Headwaters Nov.15, 1996 Civil Rights Lawsuit Update
...by Bonnie Blackberry
We started out this spring with a working meeting in Garberville with plaintiffs, witnesses and attorneys Dennis Cunningham and Mariah Baird. It was an informative and productive meeting with an opportunity for the attorneys and everyone to meet and discuss the lawsuit and what we need to do to proceed. Another smaller working meeting happened at videographer Kay Rudin's in early August to review videos and photos, and outline our next set of tasks.
Basically the lawsuit is moving along through the preliminary phase of exchanging evidence with the police. We have received some arrest records and police reports and have turned over statements from the nine named plaintiffs (representing the demonstrators). We have also submitted a 35-page document with our first set of interrogatory responses to the defendants and court.
On July 17, Dennis and Mariah attended a status conference in San Francisco Federal Court with Judge Charles Breyer and the attorneys for the police. Both Dennis and Mariah felt that the conference went well. A schedule was set for submitting additional facts including photos, videos and declarations from plaintiffs and witnesses by September 15. We plan to obtain more arrest records and videos from the police after we submit signed release forms from more witnesses.
The defendants have until September 30 to file an immunity motion with the court, or decide to do some depositions of the plaintiffs first, and then file their immunity motion in November.
I know of four other Federal Civil Rights lawsuits in the San Francisco Courts, and one here in Humboldt County, relating to police misconduct against environmental/forest demonstrators here in Humboldt County. Recent assaults and false arrests in the Mattole watershed may bring about more police abuse lawsuits, as well as legal actions against Pacific Lumber Co. security. Seems like Humboldt County is testing out a heavy duty hard line approach of harassment and scare tactics to disuade political dissent around the forest issue. Hopefully these lawsuits will change this situation.