(Link to video of arrest courtesy of Space Needle News): www.facebook.com/…
(Link to KIRO News article featuring my Twitter account in their coverage:) www.kiro7.com/...
On April 21 three Seattle police officers arrested Dinea Evans while she was standing at the receptionist desk in Congressman Jim McDermott’s Seattle office.
Evans is a Democratic Party delegate from the 7th Congressional District, which is the area represented by McDermott.
She’s with a group in Washington State that has launched a campaign to convince “Super Delegates” who support Hillary Clinton to change their vote to Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders won the state caucuses with 73% of the vote, getting a majority of delegates in every county, but Sanders supporters say Clinton has received a disproportionate percentage of “super delegates” in the state.
They hold the position that the nomination process is undemocratic because “super delegates” have failed to honor the results of the Washington Democratic Party caucuses.
Dinea Evans was wearing a t-shirt announcing that she’s a delegate for Bernie Sanders, but no one in the room was carrying political protest literature or signs at the time of the arrest.
Representatives from this Bernie Sanders advocacy group have met with the staff at McDermott’s office on previous occasions to ask for the Congressman’s endorsement of Sanders as the Democratic Party’s candidate for US president. Although McDermott’s office has declined to comment on the Democratic primary elections, they did listen to the concerns of the Sanders supporters at an earlier meeting.
When Evans was arrested, I was there at McDermott’s office in Seattle reporting on the story surrounding these meetings for Democracy Watch News. I was also gathering information for my freelance articles, for my reports at Twitter, and for my weekly guest journalist appearance at The Jeff Santos Show broadcasting from Boston. Since it didn’t seem like a picket or protest, I wasn’t expecting any arrests. As a journalist reporting on the story, I certainly didn’t expect to be threatened with arrest. democracycast.libsyn.com
According to group organizer Wes Irwin, a previously scheduled meeting for 2:30 PM had been cancelled by the congressman’s Seattle office. They decided to show up anyway and ask for further information about how to contact McDermott. Around a half dozen people walked into the congressman’s office.
The receptionist informed the group that she had no information for them and that no further meetings would be scheduled. Sanders advocate Wes Irwin says they were told earlier by McDemott’s staff that they would have to contact his campaign office to discuss issues regarding the election. The problem is that Jim McDermott has announced his retirement — there is no campaign office…
(Most local political observers predict that his seat in Congress will be won by State Senator Pramila Jayapal — an ardent supporter of Bernie Sanders.)
During a second attempt by some of the group to gain information on how to express their opinions to Congressman McDermott, the receptionist declined to answer Dinea Evans’ questions, including a question apparently regarding a bill addressing mental health issues which Evans says he is sponsoring. At this point National Lawyers Guild attorney Larry Hildes accompanied Evans and tried to intercede on her behalf.
The receptionist at Jim McDermott’s Seattle office declined to provide her name, but she explained that it would be unethical for her to provide any information regarding how constituents could contact their congressman directly regarding his “Super Delegate” endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
She cited Congressional ethics guidelines which prohibit “campaigning” at the government offices of members of the US Congress.
The woman at the reception desk had no suggestions as to how the Sanders delegates could convey messages directly to their elected representative. As a result, the members of the Sanders advocacy group expressed their opinion that they they were “getting the run around”. Several of them questioned the purpose of the public office if it’s unable to provide information to constituents, commenting,
“We pay for this office with our tax money...”
Two security guards entered the room and one of them announced that the group would have to leave the building. Evans continued to ask for information from the front desk without success.
Within a few minutes, three Seattle police officers entered the building.
SPD officer J. S. Bender attempted to mediate the situation, but he told everyone in the reception area that if they did not leave the office people would be arrested. The way he put it was, folks would have to leave the office, either voluntarily or under arrest.
I had already informed building security that I was there as a journalist to document the events, but when I declared that to officer Bender he informed me that I if I did not leave the area I would be arrested, along with photojournalist Daniel Bartz from Space Needle News.
I responded by stating that I stood by my right to freedom of the press and my right to be there as a professional witness, but I did not want to be arrested since my detainment would interfere with my ability to report on the situation for news media. I am a strong advocate for journalists and their right to document news stories and police actions, especially involving the arrests of citizens and residents of the country.
In a previous case while I was working as a journalist at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington, I won a federal civil rights class action lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol. I refused to leave an area where arrests of peaceful activists were being conducted inside the capitol building. I felt an obligation to the public to remain in the building and document the events as part of my duties as a journalist.
A federal judge ruled that my right to freedom of the press had been violated when I was arrested and extra-judiciously banned from state property, making it impossible for me to report on the workings of my own state government.
Unfortunately, under this same threat of arrest, I was unable to fully document the arrest of Dinea Evans at McDermott’s office because I was forced to leave the room or go to jail. The SPD officers never explained what the charges would be against us. Officer Bender simply stated that if we did not leave we would be arrested.
Of course, the truth of the matter is that I was just trying to do my job as a reporter, but that didn’t seem to matter to the police. Bender made it quite clear by his uncompromising attitude that there would be no special considerations or accommodations made for freedom of the press that day.
At one point the arresting officer got into an argument with Evans and attorney Larry Hildes about whether the public were the employers of the staff at McDermott’s office. Bender remarked that even though the taxpayers paid his salary as a police officer, “Can you tell me what to do?”
I had assumed that the principle of public oversight for police departments was a basic tenet of US local and federal government policy, but perhaps I am wrong?
Soon after this heated exchange, the police officers took Dinea Evans into custody as the rest of the Sanders advocates and members of the press left the building under the threat of immediate arrest. Evans was charged with trespassing and her bail was set at $1,000.
The arrest of Democratic Party delegate Dinea Evans took place after Wes Irwin had read a statement regarding the unwillingness of McDermott’s office to continue meeting with his group to discuss the Congressman’s status as a “Super Delegate” and his endorsement of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the party’s candidate for US president.
(My report @Yotube on Jeff Santos Show: Washington State Democratic Party - Controversy over super delegates endorsements, issues of press freedom, etc.)
Irwin is also a delegate for Bernie Sanders. He had already left the building at the time of Evans’ arrest. He started supporting Bernie Sanders by organizing music events as fundraisers for the candidate in Seattle. The events were called "Bernie Man" & "Bernie Down The House".
Wes Irwin is the former Academic Director at Bates Technical College in Tacoma. He’s also a teacher and the founder of a group called “The Impossible Is Possible Movement” which has been organizing on Facebook. They are trying to set up meetings with Washington State “Super Delegates” to deliver the letters they’ve collected from Democratic Party constituents.
This pro-Bernie Sanders group is urging Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, as well as Governor Jay Inslee and Congressman Jim McDermott to change their votes and endorse Bernie Sanders.
Members of the “Impossible Is Possible” organization firmly believe that Senator Bernie Sanders represents the future of the Democratic Party. They also cite polls claiming he will generate more votes than Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump during the general election in November.
Wes Irwin is also a candidate for the Washington State House of Representatives in the 32nd legislative district. He was one of the speakers at a rally for "future super delegates" at the Washington State capitol in Olympia on April 16. The event featured pro-Sanders style candidates who will be challenging Washington State elected officials in local Democratic Party primaries.
(Mark Taylor-Canfield’s bio/portfolio @Muck Rack)
Direct link to Video by Daneil Bartz: