Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Pivot Legal Society Picks on Private Security, While Ignoring Abusive Publicly-Funded Security at Carnegie Center
Eby was spokesperson for Pivot at a time when they abandoned Downtown Eastside residents who were being denied their right to a democratic election process and free speech. Downtown Eastside residents were allowed to vote in Board elections at Carnegie Center but City staff took the position that if they didn't like who they voted for, they would just ban the elected official from Carnegie so that they couldn't attend Board meetings. It's old news now that homeless William Simpson was banned two weeks after he was elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors -- but that was over a year ago and Carnegie Security guards remain under orders not to allow him into the building.
Simpson went to Pivot about Carnegie stripping him and low income voters of basic rights most people have come to expect in a democracy. Simpson says the woman he spoke to at Pivot wouldn't take a case against Carnegie, telling him, "But they're our friends."
That's the problem with Pivot. They don't give a flyin' f*ck about your civil liberties if it happens to be their friends violating them.
Take the complaints Pivot lodged with BC Human Rights over private security guards abusing low income people in public spaces. Note the word "private". Pivot doesn't help residents of the Downtown Eastside fight back against the publicly funded security guards at Carnegie Center working under Security Co-ordinator Skip Everall, even though they are violating human rights and/or act illegally on a regular basis. That's because they are CUPE members. Pay your CUPE dues and it's almost like protectionist money. Pivot will leave you alone.
The Human Rights complaint lodged by Pivot is to a large extent about getting rid of private security guards -- specifically the downtown Ambassadors program -- that are infringing on union territory. Private security guards don't pay union dues.
If the ambassadors that walk the streets in the business district were unionized workers like the Carnegie street workers on the Downtown Eastside (who have been caught working with the VPD to harass a Downtown Eastside resident engaging in freedom of expression), they would get no flak from Pivot.
Until Eby shows some interest in the civil liberties of everybody, not only those who are at the end of the boot of a non-union security person, he shouldn't be picked as Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
They were serious.
On Monday, the Victoria Police Board announced that former Vancouver Police Chief Jamie Graham had been appointed Victoria’s new Police Chief. (In the above photo, Graham toasts his victory, with his wife Gail to his left.)
Graham was appointed despite the fact that earlier this year, he was found to have engaged in “discreditable conduct” as Vancouver’s Chief by Police Complaints Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld. Pivot has announced it will seek a "disciplinary hearing" into Graham now that he is once again under the Police Act. Graham had retired as Vancouver’s chief before the “discreditable conduct” finding, so he was never disciplined.
There is also documented evidence that Graham knowingly allowed his officers on the Vancouver police force to get away with evidence-fabrication, Soviet-style political psychiatry, illicit accessing of female medical records when no evidence could be found, and extortion.
Graham said after his appointment yesterday, "I believe in integrity and in doing the right thing." A former Downtown Eastside resident who became the target of persistent evidence-fabrication doesn't believe Graham: "When he had a choice between his cops committing crimes and doing the right thing, he chose crime."
Monday, November 24, 2008
COPP complained in writing to the Victoria Police Board this month about the short-listing of Graham to become Victoria's next police chief. Media rumors point to Graham as the pick. The Board told the media two weeks ago that they had "unanimously" selected a candidate and Victoria reporters were expecting Graham's appointment to be announced at last Tuesday's Police Board meeting. But all they got was an acknowledgement from Mayor Alan Lowe, Chair of the Police Board, that Graham was under consideration for the job.
Instead of Graham being appointed on Tuesday, Police Board member Catherine Holt walked out of the lengthy Board meeting and resigned. "[T]here is public concern about both the process, this board and the candidate", said Holt, a provincial appointee who has sat on the Board for four years.
Photo: Vancouver Police Board: Catherine Holt is in the back row, second from the left, wearing a grey suit.
Holt is aware of COPP's complaints. She is aware that COPP has obtained documents supporting multiple complaints to Graham which established that he was comfortable with tactics such as evidence-fabrication, Soviet-style political psychiatry, and illicit accessing of female medical records by his constables. Graham gave thumbs up to such tactics when they were used, for example, to aid United Way in ensuring that a Report on United Way was not disseminated to donors.
If COPP, Pivot, and other organizations and individuals who oppose Graham's appointment as Chief get their way, just one question will remain. "Would you buy a bike from this man?
Friday, November 21, 2008
I feel like the guy quoted in the "Rant" section of the Westender newspaper: "Why don't pedestrians just walk along the curb. That way bicyclists could have the sidewalks all to themselves."
Even though I've lost my taste for cyclists, I enjoyed the party hosted by the Vancouver Area Cyclists Coalition in the park on Friday night to wrap up Bike to Work Week.
The party was held from 4-7 p.m. by the bandstand in the park adjacent to Science World. A steady stream of cyclists whiz through that park. And last night in the rain, they had hot coffee waiting for them under a tent.
Other goodies were also given out under the tent, out of the rain. I had a piece of cake with chocolate swirls in it, the type you get at Starbucks. And later I had a low-sugar oatmeal cookie and an apple.
There was lots of literature there for people to pick up too. I took a copy of the Coalition's newsletter. I could see that a lot of work had gone into it. This is clearly a well organized group. The fact that they had obviously wrangled a coffee donation out of Ethical Bean which had it's name prominently displayed, is one indication they're organized.
There was live music too, by the Carnival Boys. A few bicyclists were dancing in the dark by the bandstand.
The event was intended to encourage winter cycling. A Cycling Coalition rep with a gray beard invited me to help myself to coffee. He explained that the Coalition has held two Bike to Work Weeks in the summer, but this is the first time they've held one in November.
John Furlong Asked to Remove "Guantanamo Judy" Rogers from VANOC due to Collusion with Human Rights Abuses at Carnegie Center
Furlong has been asked to remove Judy Rogers from VANOC until a criminal investigation into fraud that occurred under her watch as City Manager has been completed. Mayor Sullivan was asked prior to last week's election to ensure that a criminal investigation is carried out into Rogers subordinates Ethel Whitty and Skip Everall, but Rogers was named in the complaint as well.
The DTES Enquirer has learned from two reliable sources at Carnegie that the request was made – we hope to obtain a copy of the request -- by a representative of a woman who alleges that in June 2008, under Rogers’ watch, “15 witnesses” were fabricated against her and entered into the City of Vancouver Security computer system. None of these witnesses have ever been named. "They don't exist", the woman has maintained over the past five months. Yet these witnesses are being used to present her in the City Security computer data base and in paper files as having posed a risk at Carnegie serious enough that she had to be banned from an entire area of the building.
City staff under Rogers have for five months avoided interviewing a Carnegie member who has information that would contradict the existance of these "15 witnesses". In fact, there is evidence that Everall has been attempting to prejudice this witness.
It was also fraudulently claimed in the Security report that the targeted woman had behaved in a similar manner in the past. When she asked what evidence was being used to support this claim, neither of Rogers' subordinates at Carnegie, Skip Everall or Ethel Whitty, could identify any. But rather than deleting the false claim from the Security report, City lawyers pondered over it for two weeks. "They were looking for a way around liability", says the targeted woman's boyfriend. Finally, a carefully worded sentence was added to the back page of the report -- where nobody will see it -- stating that this claim could now be disregarded. "I want it expunged. They made it up!", the woman exclaimed while sitting on the Carnegie patio in September.
Furlong was informed that Carnegie Center, Judy's Guantanamo Bay, has become a place where the accused are expected to serve sentences while being denied basic constitutional rights. Under Judy Rogers, low income people who can't afford lawyers are sentenced to suspensions from Carnegie Centre and are expected to serve their sentences BEFORE being allowed to appeal. They can appeal only to ensure that their sentence isn’t extended further. Any assertion of rights by the accused during the appeal meeting tends to be viewed as insubordination and grounds to impose a longer sentence. It's not uncommon for those suspended -- banned or barred or other terms used -- to be required to serve their sentence before they are considered eligible to be told why they are banned. Evidence against them and names of witnesses are routinely withheld. Hearsay is often the trigger for a banning.
Rogers and her subordinates at the City and Carnegie have been criticized for ongoing human rights abuses at Carnegie Centre. They received considerable negative publicity after banning a homeless man from the Centre two weeks after his election to the Carnegie Board of Directors, denying him access to Board meetings. The woman who signed the letter banning the homeless man, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, retired after lawyer Gregory Bruce told the City in writing that they were acting “contrary to the rule of law”. The timing of the retirement was suspicious in the view of some Carnegie members.
Word is that the woman targeted by a mysterious "15 witnesses" will ask Olympic sponsors to stop supporting 'Guantanamo Judy'. Anybody at Carnegie who knows her, knows that she is determined to clear her name and and get the fabricated witnesses and the resulting security report removed from the City computer system. Has Judy met her match?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This afternoon at around 4:15, a rainbow appeared in the direction of Strathcona. This photo was taken from Union St. & Main. Later, another faint rainbow appeared beside the first.
The red building in the background is Solheim Place, subsidized housing which I believe was named after Olaf Solheim. Solheim was a guy about 86 years old who was evicted just before Expo 86 from the Downtown Eastside hotel room he had lived in for a couple of decades. He died shortly after he got evicted and became a symbol of the social cost of Expo evictions.
This afternoon at about 4:20 p.m., I was walking down Main St. near Pender in Chinatown when I came across this huge "Riot 2010" banner. When I walked back 15 minutes later it was gone.
But a sandwich board on the sidewalk outside remained.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Ellen Woodsworth [COPE], pictured above holding the microphone, was elected as a Vancouver City Councillor with 45,877 votes in yesterday's Vision-COPE election sweep. When Larry Campbell was mayor, Woodsworth was one of the COPE councillors who he couldn't work with, saying they were "too ideological".
Woodsworth wants to make buses free in some areas of Vancouver, not a pipe dream when you consider that Seattle has free bus service downtown. Also, she wants to make Vancouver a one fare zone, not a two fare zone which tripped up Mayor-elect Gregor Robertson and left him with a $173 fine.
Woodsworth apparently used to run Neighborhood Helpers on the Downtown Eastside.
As a Councillor from 2002-2005, Woodsworth pushed for a "Peace" conference to be held in Vancouver. The Peace conference turned out to be a thinly veiled Hate-Israel conference.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Photo: All Candidates meeting at Carnegie (left to right) Audrey Laferriere, R.H. Maxwell N Bur, Raj Hundal, Andrea Reimer, Michael Geller, Leanore Copeland
Creating shelters for Vancouver’s homeless population until permanent housing is built was a central theme of Monday’s All Candidates meeting at Carnegie Center in Vancouver’s low income Downtown Eastside neighborhood.
Getting Storyeum, a Gastown business that went belly up, turned into a shelter for the homeless is the prime reason Audrey Laferriere decided to run for Vancouver City Council as an Independent.
Wilf Reimer from the audience said he had decided to support Laferriere after emailing both mayoral candidates, Peter Lader and Gregor Robertson, to ask “why they didn’t support a shelter system” for the homeless while they work on permanent housing. “Audrey was the only one who seemed to have some sort of a germ of a concrete plan with Storyeum.”
Michael Geller of the NPA said he had opposed the shelter system because not only the Housing Department but people in the community had told him that what they wanted was permanent housing, not shelters. At this point Laferrierre shouted something at him that I didn’t catch and he responded in a placating tone, “Audrey, I was just about to say, ‘You’ve convinced me’.” He continued, ”She did convince me we should be looking at Storyeum as a shelter.” Geller cautioned Audrey not to be too quick to assume he was her enemy, that she just might find he could work with her as an “ally”.
But Lafrrierre’s real ally may prove to be Independent mayoral candidate, RH. Maxwell N Bur, who announced loudly, “If I’m sworn in as Mayor of Vancouver, you get the keys to Storyeum!”
Photo: (from left to right) Audrey Laferriere, RH. Maxwell N Bur, Raj Hundal, Andrea Reimer, Michael Geller, Leanore Copeland
Andrea Reimer of Vision said she also supported shelters as an interim solution, that her “first and highest priority is getting people off the streets.” She said more than once during the meeting that there isn’t “a” solution to most problems but multiple solutions.
Wilf Reimer — apparently no relation to Andrea – expressed amazement to the audience that neither the Vision or NPA mayoral candidate had shown up for this meeting. When he heard them debate at the Vancouver Public Library, ”Both said homelessness was “their #1 issue”, but they’re not here where homelessness is such a big issue.”
Friday, November 14, 2008
Mayor Sullivan has been asked in writing to ensure that police investigate the alleged fabrication of 15 witnesses to justify banning a woman from the Carnegie Seniors Center where she regularly uses the VPL computers. Neither Whitty or Everall have been able to name these witnesses. “They don’t exist”, says the woman, who was barred because she raised her voice to tell a coffee seller who was yelling and flailing his arms at her, that she had taken his abuse for ten years and wasn’t taking it anymore. Literally hundreds of people have complained over the past decade about this coffee seller; one man even punched him in the nose.
Whitty and Everall both promised the woman, in separate taped meetings, that they would talk to a witness – the only one who has a name and a face in this case – who could corroborate the woman's claim that there were not 15 “witnesses” at the Seniors Center that day. The witess recalls there being “three or four people in there” that day and he did not see Everall talk to any of them. But neither Whitty or Everall have spoken to this witness as promised, even though he is at Carnegie every day. Roughly five months have gone by.
Rather than speaking to this witness about what he saw that day, Everall is alleged to have attempted to influence this witness, with behaviour such as approaching him in the Carnegie Centre, putting his arm around his shoulder and saying, "OOhhhhh, [name deleted], my friend!"
This woman is one of countless non-violent people who have claimed over the years that evidence and unnamed witnesses have been concocted at Carnegie to justify banning them after a display of assertiveness or confidence. One of the most high profile cases is that of William Simpson who was delivered a letter by Whitty banning him from Carnegie Center two weeks after he was elected to the Board. The letter claimed he was being banned for having a website which "features links" to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer. But when asked about the banning by CBC Radio, Whitty concocted a claim that Simpson posed a WorkSafe" risk. To this day, she has never informed Simpson of any WorkSafe risk, and has produced no evidence to support it. "They've been getting away with fraud for too long over there," said Simpson, when asked this morning about the request that Mayor Sullivan ensure a criminal investigation.
Taped evidence has surfaced as well that Everall is using his powers as Carnegie Security boss for personal retaliation.
The woman claims she exhausted every channel available to her at Carnegie to have the fraudulent material expunged from City paper and computer records before seeking a criminal investigation. There will be people in the neighborhood, she says, who will be angry with her for requesting a criminal investigation into Whitty's activities, "because it makes Carnegie look bad". She adds, "It wouldn't be the first time Whitty has wreaked havoc on friendships in the community."
Mayor Sullivan has also been asked to ensure that Whitty ceases to act as a fundraiser until a fraud investigation is completed.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Soviet-style political psychiatry practiced in Vancouver has been attracting attention internationally but I’d never heard it mentioned by a candidate in the civic election campaign. Until Monday. At an All Candidates meeting in the theater of Carnegie Center, Independent mayoral candidate Golok Buday (pictured above in black cap), said:
“Car 87 forces it’s drugs on you and forces you to go places based on arbitrary political reasons. And I think that should be acknowledged.”
Car 87 is a police car, carrying an armed police officer and a psychiatric nurse. There is a stockpile of documented evidence that it is being used by the Vancouver School Board and other organizations to smear critics. Politically vocal people against whom no evidence of wrongdoing can be found too often find Car 87 arriving at their homes to assess them for “apprehension” to a mental hospital.
How did Reimer and her colleagues address this Car 87 visit arranged by the VSB under fraudulent pretenses? With more fraud, says the victim. Reimer and her fellow elected School Board trustees arranged for an “in camera” review of the case, which they conveniently concealed from the victim. They invited a primary offender in this case of criminal wrongdoing to brief them. He re-offended. He fabricated claims such as that the teacher didn’t actually work for the VSB when her abuses occurred. This cover-up has contributed to the international boycott of VSB diplomas organized by Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry.
The use of in-camera meetings by elected officials in Vancouver to ensure secrecy was mentioned at the All Candidates meeting by mayoral candidate Betty Krawczyk (in top photo wearing yellow scarf) of the Work Less party. “When they have something important to do, they do it in camera.”. Krawczyk told the audience that she had moved to Canada from the U.S. because she was opposed to the Vietnam war. “Every year I’ve been here, there’s less democracy”.
Krawczyk was referring to what others had said earlier. Nicholai, an audience member, had said, “When I arrived in Canada as a political refugee, the democracy I expected was not so much in place.” Buday had added, “My father is a refugee from Hungary and he told me that Canada was less of a democracy than his family expected too.” But by being the first politician in Vancouver to mention the use of Car 87 as a political tool, he has moved us a step toward more democracy.
Pivot issued a press release yesterday announcing that they have complained to the Provincial Ombudsman that the City of Vancouver did not have "legal authority" to conceal information from the public about the $100m Olympic village loan guarantee. “This complaint targets all three major municipal parties represented on council right now,” said Laura Track (pictured at left of above photo taken this year), housing campaigner with Pivot. “To our knowledge, not one councillor stepped up and voted against holding the meeting in secret or insisted on public debate.”
The Pivot press release leaves me wondering if former Vancouver mayors Larry Campbell [Vision] and Philip Owen [NPA] lied to us on Remembrance Day. The two ex-mayors held a press conference at Olympic Village to announce that the public should not be suspicious, that a secret in-camera meeting about a $100M deal is the way things are supposed to be done.
But Pivot tells it differently. Pivot claims in their complaint that City of Vancouver bylaws allow in camera meetings only when discussion of the “acquisition, disposition, or expropriation” of land or improvements would harm the interests of the City -- and the $100m loan guarantee raised none of those issues.
Larry, did ya lie?
Track says there are better ways to spend this $100M and other guarantees for developers which will come out of the City's Property Endowment Fund. “We’re told that the Property Endowment Fund has now been emptied to support the development of luxury condominiums. If the City can use the PEF to subsidize private Olympic developers then it can certainly use it to finance social housing."
“We need public debate on how the Property Endowment Fund is spent, not secret meetings and bailouts for Olympic developers”, says Track.
To get a link to the original complaint, go to davideby.blogspot.com
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
When people were just getting wind last week of the $100M loan that City councillors were apparently going to hide from us until after the election, I heard Vision Councillor Raymond Louie and NPA's Peter Ladner on CKNW's Christie Clark show. Ladner wasn't scheduled to appear but he heard what Louis was saying on the radio and he was madder than hell and phoned in. The two men were both excited and talked over each other at times.
Louie had been saying that although HE VOTED FOR the deal, he now felt that he had not been given all of the information he needed to make an informed decision. He had since learned that Estelle Lo, the City accountant, had concerns about the deal. She was apparently not at the meeting. There is a rumor, which Clark couldn't get confirmation on, that Lo had resigned over this matter.
Louie said that he had made requests for relevant documents on the case but he has not been given what he's requested. [Vision is the pot calling the kettle black. I'm currently covering a case in which Vision's Eleanor Gregory -- who is very close to Vision mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson -- failed to turn over a key document that a Vancouver woman requested about her own case at the Vancouver School Board, a copy of which the VSB has already acknowledged she has a right. Vision's Andrea Reimer is implicated in secrecy and an alleged cover-up -- supported by documentation -- in this case as well, which dates back to Reimer's time on School Board. Reimer's conduct contributed to the fact that there is now an Int'l Boycott of VSB diplomas. But that's a different scandal.]
Ladner then phoned in to CKNW. He was not at his most composed. He argued that Louie had been at the same meeting as him, the one in which the decision had been made, and that there had been nothing new on the issue since. His point was that Louie knew as much as he did. But Louie retorted that being Chair of the Finance Committee, Ladner was privy to more information than he was.
Ladner mentioned at one point that Estelle Lo is currently in Hong Kong, where he said she goes at this time every year to visit her mother. He claimed that words were being put into Lo's mouth "which is scandalous in my opinion".
It is no coincidence, Ladner noted, that at a time when Gregor Robertson's unpaid skytrain fine is front page news, Vision goes public with this issue.
Ladner was asked again by Louie if he would agree to a public meeting to bring this out into the open. Ladner did not agree, saying that to work on this type of negotiation requires a confidential setting and that the public knows that's the way it is always done.
Shortly after this radio exchange interview, CKNW News reported that Gregor Robertson had held a a press conference on the issue. None of the Vision Councillors who had voted for the potential $100 million loan to developers showed up at the press conference to answer questions.
Both Vision and the NPA deserve blame for the $100M scandal as all councillors voted for it. This weekend there was speculation in the Globe & Mail that the new man Gregor Robertson would be hardest hit if voters responded by staying home on election day. But the voter turnout for the early polls indicates they're not staying home. I think Ladner's finished.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Corsi was asked if he was now “retracting” his claims about Obama. Nothing was being retracted, said Corsi, who had last month accepted an offer from Coast to Coast to appear with someone from the Obama camp to defend his claims – Obama’s camp did not accept the offer.
Corsi, who supported neither the Republicans or the Democrats but the Constitution Party, anticipates that some of the issues about Obama raised in his book will be raised again in a different context. “But not by me”.
Corsi said that in tackling the immense problems facing the U.S., this may be a time for "new ideas" from Obama.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Vision's Eleanor Gregory ‘Pulls a Sarah Palin’ by Using her Private Email to Conduct Potentially Explosive Government Business
Just as hackers exposed Palin for conducting business as Alaska’s governor on her private Yahoo account, Gregory, an elected Vancouver School Board trustee, has been exposed for using her private email account for communication on a potentially explosive government issue.
Gregory (pictured above) has a government email address, email@example.com., which she gives out publicly. Yet when Gregory was contacted at that government address by a victim of alleged illegal “political psychiatry” at the VSB — Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry have identified the VSB as practicing Soviet-style political psychiatry and “as an absolute last resort” organized an International Boycott of Vancouver School Board Diplomas — Gregory immediately switched to her private email account egregory@gregoryandgregory to respond. “That’s the email of the law firm she runs, I think with her husband,” says the alleged victim. “But that firm isn’t involved in this case.”
The alleged victim received two emails from Gregory, both via her private account. At the end of the body of each email, Gregory’s private email address was re-stated as her contact address. “There was no mention of her vsb address”, says the victim.
Criticism directed at Palin for using a private email account to perform business in her role as Alaska governor could also apply to Gregory in her role as an elected VSB trustee: “E-mail that’s public business ought to be done on public accounts that can become public record”, Charles Davis, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition in the U.S., told Alaska’s Juneau Empire newspaper during the furor over Palin’s private email.
If government communication on an issue is being investigated, emails sent through a private account will not be readily available. Dave Jones, an assistant attorney general in Alaska told the Juneau Empire, “The difficulty is finding out they exist.”
The use of private email for government communication also increases the risk of confidentiality breaches. The victim of alleged VSB political psychiatry is concerned about who may have had access to Gregory’s private email account at Gregory & Gregory. “I have no way of knowing who has access to the email at her office. Maybe her secretary does, or maybe her husband.” The victim would also like to know whether Gregory used her private email account to communicate about her case with other Board members or staff. “I wrote to the Board last year”, says the victim, “and I said that because of the amount of libel generated by the VSB in this case, extra precautions should be taken to preserve confidentiality.” In fact, the victim had directed Gregory to that written communication addressed to Board Chair Ken Denike, when she first wrote to her at her VSB email. “That was before she switched to her private email.”
Not only Gregory’s switch to a private email account but the content of email she sent through that private account – the content will be examined in a separate article – led the alleged victim to conclude that Gregory was not acting in good faith.
Just as Palin’s conduct reflects on Presidential candidate John McCain who endorsed her, Gregory’s conduct reflects on Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson who has been praising her on his campaign website. Robertson presented Gregory to the public as his ally, even after she was exposed for having done nothing as a trustee to ensure a criminal investigation into the practice of political psychiatry at the VSB, political psychiatry which evidence suggests was intended to deter freedom of information requests and election campaigning about VSB mishandling of bullying complaints. Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party face an election in two weeks.
A press release from Robertson’s campaign office quotes Gregory as saying that her “priority is to do what I can to assist his campaign.” It may be assistance he can do without.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The “last man standing” after a shootout over drug turf at the New Wings Hotel on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 2005 has been granted a new trial by the BC Court of Appeals. Three judges unanimously agreed that Justice Arne Silverman erred in instructing the jury on the issue of self-defense during a 2007 trial which saw Dennis Knibbs Jr. convicted of second degree murder.
Knibbs, who was in his late twenties at the time, shot to death 21 year old Trumaine “Echo” Habib, just minutes after Habib shot Knibbs’ cousin 35 year old Ian Liscombe. Liscombe would die hours later in hospital.
Knibbs and Liscombe were a drug dealing duo at the New Wings Hotel at Powell & Dunlevy, across from Oppenheimer Park on the Downtown Eastside. Habib was also dealing drugs out of the New Wings. Liscombe believed Habib was infringing on his turf, “mowing his grass” as his former girlfriend Susan, a drug addict, put it at trial. Liscombe and Habib had already been a physical fight at the New Wings, a fight which the evidence suggests Knibbs helped break up.
After that fight, Habib sneaked a sawed off shotgun to the hotel, on the day he was killed actually. On that day Habib was laying low in the room of a friend when Liscombe began pushing on the door, attempting to force it open. Knibbs was standing behind Liscombe. That’s when Habib pulled the trigger. When the close range shotgun blast hit Liscombe, he stumbled into the room onto the bed where he lay groaning with his guts hanging out.
Knibbs whipped out a police-style baton and entered the room, whacking Habib a few times with it. He also pumped three bullets into Habib with a handgun. Then he used Habib’s own sawed off shot gun to finish him off, shooting Habib at a range close enough to leave a hole in his chest the size of a “silver dollar”, according to a paramedic.
Photo: On the right is the former New Wings Hotel and on the left the Mar Hotel. The trees in the background are at Oppenheimer Park. A former heroin addict testified at Knibbs' trial that he bought heroin at Oppenheimer Park when he wasn't buying it from Liscombe at the New Wings Hotel. Photo taken Nov. 3/08.
After this evidence was heard, the deliberating jury returned to the judge with a question about whether Habib had a legal right to fire that first shot or was that first shot to be considered a “wrongful act”?
The jury’s question was pivotal. If Habib hadn’t needed to go to the extreme of shooting a gun to defend himself, he could be seen as having provoked Knibbs with a ‘wrongful act”. Knibbs' response could then be seen as manslaughter.
Judge Silverman responded to the jury’s question by telling them to use “common sense”. But common sense is a standard looser than the law. That’s what Knibbs’ lawyer Glen Orris argued to Silverman at the time – I was in the courtroom – and it’s basically the position that the Appeals Court has since taken:
“I am concerned that the lack of focus in the judge’s guidance may have allowed the jury to apply a law of the jungle to the consideration of the questioned act”, Appeals Court Judge Ian Donald stated in a written decision. “That in the drug milieu, lethal force in self defense is justifiable regardless of the immediate circumstances.”
The first thing that ran through my mind when I heard that the Appeals Court had ordered a new trial was, “Will some of those drug addicted witnesses even be alive for a new trial?” There’s always the possibility of a plea bargain with Knibbs, who is now a year and a half into a 25 year sentence with no parole eligibility for ten years, settling for manslaughter. The last man standing could soon be walking.
It was a nice bonus for the guy who has recently gotten off welfare and taken a job in a warehouse in Richmond for $11 an hour.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
McDonald's also picks up the expense for this. The manager said that it is the responsibility of McDonald's to drop off the used needles at a depot downtown.
The young guy in the photo above had come into McDonald's restaurant at Terminal & Main with his skateboard on Friday evening, October 24. That McDonald's is a popular spot for Downtown Eastsiders to have coffee. It appeared that this young guy was on heroin. There's a reason heroin is referred to as "down"; people on it seem really calmed down, moving in slow motion.
This heroin-skateboarder would kind of nod out and lean on the table, then in slow motion he would lean backwards on his stool to the point where we thought he would topple, then he would sit up. A few minutes later, he would do the same thing again. The manager approached the guy twice during this performance and politely instructed him to pack up his stuff and leave. A customer sitting adjacent to me took out a camera and snapped the photos posted here.
Eventually the guy on heroin crouched on the floor by his stool for at least five minutes, with customers watching and saying things like, "Sad". Finally, he stood up and a needle dropped out of his pocket onto the floor. The needle had no cap. A customer said, "I'm going to tell the manager; there are kids in here."
What became of the guy on heroin? He was back last night at McDonald's. It was again Friday, this time Halloween. He was again moving in slow motion. A different manager attempted to reason with him, to get him to leave. But he wanted to purchase some food and the manager eventually allowed him to do that. He went to the counter and was slowly trying to get his money out of a large black wallet attached to his pants with a chain. I left.