Saturday, December 3, 2011

SHERIFF GAYLEN: "Well, if ...somebody tells me that there's going to be's my duty to stop them."

Protesters of Occupy Eureka were physically detained with handcuffs while the EPD removed and confiscated a 10'x 15' PVC structure which was the skeleton of what could have become a canopy and was being used as an informational space within which was a table with literature, buttons and bumper stickers. While "pallets" may have been near by, no pallet or tarp was ever placed on this "structure", which remained a skeleton at the time of this police action on Nov 30th, 2011. The following is an excerpt is from an email sent on Dec 2nd by City of Eureka CA, interim Chief of Police Murl Harpham:

From: Murl Harpham
Sent: Fri Dec 02 12:04:36 2011
Subject: RE: Shameful Constitutional Violations by Humboldt County!

" ....We even told them that they could put up a pop-up canopy to protect their handouts. But they pushed the envelope and put up a second and a third and then put walls around them and hauled in 23 wooden pallets for a room and people started living there again. After we removed that, then what happened? Less than a week later [Nov 30th] they brought in more pallets and started constructing a 10’ by 20’ structure..."
Flash back to:

March 1966

Robert Kennedy, as member of the US Senate Subcommittee on Migratory Labor he served on the committee hearings in Delano, Calif., during the early days of the UFW grape pickers strike.

Sen. Kennedy, who was one of the last to arrive on the third days of the hearings, along with an aide, Rev. James L. Vizzard, S.J., had to push by a local policeman after the policeman refused to budge, claiming that the local fire marshal was forbidding anyone further from entering the hall, despite Sen. Kennedy identifying himself as a member of the subcommittee.

More than 100 people were in the hall as the senators began taking their places at the committee table. Another 400 stood outside waiting for admission.

The left side of the auditorium was reserved for various classes from Delano High School, which rotated throughout the day. The middle section of the hall was occupied by members and friends of the anti-union Independent Kern-Tulare Farm Workers Association (IKTFW). Beside them and against the far wall were members of the NFWA and AWOC.

Sen. Harrison Williams (D-N.J.), the committee chairman, opened the session with a quick announcement that a rotation system was being worked out and at the lunch break the auditorium would be emptied and those presently waiting outside would be allowed to enter. He also warned the audience against demonstrations while testimony before the subcommittee was being given.

Mayor Clifford Loader was the first witness, welcoming the senators to Delano, but quickly pointing out that he felt their trip was unnecessary, since no strike really existed in the area. "The simple truth is, gentlemen, that there is no strike in Delano," he said.

Complying with the request made by Sens. George Murphy (R-Calif,) and Williams after Cesar Chavez's testimony in Sacramento on the opening day of the hearings, law enforcement officials from Kern and Tulare counties appeared before the subcommittee in Delano.

After several other witnesses testified, the law enforcement officials were asked to answer charges made by Chavez regarding their harassing of pickets and extending preferential treatment to the local growers.

Kern County District Attorney Kit Nelson acknowledged to the subcommittee that he had not arrested or taken any of the growers to trial because he personally held a "reasonable doubt" that the were guilty. He went on to emphasize to the senators, however, that he had warned a number of growers "not to break the law in the future, or I would have to enforce the provisions of the law."

Sheriff Leroy Galen from Kern County then answered questions put to him by Sen. Kennedy on the allegations that he and his department had badgered striking grape pickers by stopping them frequently on no charge, making unwarranted arrests, and repeatedly taking their pictures.

A subsequent exchange between the former US attorney general and a local symbol of "law and order" would later become the stuff out of which legends are made -- almost tantamount to sacred scripture -- in the farmworker communities throughout California's valleys, where the law has always stood for the will of the local growers, and order the enforcement of that will.

SEN. KENNEDY: "...When they [the pickets] are just walking along, what did you arrest them for?"

SHERIFF GAYLEN: "Well, if I have reason to believe that there's going to be a riot started and somebody tells me that there's going to be trouble if you don't stop them, it's my duty to stop them."

KENNEDY: "Then do you go out and arrest them?"

GAYLEN: "Yes."

KENNEDY: "And charge them?"

GAYLEN: "Charge them."

KENNEDY: "What do you charge them with?"

GAYLEN: "Violation of -- unlawful assembly."

KENNEDY: "I think that's most interesting. Who told you that they're going to riot?"

GAYLEN: "The men right out in the field that they were talking to said, 'If you don't get them out of here [the pickets], we're going to cut their hearts out.' So rather than let them get cut, we removed the cause ..."

KENNEDY: "As the former US attorney general, this is the most interesting concept, I think, that you suddenly hear talk about the fact that somebody makes a report about somebody going to get out of order, perhaps violate the law, and you go out and arrest them, and they haven't done any thing wrong. How can you arrest somebody if they haven't violated the law?"

GAYLEN: "They‚re ready to violate the law ..."

CHAIRMAN SEN. WILLIAMS: "We will recess ..."

KENNEDY: "Could I suggest that the district attorney and sheriff reconsider their procedures in connection with these matters, because it really is of great concern to me. In the last five minutes, it's a considerable concern to me."

GAYLEN: "Before I do anything, I ask the district attorney what to do. Just like these labor people out here, they ask their attorney, 'What shall we do?'"

KENNEDY: "Can I suggest in the interim period of time, the luncheon period of time, that the sheriff and the district attorney review their procedures and start by reading the Constitution of the United States!"

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