Port militarization resistance
TACOMA JUDGE ORDERS VIDEOGRAPHER'S CAMERA RETURNED
By Mark Jensen
United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
August 8, 2008
At a Tacoma Municipal Court arraignment on Friday, Judge Dennis H. Ball ordered the Tacoma Police Department to return videographer Joe La Sac's camera.
La Sac's camera was seized by Tacoma police shortly after midnight on Tuesday, as he was filming police interactions with port militarization resistance (PMR) activists at the Port of Tacoma. La Sac was taken into custody by police and booked on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespassing, spending the night at Pierce County Jail until released on $1000 bail.
On Friday, La Sac refused an offer from City of Tacoma Prosecutor Keith Echterling to settle the case in return for a guilty plea and a $300 fine. He pled not guilty to the misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine.
According to PMR sources, Tacoma police arrested La Sac after taking the unusual step of contacting business owners in the Port of Tacoma about making trespassing arrests, which normally occur only when a property owner complains. Prosecutor Echterling told Judge Ball that activists had been warned in advance that such arrests might occur.
Echterling said he had no objection to the release of the camera but that he "wouldn't feel comfortable" signing off immediately on an order for its release. Judge Ball signed an order mandating its immediate release, however, and said he would sign further orders to effect this, if necessary. He also said police could keep the "film" in the camera, which "might be relevant" to the trespassing charge.
Pierce County ACLU chair Colleen Waterhouse was present at today's arraignment and expressed concern about First Amendment issues involved in La Sac's case.
Judge Ball appointed Albert P. Germano, an attorney made available through the court's Department of Assigned Counsel, to represent La Sac at a pretrial hearing scheduled on or about Sept. 8.
La Sac's work under the nom de plume "Acumensch" has documented PMR and other activism and police misconduct in the Pacific Northwest over the past eighteen months, winning a substantial following. His video "Film Is Not a Crime" has been viewed more than 60,000 times on YouTube.
La Sac will be an accredited journalist covering both the Democratic and Republican national conventions in Denver, CO, and Minneapolis, MN, respectively for subMedia.TV. He said Friday that he plans to leave for Denver in 7-12 days.
--Mark Jensen, who has heard that from the dog's mouth no ivory will come out, is a member of United for Peace of Pierce County (WA) and of the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University.