It’s déjà vu all over again. Cindy Sheehan wears a tee shirt to the State of the Union Address that notes the number of dead soldiers killed in the Iraq war and gets roughly escorted from the gallery and arrested. A senator’s wife (I believe) is also wearing a tee shirt that says “Support the Troops.” She’s escorted from the House but not arrested.
Equal rights under law? Free speech for me but not for thee? And your freedom to speak depends on what you want to say? Well, perish the thought.
Back in 2005, during the groundbreaking for the Hideous Los Osos Sewer at the Tri-W site on Los Osos Valley Road, a whole bunch of people showed up. TV cameras were there. Officials were there with shovels for a little ceremonial digging. Citizens were there carrying signs, signs in equal measure both for and against the sewer, both for and against the recall. There was booooooing. BOOOOOOOOO! And hissing. And snarky comments and snide asides and catcalls. Sheriff officers were there. People were milling all over the Tri W site and spilling onto the roadway (very dangerous as the traffic was whizzing by, as it usually does, at a high rate of speed.)
It was a potentially scary public gathering because tempers were running high. But nobody threw a dirt clod, everyone minded (sort of) their manners. And not a single person was arrested and hauled away for “suspicion of trespass,” even though almost everyone at the site was, indeed, trespassing all over the place.
Except for activist Joey Racano, who was sitting some distance away up in the (now cut down) eucalyptus trees holding a big sign that said, “Recall before Tree Fall.” He alone was asked by the sheriff to come down from the tree and go away. He refused until the ceremony was over, and when he climbed down he was arrested for “suspicion of trespassing.”
Interestingly, to my knowledge, none of the other people carrying signs saying “Recall before Tree Fall” and trespassing all over the place on the ground were asked to leave the site. Just Joey. Which begs a question: Is there a county ordinance that forbids the climbing of trees on CSD property? If so, then parents who take their kids to the nearby park had better be warned: Don’t let your kids clamber over any of the trees there else they be escorted to the pokey as criminal lawbreakers!
Or, maybe the “trespass” law is selective? As in, You can trespass so long as you’re verbally supportive of whoever’s putting on the ceremony you’re attending. If you’re opposed to whatever the sponsoring agency is, then you’re a criminal trespasser. If that’s the operational rule in this case, then at least ½ of all the people attending that ground-breaking were criminal trespassers. Yet only Joey got arrested?
So, back we go to the tree. There had to be something about tree-sitting that was the crime. Couldn’t have been the signs, as a whole bunch of ground-standers were carrying signs. Or catcalling, since on the ground lots of people were catcalling, some of them a mere arm’s length away from the Sheriff.
Nope. Had to be the tree.
Well, Joe’s going to be in court today. The CSD Board members who pressed charges have been recalled. The new Board tried to have the charges dropped, but, according to Joey, the SLO DA refused. So, now it’s up to the judge to tell this community:
Was it the TREE?