Now Playing: A article by Owen Taylor how the police ruined everything
Z3 Readers check out this story
... that I found at this Portland Oregon link:
This below story was written by Owen Taylor
and Originally titled:
"The real story behind the Evergreen Riot"
It first appeared in the Volcano Weekly.
Members of the Radical Freeschool Radio Show were at that Dead Prez Show and had a radio broadcast about the riot available online. To listen to that Radio Broadcast and to see photos and read an article written about it by a member of the Radical Freeschool radio Show Collective, please click here.
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On Valentine’s Day, Kaylen Williams, a 24-year-old chef, had a bad feeling in his gut all day. He had hoped it was just butterflies in the stomach. The handsome, single man was on his way to a much-anticipated V-Day concert, where plenty of eligible bachelorettes would be dancing to the revolutionary rhythms of Dead Prez, a popular and politically charged underground hip-hop duo that would be making a rare West Coast appearance.
Had Williams known what was to come, he might well have stayed home.
You see, later that night Williams found himself at the center of a riot at The Evergreen State College, staring out the windows of a police cruiser from the eye of a hurricane and watching it build momentum. Williams was arrested on the word of a volunteer security guard for something he says he had nothing to do with. His arrest triggered what would come to be known as the Evergreen Riot.
Unless you live under a rock or outside the blogosphere of Western Washington, you are no doubt aware that the Feb. 14 Dead Prez concert at The Evergreen State College ended with a Thurston County Sheriff’s patrol car flipped onto its roof with the windows smashed out and several witty slogans spray painted on it. Sheriff’s Lt. Christopher Mealy said four patrol cars were damaged at an estimated cost of $35,000 to $50,000. Since then, a storm of rhetoric has been issued by the Sheriff’s Department, the college, and every hippie and conservative with access to the Internet. Evergreen has banned concerts indefinitely, too. Most accounts, however, have suspiciously ignored the circumstance and events leading up to the riot.
Evergreen police have declined to comment about the case.
Luckily, Williams had the best seat in the house. This is the story from his perspective.
As long as there have been concerts, there have been surly, tattooed guys in black shirts, clearly emblazoned with the word “Security,” who are charged with informing reefer-smoking concertgoers to “put it out.” Williams found himself in just such a crowd, confronted by security officers who lacked any markings denoting them as such.
One of the members of the anonymous security staff had noticed the distinct smell or a telltale cloud of smoke coming from where Williams was standing. Williams recalls that one of the security personnel, along with an unidentified and aggressive associate, moved forcefully toward the group of people he was with, demanding that they extinguish the contraband immediately. Williams replied that he wasn’t smoking. He implied that it was coming from the crowd in front of them and raised his empty hands in a “see, it’s not me” gesture. Someone in the crowd near Williams made a boisterously pro-marijuana statement. That was when, according to several eyewitnesses, the unidentified associate of the security volunteer responded with his fists. Williams emphasizes that the person throwing fists appeared to be an average concertgoer. As the fight ensued, Williams stepped in to separate what appeared to be an average thug and his victim. After the fight was broken up, Williams, on the guest list as a VIP, sought out the concert promoter to make sure everything was cool and calm.
Williams then proceeded back into the gym to enjoy the rest of the show. A few minutes later, Evergreen police officer April Meyers responded to the disturbance call and conferred with someone who fingered Williams as the instigator. She then went into the venue and took him into custody, telling him that he was under arrest for suspicion of assault. It was at this time that the men onstage informed the crowd of the situation and encouraged them to organize and gather information, including names and badge numbers, to ensure that nothing unjust was being done to the man being arrested.
Williams, an African-American and well-respected B-Boy in the greater Puget Sound area, was handcuffed and placed in the back of the car while the officer took statements from the “security volunteer,” his unidentified associate, and another unidentified female, all Caucasian. The female allegedly fingered Williams for a separate assault during the ruckus, a charge Williams sternly denies.
“I was raised in a house full of women,” says Williams. “My mother would kill me if I hit a woman.”
While Meyers was gathering statements from the accusers, several attendees started congregating around the police cruiser demanding information. Many were calling for the release of Williams. As the concert ended, several hundred people flooded the exits only to see a swelling disturbance around a cop car. The Evergreen State College is renowned as an aggressively Socratic institution with learning processes heavily weighted toward self-reliance, pushing boundaries, gathering facts and breaking form. It is also not the kind of place where passive onlookers slowly shuffle past a disturbance. These principles, mixed with the restless idealism of youth and the powerful message in Dead Prez’s music, presented an opportunity to employ those ideals in a real setting, apparently.
As the crowd of concerned onlookers grew, Meyers did what any smart cop would do — She called for backup. As the tension mounted and the fervor of the crowd increased, the officers on the scene decided it would be in the best interest of public safety to gather Williams’ information, release him, and contact him for a statement at a later date. Struggling to mount her car, the officer announced amid the deafening chant of “Let Him Go!” that she was indeed releasing Williams. Watching all of this through the glass partition in the back of the squad car, Williams was trying to grasp the gravity of his at least temporary vindication. “I just kept thinking, ‘wow, this is so much love right now, Evergreen,’“ he recalls. “They’ve come to get me out.” As Williams was let out of the backseat and released from the handcuffs, a cadre of riot police made their move to disperse the crowd.
One eyewitness, who asked to remain anonymous, had been acting as a go-between, trying to calm the crowd enough to talk to the officers and get information. He recalls the beginning of the melee with a grimace. “They came in swinging nightsticks and macing everybody. I was lucky to be where I was,” he says. “I would have been crushed if I wasn’t on the opposite side of the car.”
For Williams, the joy of freedom was short-lived as panic took over and the scene disintegrated into screaming and chaos.
“I was halfway up the hill when I realized that the cops still had my wallet,” says Williams.
Venturing back toward the car, he was confronted by an officer in full riot gear who told him to leave immediately, threatening him with a mace cannon mere inches from his face. Stunned and speechless, Williams decided to return the next day and retrieve the wallet.
Six days later on Feb. 20, much to his bewilderment, Williams was charged with fourth degree misdemeanor assault and told to come and give his statement about the alleged assault.
He steadfastly maintains his innocence.
“I just don’t get it. I tried to break up a fight, and they’re charging me with assault. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Williams is due to be arraigned March 10,2009 in Thurston County District Court.