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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Dec 27, 2014

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NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE says to expect frigid early mornings the next few days as the temps dip below freezing. Which means slippery surfaces on roads and walkways.

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PAUL McCARTHY of MendocinoSportsPlus has done the only reporting on what is developing into a major Coast controversy. We have previously relayed Paul's initial reports about how both Mendocino High School's basketball teams, boys and girls, were barred from the Fort Bragg High School Vern Piver hoops tourney for wearing t-shirts emblazoned, "I Can't Breathe," the reference of course being to the choking death by a white New York policeman of Eric Garner, a black man. The Mendo boys agreed not to wear their shirts, the Mendo girls said they'd stick to their 1st Amendment protections and continue to wear their shirts. The boys played on, the girls were barred from competition. McCarthy reported that at least one Coast resident has contacted the ACLU with, one assumes, an intention to sue the Fort Bragg School District, and today McCarthy sent an inquiry off to the ACLU to ask if they had indeed been contacted about the Fort Bragg controversy.

ALSO TODAY, mendocinosportsplus posted a resignation letter from Mendo High School Booster Club president, Douna Scramaglia...

"In reaction to the school administration's lack of response regarding the recent wearing of 'I Can't Breathe' t-shirts by the Mendocino varsity basketball teams during warmups in Archer Anderson gym (Fort Bragg) on December 16.

"Earlier this week the teams were 'uninvited' from the Vern Piver Basketball Classic (to be held next week) by Fort Bragg High tournament officials who later relented and re-invited the boys team with the condition they not wear the 'I Can't Breathe' t-shirts at any time during the three-day tourney.

"Nine of the ten members of the team agreed NOT to wear the shirts, one refused but will not be sanctioned by the team for not appearing in the tourney.

"The Mendo girls team, as far as we could ascertain, was not given this same option. Tourney officials warned spectators from Mendocino who wear the 'I Can't Breathe' t-shirts will be 'asked to leave or escorted from the premises,' according to a letter to the team.

"There has been talk the northern California ACLU has been, or will be, consulted regarding the matter.

"Ms Scramaglia, a tireless, long time fixture (and financial suporter) on the Mendo High sports scene, assumed the position of Club Cardinal president last Spring when Joe Pescini stepped down

Here's the letter (from Ms. Scramaglia) sent to Club Cardinal members Christmas Eve afternoon:

Hello to All, Please accept this as my official letter of resignation from Club Cardinal. It has become apparent to me this past week that my vision of what Club Cardinal is and what it has become does not align with my personal political views which should never come in to play within our organization if we had the proper leadership in our school administration. I sent out a letter to our board and top school administrators on Monday and the only person to respond was Sonya. To me this shows a huge lack of respect for me and our Club as this issue has become a VERY volatile issue within our coastal community as well as nearby communities. To sit back and do nothing has done irreparable harm to many. Of course we all have our right to Freedom of Speech but we also have to suffer the consequences of how others may react and weigh if the consequences of our actions outweigh the message we are trying to convey. For me, I have always felt that our student athletes are a representative of our school and our community. The message or impression that they leave is a reflection of us all. I do not post political campaign signs at my business for one simple is not the opinion of all the people at Sport Chrysler Jeep Dodge. I do not give money to political campaigns for fear of alienating certain groups. I try to be inclusive of all. I can not be a part of an organization that makes political statements that leave others questioning my beliefs or values because I have association to the group. I have no problem with those students wearing political billboards anywhere else other than the court. I have had many people assume since Club Cardinal purchases school apparel and uniforms that these were purchased by us as well. I now feel I am defending something that should have never been an issue within our organization. We can all hide behind the message and say it wasn't directed at local law enforcement, but we have been made well aware that it has offended local law enforcement as well as our student families. There are children being bullied by their decision to not wear the shirts. Being a part of these types of decisions are not what I stand for. That being said, I have no hard feelings towards anyone in our Club, I just feel the Club no longer serves the purpose for what I have been striving for. I am fighting to keep athletics in our school and now our athletes are being denied to play because of a few people. The people who have made athletics possible for our students now feel our students disrespect them. That saddens me. It may not have been the intention, but it is the reality. We all make choices in life and I just hope that this decision was one that these kids will look back on and feel the effect justified the cause. I will not be doing basketball concessions as previously committed, nor will I be attending any future Club Cardinal meetings. Thank you for allowing me the time on the board, it has been a pleasure, it just no longer aligns with my beliefs as a board member.

Sincerely, Douna Scramaglia

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SO FAR, in all of this, Mendocino High School's superintendent has been among the missing, as has Fort Bragg's. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they're out of town for the holidays.

I THINK MS. SCRAMAGLIA underestimates the ability of the wider community to make distinctions. Certainly there are people out there who might assume that Ms. S is affiliated with a bunch of teen cop bashers, but it's more likely that she is simply reflecting majority adult opinion, that the Mendo basketball teams were outtaline wearing the I Can't Breathe shirts to the Fort Bragg tournament.

WE'VE SAID SEVERAL TIMES now that we think the present national hysteria implying that America's police forces are stalking young black men and murdering them is itself a kind of evil, and one that has already gotten two New York policemen killed.

BUT WE ALSO think adult authority is wrong to censure young people for political statements we disagree with. By the time a young person reaches the 11th or 12th grades, he and she has been exposed to many hours of mantra-like instruction that he and she live in a country that treasures, above all, unimpeded speech no matter how unpopular the opinions expressed. These young people have discovered that The Great Principle is null and void if it angers the people who have power over them, that rather than argue the issue the majority simply says, "You're wrong, and you can't say it here." Here, of course, is at an educational institution where, all their young lives, they've been told free expression is what their country is all about, that many Americans have died so they can feel free in expressing their opinions.

THE EDU-FOLLOW-UP, on the off-chance there is any in either Mendocino or Fort Bragg, ought to be a group discussion with all perspectives on the controversy at the table, including the perspective of at least one cop. (I nominate Sheriff Allman because he's good at public speaking.) The Mendo kids involved here seem to have gotten only one perspective, one prevalent among local libs who don't seem willing to step out themselves, but a perspective loathed by a lot more people. The young hoopsters are unlikely to have heard a real discussion of what's involved here. It's past time they did.

MORE FALLOUT on the I Can't Breathe controversy from Mendosportsplus...

MSP Contacts ACLU Over ' Coast Christmas Controversy'

MSP has an email in to see if, as reported to us in a message, people have contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (northern California) office about the legality of Fort Bragg High school banning spectators from wearing "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts at the upcoming Vern Piver Memorial Basketball Classic. Our email to ACLU Communications Director Rebecca Farmer received an automated reply she was "on vacation from December 22 - January 2." It did leave her cell phone number where "reporters on deadline" can leave messages — which we did — telling her to check her email. Will report back when we hear anything.


Friend of MSP, former Mendocino School Board trustee and "all league" good guy Tom Hudson wrote the following letter (posted @ 12:45 pm) to recently resigned Club Cardinal resident Douna Scramaglia:

Dear Douna: I hope you can accept my difference of opinion respecting your email and resignation. What jumps out at me is that the FBUSD was presented with a golden opportunity to teach its students and community what the First Amendment means in a real-life scenario and to lead its community through rational problem-solving, but they dropped the ball. Instead it chose to allow the shunning of 30 or so of our children, yes I said "children". These children have proven by the lives that they have led that they are kind, considerate, bright, honest, hard-working and reliable. They deserved better than the treatment they have received from their adult neighbors. It is interesting to note the First Amendment was adopted on December 15th, 1791. It just celebrated its 223rd birthday. The Amendment prohibits "....the making of any law....abridging the freedom of speech...". The courts have made it clear that the protection of political and social speech is the most deserving. Examples of protected "free speech" are (a) a jacket inscribed "F... the draft", (b) all sorts of political and social brochures, (c) flag burning, (d) false claims of military service and/or honors, and much, much more. In 1969 the Supreme Court specified that the First Amendment extended free speech rights to school children who were punished for wearing armbands to protest the war. In that opinion, Justice Fortas, wrote that " can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse officials do not possess absolute authority over their students." The moral of the story is the wearing of these shirts is fully within the scope of the First Amendment and these children deserve 100% support from their school and their community. That all being said, there are those who found offense in these shirts. The loss of Deputy Ricky [del Fiorentino] is still a viable pain for this community and deserves consideration. FBUSD and MUSD deserve recognition for finally working out a reasonable accommodation. Even so, the idea that our MHS girls' team must yield their First Amendment rights as a condition to play the game is not a legal or commendable result and I for one stand with these girls. For over 200 years, US soldiers and sailors have been dying all over the world in defense of this country (and others), in defense of US citizens (including teenagers) and the values we have set including the First Amendment. We don't do honor for them or Ricky Del Fiorentino by shunning these children who have done no wrong and only want to stand up for the saving of lives in a context no adult I know has magic answers for. Please reconsider your resignation and instead be among those who try to rein in all of this negative momentum. Thank you.

Sincerely, Tom Hudson

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It shouldn't be too hard to hold two thoughts in our minds at once.

Thought #1: Police officers have an inherently tough and violent job. Split-second decisions about the use of force come with the territory. Ditto for decisions about who to stop and who to keep an eye on. This makes individual mistakes inevitable, but as a group, police officers deserve our support and respect regardless.

Thought #2: That support shouldn't be blind. Conlin reports that in her group of 25 black police officers, 24 said they had received rough treatment from other cops [when out of uniform]. “The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.”

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec 26, 2014

Arms, Benitez, Marrufo, Meeks-Ashley, Nowlin
Arms, Benitez, Marrufo, Meeks-Ashley, Nowlin

ROBERT ARMS, Willits. Assault with a deadly weapon other than firearm, under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

JESSE BENITEZ, Hopland. Domestic battery.

ROBERT MARRUFO, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

MICHAEL MEEKS-ASHLEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

KRAIG NOWLIN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

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Lessons From 16 Homicides

by Ryan Burns

Humboldt County has likely never suffered a New Year’s dawn as shocking and traumatic as 2014’s. Residents awoke on a crisp, dazzlingly clear New Year’s morning, the symbolic new beginning, only to learn of the horrific end that befell Father Eric Freed, beloved priest at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Eureka. It was a crime so disorienting in its apparent depravity that it took the community awhile to even begin searching for meaning.

That struggle — to make sense of the most senseless violence, to find blame, causation, a remedy — continues almost a year later as the trial of suspect Gary Lee Bullock approaches. Some have blamed the late-night release policy at the Humboldt County jail. Others pointed to insufficient resources for mental health treatment and screening. (The Sheriff’s Office has responded to those two concerns.) Still others said Humboldt County’s “drug culture” is at fault, while a misguided few conflated the tragedy with our local homeless epidemic. There are certainly other theories as well.

It’s tempting, in retrospect, to see Freed’s murder as an omen for the year to come. His death was merely the first of 16 homicides in Humboldt County this year, the highest annual total here in at least 30 years. The average over that period was about 8 1/2 homicides per year, with a previous high of 15 back in 1988, according to the California Department of Justice. Freed’s murder was also the first of six homicides in Eureka, another record high over the past three decades. Eureka has averaged just two homicides per year during that stretch, reaching a high of five three times — in 1991, 1992 and 2001, according to the FBI’s uniform crime reporting statistics.

While these homicides deservedly receive special attention, the 16 deaths were woven into a tapestry of disturbing violence. There were numerous attempted homicides, an unexplained spray of bullets in Arcata, the suicidal conclusion of a months-long manhunt and bloody dog carcasses hung from a tree as a threat, to name just a few of the year’s heinous crimes.

While violent and property crime rates have been steadily falling for decades at the state and national levels, they’ve been rising locally in recent years, particularly in Eureka. For most of us, these events and the disturbing trend they comprise contradict our sense of the generous and loving community we know personally. And so, like the dazed mourners squinting in the New Year’s sun, we can’t help but indulge the intrinsic human impulse to search for patterns in the chaos, hoping for relief from our cognitive dissonance.

What do these 16 homicides mean? What were their causes, and where can we find potential remedies? The Outpost spoke with a number of people involved in the local criminal justice system and heard a variety of perspectives, from opinions on contributing factors to suggestions for action.

First, in the interest of laying all the evidence on the table, let’s take a look back at those 16 homicides, in chronological order.

Jan. 1: Eric Freed, 56-year-old priest at St. Bernard’s, is allegedly tortured and beaten to death inside the church rectory. The trial of suspect Gary Lee Bullock is scheduled to begin Jan. 26, 2015.

Jan. 10: Jesse Ruiz, 24, is stabbed to death during a confrontation at a Trinidad trailer park. Larry Clinton Morrow is later sentenced to a year in jail and five years’ probation.

March 26: Double homicide. Rick Storre, 60, and Lance Henry, 25, die of gunshot wounds inside a Eureka home. Vincent Sanchez, Henry’s half-brother, later pleads guilty to both murders. He now awaits sentencing.

April 16: Zackery Chapman, 36, dies of a gunshot wound. His body is found in the Eel River west of Garberville and a nearby trailer is burned in an apparent attempt to cover up evidence of the crime. Suspect Benjamin Carter later pleads not guilty and is awaiting trial.

July 18: Neil Decker, 49, dies after being shot in the chest with a shotgun during an argument in Rancho Sequoia, near Alderpoint. Suspect Matthew Brown, an acquaintance of Decker’s, later pleads not guilty.

July 21: Also in the Rancho Sequoia area, the body of Scott Johnson, age 57 and a close friend of Decker’s, is found dead, the result of a gunshot wound. To date, no one has been arrested for Johnson’s death.

Sept. 3: Double homicide. Harley Hammers and Angel Tully, both 37, suffer gunshot wounds during a confrontation in Fieldbrook. Tully is pronounced dead at the scene. Hammers is pronounced dead after being transported to Mad River Hospital. Suspect Jason Arreaga, who knew the victims, has since pleaded not guilty to their murders.

Sept. 17: 22-year-old Tommy McClain is shot dead by Eureka police officer Stephen Linfoot* while allegedly motioning toward a BB-gun that resembles a real handgun.

Oct. 14: The decomposed remains of a man later identified as 30-year-old Ohio native Robert James Flaherty are found near Garberville. An autopsy reveals that he died of multiple gunshot wounds. No suspect has been identified.

Oct. 19: Ethan Stroud, 32, is shot and killed in Shelter Cove during a domestic dispute by a 48-year-old woman who was acting in self defense, according to a sheriff’s deputy.

Oct. 22: Daneyal Siddique, 40, is shot and killed at the Dean Creek Resort in Redway. Jason Armstrong, a 40-year-old Texan, is due to be arraigned on New Year’s Eve.

Nov. 15: Casey Joseph Campbell, 22, is found shot dead in the middle of 15th Street in Eureka around 4 a.m.

Dec. 17: The youngest victim on this list, 14-year-old Jesus Joani Garcia-Romero, is found moaning in the front yard of a Eureka home. While a neighbor was reportedly told that the victim suffered multiple knife wounds, the cause of death is officially being withheld.

Dec. 18: The second homicide of a juvenile in as many days, 17-year-old Hoopa Tribe member Richard Fredrick Tis Mil Estrada is fatally shot by a California Highway Patrol officer* after Estrada reportedly attacked the officer with a machete.

*Note: Coroners define homicide as any death that occurs by “a volitional act committed by another person to cause fear, harm, or death.” So the inclusion on this list of two homicides by law enforcement officers does not imply criminality on their part.

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Can we conclude anything from these bare facts? Thirteen of the 16 died of gunshot wounds. Most victims were personally acquainted with their killer. Only one was a woman. Likewise, just one of the killers was female. The average age of the deceased was just under 35. Six had yet to reach age 30. And two victims, killed on subsequent days last week, were minors, with the youngest just 14 years old.

Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey has access to more details in most of these cases, and he sees a recurring theme. “Most of the homicides we’re encountering are related to marijuana and other drugs,” he said. Marijuana is obviously the county’s big-ticket commodity, luring ruthless profiteers á la the gold rush, Downey said. “And people do what they feel they need to do to protect their so-called business and their income” — up to and including murder, the sheriff added.

Chronic understaffing has only compounded the problems, Downey said. His office is currently short 13 deputy sheriffs who would be serving in the field if their positions weren’t frozen or unfunded. A sergeant’s position is also frozen along with 16 correctional officers, to say nothing of ancillary staff. The sheriff’s office has an allocation of 270 positions, per the county budget, and currently only about 220 of those are filled.

This problem was mentioned specifically by others in the sheriff’s office during the year. For example, Lt. Wayne Hanson voiced his frustration after the third of four homicides near so-called Murder Mountain in Southern Humboldt in a 24-month stretch. “We are not happy about our staffing levels,” Hanson said back in July. “It puts our officers, their morale, [and] citizens’ safety at risk.”

“What’s happened,” Downey explained, “is my budget over the last four years has stayed pretty constant at $28 million to $29.5 million, but operating costs have gone through the roof.” Those costs include skyrocketing retirement expenses, union contracts, insurance and fuel, among other things, Downey said. But he’s optimistic about the coming year thanks to the passage of Measure Z.

With the passage of the countywide tax measure Downey said, “I’m in the unique and happy position to remake the agency — provide enhanced services, put more people on street [and] have programs to deal with issues.” In 2015 he hopes to fill six to eight of the vacant deputy sheriff positions, which should strengthen the drug task force and add improve community services. This, in turn, should alleviate stress on patrol deputies, allowing them to do more proactive, rather than reactive, enforcement, Downey said.

Downey’s analysis is similar to that of Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills, who had been on the job less than two months when he found himself giving a press conference covered around the world. Mills has brought an intellectual approach to the position, studying not only the techniques used in other law enforcement agencies but also the social underpinnings of criminal behavior.

In a phone interview last week Mills casually cited a recent Yale study that examined the relationship between social networks (both the human and Facebook varieties) and the odds of becoming a murder victim. The sociologists behind the study discovered that such commonly blamed risk factors as race, gang membership and physical proximity to the murderer are less important than one’s social network. “In other words,” NPR noted, “it’s all about whom you know.”

“That was a very interesting revelation,” Mills said. “What’s exasperating here in Humboldt County is there’s this very violent subculture that seems to center around the illegal drug culture,” he added. Like Downey, Mills doesn’t limit that diagnosis to marijuana, nor does he believe that all marijuana growers are prone to violence. But the various drug-related subcultures — be they the mentally ill self-medicating with illegal substances, the hard-core addicts or those seeking to turn a profit — have proved to be more combustible.

Unlike others in law enforcement, Mills said he doesn’t necessarily see a connection between California’s public safety realignment or the recently passed Prop. 47 (both of which have resulted in more low-level criminals getting released onto the streets) and the rise in violent crime. Such issues are convoluted and very difficult to trace, Mills said, but he doesn’t believe that any of our local homicides were directly related to those new laws.

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1. Background

Small town murder case leads to 3 arrests 

(May 30, 2014, by Ken Kiunke)

The small town of Covelo in central Mendocino County is nestled in the Round Valley, to the west of the Mendocino National Forest and east of Highway 101, miles inland from the coast. It is located within the Round Valley Indian Reservation of the Pomo Tribe, though the town itself is only 40% Native American. With a population of under 1300, Covelo is known as a home to many artists in a variety of media, including traditional native craftspeople.

This small community was shocked with the Sunday morning discovery of a local young woman, 21-year-old Rosalena Belle Rodriguez, dead from bullet wounds and lying in the road at Hopper Lane in the wooded north part of town. Someone driving through on Sunday at 7:14 am discovered the body and contacted the Sheriff’s office. Detectives responding to the scene identified her as they began their investigation. A forensic autopsy conducted Tuesday confirmed that she had suffered multiple gunshot wounds, while a complete toxicology analysis is still pending.

As part of the homicide investigation, on Wednesday night detectives contacted 28-year-old Covelo resident Nicole Hawkins at a home on Creekside Drive in Willits, 44 miles south. Hawkins has a history of trouble with the law, with at least five arrests going back to 2005, on charges of battery, assault, and vehicle code violations such as DUI, driving with a suspended license, and lack of insurance. When contacted this time, she was arrested on elder abuse charges and probation violations. It is not clear at this time what her connection to the murder of Belle Rodriguez was, but the two were at the least Facebook friends. She may have been out with her Saturday night, as it was reported that Rodriguez had gone out with friends the night of her killing.

Jeremy Freeman-Britton, Sidney Freeman, Nicole Hawkins
Jeremy Freeman-Britton, Sidney Freeman, Nicole Hawkins

Hawkins’ arrest then led to two more later that night. At 1:00 am, back in Covelo, the investigation continued with the detainment of brothers Jeremy Jason Freeman-Britton, 21, and Sidney Lewis Freeman, 23, at Sidney’s home on Yuki Street. Both had outstanding warrants allowing their immediate arrest. Jeremy had an outstanding warrant from neighboring Lake County for criminal threats in an unrelated incident. Sidney had a misdemeanor probation violation warrant from Mendocino County. Once in custody, detectives were able to establish probably cause connecting them to the murder of Rodriguez. The brothers, along with Nicole Hawkins and Belle Rodriguez, are reported to be Native American and tribal members.

As the investigation continued Thursday afternoon, detectives and the District Attorney determined that Jeremy Freeman-Britton was at that point the lone suspect in the murder of Rodriguez, and would only be filing murder charges against him. The investigation continues, and anyone with information is encouraged to contact the tip line at 707-234-2100.

No motive for the killing has been released by investigators. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat has quoted Round Valley tribal member Cora Simmons describing Belle Rodriguez as “sweet but troubled.” She said she grew up poor, with little family support, but did well in high school, even earning valedictorian of her class. Simmons, a relative of Rodriguez, said that her life took a downward turn afterwards, as she was unemployed and abusing alcohol. Records show an arrest in 2010 at 18-years-old for disorderly conduct. A sad but ironic post she made on her Facebook page in October of last year reads “LIVE EVERYDAY AS IT WERE TO BE UR LAST, CUZ U’LL NEVER KNOW WHEN SUMTHIN UNEXPECT WILL OCCUR..”


2. AVA, Off The Record, June 11, 2014

BIG TROUBLE IN COVELO seems to be heading in the ominous direction of a revival of the Lincoln-Britton Feud of 1995. That one resulted in three shooting deaths, one of the fatalities famously being Mendocino County Sheriff's deputy and a former Navy Seal, Bob Davis. Bear Lincoln, defended by the legendary Tony Serra, was acquitted of responsibility for the death of Davis who, ironically, was also a Native American and enjoyed a reputation in Covelo for just law enforcement.

THE YOUNG COVELO WOMAN found murdered by gunfire last month is remembered as a bright, vivacious girl with no criminal involvement. Rosalena Belle Rodriguez, only 21 years old, was a member of the Lincoln family; her killers, and there was more than one, are presumed to be young members of the Britton family.

ALTHOUGH MISS RODRIGUEZ'S family still hasn't received the autopsy report, a prevalent assumption in Covelo is that in the terrible hours before she was riddled by gunfire and left dead on Hopper Lane, the young woman had been repeatedly raped and beaten by several men.

A SECOND PREVALENT assumption in Covelo is that at least five persons were involved in this terrible event while only one of the responsibles remains in custody. A third prevalent assumption is that unless law enforcement moves quickly to make additional arrests, retaliatory violence is a real possibility.

COVELO remains plagued by methamphetamine. The murder of Miss Rodriguez bears all the signs of the meth-driven evil constant in Round Valley and throughout Mendocino County.

3. Letter from Jeremy Freeman-Britton, AVA, July 16, 2014



My name is Jeremy Jason Freeman-Britton, and I am currently being held in the Mendocino County Jail for the murder I did not commit of [Rosalena] “Belle” Rodriguez. I sit here alone with the support of very few. Because of the articles that people have read it’s being assumed that I am a murderer. A murderer I am not. I am a son, a loving father, a brother and friend of those who still believe in my innocence.

I am writing this letter because there hasn’t been any follow-up on the case in the articles. Just because someone is arrested doesn’t mean they are guilty. This is America and I’m innocent until proven guilty. And I am confident that I will be walking out these doors a free man. And shame on everyone who I thought loved me and turned their backs on me since being locked up. For those of you who still believe in me I could really use a show of support in the forms of letters, as I am locked down 24 hours a day.


Jeremy ‘Juice’ Freeman


4. Letter from Eric Lincoln, Covelo, Dec 23, 2014

Dear Editor,

Belle Rodriguez
Belle Rodriguez

On May 25 of this year there was a very suspicious and wrongful death here in Covelo. The young woman's name was Rosalena Belle Rodriguez. Age 21. She had been hanging out with her so-called "good friends"!

Belle had been missing for three days. On the early morning of May 25, 2014, Belle's lifeless body was found lying in the road on Hopper Lane. This is the name of the road where the killers chose to leave her body which is coincidentally the same road that some of those "good friends" call home.

This is the last thing we had expected. Hearing the news about what happened to Belle was unbelievable. As time went by more information was revealed and the worse it became.

Apparently Belle had been shot after being beaten, being tortured, being choked with a belt (to the point of hemorrhaging), and being sexually assaulted. These are some of the things the Belle had witnessed and even as participated in!

There have been numerous names that have been coming up. Who was involved in this vicious, senseless assault that these cowards took out on Belle?

For the life of me I cannot think of a single thing that Belle could have done to incite such hateful, destructive anger out of these psychotic people she had called her "friends."

On another note: the cops got one of the suspects who has been involved in this tragic incident. He has been in custody since Belle's death.

While incarcerated this person is on video confessing to his involvement in the death of Belle. He will be coming to trial in a few months. His name is Jeremy Freeman.

These investigated doing his case are a piece of work! First of all, it would seem like any idiot would check and recheck any and all evidence that would strengthen the case against these motherfuckers.

For example: Her blood. Belle's tormentors had been keeping her sedated throughout their sick, twisted plot to dehumanize poor unsuspecting Belle.

Also, check her body for traces of semen because she had been sexually assaulted.

And to my knowledge these "professionals" didn't even get the scrapings underneath Belle's fingernails. Some of the suspects had scratch marks on their bodies, of course, by someone trying to defend themself. And also, let's not forget, traces of blood splatterings found in a vehicle belonging to a Nikki Hawkins (one of the main suspects).

A few days after the funeral this Nikki Hawkins, for some reason drove over to uncle Thit's home (Sylvester Rodriguez, Sr.).

My niece Sadacia and her two babies stay there also. Sadacia and Nikki Hawkins began to get into an argument about Belle. Sadacia said at one point that Nikki Hawkins mockingly said, "At least I'm not that dead bitch on the road."

By then their argument escalated. My niece asked Nicki Hawkins why they had to do that to Belle? Her reply was (holding a pistol to the sky), "Cuz I'm a gangsta bitch."

At that point Nikki Hawkins got out of the truck. My niece and Hawkins began to fight. This is when Nikki Hawkins knocked over Uncle Thit (Sylvester Rodriguez, Sr.), a respected elder of the Indian community.

Nikki Hawkins caused him enough pain that he needed to get medical attention!

To this day, this woman continues to walk the streets of Covelo without a care in the world.

Nikki Hawkins and all of her accomplices are a serious threat to the community. Her cavalier attitude, after the fact, is the ultimate example of such a conscious disregard for human life.

Both the Indian and the white communities need to be aware of these godforsaken, lame excuses of what is supposed to be a proud people. These spineless individuals put the name "Native American" to shame. They are so disgraceful. But eventually one by one to get themselves out of the spotlight they will dry-snitch each other out. Until every single one of them faces the kind of justice they deserve, we just need to bide our time.

When the time comes every one of them will have to stand up and be accountable for their involvement in what happened to Belle.

This senseless murder needs outside attention. We need to find the answers to the questions that the investigators are unable or unwilling to get.

All of the answers are out there. We just have to push the right buttons. I strongly urge the outside public to help put this wrongful death of Belle to a conclusion. That way, her family, her relations and Belle's "true" friends can have some closure.

There is absolutely no excuse for what Belle was put through. And there is absolutely no forgiveness for those responsible.

"No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodbye, you were gone before we knew it, but for now only God knows why."

"Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed, wish you were here."

"Just when the caterpillar thought her world had ended, she became a beautiful butterfly."

Much love,

Eric Lincoln, a concerned citizen for human justice and an advocate for victims of a wrongful death.


PS. Hi Deb.

* * *

TEENAGE, had a race for the nighttime

Spent my cash on every high I could find

Wasted time in every school in L.A.

Gettin' loose, I didn't care what the kids say

We're white punks on dope

Mom and Dad moved to Hollywood

Hang myself when I get enough rope

Can't clean up, though I know I should

White punks on dope, white punks on dope

White punks on dope, white punks on dope

Other dudes are living in the ghetto

But born in Pacific Heights

Don't seem much betto

We're white punks on dope

Mom and Dad live in Hollywood

Hang myself when I get enough rope

I can't clean up, though I know I should

White punks on dope, white punks on dope

White punks on dope, white punks on dope

I go crazy 'cause my folks are so fuckin' rich

Have to score when I get that rich white punk itch

Sounds real classy, living in a chateau

So lonely, all the other kids will never know

We're white punks on dope

Mom and Dad live in Hollywood

Hang myself when I get enough rope

I can't clean up, though I know I should

White punks on dope, white punks on dope

White punks on dope, white punks on dope

White punks on dope, white punks on dope

— The Tubes

* * *


* * *


“The guy who set me up for that bust was my ex-business manager. I wasn’t even tried, you know, and in 1951 the jury apologized, but all people remember is that photo of me coming out of the cell. What they don’t know is how close I came to killing the son of a bitch. I got a little hot one night, and I was telling a friend of mine that I was going down to the hardware store and I was going to buy a corncob, a can of gasoline and a whip, and then I was going to go over to my ex-friend’s home and stick the corncob up his ass, pour on the gasoline, light it, and whip his burning ass all the way down Sunset Boulevard. My pal said, ‘No… no, you’re not. No way.’ So I had a talk with the police about all the money he was stealing from me, and the guy went up to San Quentin. I don’t mention his name anymore, he has kids and he paid. I had some pals who were in the joint, and I don’t think the bastard got his head above water the whole time he was there. But I’ll tell you what. He was lucky I didn’t turn him over to the Mexicans.”

“The Mexicans?”

“Yeah, when I was at Paramount there were these Mexican hard guys, gang guys I knew. They’d served as extras in one of my pictures, and after the bust and all the details came out in the papers, they used to meet me at the gate and say, ‘Hey maaan, we know where this basteeeeerd leeeves. You geeve us the word, maaan, and weee go top heeeem for you. You deeeeg, man? We top heeeem!”’

“Top him?”

“Cut off his fucking head, Jack,” Mitchum says, looking like the Night of the Hunter preacher. “You know what I mean?”

(Courtesy, SD Yankee Report)

* * *

VISIONARY REALISM: Tavernier exhibit illustrates American West in transition

Talk, reception centers on French duo's notable artistic journey

by Roberta Werdinger

On January 11, from 2 to 4 pm, the Grace Hudson Museum will host an opening reception and program for its new exhibit, "Jules Tavernier---Artist and Adventurer: The Illustrations." The exhibit was selected from a broad retrospective of Tavernier's work mounted earlier this year at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Grace Hudson's display highlights 40 wood engravings and 3 paintings made by French artist Jules Tavernier, as he traveled from the East Coast to California in 1873-74 with his friend and fellow artist, Paul Frenzeny. Claudine Chalmers, Ph.D., one of the exhibit curators, will give a an illustrated talk titled "Coast to Coast with Frenzeny and Tavernier." Refreshments will be served after the talk. The event is free with Museum admission.


Jules Tavernier (1844-1889) led a brief yet productive, perhaps even charmed life. A temperamental yet engaging figure, he managed to come into contact with some of the most notable events of his day. After emigrating from France, he was invited by the flagship American magazine "Harper's Weekly" to travel west to California in 1873 in order to document the West's rapidly changing human and natural landscape for its readers. Accompanied by fellow Frenchman, Paul Frenzeny (1840-1902), the two were able to capture the unfolding drama of the westward move of white settlers; their various encounters, both peaceful and hostile, with the native tribes who lived in these territories; and the spectacular terrain of the Western United States itself, with its plentiful herds of wild animals. About 100 drawings were conveyed to the audience back east, where they succeeded in capturing events "on the ground" the way a reporter on location would do today.


"Jules Tavernier---Artist and Adventurer: The Illustrations" will be on display at Grace Hudson until March 8, 2015. Local funding of this exhibition was made possible by the Sun House Guild.

The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is a division of the City of Ukiah's Community Services Department. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm, and Sunday from noon to 4:30 pm. General admission is $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members. For more information please go to or call (707) 467-2836.

* * *


ON TUESDAY, December 23, 2014 at approximately 10:04 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with a lighting violation, with the vehicle yielding in the 21000 block of Meadowbrook Drive in Willits. When the Deputies contacted the driver of the vehicle, Thomas Gallups, 52, of Willits, they smelled the strong odor of burnt marijuana. The Deputies also located an open container of alcohol, which was possessed by the front passenger. During a search of the vehicle Deputies located a small amount of marijuana along with a concealed Smith and Wesson .357 caliber revolver, which was loaded with six live rounds. Numerous other .357 caliber rounds were also located inside the vehicle. It was determined that Gallups is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition due to prior felony convictions. Gallups was placed under arrest for Possession of a Concealed Firearm, Possession of a Loaded Firearm, Felon in Possession of Ammunition, and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked in lieu of $25,000 bail.

(Sheriff’s Press Release)

* * *

PRESS DEMOCRAT describes yet another attempt to regulate marijuana-related water problems. (Apparently, all the prior attempts have gone awry.)

* * *


Here: Berkeley Public Library... Now:3:56P.M. Chanting silently the mahamantram (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) in order to keep the mind united with its source; all actions emanate from there! Staying at the Piedmont House hostel in a private room for $55 bucks per night in Berkeley, CA... Dental work scheduled beginning December 29th. Otherwise, there are no appointments at all. Free to return to Washington D.C. for the seventh time to "intervene in history." Am seeking others for a spiritual direct action group. What are we waiting for? HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Craig Louis Stehr
Snail mail: P.O. Box 809, Berkeley, CA 94701-0809

* * *


Be a dumb goose. Be an in-the-know guy. Assume everything is Truth. Assume everything's a Lie. I have no whiff or sense as to whether it makes a difference!

— GRMon

Tremblechin, get your ass in here! The dailies suck! They've done nothing but suck suck suck! Tokyo is pissed! They've dumped $45 million into this turkey! And what dumbass scheduled a Christmas rollout? It's Oscar season, you idiot! All the heavies come out at once! And you assholes think you can go up against them with this stupid piece of shit? You're fired!!! Wait a minute J.B.!! Calm down! Here, do a line! We got an idea! What we do is fake up a big internet shitstorm! The Koreans will go ape, they're already on board! They'll threaten everybody with everything for any reason! Then, we'll toss a bunch of second raters under the bus — they were gonna get cut anyway — just a little sideshow of the usual snarking in this town — just to make it look real! Then, we'll get the government in on it — they always need to look tough! With any luck, the President will say dumb stuff! Look, dickhead! The theaters are already bailing! They read the trades! This movie is going nowhere! They got seats to fill! That's just it, J.B.!! Do another line!! We'll say the theaters took a dive because we say the film is so hot it might start a war!! War, J.B, war!! You want boffo appeal? You want a nuclear meltdown of free publicity? You got it! You want everyone in the world lining up to see this piece of shit? You got it! You want Tokyo to triple the gross in a week when they didn't even expect to break even? You got it! You want your name in lights, J.B.? Big ass lights all up and down the street? Producer of the century? Star on the sidewalk? You got it! Tremblechin, you're not so dumb after all! Here, do a line of my private stash! Now listen, let's think sequel! This time, Lizzie Kaplan has to be full frontal! You saw how she looked in Masters of Sex, hot hot hot! Now get the writers to get those clothes off, off, Off!! Righto, J.B.!! You're a genius! You own this town!

— Beth Little

* * *


Hollywood Babble On…

by Clancy Sigal

Schadenfreude is a wonderful word meaning the pleasure we take from the misfortune of others. Who among us hasn’t felt it? I should be more interested in the Doomsday spectacle of the sinister Guardians of Peace bringing down an $8 billion dollar corporation like Sony. But my lowdown tabloid psyche loves reading all about the Amy Pascal/Scott Rudin/Seth Rogen/Kim Jong-un fiasco if only the back lot people weren’t also hurt by the terror-hackers. (Who, for all I know, may be a bunch of bright Chechen teenagers in the Caucusus mountains paid off by the North Koreans. You have a better idea?)

The saga is Hollywood at its normal best. What’s so outrageous about eavesdropping on studio executives negotiating to make a movie they all want? A thousand years ago I worked in the business end of the industry as a talent agent on Sunset Strip – and nothing has changed. Except the names and dollar amounts. Biopics of the living and recently dead have always been a snake pit.

Back in more flamboyant days all this sniping back and forth about which actor should play Apple’s Steve Jobs and at what fee, was conducted not electronically but at the top of our screaming, yelling, abusive voices for all the secretaries and janitors to hear and tip off the tabloids. And all the better for it. What really is so scandalous about a rich producer (Rudin) and rich executive (Pascal) sumo wrestling to get a movie made…on their mutually unexclusive terms?

I’ve scanned the available emails – sorry, lawyer Boies – and aside from a bit of casual racism about Obama’s choice of black films – I can’t see a moral problem. The leaked messages are a marvelous study in how pictures actually get made, with plenty of bile, frustration, cross purposes, doublecrosses, misunderstandings and second thoughts.

Follow the maze: Because he can’t get a “fix” on the role, Christian Bale bails on director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and writer (Charlie Wilson’s War, Social Network) Aaron Sorkin. Leonardo diCaprio, a capricious magnet for movie cash, hops on and off the project. Sony boss Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin electronically tangle over perfectly legitimate issues of budget and whether to admit defeat by hiring a third rank star like Michael Fassbender. Somewhere down there among the writhing and hissing snakes is Angelina’s passion-project, the unfilmable Cleopatra, and “what about Matthew McConaughey as Jobs?”, tossed in to make a really rich compost heap.

As tempers fray and actors come and go, it becomes a kind of electronic tennis game played on keyboards. Sorkin glumly lobs in Tom Cruise. Rudin and director Boyle volley for Fassbender but Pascal, backhanding, isn’t willing to bet $33 million on the Irish-German actor, but might plunge for a $25 million. Pascal, nervous about money, backhands with a suggestion of suckering in billionaire investor Megan Ellison (producer of the pro-torture “Zero Dark Thirty” — what a recommendation!) to help bankroll, but Megan won’t return Boyle’s calls which is Hollywood code for “no thanks go eff yourself.”

For reasons they may both come to regret Pascal and Rudin hotly go head to head, mainly via email, over this mere difference of $8 million — Hollywood lunch money at big studios. (Didn’t they know God invented agents precisely to avoid the heartache of such face to face brawls?) Pascal reluctantly forehands with a yes to Boyle over Fassbender but only for $25 million, Rudin topspins that Boyle won’t do it for less than $33 million.

With me so far? It’s not complicated. Rudin loses patience, aces and defaults, and picks up his ball and racket to go to Universal instead.

God knows what kind of Steve Jobs movie they’ll dream up over at Universal. Before cameras even roll I have all sorts of boring agent-type questions such as, since it’s a biopic is there what they call “underlying material” like a book or series of articles and who has copyright? What does Laurene the current widow think of all this, not to speak of Chrisann the ex-girlfriend with whom Jobs had a baby whose paternity he denied? Are Steve’s biological mum and dad, who gave him up for adoption, still alive and litigious? His foster parents? And Jobs’ three other children with Laurene, do they have a say or role…or lawyers? Are there hotly competing Jobs movie projects because, trust me, there always are.

I love (and have co-written) biopics. But you see the problem.

A pity Pascal and Rudin couldn’t get their tennis game together. Of their splashy movies, made in collaboration or singly, the one they did together I remember is Michael Bennett’s quietly terrific baseball story Moneyball. And when Rudin isn’t yelling and screaming he co-produced the valuable and little-seen Stop Loss about US deserters.

I’m not much quoting from the emails because their dialogue frankly needs a polish, say by Aaron Sorkin. I mean, Pascal to Rudin, “Why are you punishing me?” and Rudin to Pascal, “We’re in crazy land here” are not exactly up there with “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn” and “I coulda been a contender.”

There are all sorts of fine books about how Hollywood makes pictures. Instantly to mind Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind; John Gregory Dunne’s Monster: Living Off The Big Screen; Cari Beauchamp’s Without Lying Down: Frances Marion And The Power of Women in Hollywood; and Patrick McGilligan’s excellent series of interviews with screenwriters, Backstory. Go read. Or, to relax, watch Altman’s hilarious takeoff The Player.

(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.)

One Comment

  1. Mike Kalantarian December 27, 2014

    Regarding the Tournament controversy…

    I agree with Mr Hudson. It sounds like the tournament people overreacted.

    It would have been better for someone from the tournament to communicate with the Mendocino team, explaining why they felt the phrase was so offensive, and asking them to refrain from wearing the message. Then leave it at that.

    If any players chose to ignore the request, that is their choice. This also goes for anyone in the stands. I don’t think banishment was the correct course to take in this situation.

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