Tom Chapman: City Hall Stuck Between Extremes – November 16, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From: Tom Chapman

Date: November 8, 2011

Subject: Encampment at City Hall

Mayor and Council,

Currently we are continuing to monitor the encampment at City Hall. I met with some of the organizers this morning and expressed my concern about the health and safety issues within the encampment and the blocking of access to City Hall.

We will continue to enforce the municipal code as appropriate. I have asked for Environmental Health to do a site inspection at City Hall. At this point they have refused. The City Manager will be speaking with the CAO to try to facilitate the inspection.

It remains to be seen what impact the Eureka enforcement will have on Arcata. A couple of our more extreme protestors went to Eureka to “help.” I saw them over there last night and again this morning.

As you are probably aware, there is a lot of frustration with the encampment. It is very important to balance out free speech and assembly with minor violations of law.

This area of law has many shades of gray. As I wrote in a previous e-mail, the first amendment is not absolute. The government can place reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner.

But, as you know the attempt to limit free speech is very contentious. Some people are very passionate about it and view it as an absolute right. Others believe the rule of law outweighs the freedom of speech and assembly. They are also very passionate about it and view enforcement as the only course of action.

Stuck in the middle of these two extreme views are all of us. Trying our best to provide for all 17,000 community members but spending a disproportionate amount of time on a handful.

We are trying very hard to have a balanced approach that does not interfere with civil liberties but also maintains public order, public safety, and public health.

While this is not a substantive update, hopefully there is a better understanding of the difficult position we have before us. I will update when I have more information.

Tom Chapman, Chief of Police

Arcata Police Department

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8 Responses to “Tom Chapman: City Hall Stuck Between Extremes – November 16, 2011”

  1. Marc Delany

    Thank you

  2. Ken Meacham

    Mr. Chapman wrote, “A couple of “our” more extreme protesters…..”

    You really think that they are “your” protesters? And what is with the use of the term “extreme protesters?”

    Perhaps you are like some of the older police chiefs {who didn’t know any better} that often referred to the town where they were “hired” as “My Town.” Like, “You better behave in my town, Buddy.”

    That has fallen out of use…because even police chiefs realize that it is not “their” town. They are simply employees… hired to do a job.

    And can be fired if they abuse their situation.

    also: re public safety aspect… if police in Eureka, Oakland, Davis, San Francisco… etc. were concerned with public safety… they would not be beating and poking and pepperSpraying the bejeebers out of the citizenry. In fact, from what I’ve read and personally observed…the police are the biggest danger to public safety in these protest situations. Billy Clubs break spleens, put out eyes, crack and break ribs, fracture skulls, cause concussions, etc.

    And if you are worried about spending a “disproportionate amount of time on a handful” whose problem is that. It’s your choice. Nobody asked you to spend all your time hanging out with “the handful

  3. Terrence McNally

    Yeah, anyway… I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Ken Meacham hasn’t actually been in Arcata of late… where the #Occupy Arcata uprising was maybe bored, not gored, to death by communication from the local constabulary.

    The real action – broke rips and them messy spleens – can be found elsewhere, Ken. It’s exciting. Portland. NYC. Atlanta. Philly. Seattle. Oakland. Davis. Pretty much anywhere but Arcata. Real blood-pumpin action.

    Here in Arcata, the chief did (snore) lame stuff like talking to people… explaining about what was kosher and (yawn) policy. He invited to camp at a better spot. They moved. And we let them hang out until their internal squabbles had them break camp. No pepper spray deployed.

    And they are “our” protesters. It’s our town. Could be yours too, bro. Y’all come on back now, ya hear.

  4. The worst thing anyone can figure out about APD’s chief is his use of pronouns.

    “That has fallen out of use…because even police chiefs realize that it is not “their” town. They are simply employees… hired to do a job. And can be fired if they abuse their situation.”

    Yes, let that be a warning, chief. The Pronoun Patrol is all over you.

  5. Mark Sailors

    Can I be Mayor of Conjunction Junction?
    Happy Turkey Day.

  6. Justice Beaver

    Dear Ken Meacham,
    Are you just naturally a dick or do you have to work hard at it?

  7. Ken Meacham

    Ken Meacham…lifelong Arcata/Eureka resident. Grad: Arcata High
    almost 50 years in business here.

    Of interest: Not Arcata of course:
    Complete on Humboldt Pepperspray cases

  8. Terrence McNally

    Ken, I just don’t see the connection between bad juju in Davis or Oakland to APDs’ velvet glove approach to Arcata’s #Occupy movement, such as it was. Maybe you witnessed abuse by a dude in a badge on Youtube, but it didn’t happen in your hometown.


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