EARLY IN THE afternoon on Saturday, October 7, Seattle police arrested a pregnant woman who was doing nothing more than having a garage sale on East Harrison Street in Capitol Hill. As the woman, Monica Eve Jones, is white, one can only wonder whether the arrest constitutes a lame attempt on the part of the SPD to dispel nagging claims that they are biased when making arrests.

Here's how events transpired, according to police reports and a Stranger exclusive interview with Jones: SPD Officer T. W. Jelcick received an anonymous 911 call at 12:44 p.m., complaining of an illegal yard sale. Upon arriving at the scene, Jelcick noticed racks of clothes, tables, and boxes filled with goods sporting price tags. Jelcick learned that neither Monica Jones nor her fiancé Jake Rice had a permit to hold a sale on the planting strip (the grass that runs between the sidewalk and the road), which is city property. Jelcick asked Jones, an acupuncturist, her name. He claims she replied, "Melanie A. Jones." Jelcick says he warned "Melanie" and Rice to pack up and leave, and when they started to do just that, he drove away.

But half an hour later, Jelcick returned to discover that Jones and Rice had not made any progress in cleaning up their yard sale. In fact, they were still accepting money for merchandise. An argument ensued, and Jelcick threatened to cite the two for having a sale without a permit. The couple packed up the goods in 15 minutes. (Jones says, "That's because other people started helping us. [Jelcick] wasn't nice at all.")

It's unclear why, but backup in the form of Sgt. MaHaffey arrived on the scene. It was then that Jelcick learned that Jones' first name is really Monica, not Melanie. "She accused me of first not hearing her and then of lying," Jelcick says in his report. "She also mentioned that she was pregnant and this whole incident was causing her heart to race. When I offered to call a Medic unit, both she and Rice refused, saying if we left them alone, Monica would calm down. I decided to place Monica in custody for false reporting." Jones was booked at the King County Jail, where she spent the next nine hours.

This arrest raises alarming questions about SPD activity, mainly whether the department, in an attempt to prove its evenhandedness, is now boosting arrests of white pregnant women, who were once seen as above reproach. "Everybody has to be treated the same," says SPD spokesman Clem Benton. "There's no discriminating between sexes and races and religion." Benton also denies that the department is cracking down on Capitol Hill yard sales, much like it cracked down on the recent spate of crime in Belltown. "If we get a call, we have to respond to it," he says.

phil@thestranger.com

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