[Above video is of the incident for which Matt E was determined guilty in a trial by jury on October 23rd.]
Backstory before beginning of video:
- Matt E has been copwatching in Seattle for years, A LOT downtown in the weeks before the above incident.
- Matt E filed formal “use of force” complaints against the officers in the video well before the incident.
- That night, he was copwatching the two white officers while they were harassing someone at Westlake Park.
- In response, the two officers called the attention of a large crowd of street kids to Matt E, saying it would be dangerous for them to have him around.
- The officers then announced, so that both Matt E and the crowd could hear, that they had a call to take care of at Nordstrom’s and indicated that the crowd might do something to him in their absence.
- A crowd of 20-30 individuals who possessed chains, skateboards and other weapons pursued Matt E all the way into Pacific Place Mall.
- On the way to the mall, Matt E drew his knife and turned to face the crowd while walking backwards into the mall (video begins as he is walking backwards into Pacific Place Mall).
- The crowd can be identified in the video as those immediately pursuing Matt E, mostly white and appearing very animated. In Matt E’s testimony, it is stated that the crowd is yelling “GO BACK TO JAIL N***ER!”.
- The two officers in the video pull out their guns, Matt E drops the knife, the officers bring him to the ground, roll him toward the crowd and hold him down while many members of the crowd begin to attack him.
- Some other officers show up and the crowd disperses, many of them visibly laughing in the video as they walk away.
After the video:
- Matt E is taken into custody, booked on charges of possession of an unlawful weapon (for possession of a LEGAL knife) and resisting arrest.
- A jury trial from October 21st to 23rd, 2014 finds Matt E guilty of both charges.
- Several people observing are very upset and yell about racism, white supremacy and anti-blackness in the courtroom and multiple are arrested and charged with contempt of court by Judge Steve Rosen. Each person charged with contempt is given the maximum sentence of 30 days in jail (Cameron Coale and Christopher Schulz).
- Matt E awaits a sentencing hearing for the guilty verdicts on November 13th, 2014 at Seattle Municipal Court at 9am.
[please see and distribute flyer for our Interfaith Rally to Stop Legal Lynching on Nov 13th as .docx or .pdf or .jpg]
In short, the two police officers in the video have been calling Matt E (aka MC Bypolar the Toxic Cherub) by name and harassing him in a very unprofessional manner (a standard to which they are supposed to be held to because of their job), making threats for awhile. The police hate him because he is a core founder of Seattle Copwatch which exists to end police violence by filming the police, letting people know their rights etc. Matt E has been particularly good at this and not in a way that is ‘polite’ to the police, calling them out directly for their role in maintaining slavery (since police were started as slave patrols and still serve that function today if you understand that the prison system is a reformatting of the slave plantation). In the weeks leading up to this Matt E had been doing a lot of very successful copwatching in downtown Seattle. So these two police officers have a particularly strong relationship with the crowd of people, since the crowd is always hanging out at Westlake park selling and using drugs and the new “community policing” model encourages officers to “build relationships”.The police told the crowd to be aware of Matt E, that him being around there would bring down heat on them. So after the police told the crowd that having Matt E down there would bring down heat on them, they all readied whatever weapons they had (including chains, skateboards and more) and started to surround Matt E. This is the side of “community based policing” that not many are talking about. Instead of putting a check against police power it augments it. He soon drew his knife and started backing up. The beginning of the video is him walking backwards into Pacific Place mall to be safer in the public, lighted view. The rest of the video explains itself.
(See below the updates for background story, what you can do, and contacts. Please save and share to follow story: stoplegallynching.wordpress.com)
UPDATE (11PM PST NOV 17): CHRIS AND CAMERON ARE FREE! Someone from the public defenders office was working on getting a hearing before Judge Rosen for both of them regarding their “good time” being revoked by him. Instead of having a hearing about it, they ended up simply being released today, apparently Judge Rosen did not want to see them again. Holly was released Friday the 14th! MATT E’s APPEAL BAIL GRANTED! Judge Rosen set the amount at $10,000, our collective pressure to FREE MATT E has been successful! We will be able to use bail money that is already in the system to pay for the appeal bail before his turn in date on the 27th. This means he will not serve any jail time, unless the appeal process results in further guilty verdicts and jail time.
UPDATE (9:30PM PST NOV 13): Good news is: Matt E was not taken into custody today! The interfaith vigil in the morning was a great inspiration to many of us present, more details may come out in the coming days. Kiro 7 showed up and filmed some of that and also did an interview with Matt E before we all went in to King County Jail courtroom 2 for the sentencing hearing before Judge Steven Rosen. A reporter from Real Change was also present throughout and they will be publishing a piece on the story soon. At the hearing, the courtroom was entirely packed with supporters of Matt E. Matt E told the Judge that he still cannot apologize for taking the actions he took to not get killed. Although it is still unjust that Matt E is getting any time at all, at least we have him free for another two weeks. The terms of his sentencing: 120 days in jail with 364 days suspended; a conviction fee; and Matt E is banned from the area between 3rd and 9th avenue and from Union to Olive. This last part is of great concern because all of the main transit lines in Seattle are accessible in that area. The Judge chose that area to keep Matt E far from Pacific Place Mall and Westlake Park, where the incident occurred. The entire trial has already entered an appeal processing in response to the unfairness and racism present in the first one. We are currently waiting to find out if we will be able to post appeal bail, which if accepted, will allow Matt E to remain free at least for the duration of the appeal trial, and presumably after that if it is a fair trial. In the early afternoon a group of about 20 people hand delivered a demand letter to Mayor Ed Murray in City Hall. The letter is addressed to Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Council, text will be uploaded soon. Video and audio also coming soon!!!
UPDATE (9:30PM PST NOV 13): Good news is: Matt E was not taken into custody today! The interfaith vigil in the morning was a great inspiration to many of us present, more details may come out in the coming days. Kiro 7 showed up and filmed some of that and also did an interview with Matt E before we all went in to King County Jail courtroom 2 for the sentencing hearing before Judge Steven Rosen. At the hearing, the courtroom was entirely packed with supporters of Matt E. Matt E told the Judge that he still cannot apologize for taking the actions he took to not get killed. Although it is still unjust that Matt E is getting any time at all, at least we have him free for another two weeks. The terms of his sentencing: 120 days in jail with 364 days suspended; a conviction fee; and Matt E is banned from the area between 3rd and 9th avenue and from Union to Olive. This last part is of great concern because all of the main transit lines in Seattle are accessible in that area. The Judge chose that area to keep Matt E far from Pacific Place Mall and Westlake Park, where the incident occurred. The entire trial has already entered an appeal processing in response to the unfairness and racism present in the first one. We are currently waiting to find out if we will be able to post appeal bail, which if accepted, will allow Matt E to remain free at least for the duration of the appeal trial, and presumably after that if it is a fair trial. Video and audio coming soon!!!
UPDATE (8:53pm PST Wednes Nov 12): We were told that there is no such thing as reduced time served for good behaviour in jail on contempt charges. Cameron and Chris will be serving their full 30 day sentences and wont be out until at least November 21st.
UPDATE (12:10pm PST Sat Nov 8): Holly went in for their first hearing in front of Judge Rosen 9am on November 6th. Their lawyer had the court date moved forward to Friday, November 7th. People posted bail of $5,000 and got them out for the day. They then went back in Friday morning and Judge Rosen sentenced Holly to 8 days in jail for contempt of court, with time served. They should be out between November 12th and 14th, hopefully in time for the rally on the 13th!
UPDATE (10:55pm PST Wednes Nov 5): Holly was kidnapped today from Seattle Municipal court room 1102 about 430pm. We thought it was odd that 6 uniformed Seattle police officers were present in addition to the 5 or so court marshals and some dude who turned out to be the lead prosecutor for the city, although we thought it was probably just to intimidate people from complaining too verbally if we did not agree with the verdict. Holly’s trial for charges that they had from an anti-juvie noise demo on New Years eve 2013 ended with them getting 100 hours of community service and no jail time (364 days suspended and a $5,000 fine suspended). Then when they were signing the paperwork, Holly was handcuffed by SPD and taken into custody without being told why. The judge in the court room said nothing. Holly now has a $5,000 bail for criminal contempt of court, presumably connected with the events on October 23rd 2014 that were cause for the charges received by Cameron and Chris. Holly has a hearing tomorrow at 9am at the King County Jail on 5th and James downtown Seattle, please share and come if you can…this is some weird stuff…
UPDATE (2:40pm PST Tues Oct 28): Felony harassment charge suspended. A couple dozen or so people showed up to support in the investigation/arraignment court today where Matt E was told that Judge Rosen’s false felony harassment charge against him would be suspended for the time being. It is possible that they could bring it back up in the future but Matt E continues to be out on bail for the initial crime of escaping a lynch mob. Next court is the big one, SENTENCING HEARING 9am on November 13th, LOCATION TBA.
UPDATE (8:40pm PST Mon Oct 27): COURT TOMORROW! Matt E has arraignment hearing for the false “felony harassment” charge issued by Judge Steve Rosen. 2:30pm at King County Jail courtroom 1. It looks like Cameron will not be getting an extra contempt charge for their speech last Friday. Apparently Judge Rosen went along with his initial feeling of being disinclined.
UPDATE (9pm PST Sat Oct 25): MATT E IS FREE!! …At least until the hearing for that completely fabricated felony harassment charge on Tuesday October 28th at 230pm at King County Jail, courtroom 1. There we hope to see the false charge dropped, being as there is no evidence of Matt E making a death threat to anyone and it miraculously appeared by order of Judge Steve Rosen after the first $25,000 bail was posted, all just to keep his feeling of power as a (white) judge over black freedom. Next court appearance will be Cameron’s contempt hearing on Monday in the morning at King County Jail, exact time TBA.
UPDATE (7:03pm PST Sat Oct 25): Bail has been posted and Matt E should be out between 8 and 1030pm, gather in front of King County Jail on 5th and James to greet.
UPDATE (5:02pm PST Sat Oct 25): At today’s “investigation hearing” at the King County Jail Courtroom 1 Matt E had Judge Rosen’s newest charge against him of felony harassment reviewed by Judge Donna Tucker. Judge Donna Tucker explained at the beginning of the process that they were not able to take any testimony into account, only information directly from the affidavit delivered by Judge Rosen could be taken into account. When Matt E was brought out in front of the Judge the entire gallery, which was completely full without any room left on the benches for sitting, stood up to express our solidarity. There were only two people in the gallery who did not stand and were apparently not there to support Matt E. Some 40 to 50 people in all. The prosecution asked for $100,000 bail, arguing that Matt E has a criminal history which includes drug charges, assault and harassment. The prosecution also used Matt E’s charges of escaping a lynch mob (i.e. resisting arrest and possession of an illegal weapon) in order to further convince the judge that he is a flight risk and so to set the bail at his suggestion of $100,000. Someone in the gallery shouted “THOSE CHARGES ARE FOR TRYING TO ESCAPE A LYNCH MOB.” Matt E’s defense pointed out that all of the charges that the prosecution mentioned took place when he was a juvenile, that he has lived in Seattle over 25 years and so is not a flight risk, and that he is primary caregiver for his elderly grandmother. The Judge’s final determination was to set bail at $25,000, saying that the charge of felony harassment was based on threatening to kill someone (no circumstances or evidence were mentioned) and so they still wanted something of a substantial bail amount. Once bail was set and Matt E left the room the entire gallery, minus 2 people, left the room. Matt E’s next court date for Judge Rosen’s charge against him will be held in the same place, Tuesday October 28th at 230pm. Keep in mind Cameron will in fact have another contempt hearing on Monday October 27th (sometime in the morning 9am+) where Judge Rosen will give them another chance to apologize. Cameron has expressed that they will continue to be in contempt of court and if Judge Rosen decides to continue to give another 30 days in jail for each time they argue their point, they will continue to argue and Judge Steve Rosen can choose to be known as the Judge who put someone away for life for arguing in court if he so chooses. Next BIG DATE that will be SUPER IMPORTANT is Matt E’s sentencing hearing where his time incarcerated for the initial charges of escaping a lynch mob will be set: November 13th at 9am (location TBA). Please write a letter to Judge Steve Rosen demanding the minimal possible sentence for Matt E’s charges if you can do that kind of work effectively. Another update coming tonight.
UPDATE (3:45pm PST Fri Oct 24): For Matt E, the entire bail of $25,000 was posted and we thought he would be released by sometime tonight, until his SENTENCING HEARING on November 13th at 9am (location TBA). However, after bail was posted Judge Steve Rosen apparently decided to give another charge, felony harassment, presumably because Judge Steve Rosen didn’t think the bail would have been posted and wanted to make certain that Matt E would stay locked up. We will find out tomorrow SATURDAY OCTOBER 25th at 1230pm at the investigative hearing in the same building, either courtroom 1 or 2, King County Jail. PLEASE COME TO THIS AND BE PREPARED FOR CONTEMPT HEARING MONDAY IF JUDGE ROSEN DECIDES TO CHARGE CAM (continue reading).
Chris and Cameron were each sentenced to 30 days in jail for contempt of court, the maximum possible sentence. Judge Steve Rosen (up for election, by the way) said the reason for giving the maximum sentence for contempt, which he says he has never done before was because they were part of and responsible for inciting, quote “the biggest disturbance I have ever seen in a court room” and that is was “the most egregious case of contempt possible.” Judge Steve Rosen claimed this was necessary “to protect the fairness of Mr. Erickson’s trial.” Cameron may be facing another case of contempt today for refusing to take back their behavior and words yesterday, and for telling the judge their reasoning for their conduct in court yesterday.
The primary reason Cameron gave was that the way the trial was conducted was in defense of a public lynching–which are a daily occurrence in the US, still–that Matt E was only attempting to escape, effectively making Judge Steve Rosen and the entire court an official advocate for white supremacy and racism. Cameron also made reference to Darren Wilson and Michal Brown (#Ferguson). I wish I had audio or direct quotes of Cameron’s speech to the Judge to share right now, but for now you will have to imagine and deal with my paraphrase. Judge Steve Rosen had Cameron removed from the courtroom by marshals because Cameron “could not control [themself].” The hearing then concluded with Judge Steve Rosen saying that Cameron was “voluntarily absent,” although they were in fact dragged away by court marshals, and the determination was to give them 30 days, as Chris was given before, with Judge Steve Rosen saying he might assign another contempt charge although he was “disinclined” he would think about it. If Judge Steve Rosen does decide to assign another contempt charge, Cameron will have court in the same place, King County Jail arraignment court, on Monday Oct 27.
For visiting hours, get in touch.
UPDATE (9:10am PST Fri Oct 24): Chris and Cameron have court at 10:05am TODAY Friday at the King County Jail court on 5th and James. Arraignment for contempt charges, courtroom 2. Update on Matt E coming soon.
SEATTLE JUDGE AND JURY FIND BLACK MALE GUILTY OF ESCAPING A LYNCH MOB
(Please forward immediately)\
verb (used with object)
1. to put to death, especially by hanging, by mob action and without legal authority.
This whole trial has been super F***ED UP. My friend was targeted to be killed by some officers of the Seattle Police Department because of his role in Seattle Copwatch. SPD doesn’t like him because of that, since he has done a good job of interrupting their harassment and violence–especially against homeless, poor, black, brown and native people on many occasions in Seattle over the past several years and has made certain that people know their rights with the police.
The SPD officers’ method of trying to have him killed, or *at least* extremely injured, was to encourage and allow a large group of armed ‘street kids’ that those particular officers have a strong relationship with to surround him with clear intentions of violence. Those officers were present from the beginning of the situation and have a history of calling him by name and making threats against him. The officers sat along with the group and were doing nothing as the group surrounded him with weapons drawn (skateboards, chains, and other implements). When it was absolutely clear that the officers were not there to help but to enable the situation, he eventually drew a knife and went into a defensive posture telling them to all leave him alone while retreating into Pacific Place mall. Shortly after entering the mall, the officers attacked and kidnapped him. I know all of this because he told me in detail as soon as he got out of jail and I have been working with him on copwatch for years.
During the situation he had flashes of being murdered by lynch mobs in the same more historic fashion of KKK racism in the US. There is also video evidence from Pacific Place mall that confirms his story. This was shown in trial. One of the officers, the one telling the *more* blatant lies about how the situation happened, was very clearly red in the face and would not even look at the jury. My friend’s complaint the (first) all white jury was not a jury of his peers was dismissed by the judge. Nonetheless another jury had to be selected because the judge said something he should not have that could create prejudice in the jury, so another one had to be selected. The second jury, the prosecution immediately eliminated the only black person from the jury pool and then the activist lady and then the person who spoke about self defense. Despite all of this, the jury today (October 23rd, 2014) found him guilty of resisting arrest and possession of an illegal weapon (even though the knife was not actually illegal, the prosecutor tried to say it was “gravity assisted” when he was clearly flicking it open, a common style of knife that many people carry). If this sounds hard to believe for you, keep in mind this is the same Seattle Police Department that has been found to be extremely corrupt and racist, even according to the official report of the US Department of Justice. Also keep in mind this is the USA. George Zimmerman gets acquitted for murdering a young unarmed black teenager because he supposedly felt his life was threatened; “legitimate self-defense.” My friend, who also happens to be black, tries to escape from and defend himself against a mob of armed people with clear intention to severely harm or murder him, in a manner where he is not even seeking to injure them but to get them to leave him alone (i.e. backing away and drawing a knife), and he is kidnapped by the police, incarcerated and charged with heavy criminal offenses that carry serious time.
Emotions were high in the court room afterwards, people were not completely silent about the blatant racism of the court system that is continuing to enable the mass murder and incarceration of black people. Two people other than the defendant, also very close friends of mine, were found in contempt of court for their lack of silence in the face of this. We need EVERYONE POSSIBLE TO SUPPORT THIS CASE. It is important to show popular support and have lots of people’s media to bring attention to this collective case during the whole long process.
How to Support:
1) Come to as many of the court dates as you can possibly make it to and encourage others to come with you to witness the process and stand in solidarity with Matt E and against government sanctioned lynching attempts. VERY IMPORTANT date for mass mobilization will be the sentencing hearing for Matt E’s crime of escaping a public lynching (or in the court’s vocabulary ‘possession of an illegal weapon’ and ‘resisting arrest’). PACK THE ENTIRE COURT HOUSE NOVEMBER 13TH AT 9AM PST (location to be announced).
2) TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW! Share on social media, talk to your friends and family and strangers about it…TRANSLATE this story into whatever other languages you might know and share it with people in that community, using the video of Matt’s arrest after escaping the lynching
3) Donate $ for legal/bail fund/$ for the books and continuing projects against legal lynching and police brutality. All $ that is not eaten by this case will continue to go to assisting others facing similar situations.
4) Visit (email firstname.lastname@example.org with a bit about yourself and why you would like to visit to get visiting hours)
5) Write a letter to Judge Steve Rosenn about why Matt E should be sentenced with as little time as possible at sentencing and/or completely dismissed of all charges. Send letters of support for Matthew Erickson to 173 16th Ave Seattle, WA 98122
6) Give bad Yelp reviews to the Seattle Municipal Court and King County Jail
7) Resist fascism
8) Vote Matthew Erickson for Judge (write in option for Seattle Municipal Court Position #3) if you can vote in Seattle, before November 4th, 2014.
Keep up on this blog post. Until some dedicated site is made it will be continuously updated with current info on the case, so please save this link: https://wp.me/p5fVUJ-5
#Seattle #Copwatch #MattFacesTheFascists #Racism #BlackLivesMatter #Ferguson