refused to talk to, as he was hyper aggressive and made me nervous. 

I spoke to the older officer for a few minutes, it was concluded that just shutting the windows would suffice, and he turned and walked toward his car, and I back to my front door. 

The younger officer, who was highly agitated, followed me, until we were out of sight of the older officer, accosted me, then assaulted me, the impact of the blow leaving a ¾ inch hole through my face, and then cuffed and arrested me.