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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Cotton’

Days Of Action Against Police Brutality, Oct 22-23 2013 EUREKA

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Below is a reportback from Skye, a participant this year.  Verbena, of Redwood Curtain CopWatch, wrote the following 3 paragraphs only to fill in what Skye was not present for.

Sending love & comfort & solidarity to young Andy Lopez‘ spirit and his family & community.  13 year old Andy was killed by Santa Rosa deputies on Oct 22.Image

from Verbena
On the night of Oct 22, 2013, while some protestors slept at Cesar Chavez park, a couple of us went, from midnight to 3am, to the Humboldt County Jail for “Welcome Out”!  ImageWe sat in a car right near where people exit the jail, with a bin of warm socks and clothes, tobacco, and a sign on the windshield to welcome people out on the cold, blustery night.  It is such a worthwhile and necessary activity; should be a regular thing. We encountered about 7 people who needed something warm, the use of a phone, maybe a cigarette, a friendly face and listening ears.

The next morning, October 23rd, people gathered for breakfast at Clarke Plaza, open to everyone who was hungry or wanting coffee or tea.  One of Chris Burgess’ brother’s came by; this being the 7th anniversary of his brother’s death.  Even those of us who never met Christopher during his short life, will always remember him.

After some music, some tears, and gathering up our signs, we marched and biked to Eureka Police Department where murder and cruelty are common practice.  And where violent creeps, like Terence Liles, Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez, Murl Harpham, and Justin Winkle, reside.  We are not afraid to call that out. Then we moved on (happily) to the neighborhoods of Eureka, where we talked with folks, and people remember Christopher and show spirited agreement- from their cars, houses, and yards- with the messages in our chants and banners: STOP POLICE BRUTALITY, LILES IS A KILLER, BEING A YOUTH IS NOT A CRIME, R.I.P. ZACHARY COOK (DEC 23 1989-JAN 4 2007) KILLED BY EPD’S LILES, CHANGE IS POSSIBLE,  WE REMEMBER CHRIS BURGESS. With dignity and strength, and care for each other, we decry and defy the intimidation of the police state.  ~Verbena

from Skye 10-25-13
For the past eighteen years, cities across the United States have rallied on October 22nd to show solidarity against police brutality. I am learning that occurrences of police brutality are much more numerous and severe in the United States than they are back home in Canada. A sad truth that is only deepened through the discovery that such violence often leads to death. This sharp reality felt all too often in the communities of the most northern part of California where police brutality ranges from daily intimidation to outright murder, tasering to decades of confined isolation.

Typically a one day event, the March is extended to two days in Eureka to honour the memory of Christopher Burgess, a 16 year old who was shot by a Eureka police officer on October 23rd, 2006. The supporters met at noon on the 22nd to share in discussion, food, and sign making. Despite the cloudy skies and serious purpose, spirits were high with the anticipation to flex our vocal cords and work our legs during the march. The call went out to begin and we each picked up a sign and gathered outside the park on the street.

Marching along an unplanned route, the group walked past the high school as the students were being released for the day. ImageMany showed their support to the idea of removing police from schools. An understandable reaction from students who are finding their schools resembling prisons more and more – security check points, undercover police, random locker searches, metal detectors. I hope we realize soon that treating people like criminals does not help in any way, especially when they are not. After a quick break the group continued to march through the city, waving signs, yelling chants, and throwing up peace signs to passing traffic.

Much to the group’s gratitude, the police encounters passed by without incident. Many people showed their support for our protest with honks from their vehicles as they drove by. The drivers who found themselves in a hurry were not too pleased with our presence on the street, even though we always left room for them to pass around. An understandable reaction to the injustice of having one’s life run by a clock – we wished them free time in response to their show of frustration. As the time to march came to a close, we stopped at another park to set up for the evening’s events.

An abundant feast was gifted to the sore footed group to nourish their bodies and hearts after the day’s walk. And while we ate, entertainment of the highest calibre was shared for our pure enjoyment. As night fell the community came a little closer together through the sharing of gifts and the exciting of our taste buds and ear drums. The live music provided reflection and introspection, as well as laughter and participation. Deeper connections were made as we were given space to share stories, jokes, and hugs. Through the coming together over a common surface problem, we are given practice to dive deeper into a shared community experience.Image

 After dark fell, a humid, foggy candlelight vigil took the remaining group back to the day’s starting point for an overnight park camp out. This is where my path diverged – to return the next day in the late afternoon with one of my gifts – fresh cucumber mango guacamole and baked yam fries. Posted on a busy street corner with signs and free food for whomever was hungry, the group honored the fallen victims by sharing their stories with passerby’s. Another year to gather and remember those whose lives continue to be afflicted by the brutality of violence from those we give our trust to be protectors.

I am grateful for the opportunity to show support to a community bringing awareness to an important shadow of our culture – the disconnection that allows one person to take another’s life and to perpetuate violence of the most disgraceful sort. The pervasive and obvious favoritism, elitism, and corruption infecting the enforcement agencies of this area have left me stunned and humbled. I honor and acknowledge the challenges faced by a population of people who are dealing with such a horrible treatment on a regular basis. No being deserves oppression at any level – be it physical, psychological, or spiritual. To commit such acts of violence require a disconnection from one’s heart so vast that the whisper of consciousness seems to have disappeared entirely.

Somewhere inside, buried deeper in some, the spark of light resides and awaits its chance to be heard and felt. This light exists in all of us. A hell inside creates the horrors of our lives. The love inside creates heaven on Earth. In this dawning age of truth, justice, and integrity we are each asked to step into our highest expression and to take responsibility for the actions we take and words we speak. Are you looking at a badge, uniform, or costume – or are you looking into someone’s eyes and seeing them standing there – as scared as you are – as full of beautiful creative potential as you are? The resolution and healing processes being born through the new consciousness of humanity will seek not the false, demeaning, and inadequate deterrence and ‘punishment’ oriented solutions, but ones focusing on root causes, emotional healing, and collective community restoration. Sickness and health in a community is shared by all.

photos from Rogue Planet News and radmul.blogspot.com

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

Eureka Officers Viciously Beat Martin and Left Him to Die in Jail Cell

Eureka, CA: A jury delivered a resounding victory for plaintiffs in a police misconduct civil rights case by awarding the total sum of $4,575,000 against the City of Eureka and Eureka police officers Adam Laird, Justin Winkle, and Gary Whitmer for the death of Martin Cotton II. Punitive damages were assessed against the three officers. Mr. Cotton, a 26 year-old man living on the streets died of blunt force head trauma. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Vicki I. Sarmiento of Los Angeles County, were Mr. Cotton’s 5 year-old daughter and his father. The jury found that Officers Laird and Winkle used excessive force, and that all three officers failed to provide medical care.

 

On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Winkle, Laird, Whitmer, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. In broad daylight, officers pummeled Mr. Cotton’s head and body then brought Mr. Cotton to jail, failing to seek medical assistance for him. Expert testimony presented by the plaintiffs established that timely medical care would have saved Mr. Cotton’s life. Mr. Cotton died in the jail cell within two hours.

 

Painful video of Mr. Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial.

 

The fatal beating of Mr. Cotton occurred outside the Eureka Rescue Mission. Police were dispatched to the Mission for a disturbance involving Mr. Cotton. When they arrived, Mr. Cotton was no longer in the Mission and was alone and defenseless. Laird and Winkle claim they ordered him to put his hands behind his back and he did not move. Both officers pepper sprayed him, Officer Winkle kneed him in the ribs and forced him to the ground where the officers beat him. Mr. Cotton made no moves against the police and remained prone on the concrete. Officer Whitmer (the third officer on the scene) gave a running kick to Mr. Cotton, battered him with a baton, and pepper-sprayed him. More officers arrived and joined in the beating. The trial of Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka included police readily admitting they they sat on Mr. Cotton, forced his head onto the concrete throughout the beating, kicked him, hit him with a metal baton, kneed at his vulnerable organs, deployed pepper spray three times, and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The officers, however, denied hitting Mr. Cotton in the head, most likely because blunt force head trauma was determined as the cause of death.  Crucial testimony came from two civilian witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least Officer Winkle pounding on Mr. Cotton’s skull multiple times on the concrete. One witness said he heard “fist-to-skull”, “bone-on-bone” from those head strikes.

 

The verdict was announced September 23, 2011 after a two week trial and 7 hours of jury deliberation in Federal Court in Oakland. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain her father suffered and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to show that the officers’ actions “shocked the conscience.” The jury also found that the officers acted with “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, and assessed punitive damages, $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer.

 

Mr. Cotton was one of many people killed by police in the Humboldt region from fall 2005 to fall 2007. 

 

Attorney Vicki Sarmiento hopes the verdict sends shockwaves to other officers who may consider committing such atrocities in the future. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else. We as a community, we as a society, cannot tolerate it.” Ms. Sarmiento speaks of the victory, “The jury’s decision showed respect for Martin Cotton’s life. They acknowledge the wrong that occurred and acknowledge that Martin’s life had value. The issue of human dignity and humanity is what this is about, and that everyone has a right to have that.”

###

 

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Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police (VIDEO included)

This link will also bring you to the video-taped interview from after the verdict.  Video is also below.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/23/18691150.php

Greetings,

The resounding jury decision could not have happened without the years of dedication by Redwood Curtain CopWatch; the courage, strength, and graciousness of Marty Cotton Sr.; the critical solidarity and organizing of the Oscar Grant Committee; the generosity of a few righteous Oakland attorneys; the networking and sharing of resources by Berkeley CopWatch; the bravery of the civilian witnesses to tell the truth; and the sharp, brilliant, hard work from the Cottons’ attorneys, Vicki I. Sarmiento and Dale K. Galipo.

Solidarity from people in and near Oakland throughout the trial – some being folks in the IWW, the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, the SDS and MDS – has been so important.

Having read yesterday’s article from the Eureka Times-Standard, I want to make something clear.  Contrary to how the local Humboldt mainstream media would like to misconstrue reality, the Eureka cops, through their brutal punches and slamming of Martin’s head on the concrete, then throwing him in a cell without medical help, killed Martin.  The cops caused his painful death and used their hands to do it. And the jury got a grave understanding of that, and decided on a “wrongful death” verdict.

This federal jury decision in the Cotton case is a victory and gift for the people. I hope that people who live outside, live on the streets in and around Eureka can breathe easier; feel proud for the marching, protesting and speaking out about Martin’s death; and also feel some vindication because the brazen intimidation and violence that the cops inflict on people living on the streets has been officially recognized.  

Thank You, Martin “Fred” Cotton. 

We will continue to work together for DIGNITY for all lives.

Long Live Martin Cotton!  Long Live Troy Davis! 
Long Live the Strength of the People and Power of the Truth! ~Verbena

Below is a great summary.

Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police, Interview: Video

by dave id  Friday Sep 23rd, 2011

On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, Adam Laird, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. Eureka police pummeled Martin Cotton’s body and head in broad daylight, using pepper spray repeatedly. Martin Cotton was then sent to jail without being offered medical treatment. He died in jail within about an hour. A federal civil rights lawsuit in Oakland was filed to seek justice for Martin on behalf of his young daughter. The case, Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka, included the testimony of police readily admitting they beat Martin Cotton all over his body and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The police however denied that they hit Martin Cotton in the head, most likely because blows to the head were determined to be the cause of death.

 

At about 1pm on September 23rd, the verdict was announced for the two-week trial. A seven-person jury found unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs, big time. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain Martin Cotton suffered at the hands of Eureka police and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Additionally, Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to meet the highest burden of proof in a civil trial, that is that the murder of Martin Cotton “shocked the conscience.” A rare award of punitive damages against the three officers required a finding of “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, for which the jury assessed $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer, who arrived at the scene late but joined in on the beating.

 

Crucial to the verdict was the testimony of two witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least officer Winkle striking Martin Cotton’s skull. Painful video of Martin Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial which obviously effected jurors, four of whom wore black in solidarity with the family today as the verdict was read.

 

In the video below, Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento and Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch speak about the verdict re-establishing Martin Cotton’s humanity and the shockwaves they hope the decision will send through the ranks of police who may consider committing such atrocities in the future.

martincotton_verdict-interview_092311.jpg

[Pictured above: Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch and Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento]

Quote from MDS, SDS, and Oscar Grant Committee:
“This victory uplifts our spirits and gives us strength to step up the struggle against police violence, brutality, murder and other forms of state repression that occur on a regular basis. One victory , many battles
still to be fought”

 

http://www.indybay.org/js/flowplayer/FlowPlayer.swf

Video-Taped Interview from after the Verdict

Also, the below links are to video from the Sept. 21st press conference held in front of the Federal Building in Oakland:

http://www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/907.

or

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/22/18691008.php

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TRIAL BEGAN SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 at 8:30am

[RALLY at 7:30am on 12th, first day of trial]

Trial Wed (9/14), Thurs (9/15), Friday (9/16), Wed (9/21)  
8:30am- 2:30pm  
Must have U.S. ID or Passport to go in

READ UPDATES:  1  2  3

Please join Redwood Curtain CopWatch in attending the trial.  We are organizing with groups in the Bay Area also.  If you are interested in going to Oakland for any part of the trial, please get in contact: copwatchrwc@riseup.net   707.633.4493
More on Martin’s death here.

TO DOWNLOAD ABOVE FLIER: http://redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/files/Flier_CottonTrial.jpg

 

*JURY TRIAL in FEDERAL COURT in OAKLAND*

begins Monday, Sept 12th 8:30am
1301 Clay St. 4
th floor, Courtroom #1
Oakland, CA
U.S. District Court- Northern District

                 

PLEASE JOIN SEPT 12 RALLY OUTSIDE COURT 7:30AM


Be PRESENT at the trial:
Mon 9/12 Wed 9/14 Thurs 9/15 Fri 9/16 Wed 9/21


Dignity for ALL… Justice for Martin Cotton!

UPDATES:  

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/15/18690439.php

http://www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/900

Redwood Curtain CopWatch: 707.633.4493  copwatchrwc@riseup.net
Oscar Grant Committee: 510.655.5764


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Martin F. Cotton II was BEAT TO DEATH by Eureka Police and Humboldt Sheriff’s on August 9th, 2007. 

Please join us Tuesday August 9th, 2011 in Remembrance of Martin Cotton and in Resistance to the injustice system that took his life.

Martin Cotton won’t be forgotten!  Stop Police Brutality

—1:00pm RALLY

in front of the Courthouse in Eureka

and Walk to the Boardwalk

for peaceful REMEMBRANCE of Martin

We have plenty of signs, some from past demonstrations and a bunch from folks in the Bay area- sent in support of Justice for Martin Cotton

Then, later on…

—6:00pm  “Tell It Like It Is!” Open Mic: Survival Stories about Police Violence

at Synapsis 47 W 3rd Street, Eureka

light dinner and refreshments

music, poetry, spoken word, any way you want to express your experience, or just be there!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUT ON COTTON DAY or organize in the near future for public presence at the civil rights trial set to begin in September against the City of Eureka and County of Humboldt, please contact Redwood Curtain CopWatch.  707.633.4493  copwatchrwc@riseup.net

Click the link below to hear a song for Martin Cotton by Two Smooth Stones. 

Cotton Day Song

***

Every year, people gather in Eureka on August 9th to protest the violence of the police, coverups of truth, abusive acts against houseless people, and the insane and cruel behavior of the state toward those of us experiencing emotional or mental crises. Martin Cotton’s death requires us to examine all of these inhumanities.

We also gather to remember Martin (or Freddy, as he is also known by many), to honor and support his family, and to share and connect in a good way with other survivors of police brutality and intimidation. Martin’s brutal death was witnessed by many houseless people, causing them great trauma and fear. Speaking out against the violence UNITES and EMPOWERS us. We are learning to defend each other and share healing and strength- so many of us, hurt and frightened.

We insist on dignified and compassionate treatment of ALL people.

If you can help with food, signs, candles, or ideas, please get in contact. Participate in this protest of police violence, help create a space of honoring and peace for Martin’s spirit and his family, and tell it like it is at the open mic!

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There has been no response.

From: Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community
Date: Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 3:05 PM
Subject: Message to Dan Ice, Exec Director of Eureka Rescue Mission: November 30, 2010
To: erm.director@sbcglobal.net

Greetings,

My name is Verbena Lea, and I am the Executive Director of PARC [Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community] in Eureka. After I phoned the Eureka Rescue Mission Executive Office on November 28, 2010, I received a return call from you the next day at the PARC office. I had back to back appointments and phone calls that day and apologize that I was unable to return your call. I appreciate your quick response; I was informed that you were going through some trying times, and hope you are well today.

I have many concerns about the Eureka Rescue Mission, and have for some time. Here I will share with you some of my concerns and also a request. please send to me, in hard copy and/or electronic versions, the Eureka Rescue Mission’s policies, rules, requirements, and by-laws.

Some of my concerns are related to what is purported to be Mission policy and what is actually enforced or imposed upon some or all of the people wishing to access the services. Much of my knowledge and understanding of the workings and requirements of the Mission are quite disturbing. I also have serious concerns related to the honesty and integrity of your employee, Bryan Hall – with respect to his treatment of program members and others seeking to access services at the Mission, in addition to his influence on Mission policies and attitudes, being that he is in a position of authority. Mr. Hall’s public defense of the fatal police beating of Martin Cotton in August of 2007 was not only incredulous but disconcerting. Furthermore, his indifference to the trauma experienced now and then by other people at the Mission who witnessed the beating puts into question where Mr. Hall’s loyalties truly lie and raises severe concerns as to his sense of humanity and his treatment and consideration of people who utilize Mission resources.

When examining the Eureka Rescue Mission website, I find a number of discrepancies or perhaps omissions in terms of what is stated on the website versus what really happens at the Mission and what is required of people seeking shelter and/or meals at the Mission.

I would like to point out a repeat occurrence that is just one part of a longer list of what I consider unethical and troubling practices of the Eureka Rescue Mission. There are announcements, from time to time, by Mission staff, forbidding certain activities outside of the Mission, for instance, sitting in certain areas of town. These announcements include explicit threats of exclusion from access to food and shelter at the Mission for anyone who engages in such activities. Given the non-threatening and non-violent nature of such ‘forbidden’ activities, such as sitting in certain areas of town, the Mission’s arbitrary rules seem unreasonable, intrusive and oppressive, and appear to emerge from the whims (and fears) of whoever is in charge at the time.

As stated above, I am hereby requesting written and/or electronic copies of the policies, by-laws, and any other written and unwritten rules, requirements, guidelines, tenets, etc. of the Eureka Rescue Mission. My purpose is to gain some clarity as to how the Mission is supposed to be functioning in our community, which I may find is different than how it currently functions. Most important, I think it is critical to have transparency from the Eureka Rescue Mission, not only for myself, but also for the organizations I work with, the people who frequent the Mission, people who may in the future seek to volunteer or receive assistance at the Mission, and the general public. I am aware that the Mission receives consistent monetary and other donations from the community. Integrity demands that the same community be provided the truth, so it may understand how the Mission conducts itself. The community deserves to know, not only how many beds, meals, and sermons occur, but also the systematic indignities that unfortunately are perpetuated by the Eureka Rescue Mission against people who need to utilize its resources. I imagine that your Board of Directors is unaware of some of the nefarious goings-on at the Mission by people in positions of authority and that the Board does not know of some of the unpublished “policies.” Thus, I intend to respectfully make the Board members aware.

Please understand that my request comes from a sincere care for the well-being, rights and dignity of all people. Perhaps my request will present your organization with an opportunity to examine how things are going, tidy up, solidify its position on various aspects of its operations, and tend to any situations or practices of the Mission that are at odds with the humanitarian and empowering example of Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your immediate attention to these matters. Please respond at your earliest convenience. Electronic documents can be sent to this email, and hard copies to the PARC address below.

Sincerely,
Verbena Lea
Executive Director
Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community [PARC]
1617 Third Street
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 442-7465
parc.office@gmail.com

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Did you know That the Eureka Rescue Mission…

prohibits gay people from being there?

Did you know that the Mission

sends out spies to watch what people do when they are not at the Mission, and kicks them out if found, for instance, smoking pot?

Did you know that

even after Martin Cotton was beat to death by Eureka Police in front of many people who stay at the Mission, and even though the police target people who are homeless and stay at the Mission, Bryan Hall (Mission Director) has the men who use the Mission do free labor cleaning up around the police station?

Recently, Bryan Hall, was overheard talking with Eureka Police Officers on the phone about “cleaning up” behind the Ingomar Club- and “running everyone [homeless people] out of there.”

Did you know?…

When Bryan Hall, who was the Mission’s House Manager when Martin Cotton was fatally beaten by the cops, LIED PUBLICLY and said that the cops did nothing excessive to Martin, he [Bryan] was ON PAROLE?

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