Albion Monitor /News

Lincoln Press Conference: Heal Community by Accepting Verdict

by Nicholas Wilson

Cora Lee Simmons
Juror Dorene Burdick
Cyndi Pickett
Philip DeJong
J. Tony Serra
Dennis Cunningham
Dan Hamburg
Questions and Answers

on "Bear" Lincoln Case

report on this story

UKIAH, CA -- Bear Lincoln called for healing between law enforcement and the Native American community, and told the crowd attending the October 2 press conference that his acquittal on death penalty charges was a victory for all people of Mendocino County because justice was served.

Over a hundred members of the public and the media at the event heard speeches not only by Lincoln and his attorneys J. Tony Serra and Philip DeJong, but also by a spokesperson for the jury, five of whom came to the event. Also speaking were Lincoln family members and civil rights lawyer Dennis Cunningham, who updated the audience on the ongoing federal lawsuit against law enforcement for police misconduct in the manhunt for Bear Lincoln.

Besides a short question and answer session, there was also traditional drumming, chanting, and a purification ritual with sage smoke.

Here are highlights from the speaker's remarks:

Leader of Round Valley Indians For Justice

I want to say: gone are the days when a dollar would pay for a(n Indian) scalp; gone are the days when our babies were put on a post beside the fire and hung until they were dead; gone are the days, Pete Wilson; your $100,000 reward has been no good. We have proven that we can work together, we can love together, we can make change together. We did it all, you people -- look at the colors, how beautiful! We can make the change!" (Colors referred to the multi-racial composition of Lincoln's supporters.)

We want to speak, not to cause a rift in the community but to put the truth up there with other things that are being said (in the press)

Burdick spoke on behalf of the five jurors who attended:

I share the sentiments for a need for healing in the community. Those of us who were brought in to represent the community as the common person ... were able late on the first day (of deliberation) to come to a solid decision that he was not guilty of first degree murder at all. We would love to go back to our lives and start working on the unity of the community, but we feel that we can't do that (because of) the outrage that's been instilled in us because of what the sheriff's department and the D.A. have exposed to us.

Now that we've become aware of the injustice we have outrage about many things, starting with the fact that Bear was brought up for first degree murder in the first place. We don't understand, once we saw the evidence, how that could even happen; how he could spend so much time in jail, and the community could be put through so much mistreatment, based on the evidence that we were shown. We were begging them for more. 'Show us everything you've got. That's why we're reluctantly here. We want to know everything we can to decide it.' And we weren't given enough.

We're outraged that the charges were brought up against him in that way, that the crime scene evidence wasn't preserved, that the evidence wasn't collected properly. There was no respect on the side of the sheriff's department that created the frenzy and the war scene and caused Bear to defend himself and flee for his life. Right from the first encounter with Leonard Peters, we had no trouble understanding that Bear had no part in that, and in fact he was there to protect Leonard.

"We are incensed because when we look at it now we realize that, because of the two deputies' training and background as snipers, and with the situation that there was an armed Native American man around who had committed a murder, the deputies were on a manhunt. We agreed, most of us, some of us, that we don't accept that he (Acorn) was given a fair warning; that he was shot down as Bear has said. And from that they pursued Bear, rather than going for cover, they pursued him across the intersection; he was being pursued down the road. And it was not a point of everyone being in a dangerous position. Leonard Peters died; Bear was the one fighting for his life; the sheriff's department was the one that created the war zone to begin with, and it escalated from there." (applause)

We've had reluctance to speak, even though we can't drop it and we want to go home and go back to our lives and our families, we're here because we can't get there until at least we present something in the face of the version that's been broadcast to the general public; by the Press Democrat in particular. (applause) We consider Miller's changing his testimony on the stand a huge offense. Roy Gourley changing his story and not having his notes, and acting as though it was not a big deal; that's a huge offense.

We were brought in, not knowing what was going on, living our sweet country life, and there's a number of us who cannot put this down. We feel we have to say what continues to outrage us because we want, like everyone else, Bear Lincoln to stay out of jail. We want to speak, not to cause a rift in the community but to put the truth up there with other things that are being said (in the press).

We want (D.A. Susan) Massini to understand that it would be a huge mistake to dredge any of this up again because we are hyper-aware now of the offenses (by the authorities), and some of us, including myself, feel that there was definitely a coverup. (applause)

Bear risked his life by turning himself in Leonard's name, because he understood what was happening. And now that we've been shown the truth of what was happening, we can't let that lie either. And to heal we have to keep that out in the open where everyone can see it. It can't be done behind closed doors. (applause)

Press conference moderator Dan Hamburg commented, "Sort of makes you proud of Mendocino County when you see jurors like that, doesn't it?" (sustained applause) Hamburg added that he read prosecutor Aaron Williams' statement published in the Press Democrat October 1 in which he castigated the jury "in pretty derogatory terms" for coming back with the verdict of not guilty. "Last time I checked, the D.A. worked for the people, and the people have spoken, so where is the D.A. now telling the jury that they're wrong. I think Aaron Williams needs to look at an organizational chart and realize that the people are at the top."

It's time for law enforcement to stop this onslaught on the Round Valley Indian Reservation

The partner of Leonard "Acorn" Peters, who was slain by the officers in the incident, said:

On April 14, 1995, a great tragedy occurred. It devastated the people of Round Valley and it devastated the law enforcement community. Right after that, law enforcement descended on the Round Valley Indian Reservation in a violent and shameful manner. On September 23, 1997, the jury acquitted Bear Lincoln of first and second degree murder in the case of deputy Davis, of second degree murder in the case of Leonard Peters, and of attempted murder in the case of both deputies. This would seemingly end the case; Bear Lincoln was acquitted of the charges that were brought against him. I'm here to tell you that this is not so. The reason it's not so is because the jury was hung on manslaughter, 10-2 in the defendant's favor.

But the prosecutor very clearly said in his arguments to the jury, I'm paraphrasing here but it's very close: "This is not a manslaughter case; this is first degree murder or not guilty." Well, I have to agree with that. So it's time to call an end to this. It's time for the individuals to be able to heal. It's time for the communities to be able to heal. It's time for law enforcement to stop this onslaught on the Round Valley Indian Reservation. And it's time for the district attorney to call it quits. (applause)

I call on everyone here to go out and get as many friends as you can to write letters or fax or call Susan Massini at the D.A.'s office and tell her that as members of the community you want an end to this. The jury acquitted him. Bear came forward; he put himself in law enforcement's hands, he surrendered to the judicial system. I am wont to say we do not have a justice system, we have a legal system. In spite of that, he's not guilty. It's time to end it. We all need to end it, and I personally want to get on with my life. Thank you all."

Ultimately the issue... is the attitude on the part of law enforcement that gave them permission to set up the kind of quasi-military operation

Lincoln's court-appointed attorney, Philip DeJong of Ukiah, said the experience of working on this case had changed his life. He addressed the issue of a potential retrial on the manslaughter charges:

Ultimately the issue in this case has to do with the attitude on the part of law enforcement that gave them permission to set up the kind of quasi-military operation that gave rise to his tragedy. In the end this community is going to have to address those attitudes, in law enforcement and in our own heads, that give our police permission to behave that way in a Native American community.

Retrying Bear Lincoln is just another cop-out, and it's an attempt to find responsibility where there is no responsibility. The jury has spoken out loud and clear.

I think the effort that needs to be made now, both inside and outside the courthouse, is to examine with a clear head and open heart just what is the relationship between these communities, and not do it in a way of trying to apportion blame on Bear Lincoln. We all need to look at this thing. It needs to be an ongoing process over a long period of time. We need to get to the root of what continues, after 150 years of abuse, pain, and suffering, what continues to separate our community."

They say that lawyers are officers of the court. So in that token image, what I say first is: forgive us; forgive the legal system, Bear Lincoln, forgive

Renowned San Francisco defense attorney J. Tony Serra was greeted with a sustained standing ovation.

We, the legal team, all twelve of us, worked as an able unity; I was just one slice; I did my job; we all did our jobs; that's part, and only part, of the reason that we prevailed.

I don't know if you've ever had the experience -- I've had it many times -- of having an accused person who has a good case, who might be in fact innocent, but who sits alone. There's no one in the court; the court's empty; there's vacant sounds. When witnesses walk in you can hear their footsteps resound against the walls. There's no support for that person. Perhaps the family of that person has long ago rejected him, and he sits isolated, an island unto himself, without bridges. That person will probably be convicted.

The mute eloquence of support is the most dynamic feature of a jury trial. So it's through you, those who have supported Bear Lincoln, those who have supported the many symbolic elements in the case, that we rejoice, and we extend to you our deep and heartfelt appreciation. Because if there was an empty court, if there was no support, if you did not see the social and political meaning in this case, why, we would not be here now. It is an invisible force, the notion of support and community favor and community participation, and that was the most singular, dominating factor in the trial, and we all thank you deeply and humbly for that.

Secondly, yes, we had an all-white jury, but they were honest; they were true; they were good. They took their vows seriously; they did the right thing, and we deeply appreciate that, and in their spokesperson today you see the strength, and you see the clarity of their vision. So we can all rejoice together in the fact that we were lucky; fortunate, in that jury selection is still a fortuitous enterprise. We were very fortunate to gather true peers, that is, peers of our conscience, and peers of our life, and peers of our value system. So the second thanks goes out to those members of the jury who are present, and who are not present.

They say that lawyers are officers of the court. So in that token image, what I say first is: forgive us; forgive the legal system, Bear Lincoln, forgive. The notion that you should be brought forward to face charges that from the very beginning were unfounded, and that you had to suffer such an ordeal; that you had to suffer two and a half years of incarceration; for you who turned himself in; for you who invited the litigation; who sought to vindicate yourself and sought to vindicate the image of Acorn Peters; forgive the legal system for the great pain, and the agony, and the suffering they have brought to you and your family and all of the Native Americans that have supported you and share in the empathy of the same type of the suffering that you have symbolically taken upon yourself. That is a great grievance that will never be righted.

Why did they want to portray him in two dimensional fashion; accused, with a record? Because they knew, ultimately, that the facts on the hill would never justify a conviction
Serra continued:

I am from San Francisco; I will go on to do many cases. I consider myself a semantic warrior, therefore I do not forget and I do not forgive, and there were certain things in this case that I must take into myself, and I must apply as a generic in other cases to come. Let me just share a few of those. These are the things that frustrate the lawyers; these are the things that frustrate the legal system; these are the things that, ultimately, impede and frustrate the notion of justice itself. I'm going to give you a few issues.

Why was the death penalty here charged? Think about that. Why was there a death penalty case? As has been accurately indicated, this could never have been, by any imagination of law student or law professor or any lawyer, anything more than heat of passion manslaughter. Why did they overcharge it? Why were they overzealous? Why did they want to dominate? Why did they want, in essence, to martyr an individual? You have those answers; I don't have those answers. Is it because there is polarity and schism in the county? Is there racism in the county? Is it because there is dominant influence of law enforcement in the county? What are the answers to that? This case should have never been charged death penalty. That's number one.

Two. He surrendered himself; he was not a person who ran because he feared the judicial system, because he feared evidence. He ran because he had a bona fide fear that he would be killed; a well founded and rational fear based on his historical knowledge and on his present predicament. So, when he surrendered himself, why wasn't he given bail? Oh, it's their right in a capital case to deny bail, but why wasn't this a special situation? Why, when he turned himself in, when he invited the litigation, when he said 'I do not surrender. I come to vindicate myself, I come to challenge; why wasn't he given bail? Who's going to give him back two-and-a-half years of his life? Why did he have to sit for two-and-a-half years in a cold jail; bad food; threatened by law enforcement personnel; thrown into holes for contrived and artificial reasons? Nothing will return him back to square one. He deserved bail; he should have been given bail. You ask yourself why, in this case, wasn't he given bail. That's two.

Three. Why were we gagged? Is it because of the O.J. case? Should that promulgate a complete, enveloping, the most dire form of gag order that has ever been witnessed in this state, and I infer presumably throughout the United States, where the defendant cannot speak, where his lawyers cannot speak, where his family cannot speak, where any potential witness cannot speak? The prosecution listed 135 witnesses; half of them he listed so they would not speak out. Only Cora had the strength and the fortitude to speak out and to defy, ultimately, the power of contempt. We had so limited spokespersons from the core of the case; why did they do that? And isn't it peculiar that that occurred after they had free rein for approximately four months?

They could deliver any type of message through the media to the populace that they desired. On television, America's Most Wanted portrayed him as the most heinous type of defendant, on the flee, a cop-killer with a dreadful record. They, in essence, laced the case with potential bias and prejudice. And when we came into the case, when we surrendered him, when we wanted to tilt it so that we could get a fair trial, so that the populace understands that there are two sides to the story, we're gagged. We're gagged so completely that there's no remnant of First Amendment left. Ask yourself why did that happen; why did they want to silence him; who was behind that? Judge Golden was not a bad judge, but Judge Golden is influenced by the same factors that all people that are subjected to media exposure are influenced by.

So number three is gagged; they took away and strangled all of our First Amendment rights. It was not done for us; they're not protecting us. That was the hue and the cry. (In mocking tone: ) 'We're doing this so you won't be prejudiced by evidence that may not come out, and we don't want the lawyers talking about such evidence.' It wasn't done for us. And on every occasion we protested it; on every occasion we demanded open trial; on every occasion we demanded the right to speak; on every occasion we demanded Bear's right to speak.

Bear wrote essays during the course of the trial, and thank you Anderson Valley newspaper that published those. Those essays came directly from his heart. They had very little to do with the case because we didn't want to subject him to the prospect of contempt. They came from his heart; it showed him in his goodness and in his strength and in his wholesomeness and in his connection to the earth and in his spirituality. Why didn't they want that part of him, that dimension of him revealed? Why did they want to portray him in two dimensional fashion; accused, with a record? Because they knew, ultimately, that the facts on the hill would never justify a conviction. That's why they have overcharged, that's why they have gagged, and that's why they have kept him incarcerated.

Whitewash of alleged jury tampering incidents
Let's go on now to another one. During the process of jury selection a sheriff standing outside the door of the courtroom told a prospective juror who was a potential leader, he said why, why, and I paraphrase, he said words to the effect, 'Why are we even having this trial? Bear Lincoln has confessed.' He whispered that into the ear of the juror, who went in and took the seat and was so outraged he pointed and he said 'That man just told me that Bear Lincoln confessed. Is that right? Is that allowed?' He was outraged. And then that sheriff was brought in, and the judge said 'Identify the sheriff who said that," and he pointed his finger at him.

And then thereafter what happened? They whitewashed it; they covered it up; nothing happened. They gave it to the Attorney General to investigate, and that office assigned it to an officer who was going on vacation for two weeks. And when that officer came back, someone else wasn't available. And so it trailed, and so it lagged, and finally we were given a little letter that the investigation has been completed, and the deputy made a mistake, but there was no criminal intention, and therefore he is exonerated. Well that is outrageous! That a sheriff.... Does it take a rocket scientist to know that you can not communicate with a juror, one, in any respect, and two, to tell them that someone has confessed, and three, to tell them falsely that someone has confessed! What an outrage! If I had done that, if any member of our legal team had done that, if any Indian had done that, they would be arrested, they would be jailed, they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Why? Why didn't that happen? Ask yourself that, and I'm sure you'll come up with a lot of meaningful answers.

Miller did not tell the truth; [he] participated in the coverup from the beginning
The next issue which everyone who has followed this case has in the frontal lobe of their consciousness, did Miller lie? Did he perjure himself? I was there every minute, and I read every word of discovery provided and I tell you he did! How dare he say that Acorn was lit up? 'He was lit up, and we identified ourselves to him, and he turned, and he pointed his rifle at us, and he shot once, and then he shot twice.' All of that was disproved. That man (Miller) shot seven times and failed to hit, and he was an expert marksman. Recall he had sniper training; he was the sniper for the TAC squad, the squad for that is responsible for apprehending and/or killing the most heinous of people. So he was an expert shooter. If Acorn was lit up, he would not have missed seven times at 30 ft.

The truth of the matter is, as our client has testified from day one, Acorn was never lit up. No one identified himself. They shot first. A barrage came at Acorn. Part of that barrage was Miller, and Miller perjured himself when he said that Acorn was lit up and Acorn shot first. And when he (Miller) changed his story to accommodate new facts that was further evidence of perjury. So, yes, I say that Miller perjured himself.

Also, the damning bit of circumstantial evidence in the so-called blood trail; Davis' blood dropped, drip by drip, two-tenths of a mile. In Miller's account, nowhere does he talk about that. Did he see it? Did he shoot Davis when Davis returned? What did happen? Did he tell us the whole story? Was he hiding; did he fall; did he not see? Something is absent; something is lacking; his candor, his honesty, his credibility is what's lacking.

So I say that the evidence has said that Miller did not tell the truth; that he was the one that commenced a coverup and participated in the coverup from the beginning. And if they dare retry this case with Miller as their pillar of testimonial truth, why they betray every judicial, every legal, moral principle that they are sworn to uphold. Yes, we don't want another trial; we don't want to waste the resources of this county. The resources should go in another direction.

his is the time to build bridges, not to destroy bridges. And if the District Attorney seeks to go forward, she will do nothing but create hostility
Lastly, let me ask this: why was their SWAT team surrounding the courthouse while the verdicts were being delivered? What does the SWAT team do? The SWAT team swats! They normally swat with weapons. They normally shoot. Did any of the Indians come armed, Cora? Were there armed supporters parading around the court? Was there some indication there was going to be violence? Absolutely not! All of our supporters, all of them, were pledged to utter peaceful demonstration, to utter non-violence. There was never any threat whatsoever that there would be violence.

Bear Lincoln had said that 'they could open the transportation vehicle and I would stay there. They could take my handcuffs off, and I would stay there. They could take may leg-irons off and I would stay there.' He knew they wanted him to run, to seek some kind of escape so they could shoot him in the back. And the SWAT team was on the ready, just like Miller and Davis were on the ready that night, so that if something happened they could shoot, and they would be shooting, in this instance, unarmed supporters.

There was no necessity for the SWAT team, and it's just another manifestation of the overzealous law enforcement that caused this situation, that charged this situation, that covered up this situation, and ultimately they wanted to throw more oil on the fire if verdicts resulted in any kind of a public demonstration. And the only demonstration there ever was was one of rejoicing, one of joy, and one of happiness.

Therefore what I say now is, in echo of Phil DeJong's words, this case should not be retried. This is the time to reunify. This is the time to come back together. This is the time to build bridges, not to destroy bridges. And if the District Attorney seeks to go forward, she will do nothing but create hostility and acrimony in this county. So if she intends to go forward, she should be denounced. All of you in many forms should make your voices heard. You should communicate with her and with other public officers. You should denounce any prospect of a retrial. Let us go forward; let us go forward in peace, as Bear has said. Thank you. (sustained applause)

Two other legal cases related to the events in Round Valley
Hamburg thanked Serra and said he should consider himself an honorary citizen of Mendocino County, and know that he is welcome in many homes. Hamburg announced that there was a petition drive under way to tell the District Attorney, who has said publicly that she is reevaluating whether to retry the manslaughter charges, that she should drop those charges and let us move on to what we need to do in the county.

Hamburg pointed out that there are two other legal cases related to the events in Round Valley, a wrongful death suit against the county by the heirs of Leonard Peters and a federal civil rights suit by citizens of Round Valley who were abused by police on the night of April 14 and thereafter. The attorney in the latter case is San Francisco attorney Dennis Cunningham.

A whole large organized group of sworn peace officers turned themselves into a mob; into like a lynch mob or a search-and-destroy team in a war zone

Many voices have been raised about the need for healing and reunification of the community. I say to you as a lawyer who is pursuing the charges of civil rights violations that took place on the reservation in the wake of the shootings, when there was an attempt to find Bear, when there was an all-out manhunt for him, that there's not going to be any reasonable healing unless there's some truth-telling about what was done up there.

The same way the truth has been established here about what perversion of law enforcement authority in the trial of Bear Lincoln, there was perversion of authority in the hunt for Bear Lincoln from the very beginning. There was vicious conduct that was engaged in by people who knew better and knew they had no justification, and knew that the people they were abusing were quite innocent of any offense at all.

There was a wholesale breakdown of the most basic kind of morality and decency on the part of a whole large organized group of sworn peace officers of this county and this state, and they just turned themselves into a mob; into like a lynch mob or a search-and-destroy team in a war zone. And we're very fortunate, I think, that no one was seriously injured, physically injured that night or in the next days, as the roundup took place and as the manhunt went on.

We need to be thankful for that, but at the same time there were serious violations of fundamental rights that went on, on a wholesale basis, and that's not something to paper over now just based on the relief that we all have that Bear has been freed. That's something that we all need to get to the bottom of.

It's bound up in the same questions and issues that Tony delineated: Why was the case overcharged? Why was a death penalty prosecution brought? Why wasn't Bear granted bail? Why have all these things happened? Why were the lies told? Why is the coverup so automatic when something like this happens? Why is it that law enforcement in our country, from this very building to the precinct house in Brooklyn that we've been reading about the last couple of weeks, goes wild like this? Why do these things happen, and why do they never admit when they're wrong? Why can they never say we made a mistake? Why do they always escalate? Why do they always seek to come down harder, only to establish their own authority?

These are the kind of questions that have to be confronted if there's going to be any coming together, any reconciliation has to be based on an admission of the truth, on recognition of the truth, and not just some jolly 'Okey doke, that's okay, let's be on to the next thing.' That's not going to happen in this case. Thank you."

The Press Democrat, which is the newspaper of record on the North Coast, spread information from the sheriff and from the D.A. that was derogatory to Bear Lincoln and to his case

The moderator added some follow-up comments of his own:

I didn't know until I arrived that I was going to be the emcee, and I just have a couple of things I want to say. We've already had two indications since the trial was over that law enforcement still doesn't get it. One indication of that was a deputy district attorney making derogatory comments about the jury, and telling them that he just doesn't understand why they didn't really get it. And I think that's an insult leveled at the jury, but more than that, it's an insult leveled at the entire community, that we are too stupid to figure out what is really going on. Why don't we get it? Well we don't get reality the way they get it at all, and that became very obvious in the trial.

The other thing that happened immediately on Bear's release was that a member of the sheriff's department personnel threatened him in the parking lot. This man was in plain clothes, he was in an unmarked car, he seemed to be very drunk and incoherent, and he threatened Bear Lincoln within minutes of when Bear walked out of that prison. What this indicates to me is that, indeed, law enforcement still doesn't get it, and we're going to need to keep educating them that we are the people. We are the ones who ultimately are the authority and the power in this society, not the cops, not the D.A., not the law enforcement system. It is we the people, and we showed that in this trial. (applause)

When this whole thing began, the defense did a poll and found that 80% of potential jurors believed that Bear Lincoln was a murder. Now why did they believe that. Tony has addressed that to some extent, but one of the reasons they believed that was that the predominant media outlet in Mendocino, and particularly the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, which is the newspaper of record on the North Coast, spread information from the sheriff and from the D.A. that was derogatory to Bear Lincoln and to his case.

And I also think that a good part of the blame, as Tony mentioned and I'm just going to reiterate, is also overreaching public officials like (D.A.) Susan Massini and (Sheriff) Jim Tuso, who overcharged the case, overreached their authority, overreached the facts, and therefore cost us the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, cost this man (Lincoln) two-and-a-half years of his life, caused lots and lots of other people to totally disrupt their lives in order to achieve the result that we finally achieved.

Fortunately, there were some media outlets like the Anderson Valley Advertiser, the Ukiah Daily Journal -- I've never been so proud of the Ukiah Daily Journal (applause); I have fought with them for 20 years, and now they come out and do this -- KZYX, which played the defense, KPFA, the Albion Monitor and the work of Nick Wilson. And what these media outlets did was they allowed the people to get a more objective view of the facts of this case. And we know what happened.

That 80% that thought that Bear was guilty -- all of a sudden 80%, ten out of twelve jurors, wanted total, blanket acquittal on all charges, and 100% of the jurors thought that this case was mischarged, and that Bear Lincoln was indeed innocent of all the major charges in the case. So, a lot of work was done, a lot of opinions were turned around, and now there's a great amount of work left to do.

The first order of business is getting petitions to Susan Massini, so that indeed this thing is finally put to rest, so we can get on with some of the other things we need to do. Let me mention that those who want to get involved in this struggle, and what Cora Lee and Cyndi and Fred and Bear and others of us who are with the Lincoln-Peters Defense Alliance say is that it is not too late to get involved. We meet every week, usually at the MEC. We're going to continue to meet, we're going to continue to work.


Question: What can we do to charge the police, who are acting like the military, with crime? I think deputy Miller should be charged with manslaughter?

Tony Serra: It's highly unlikely, not feasible and impractical to believe that law enforcement will charge their own with respect to any kind of overbearing police tactics in this case. So, that's unrealistic. What is realistic is what Dennis Cunningham is doing. He has brought a civil rights action for police transgressions after the episode, for all of the Fourth Amendment violations, the stopping, the searching, entering into houses, the brutalizing of various people. So that is something that is ongoing and that deserves your support. There is a potential civil suit, could be a constitutional rights type suit for the sheriff deputy who told the juror falsely that Bear had confessed. That's being discussed and we hope that some local or non local lawyer will take that lawsuit. As indicated there is at least the legacy left of the lawsuit for the wrongful death of Acorn Peters. That is now what I will call dormant, but we are hopeful that once again a new lawyer will breathe new life into that litigation. Because we have so pronouncedly prevailed in the first firefight, that was total acquittal, I believe that Acorn's wrongful death action, which now inures to his children, for the most part, is very, very viable. So I think there will be those three civil cases as aftermath to the criminal actions, but I daresay there is not going to be any criminal action against Miller or anyone else. I think that you should, and you can, and you have the power to vote out Susan Massini, so that's something that could change there.

Dennis Cunningham: I hate to invoke the FBI, but there are those circumstances where they have the responsibility to do something in a situation like that. Getting them to do it is something else. As Tony says, these are at bottom political questions. Why is the system not run fairly? Why is the truth not honored equally on both sides of the law? And the answer is that the citizens do not demand it, and so they have to demand it. Massini is only one officeholder who is implicated here.

Estelle Fennell / KMUD: Can you tell me if there was an incident with deputy Tripp after the verdict?

Bear Lincoln: Yes there was; he was waiting in his car out in the parking lot, and he appeared to me to be intoxicated. He said a few things that I couldn't understand, but he said basically that I had lied, I guess on the stand. And I think the last thing I heard him say was, "You'll see, you'll see." I couldn't hear what he said in between there, but, I don't know, "It won't be long now," or something like that. I took it as definitely a threat... I took it as a death threat.

Mark Heimann / AVA, question for Tony Serra: Did Aaron Williams' statement to the press constitutes a violation of the professional code of ethics of the American Bar Association?

Serra: I'm not a scholar of the American Bar Associations Code of Ethics. (laughter) I was a tax protester subsequent to the Vietnamese War, and I suffered a misdemeanor conviction, and I went to Lompoc (federal prison) for six months. As a consequence, the American Bar threw me out. But we regard the ABA as the Book of the Month club, so it doesn't have a lot of force, let's say, in the more radical areas of criminal defense. Therefore, this is what I say. I am a proponent of First Amendment. In the marketplace of ideas, all voices must be heard. Those that have no potency will go by way of attrition.

Williams, as we know is leaving. He's the first prosecutor I've ever encountered in any case, let alone a major case, who announces that after the end of the trial he's vacating his career, the county his home, and he's leaving the continental United States. (applause) Ergo, what he says carries little potency. However, in the words of one wiser than I, we will defend his right to say what he desires to say under First Amendment principles.

Hamburg: My only response to that is, I've been here 27 years, and I have watched sheriffs and D.A.s come and go. There's something about our system that is creating law enforcement officials who tend to oppress people who are powerless, or who are less powerful than themselves. So the problem is deeper than whether we get rid of Massini, and whether we get rid of Tuso -- I understand Massini's not even running. We need to look at what the systemic problems are that are creating the kind of situations that are no longer tolerable, nationwide.

Mark Scaramella / AVA: What is the status of the contempt charge against Massini?

Phil DeJong: It's pending. We haven't heard anything yet.

Unidentified questioner: When Jim Tuso first ran for sheriff, I remember distinctly his platform. He was going to set up citizen review boards on the police force. We still haven't got it, and I don't think we're going to see it from Jim Tuso, but how do we make it so?

DeJong: In my view, it takes a lot of steady work. And it takes keeping this issue in mind after the trial. It's easy for people to focus on the injustice that Bear Lincoln suffered over the last two-and-a-half years. It's more difficult to maintain a thought in one's mind of preventing it, and constantly pushing and pushing to create some kind of mechanism for stopping this from ever happening again.

As I mentioned before, there's way, way too much military thought process involved in law enforcement. In that regard, how did the sheriff's department get authorized to carry M-16's in the first place, and where were we when they did that? I think that's the kind of thing that needs to be done, and I certainly want to spend a significant part of my time, after this case is over, in trying to establish some kind of mechanism, some kind of dialog, to change some attitudes. Because we're going to have a replay of this, as we've had over the last 100 years, unless we get to the root of it. It's going to take something more than what we've accomplished so far to keep it from happening again.

Fennell: Tony, you said you were going to be taking some angry thoughts back with you about this; do you have any good thoughts about this?

Serra: Firstly, the people that I've come in contact with are very beautiful and compassionate, empathetic, and my kind of people. And maybe a lot of you have come out of the sixties from San Francisco, and were nurtured in the same ideology, and maybe down deep I wish I was up here sometimes. (he laughs) I kind of got left behind in this judicial process. So firstly, the people that I've encountered I respect and have a great attraction for.

Secondly, it's very beautiful up here, and I guess you all know that. I go kind of from court to court, which is mostly urban area to urban area. Urban areas, as everyone knows, are very unwholesome now, for multifarious reasons. The skies here, and the clouds, and the vineyards, and still somewhat 'state of nature' with the deer, the wild turkey, bats flying at night. Beautiful esthetics. They pull on my heartstrings. So you're very, very fortunate to be in a pristine, to some extent, environment.

The third thing, is that, whether you know it or not, I think the world looks to you in Northern California, in these ecology clashes, that is, the Earth First! Image is something that has been disseminated throughout the world. And it is perhaps the most significant fight for the life of the planet, the health of all species, and the ultimate endurance of the human race. So symbolically, perhaps, the most important issue is being adjudicated symbolically for the world, the preservation of the environment. And therefore I have nothing but admiration and respect for that fight, and wish you well, and will always support it in whatever way that I can.

Hamburg reminded the press that five jurors are present and said they are willing to be interviewed: "I think it is very important for the experience of the jurors to be disseminated through the media, because they were the people who sat there day after day after day with Bear and with the attorneys, with Cora, with Cyndi, with Lucille, with Fred, and a lot of the rest of you people. So they have a great story to tell."

Estelle Fennell has a last question: Bear, can you tell us what you see in your future?

Bear Lincoln: What I want is peace, and I want to keep my freedom, so that's all I can predict right now is just peace and freedom. (applause)

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Albion Monitor October 6, 1997 (

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