Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

The Man Who Broke the Camel’s Back

Posted by Arroyoribera on August 28, 2007

On June 27, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made a brief visit to the West Central Community Center in Spokane, Washington. There Gonzales held a closed meeting with leaders of the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s office and other law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, ATF, and DEA.

Clearly Gonzales anticipated sliding into this backwater town in conservative Eastern Washington over the lunch hour to do the Bush Administration’s undemocratic bidding.

Yet, as one might have guessed, a visit by then disgraced and now resigned U.S Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was the target of a spirited, old-fashion American protest by Spokane area activists of all stripes, from Unitarians and Democrats to anarchists and leftist to civil libertarians and anti-torture activists.

Protesters gathered starting at 12:15 PM at the West Central Community Center. Law enforcement also gathered early. Along with the FBI and Secret Service was SPD Officer Tramell “Mel” Taylor, plain clothed and looking for all the world like a Secret Service agent himself in his tailored suit and ear piece. Taylor told one protester that he would be arrested if he did not get off the sidewalk in front of the Community Center and then ordered him to stand in a “designated protest area” in the park. Thus it was clear from the start that Spokane law enforcement intended to use and abuse its power to restrict freedom of expression and free assembly.

[Plain-clothed SPD Officer Tramell “Mel” Taylor (left) watches as Officer Grenon explains to U.S. citizens the rules and location of designated “free speech” zone at the June 27, 2007 Alberto Gonzalez protest in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Brian Plonka–Spokesman Review) ]

Later, after a brief conversation with a Spokane Police officer and acting with the righteous indignation and decisiveness that Congress could never muster, Spokane resident Dan Treecraft simply lifted the yellow police ribbon and ducked under it.

Three Spokane Police officers wrenched Treecraft’s arms behind his back, choked him, attempted to trip him, tried to jam his head into the side of a patrol car, and finally took him to the ground between two patrol cars and out of sight of TV cameras.


Video: SPD Officer choking Dan Treecraft

Simultaneously, inside the West Central Community Center Gonzales shared what Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich later called “top secret sensitive information” with law enforcement. And of course, proving my point that the gang issue is being manipulated in Spokane, Gonzales stated that “I don’t know anything about it”.

Among those denied access to the meeting were the local media and three Spokane City Council members.

The Sheriff, the SPD, federal law enforcement and Gonzales want the people of Spokane to believe that Spokane has a significant gang problem. As others have said, Spokane does have a gang problem–an out of control Spokane Police Department and the Guild that runs it.

To this date, it is not known what Gonzales really said to the Spokane law enforcement officials or why he was really here. Some speculate that it was a warning from Gonzales to the FBI and other law enforcement present that the SERE/JPRA/Torture scandal was only just beginning, that Spokane would be a focus, and that it was likely to get quite ugly so be prepared to crack heads as necessary. Others speculate that Gonzales gave his blessing and a go-ahead to the SPD, under seige after years of impunity, corruption, incompetence and unwarranted violence against the citizens of Spokane. One person close to the Spokane Police Department called the event “a fund-raiser” for local law enforcement, providing support for SPD and other agencies’ efforts to acquire federal funds for augmenting their arsenals of AR15, tasers, and other ever more powerful weaponry.

The real question continues to be why the meeting was held in a public location yet closed to the public’s attendance. Certainly Gonzales could have simply flown into Fairchild, or the Spokane International Airport, or Felts Field and taken a police car into the basement of the Public Safety Building to hold a truly secret meeting.

The answer to the question is that we live in police state, under terms of the Patriot Act and due to executive orders, many of them secret, signed by President Bush. The current gang in the White House and their allies in agencies throughout government see no need to act as if they are hiding anything, no need to pretend that their surveillance state is a disgrace and a crime. And throughout it all, Alberto Gonzales has “counseled” the President, politicizing the Justice Department, and undermining democracy.

On August 15, 2007 Gonzales met with tribal leaders of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Center to discuss curbing crime and announced $3 million worth of Department of Justice grants to tribes.

At that time, Gonzeles said, “I think what the American people expect of the Department of Justice is for it to do its job”, and went on to say, “I came here today to make certain my own commitment.”

On June 27, 2007, Dan Treecraft decided “to do his job” as a citizen and “make certain his own commitment”. Turns out — as the last person arrested in the U.S. protesting the lies, coverups, and illegal actions of Alberto Gonzales — Dan Treecraft was the man that broke the camel’s back.

Seven days later, despite Treecraft’s defiant act and courageous defense of our traditions of free speech, free assembly and protest, the Spokane Police brutally suppressed a peaceful 4th of July gathering and protest in Spokane’s Riverfront Park.

Sixty days later, on August 26, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales passed into the rogues gallery of infamous U.S. politicians. His place is assured next to George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Nixon, Halderman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, Haig, and Kissinger in the pantheon of near-fascists, war-criminals and anti-democratic elites of this country.

If President Bush is ignorant enough to repeat his own 2004 visit to Spokane, I am bringing my lucky nickel and my friend Dan Treecraft. Maybe he can break another camel’s back.

Lesson: Don’t think you can come to Spokane and meet secretly with taxpayer-paid civil servants and get away with it. As the Gonzales visit makes clear, it may be your last secret visit.

(It should be mentioned that a second protester, Rebecca Lamb, was also arrested. Lamb, in a wheelchair due to a leg injury, had her chair extending just barely across the line set by the SPD. When she refused to roll her wheel chair back, she too was arrested.)

Parting question: Do you think now with Alberto Gonzales gone that the SPD will still get all those millions from the Department of Justice to fight “gangs” in Spokane?

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