COPS BAN POSTER GUY

A Seattle Police officer has kicked Tim Crowley out of Seattle Center for a year.

Crowley is the campaign manager for Free Speech Seattle, the group trying to bring back posters to Seattle telephone poles. He was gathering signatures at the Seattle Center last Friday during a concert, when two Seattle Center employees approached him and told him to remove the campaign sign he had propped on a nearby tree.

Crowley said he wasn't aware of any law saying you can't hang a sign on a tree (there isn't one). He refused to take it down. The staffers called their boss, Jeremy Reynolds, supervisor of security for Seattle Center. Reynolds removed the sign from the tree, and Crowley ripped it out of his hands. According to the police report, Crowley's "eyes were bugging and his whole body was shaking." SPD officer J. Patchen had to step in between the two men.

Patchen banned Crowley from Seattle Center under a "trespass admonishment" policy that the SPD uses there. The cops say it's the same process they follow in other private spaces, like when someone is busted for shoplifting at QFC. The problem is that Seattle Center is city property, supported by $33 million in tax dollars. That means the government has banished a citizen from public property for the crime of political speech. Try explaining that one to a federal judge.--Ben Jacklet


MARK AND MINDY

A little over two years ago, Mindy Cameron, the editorial page editor for The Seattle Times, wrote a fawning public love letter to City Attorney Mark Sidran begging him to please, PLEASE run for mayor.

But alas, Sidran stuck with his current job, and the Times stuck to praising his work at every opportunity.

Even Cameron, however, could see the significance of U.S. District Judge John Coughenour's June 29 ruling. Coughenor said it was unconstitutional to make nightclubs get government permission for music and dancing. The ruling pretty much sunk Sidran's two-year quest for "added activities" licenses. The Times weighed in on July 2 with an unsigned editorial: "If Sidran continues to push for adoption of a [new club law], council members now have new questions to ask, including: Will it meet constitutional muster?"

Sidran's response arrived the same day; a desperate attempt to win back an old chum: "Dear Mindy: I am stunned by the inaccuracy and unfairness of your editorial... Mindy, I have never minded the rough and tumble of policy and political debates, but I do very much mind having my professional integrity and character impugned by suggesting I 'pooh-poohed' a federal judge's decision... I also find it amazing that your editorial can label the court's decision as 'a stinging rebuke' of my proposal... Would you please do me the courtesy of allowing me to submit an op-ed to share with your readers my views of Judge Coughenour's ruling?..."

At press time, Mindy still hadn't done him the favor.--Ben Jacklet


SHOULD I REALLY CALL THE COPS?

Governor Gary Locke's Domestic Violence Action Group--formed in response to the horrific Linda David case--is a commendable public look into a widely recognized social evil. It took a group of activist women, however, to directly tackle a lesser-known aspect of domestic abuse: violence in the African American community.

The newly formed African American Task Force on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault recently sponsored a four-day series of events, including a panel discussion at city hall two weeks ago, calling public attention to this taboo issue. They've received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Homicide among intimates is the number-one cause of death among black women aged 15 to 34," says Alisa Berrias, a legal advocate with the Cherry Street YWCA and a member of the task force.

Racism in the criminal justice system complicates the problem. "If we report [to the police]," task force member Elita Wright told a city council forum, "we know that our men will be harmed."

The task force will look at options like strengthening arrest policies and legal advocacy, increasing the number of available confidential shelter beds, and examining culturally appropriate services.--Erica Hall

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