Thursday, June 21, 2007

Take Action Now for Police Accountability

From an email from a friend ...

There is an urgent need for action right now to help change police accountability politics in Seattle. Please take a minute to read the rest of the below email, email your City Council members, and attend a rally next Thursday, June 28, to help reform and strengthen citizen oversight of the Seattle Police Department.

As you may have read in recent newspaper articles, Seattle's Chief of Police, Gil Kerlikowske, recently orchestrated a cover-up for two police officers accused of planting drugs on people they arrested, using excessive force, and lying about their behavior. Chief Kerlikowske intervened in Office of Professional Accountability's (OPA) investigation of the allegations, helping guide the investigation in a way that exonerated the officers. The OPA's Auditor found the exonerations unfounded, while its civilian Review Board report (which you can read here) found that the Chief's intervention in the investigation was unethical.

There is a growing call for the City Council to intervene in this issue, review the reports, discipline the Chief, and reform Seattle's police accountability system so this kind of abuse cannot happen again. But unfortunately, instead of taking these issues seriously, the Chief of Police, the Mayor, and at least one City Councilmember (Jan Drago) are dismissing these critical reports out of hand and trying to stifle any serious discussion of reform.

Please contact your City Council members now and demand that they:

1. Read the OPA Review Board's report which documents the Police Chief's unethical behavior.
2. Support the OPA Review Board giving the City Council a briefing on the report.
3. Address problems raised in the report by considering reforms of Seattle's Police accountability process.

Please also attend a rally sponsored by the Seattle NAACP on the City Council steps at 4th and James next Thursday, June 28, at 12:15pm.

I can't stress to you enough how important it is for the City Council to receive these letters and see your presence outside their offices. Here is what a colleague of mine, who is a lawyer-activist, wrote to me about this issue:

There will not soon, if ever, be another case like [this]: one where the victim of the misconduct was brave enough and hopeful enough to actually make a complaint; where the events at issue were fully captured on videotape; where the videotape was preserved; where city, county & federal prosecutors did the right thing & notified defense lawyers of serious credibility problems about the officers involved; where a highly respected forensic video analyst analyzed the video & concluded that virtually no part of the officers' story could be true. If we cannot repudiate what happened here, we may as well give up on any pretense that we have police accountability in Seattle. A culture of impunity will be reaffirmed within SPD that it simply doesn't matter what you do as an officer -- you can be caught on videotape in flagrant untruths, and as long as the only person harmed is a criminal suspect, no one will care.

Thank you for reading this long email, and for taking any time that you can to act on this important issue. Please contact me if you have questions or need any additional information.

Trevor Griffey

PS Here are the emails for Seattle's City Councilmembers: (Make sure to thank Nick for his leadership on this issue-- he is the only one on the City Council to take a strong stand for police accountability so far)

Friday, June 15, 2007


Wednesday, June 20th, 6-8 PM

Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 911 Stewart St., Seattle

Immigrants share their own stories - Updates on immigration and trade legislation - CISPES delegates report on their recent trip to El Salvador - FREE!

Seattle CISPES is pleased to announce, in collaboration with CASA Latina and the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, an Immigration and Trade Teach-In on Wednesday, June 20th.

This distinctive event will examine the root causes of immigration from Latin America and the effects that U.S. trade and immigration policies have on families. Recent immigrants will share their own stories, while leaders of local organizations will speak out about current immigration and trade legislation. Additionally, CISPES activists will share from their recent experiences in El Salvador, where they visited the families of immigrants who have settled in Seattle.

Join us for a night of education and personal stories, and leave with ideas for concrete action you can take in solidarity with immigrants and the families in Latin America that depend upon them.

For more information, contact Seattle CISPES at 206.325.5494, or

Seattle CISPES - Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador
206.325.5494 -

Monday, June 04, 2007

SOA: School's Out

Yes! Magazine's summer issue focuses on Latin American social movements, including a brief article I wrote about opposition to the School of the Americas. It is on the newsstands now, and you can find it by clicking the headline above. Look for number 3 in a series of articles titled "U.S. Role Turned Upside Down: Why U.S. economic, military, and covert influence is waning."

Cómo ahumar un salmón

Last month I visited my sister in Barcelona, where she runs a language and arts school, called Collage. Recently they began hosting a monthly performance night for poets, musicians and artists to share their work. I translated and read one of my poems for the occasion. The original, How to smoke salmon, appears in an earlier post on this blog.

Cómo ahumar un salmón

Salarlos un día entero, reyes
jalados del océano por las redes barredoras.
Reemplazar parte de la mar con ajo
y jenjibre.

Prepara tu lugar de trabajo
debajo vigas que se agarran
a los cayucos. Recuerda:
no podemos nadar, tú y yo,
hasta el vientre del río.

Saca los filetes del cubo glacial.
Admira las escaleras de los huesos,
las manchas de carbón en escamas plateadas,
la carne rayada como hebra de madera.
Ya pronto tus dedos estarán iguales de helados.
Date cuenta de los huesos que esconden.

Coloca el ahumador en el concreto,
leña de nogal en pedazos
debajo el elemento. Deja espacio
que pase el aire, que se filtre
el humo en la carne. Cuenta cuentos
de nuevas amistades y de amores perdidos.
Deja que el humo te enjuague el cabello.

Siéntate, abre una lata de cerveza,
cuenta cuentos de viajes,
de recién nacidos y de tipos de interés.
Sal de paseo, deja que la lluvia
te cepille las cejas.

Al ratito, echa más leña
y un cuento triste;
de un sabio asesinado, quizás.
Esparce ceniza y rescoldo;
luciérnagas en el rocío.

Luego descansa,
sueña con la isla de Kodiak. Con algas.
Con pececitos, y los gordos que se los comen.
Y cuando te despiertas,
el desayuno te espera,
el salmón ahumado.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Venezuela and the Media: Fact and Fiction

"... the US media coverage of Venezuela’s RCTV controversy says more about the deficiencies of our own news media that it does about Venezuela. It demonstrates again, as with the invasion of Iraq, how our news media are far too willing to carry water for Washington than to ascertain and report the truth of the matter."

The art of the possible

What happened in a small town in Andalucía, with many homeless families and an unemployment rate of 70 percent, when people voted in a socialist mayor and town council? They built homes, soccer fields, swimming pools and cooperatives to process local wine, olives, beans, and peppers, and now they have to bring in workers from elsewhere ...

Read about it in "El imbatible alcalde de Marinaleda," by Juan Jesús Aznárez, El Pais May 17, 2007.