The San Francisco Board of Supervisors had a Rules Committee meeting on Thursday morning where the first order of business was to pass a resolution supporting Josh Wolf, a young freelance journalist who was put into federal prison a couple of weeks ago for not turning over his raw video footage of a Mission District Anarchist march on July 8, 2005 where a policeman was injured.
There were a parade of speakers in support of the resolution...
...including Ben Rosenfeld, one of Josh's lawyers.
Each member of the public had three minutes to speak to the committee...
...and they were an impressive bunch...
...ranging from the National Lawyers Guild, the Grand Jury Resistance Project...
...and various local publications such as the reactionary San Francisco Sentinel, who didn't agree with Josh's politics but who were supporting him in principle.
Even Bruce Brugmann, the venerable publisher of the old leftist weekly, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, made an appearance saying he often goes around the country trying to get journalists out of jail but was astonished that this had happened in San Francisco.
Marc Solomon wanted to know who had federalized the case in the first place since it was completely a local matter, and under California's reporter shield law, Josh Wolf had no obligation to turn over his "notes" or his unedited video footage to the local authorities.
The great polemicist h. Brown delivered a wonderful speech in his three minutes, naming names and calling the local police liars. The next day, he sent out a bulletin to his friends and enemies about the hearing that amplified his remarks, along with stating his contempt for how the committee meeting had progressed.
"The Rules Committee hearing was a lame tease. Reason I say that, is because the hearing was poorly organized, shallow and played as a one-shot press op for Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. While the issue should have been continued to every Rules agenda until Josh Wolf is released from prison, Mirkarimi chose to send the incomplete package to the full Board where it will receive a meaningless endorsement on a 10-1 vote next week."
"Plus, the cops and feds were no-shows at Rules hearing. The cops can argue they weren’t given an opportunity to speak because, first, they weren’t invited and, second, they were at a funeral for a cop killed in the line of duty. Mirkarimi left the committee open to that charge when he denied Sean Elsbernd’s request to continue the matter until the committee could hear from the cops and feds."
Committee member Tom Ammiano was perfectly willing to continue the matter, but yielded to Ross. Thus, in a move that can only be called stupid, Mirkarimi has allowed the cops to play victim and no one can argue with them. If I were Aaron Peskin, I’d hand the gavel to Ross for Public Comment next Tuesday at full Board, so that Ross can be the one telling Gary Delugnuts and his thundering herd of police that they can’t speak about the matter anymore because they had their chance but weren’t invited and were at a funeral anyway.
Parenthetically, whenever a law enforcement worker dies while on duty, there are public funerals that draw just about every one of their colleagues in the Bay Area.
This particular traffic jam occurred on Franklin Street a couple of weeks ago when a funeral for a San Francisco policeman at Grace Cathedral finished.
The ensuing procession along Golden Gate Avenue stopped everything dead, and people started wandering out of their cars trying to figure out what the heck was transpiring.
The funeral last Thursday was for a CHP officer in Oakland, which meant that nobody from the San Francisco Police Department was supposedly available to testify in what should have been a rather important matter.
Back to h:
"Of course that won’t happen. Peskin will announce early at next Tuesday’s meeting of the Full Board that: “Agenda item ‘xxx’ will be returned to committee to give all sides a fair chance to respond.” Or, something like that. Question is, where does he refer it? I think that if he wants a substantive hearing, he refers it to Budget and Finance. For several reasons."
"First, the feds say they’re able to enter the picture here (violating press freedom and arresting Josh Wolf) because SFPD gets money from them through Homeland Security. That has to do with the budget as far as I can see. Second, while Mirkarimi carried a gun and badge for years and was president of his class at the Police Academy, Daly (Peskin’s chosen Budget chair) has been assaulted by the cops. I trust Chris to run a more rigorous investigation."
"Free Josh! The next meeting of the Joshgate conclave needs to extend invitations (would that they could subpoena and jail for stonewalling) should extend ‘invitations’ to:
Sgt. Neville Gittens
Locking Josh up is just the latest in a series of local and federal attacks upon local press freedoms. Did you know that the SFPD says that Sgt. Gittens has either suspended or refused to reissue press passes for hundreds of reporters and photographers over the last several years? On his own authority? Yeah, he says he’s been doing it because Chief Earl Sanders told him there were too many press passes out there. Says none of the chiefs who have followed Sanders told him to stop, so he just keeps removing press access as he personally deems fit.
Now, if you believe that shit, you are either institutionalized or should be. The Daly investigation should execute Sunshine requests beginning with the first order Gittens says he got from Sanders. I’m assuming they write this kind of thing down. Every chief and related command officer and their advisers should be called to explain their own relationships with Sgt. Gittens and the Department of Homeland Security. Have they shared files on dissidents such as Wolf or, God forbid, me? And, what of cooperation with other federal law enforcement agencies? That’s certainly related."
Captain Tim Hettrich and Sergeant Marty Halloran
These guys work for the federal government but are paid by the City and County of San Francisco. They’ll tell you that. These POA thugs are not bashful. Hettrich is in charge of the SFPD narcotics unit and Halloran is his point man in the SFPD’s efforts (on behalf of the DEA) to infiltrate, then bust individuals in the network of growers, distributors and patients who constitute the San Francisco medical marijuana community. They work hand-in-glove with the DEA every day and will tell you up front that they disagree with the local pot laws and will enforce federal regulations whenever possible. These assholes take your money, then ignore local law.
Every cop and anarchist on the scene and with knowledge of what transpired between the cops and the anarchists in the Mission after the G8 demonstration on July 8, 2005.
I don’t believe a friggin’ thing the cops say. For good reason. They’re a bunch of fucking liars, for starters. Remember a month or so back when they trapped some poor kid in an attic, then shot him to death? Their first comments were that the guy had a gun and shot at them and that they had recovered the gun. Turned out they were lying sons-a-bitches covering their own asses and trying to beat a manslaughter charge. As usual.
Recall when they shot Cameron Boyd to death? First cop reports out of that described a running gun battle during which Boyd weaved through Western Addition streets firing at pursuing police units? They said at least one of their units was hit by Boyd’s murderous gunfire. However, they were lying again. Yeah, not just me, but lots of mainstream press people tried to get pics of the bullet-riddled cruiser. Cops kept putting us off while keeping the car under wraps. Cause it didn’t have any bullet holes in it.
Hell, every cop involved in the Mission confrontation should speak and the Anarchists themselves should be called to testify about the G8 demonstration. Given the cops’ track record, I also want to hear a doctor say the cop did have a fractured skull (that story changed too) and, if so, how he got it. The only ones in the video I saw who were swinging clubs were the cops. It wouldn’t surprise me (nor you) if one of them took a wild swing and did a little ‘collateral’ damage. Remember, the second story the cops told in the attic murder was that one cop had shot the other one by accident. Yet another lie.
City Hall Building Manager
This guy’s a real dickhead. He gives cover to the Homeland Security (‘Media Security’) operative (Eric Steinberg). Gives him full run of the building. Control of cameras. Talk to Steinberg and his new assistant. Where’d they come from? Who hired them? What’s his role with the press? All I’ve seen the new guy do is sit in the press box at City Hall and give dirty looks to reporters. What the hell does a ‘Media Security’ person do at City Hall? They saying the Sheriff’s deputies can’t handle security there? They did OK for the last 150 years. Toss in the SFGTV staff. How much access does Steinberg have to their footage? What are their views of what he does?
"Fact is, your local government has sold out your safety and freedom to the federal government. It’s getting worse and a thorough investigation is warranted."
At the end of public comment, there was a discussion on the matter among the three supervisors on the committee, with the deeply reactionary Supervisor Sean Elsbernd doing his typical "Gotcha!" debating tactics that in context were deeply offensive. "Did you invite the U.S. District Attorney's office to this hearing? Well, did you?"
Supervisor Chris Daly appeared at the end because he was sponsoring a hearing on the next agenda matter, about the recent Mexican federal election of all things, and he signed onto the resolution as a co-sponsor with Mirkarimi and Ammiano.
Elsbernd insisted on a number of amendments, and then voted against the resolution anyway, which passed 2-1 before going to the full Board next Tuesday.
In the meantime, there are various fundraisers in the next couple of weeks for Josh to help him continue paying his rent, including one at Dance Brigade at 24th and Mission on August 19th at 7PM.
To find out more about the case, you can go to Josh's website/videoblog called "The Revolution Will Be Televised" (click here). Visiting privileges at the federal facility in Dublin (the East Bay) for the present moment are only for biological family and lawyers, but you can write him a note here:
Federal Correctional Institution - Dublin
Joshua Wolf 98005-111
5701 8th St. Camp-Parks, Unit J2
Dublin, CA 94568
Josh would probably get a kick out of lots of mail.