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Organizer Wes Modes Again Under Attack
Wes Modes reports in a letter I received and read aloud over Free Radio that he is again under attack, this time for his support of the annual DIY New Year's Eve parade. Coming on the heels of his defense of the Wednesday Drum Circle next to the Farmer's Market, this latest attack apparently threatens to return him to court and jail.
From: The Spoon
Subject: [last night] Former New Year's Parade Organizer in Court: It gets much more serious
To: lastnightdiy [at] lists.riseup.net
Date: Friday, April 9, 2010, 10:51 AM
Well, this is getting interesting.
If you participated or enjoyed the wonder that is our community's do-it-yourself New Year's parade, this will be of interest to you.
For background, this event has been going for five years without incident. The Sentinel has said up to ten thousand people show up for this community event. Participants take care of all the details, clean-up, traffic control, and so on. While people helped make this do-it-yourself event happen in the first few years, no one has organized the event in several years. No one has ever been cited for organizing or participating in the parade, until this year when I (and I alone) was sent a citation months after the parade.
I appeared in court this morning on the infraction charge of 10.65.030(a) "Conducting a Non-Commercial Event Without a Permit." This was an arraignment hearing where the court heard my plea. Supposed to be a pretty simple thing. I appeared in Dept 2, having dismissed the traffic commissioner in Dept 10.
Here's where it gets kinda crazy. I found out the night before that the District Attorney's Office was persuing the matter as a violation of my plea deal in the long drawn-out drum circle case in which I was charged with battering a police officer.
Hmm, smell like a set up to you?
Because this is an infraction, I am not elligible for a jury trial or a public defender and the judge wants to deal with this as quickly as possible. I asked for two months and a pre-trial hearing which Judge Burdock refused. Instead, he set the whole thing for trial, including the disposition of my earlier drum circle sentence in just over a month. In other words, whether targeted or just a victim of conincidence, I now stand to possibly go to jail after having been charged with organizing the parade.
The trial will be May14th at 1:30pm. This is very little time to prepare a defense for a case that has gone from trivial to very serious.
If you are interested in helping, here's what we will need urgently:
Money for a good lawyer, possible fines, and other legal costs
Witnesses who can testify that I did not organize this year's Last Night parade
Letters from people who self-organized their participation in the parade
Press coverage of this attack on first amendment rights
People willing to organize fundraisers and benefits
Again, this is not about me nor about individuals, but about our community's right to have a celebration. To be clear, neither I nor any of the original organizers have done anything to organize the parade in years, other than occasionally updating the website. The parade is an example of communities coming together to create a diverse and interesting celebration without the help of the city, businesses, or institutions. A true do-it-yourself parade in which people self-organize. Holding one person hostage to squash the jubilant celebration of a whole town is offensive. What kind of community response can we offer?
So the city is attempting to use the selectively-enforced and speciously-targeted parade infraction (MCSC 10.65.030(a) "Conducting a non-commercial event without a permit") to claim that I violated the agreement of my plea deal for the drum circle debacle.
In the previous case, after 15 months, dozens of court appearances, and thousands of hours of legal work, I took a deal where I pleaded guilty to two offenses I didn't commit in order to put an end to a seemingly endless legal process. In exchange, I got a suspended sentence whereby after a year and hundreds of hours of community service, the more serious charge would be dropped and the lesser charge would be sentenced.
They are using the parade infraction to say that I blew the deal and now should be sentenced for both previous crimes.
I talked to a lawyer on Monday, a good attorney who often defends homeless and activist cases, and more importantly wins them. We're hoping we may be able to get both the infraction and the misdemeanors settled at the end of this, with the huge amount of community service hours I have working in our favor.
We should have the discovery materials, their "evidence" by the end of the week.
It is not out of the question to file a civil suit against the city for a civil rights violation. Especially with the previous parade planning infiltration dealie in which the city's own auditor concluded that the police likely violated our civil rights.
In any case, I'd like to see this become a small media storm, a little rain upon the vindictive smugness of our city manager and attorney. It is deeply disengenuous that city administrators simultaneously complain that they have no money and then attack a community event when people choose to make it happen themselves.
We are planning one of several benefits with Guerilla Drive-In on Sat May 8th. Showing "To Kill a Mockingbird," speakers, information, know your rights, etc.