Thursday, February 23, 2012

Omai, Felix, what have you wrought?

Omai, Felix, what have you wrought?

Last November I did a post about my friend Felix Omai. Felix likes to stand up for the things that she believes in and feels is right. She felt a connection to the historic “Occupy Movement”. She identified with the downtrodden, and decided that she was going to think globally and act locally. She announced to several of her friends that she was going to join the “Occupy Bridges Day” and stage a protest on the Freeway/Sprowel Creek Bridge. She had assumed that some of her friends would show up, but none did.

She took a bed sheet, ripped it in two, and then painted “have you been occupied?” on both sides, then she clothes-pinned it to the fence on the side of the overpass. She employed some pretty clever symbolism in my opinion. It showed up like somebody airing dirty laundry.

Having assumed that some of her friends would show up, she didn’t feel completely alone. After she did find herself alone, she busied herself with doing some photography, thinking that they would probably be coming later. It was a slightly raining day, like we sometimes have in the fall. The sky had some large fluffy clouds, and the sun was peaking delightfully under them, like a child playing a game of peak-a-boo. She was in a good mood because it was a nice day, she was feeling good about herself and what she was doing.

As if to tell her that she was doing a good thing, a large lucky rainbow showed up in the sky over the town were she lives. She got into a position that showed her message, and the rainbow, and “her town” that she was defending like Joan of Arc.
All photos by Felix omai

Being in a good mood, she was feeling quite peaceful. Who wouldn’t be? She was in her element. About then, a lady from Caltrans pulled up, she introduced herself, and told Felix that it was against the law to place banners on bridges because of the potential risk to people and traffic, she explained that it could be a distraction and cause an accident. I wasn’t there, but I talked to Felix. I got the impression that Felix felt that the hazard to traffic was an acceptable risk for her to express her First Amendment rights. She told the Caltrans lady that she could take it down if she wanted to, but Felix was not about to take it down herself.

The Caltrans lady decided that it would be better if she involved law enforcement, so she called for back-up. When the C.H.P. showed up, they told her to take the sign down. Felix, who is a dog lover, said the hair on the back of her neck bristled at first sight of the one, rather large, CHP officer. She described her feelings as an immediate visceral response from him that she was in danger.

She reiterated her thoughts about the sign to the CHP, explaining that she would not take it down. At that point the juxtaposition between the CHP and Felix became confrontational. They asked her if she was armed. She handed the big officer the bag that she had with her, she said: “Yeah, sure…” and handed them the bag. She also told them: “I also told them there was a teency tiny leatherman on my key chain that had a blade maybe an inch and a ¼”.

Felix, being a trained photographer, had her camera on record the whole time. She said that the expression on the officers face was so classic that she automatically raised the camera to capture the moment. (My words, not hers) then: “wham they threw me to the ground.” (her words, not mine) The big officer jumped on her:

Felix: “I don't believe the word arrest had even been spoken. Now I'm on my face, tangled in my camera strap and with my left arm pinned underneath me. My "resistance" was my inability to comply with the order to give them my left hand for cuffing. With one cop standing on my feet and the big Nazi grinding my face into the pavement and kneeling on me in an anatomically inappropriate way. It was impossible. They knew they'd fucked up and took me to the hospital. They x-rayed me and took blood, cause somehow they can tell if you've got internal bleeding going on (with a blood test? Makes no sense to me, but I'm not a Doctor - but they knew they'd hurt me bad if they were looking for internal bleeding). They needed to stick me 3 times to hit a vein - inexcusable on someone as thin as I am - really piss-poor phlebotomy!”

The final injuries to Felix were, a broken rib, a scraped and bleeding hand, where they drug it out from under her squashed little broken body that they were holding down. A bruised face from where her camera had been smashed into it by the officers hand. Multiple bruises and strained tendons.

In talking to her, she had been disturbed by another person that had said that “Felix had been brutalized”. She said that she “had not been brutalized, simply injured.” I certainly hope that Felix never runs into a real brute.

Anyway, Felix’s court appearance will be tomorrow 2/24/12 at the Garberville court house. 10:00 AM. I really can’t imagine that her friends won’t show up this time. Even if you don’t know Felix, I expect this to be a Garberville landmark event, you should be a witness. I will be there!

Kym asked me to take pictures. Kym, didn’t you hear what happened to Felix for trying to take a picture???

Please read these links, the first being the post I did back in November, and the second being Kym Kemp's post that she did today.

Be there!


If you should go to the hearing, be polite, respectful, quite, and be very, very observant.

It will do absolutely no good to make any disturbance at all. Remember, most judges have been around a long time and are very wise. Felix is very capable of telling her story, please let her tell her own story, and try to remember that you weren't there.


Ernie Branscomb said...

One more very interesting thing... They took her camera, but when she got it back there were no photos or recording beyond what you see above.

Apparently they deleted their photos or Felix made a mistake and didn't really take any, can you imagine that? Why would they delete photos?

spyrock said...

i was talking to my son about the 700,000 chinese employees of apple and that i was proud that i don't own any apple products after he got me interested in reading the steve gaveourjobstochina
book. he went on to say that his iphone is great and he can record movies and edit them on his iphone and that pretty soon you won't need a computer at all because apple has a cloud coming where you can hook your ipad up to so all you will need is your pad and your cloud. so i am saying i don't need to get off on no cloud dude. and he is saying that apple has a good side, apples are good for you, but the truth is, steve gaveourjobstochina is a syrian. he's a freaking arab. here we've been after bin laden and the real economic terrorist is steven gaveourjobstochina.
of course, he's deadnowtoo. supposedly from natural causes. but hey, don't you think that all those people who got divorced and lost their job at apple in the silicon valley might have been sending him some bad vibes. they call it karma. his apple is rotten to the core. there is such a thing as right livelihood, right values, integrity. why are we worried about iran when we have people like steve gaveourjobstochina running our corporations. but that felix lady had her phone and got it all on tape. there appears to be a silver lining in sow bellies.

Joe Blow said...

Good job, Ernie.

Kym said...

Ernie, I hope you are there now and taking photos. Should you get beaten up, I promise to come take photos of the bruises...

Seriously, I would love to be there and envy you getting to hear the whole story.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The Court report:
Dateline Garberville:
10:30, 2/24/12:
By Ernie Branscomb

The courts offered Felix two years probation, and 20 hours public service for a guilty plea. She, of course, refused. Her trial will start on April 23rd 2012 in Eureka.

Myself and about twenty other people were present. Felix was offered the plea, she refused, she motioned to the crowd that it was over, we all got up and left. We had a small discussion outside the court house. Felix said that she can't be convicted with resisting arrest, and she can't be on probation because that would infringe on her right to attend protests.

She will request a jury trial, at which point this whole thing becomes ridiculous. If the CHP was smart they would apologize to Felix and back away slowly. She has a very good case for police brutality, (even though she claims she “wasn’t brutalized, but simply injured”.) She would probably be very happy to be done with it.

Ernie Branscomb said...

This is a good lesson to anybody out there. These sorts of things happen all the time. In the end, Felix will probably win her case, but in reality, look what it has done to her life and her state of mind. The injuries that she suffered, plus she had to find her way home from jail on a bus, tired and painfully injured, (because the cops didn’t tell her that someone was coming to pick her up) the indignity, the time that she has had to spend going to court, the legal expenses, the list goes on. In the end when she “wins” the cops haven’t missed a beat, they have been paid the whole time. They had good fun slamming Felix to the ground and jumping on her, they got to yell and scream at her to give them her hands while she was struggling to get them out from under her, they used her movements as an indication that she was “resisting arrest”.

The cops got paid the whole time, their lives didn’t miss a beat. It was good drill for the cops to practice on a real live human, in case they have to go up against a real terrorist someday. It is a lot like mud wrestling with pigs. Even if you win, you get all scratched up and dirty, and the pigs love it.

The best plan is to say “yes officer“, or “no officer”, move very slowly, and do exactly everything that they say to do. Even if they tell you to kiss their ass, DO IT!. The only question should be “With lipstick or without?

I have to say that, most of the officers that I know could have dealt with Felix safely and without a physical confrontation. This was very definatly a case of "bad cop".

tra said...

I think one of the lessons here is that it can be dangerous, both physically and legally, to conduct a solo protest. It's a good idea to have multiple companions and witnesses, for all sorts of reasons. This may not prevent you from being mistreated, but at least you're likely to have numerous witnesses, and maybe photos/video/audio to back you up in court.

Hopefully the DA and/or judge will consider dropping the charges, so that they don't have to waste any more of the court's time on this.

But if the facts of the case are pretty much as presented in your post, then I suspect that one reason that they may want to continue to prosecute her for "resisting arrest" is that they fear she could sue the CHP for excessive force (and it seems like she'd have a good chance of success) -- and if they can intimidate her into accepting a "guilty" plea now, then they would be able to point to that later, as a justification for their use of excessive force.

- tra

Joe Blow said...

I posted the following comment on Kym's blog. In view of tra's latest addition I thought maybe I'd post it here too – seems relevant since he doesn't understand the issue either. The police are by no means suffering under any such illusions. They know exactly what the issue is as does the DA and the Courts.

“I hate to say that what Ernie says from a practical point of view is probably true. But then, Ernie doesn't understand the issue that was really going on between these people. Oh, I know. He thinks he does. Unfortunately, it is Ernie's kind of thinking that empowers and justifies these kinds of sick police and their supporters.

I'm glad to see that Ms. Omai followed through. Now we'll see how the jury or rather community really thinks and feels all people's legal rights.”

tra said...

"Ernie doesn't understand the issue that was really going on between these people."

"tra...tra's latest addition I thought maybe I'd post it here too – seems relevant since he doesn't understand the issue either."

So, help us understand. No need to be cryptic, just come out and tell us: In your view, what WAS "the issue that was really going on between these people.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I agree, Joe sometimes seems like he is the nicest guy you could ever meet. He wags his tail when you are looking at him then he bites you in the ass when you're not looking.

I wish the heck that he would quit spending so much time criticizing me and give us his thoughts about what is really happening. What is really happening with the police? Why is Felix right or wrong? For that matter, WHY am I wrong? And, why does he think that I really don’t understand the situation? What makes him think that I just fell of the turnip truck.

I know what “I” think. I want to know what “Joe” thinks! (Other than I’m an idiot)

Ernie Branscomb said...

As I said, most of the cops that I know are good cops, but about 10% are bad. I guess about the same thing could be said about refrigeration men. As far as I'm concerned there is no room for their kind in either industry. Get rid of bad cops and bad refrigeration men, maybe they could become good doctors or mechanics.

I just don't see any room for cops that throw sassy 57 year old women on the ground and jump on them. Get real!

I'm just glad that a cop didn't stop my wife when she was going though the menopause, she would still be in federal prison!

Stephen said...

I was too lazy to make the drive to G'ville for Felix's court appearance but am there with her in spirit. I had a much milder version of State and County sanctioned police terrorism two years back when I non-violently resisted arrest for an illegal traffic stop ("speed trap" definition) in Ferndale in which I was pushed and threatened with a tazer before being handcuffed and put in a Ferndale police car as some sort of punishment until I said I'd cooperate. 6 court appearances and a final plea bargain of 30 hours community service to settle the matter legally but really, it wasn't settled as State and County police terrorism is obviously still rampant in our criminal justice system that uses it for enforcement to make MONEY for law enforcement and court costs.

I recommend Felix try to add up all the police and court costs being spent to arrest and convict her and make these public to attending media. Actually, if I was a Supe I'd want to see running tallies of salaries being paid in each court case on a big moving sign in each courtroom so Humboldt citizens can tell how class warfare is conducted in American society.

Good luck, Felix! Give 'em Hell!

Joe Blow said...

Hey Branscomb, I came on your blog and made my comments for a reason. In other words I set you up. You like to tell me and everyone else how intelligent you are, so how come you can't figure it out for yourself? You're doing an awful lot of talking. The fact is, you answered your own question, but really are too stupid to know it. What you do know is it is always someone else's responsibility, isn't it? The fact is, you two thugs reacted violently to my comment just exactly like that cop did and for the same reason.

tra said...

I reacted "violently" to your comments? Uh, no, I asked for clarification.

Eric Kirk said...

tra's point about protesting solo just jogged a slightly relevant memory. A few years back when Buju Banton played at the Mateel after having been canceled and then at the last minute rescheduled, I conducted a solo candle-light protest. Other than a few cro-mag remarks and one young guy running by me several times trying to blow out my candle, I didn't face any adversity, but I was more than a bit nervous about it. Eventually a couple of people joined me, having heard my announcement about my intentions over the news earlier that evening. But before they arrived, Felix, who was working inside in some capacity joined me for a period of time and thanked me. She couldn't stay long, but her brief time with me relaxed my nerves.

I just wish I had been on the bridge to return the favor. One more person present, and it would have gone better.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Eric and Felix. I wish that I could count the times that I've felt like a voice in the wind.

I don't think that I'm dumb, far from it, but I can't seem to understand why when I give something so much thought, and come to the only logical conclusion, that there are still so many people that will disagree with me.

Just as it was easy for you two to see that Buju Banton was wrong, many people don’t see it. There are many, many people that are still his fans.

I'm not sure what causes that kind of mentality, but I can assure you that, even though you are confused about why your presence and ideas don't seem to make a difference, they truly do. Sometimes people like me will see you and be caused to wonder why you are doing what you are doing. Sometimes, much later, it may come to me that you are right. I might even be the next guy out there beside you. Your one person demonstration may cause more thought than a large crowd.

People do notice your presence and they are caused to wonder, Like a plea for help on a note in a bottle on the waves, it may be read much, much later. But, sometimes help comes.

Where’s Buju now?

Maybe someday it will be "what bad cop?"

Anonymous said...

Felix doesn't look a day over 23 to me.

Anonymous said...

Buju Banton was framed by evil pigs that are trying to curtail creative expression and ban the total freedom of song and lifestyle if it's not spun in the direction of their own political bent or to their liking. They speak of freedom, but they speak only for the evil side, not for some of us who have different views on life. Coca comes from the earth. It's a good thing, given to us from a higher source, but it has been used as an evil tool by a lowly life-form who likes to slide on their stomachs in the slime and mud, used to control and incarcerate some of us. But for every martyr like Buju their are 999999 more of us that stand up for artistic freedom and total poetic release. The pigs are the enemy of this freedom Suzy speaks of, but they are only tools of the real political forces that are at work, using their money, militia, and policestate tactics and laws against some of us. Little do they understand that their aggressive repression only makes us stronger. You can jail us, you can kill us, but no matter, freedom is alive, liberty is real.

Ernie Branscomb said...

And there you have it… Reason, logic, and pureness of intent have nothing to do with it, in the ultimate end it all comes down to “what a fool believes.”

It must seem lonely to people like Felix and Eric who stand the wall to protect what is right, true and correct. They often find themselves standing alone in a storm. In Felix’s case, she stood the wall in a storm, protesting economic and political unfairness, but she only saw that she was given a rainbow. In Eric’s case he was alone on his wall on a dark and scary night, protesting bigotry and violent homophobia. He saw that Felix came to his support. Doesn’t that say something to those of us that didn’t have the courage, character, or in some cases, the time, to be on that wall with them?

You can see evidence of the old saw, “what goes around comes around”. Something about human nature demands that there be a balance. As “Anon 11:46” so eloquently expressed, Buju Banton, a well know homophobe that advocates “Boom, bye, bye” for people with other than a heterosexual orientation, was not convicted of homophobia, he was convicted of dealing drugs. What goes around comes around. When bad people do bad things it seems to always catch up with them somewhere, somehow.

I see sign of awakening all around me. It makes no difference to a person without a good job that the stock market is booming with the prosperity stolen from our grandchildren. Or the people that have lost their homes because a false hope of prosperity was given them, while the banks bundled and sold their debt to a bigger fool. In the end, we were the biggest fools, we bailed out the banks and “the people” be damned. Only some people can see what really happened to American jobs. It was the banks, major corporations, and the wealthy stock market investors that sent our jobs and prosperity offshore. Only some of the Occupy Movement can actually understand what’s wrong, but they know that something is wrong. We need people like Felix, to stand on the wall and shout to the world that we need change.

Meanwhile we have to respect and tolerate opinions like “Anon’s”, who protect the likes of Buju Banton and the cop that stomped the shit out of Little Felix, because they are by far in the vast majority. But… I see hope all around me. And, when we see it, we need to protect it, and let it shine through.

Think! Or, you will believe like a fool.

Eric Kirk said...

Ernie - you're right that many people disagreed with us regarding Buju, and I certainly don't want to revive that debate now. He's in jail anyway on cocaine charges, to which some of his rather blind supporters will attribute to a framing conspiracy of homosexuals and "evil pigs." It was my feeling at the time, and remains my feeling, that there was a bit of hypocrisy locally. If the same lyrics had been sung by a white country singer instead of a Jamaican reggae star who was so "spiritual" and generated what Pink Floyd once referred to as "that space cadet glow" at local concerts.

Plus, he was brought in by People Productions and back then nobody wanted to buck anything they did. To Estelle's credit, she did just that, which is why I bristle when people claim she was deferential to PP without principle. She held her ground. But later when they tried to bring Buju to Eureka, the gay community up there really didn't care who People Productions was, and they protested and got better results than me.

Although I sided with the Mateel in the Reggae War, and strongly objected to their promotion of an artist who had written murder music he refused to renounce, I recognize that PP, with Carol and PB, did a great deal to develop the community in many ways. But there are times when this community isn't any different from the mill towns we are so quick to condemn.

I'll stop there. This thread is about Felix, who operates as close to purity on principle as anyone, whatever else you may think of her actions.

Eric Kirk said...

Oops. Should have proofread. The danger of run-on sentences. Should have read:

If the same lyrics had been sung by a white country singer instead of a Jamaican reggae star who was so "spiritual" (and generated what Pink Floyd once referred to as "that space cadet glow" at local concerts), he would have been run out of town on a rail.

And to clarify, I never advocated that the government or anyone else suppress his rights to write and sing hateful songs. I just believe that responsible members of the community ought to respond to them.

Joe Blow said...

tra needs clarification then asks for my "point of view." Branscomb accuses me of wasting all my time "criticizing" poor little him like I give rat's ass?

My point of view is irrelevant. It is what you two do or rather did that speaks to the truth. The fact is the both of you know exactly what the answer is. That's why your little egos got tweaked and reacted just like those CHP when exposed. Look to yourself, Branscomb. In your own way, you are just like Scott Powell. You two get the point now?

spyrock said...

this thread reminds me of a friend of mine who recently died in the eel running away from a routine traffic stop for driving with a suspended license. maybe she knew the cop and didn't want to get beat up and thought she could swim to the other side of the river and just get wet.
what works for me when i get pulled over is just to give the cop a lot of love and thank him if he gives me a ticket. most of the time, i just get a warning and they let me go. sometimes they give me a ticket because they had it in their mind ahead of time and i was the first one to come along. when i don't take it personally, i can sense them feeling guilty about me helping them make their quota.

spyrock said...

i don't often agree with bill o riley but the price of gas rising isn't about supply its about the chinese who now have our old jobs buying 10 million new cars last year and the american oil companies are exporting our oil to china because they can make more profits and increase the profits at home by reducing the supply of gas for us and kicking up the price and in the same breath saying that the scarcity is happening all because of iran and the oil not going through the straights of hormuz and we need to fight another 10 year war to keep that oil flowing to us. when they just turn around and sell it to china because they can make bigger profits there meanwhile another 100,000 american soldiers either die, get wounded physically or mentally with post traumatic stress syndrome. how long are we going to get played by the big oil companies. if we have to drill in environmentally sensitive areas there should be a law requiring that oil cannot be exported and is only for domestic consumption.

skippy said...

Good column and fine report, Ernie. I'll link yours and Kym's to the Sentinel here:

Thank you.

skippy said...

Oops.. OK, howabout here instead.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The only thing that worries me is have we let Americas wealth got sucked so deep in the economic vortex of China to ever recover.

America has just been too smug in it's "worlds Largest Economy" to pay attention.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Joe Blow said: “I came on your blog and made my comments for a reason. In other words I set you up.”

Dang and you are absolutely right, I was too stupid to recognize the old “Brer Rabbit Trick”

"Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please," said Brer Rabbit. "Only please, Brer Fox, please don't throw me into the briar patch."

I tossed you in the briars like the foolish Brer Fox. Dang… you got me again Joe. I should have know better, you actually sounded nice for a few seconds.

"I was bred and born in the briar patch, Brer Fox," he called. "Born and bred in the briar patch."

And Brer Rabbit skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Fox ground his teeth in rage and went home.

DANG… Joe got me again! What a sly little rabbit he is.

Felix said...

Geez! When you're the subject (or one of the subjects of) of a blog thread, it is just impossible to keep yourself from checking what is being said. And it is fascinating.

Gotta correct something though. Re. Buju Banton. I was not working the gig. Unless one describes Eric's protest as 'working' the gig. I'm surprised Eric was unaware of what I was doing, as I was certainly aware of him (and thanks for that Eric).

Eric was out front with a candle. I had gotten Carol to comp. me in (yes, she did) so I could tie lavender ribbons on every kid I could get to wear one. That meant saying hundreds of times, quickly "Will you wear a ribbon to show your solidarity with the gay community? Or something to that effect........

I remember being kind of disheartened that few of the kids seemed to have any idea what I meant by 'solidarity'. Though many, if not most of the girls were good with ribbons . The boys were afraid that wearing ribbons would make them look like fags. And their fear of that speaks volumes, now doesn't it?

As to the wisdom of solo protests. It had not been my desire to do a solo protest! I had put the word out and no one joined me. I was just jamming on and doing what I said I was gonna do. Next time - don't leave me out there alone! I could get in trouble.....

tra said...

Hi Felix,

Just to be clear, my comment about solo protests wasn't meant to criticize you or blame you for what happened. It's just unfortunate that it went down the way it did, without other witneses.

Still, if you end up having to go to trial, it seems to me that the jurors are likely to take a look at you, and take a look at the two cops, and have a real hard time accepting that the cops really "needed" to rough you up the way they did.

If it comes to a trial, it sounds like it will mostly be a matter of you telling your side to the story, and the cops telling their side, and the jury will have to decide who to believe -- but part of their decision will rest with whose version of events seems more believable, and that's where it seems like the cops may run into trouble.

Anonymous said...


Sounds like prejudice to me! Assuming from the get that one out of ten police are "bad"? What does "bad" mean? Bad manners, Bad breath, bad haircut, corrupt ?

One of your followers referring to the "evil pigs", is just special.

Why is it that 90% of SoHum folks don't think laws or regulations apply to them? What is it that makes you so special? Is it the water?

spyrock said...

just fyi, my great, great grandfather john kauble was a constable in long valley or cahto, near laytonville as the area is called today from 1860-1872. he was killed in august 1872. by whom is something i am trying to find out. he sometimes had to take indians to the reservation in covelo for their own protection. so we don't know if the indians killed him for taking their people to covelo or if some of the pioneers who were killing the indians for various reasons killed him for trying to protect them by taking them to covelo where they would be safe. sort of a thankless no win job just to make it safe for city slickers like you who know nothing of the history of the north coast of california. the fact is, there never has been any law up there except for men like my ancestor who tried to do what he thought was right. and with that outlaw economy up there are you kidding me. its the priorities that the current lawmen up there choose to enforce that has people confused. rooster cogburn to the rescue.

spyrock said...

ernie, you continue to amaze me. not because you're 5g. but because you are up to date. something, i'm not. i saw some dick tracy girls in santa cruz last weekend aka the girl with the dragon tattoos going on all over their bodies. i have no idea what the younger generation is up to. but i am connected to the ancestors and what i am saying is what they want people to hear. not just any people, sometimes it's just special people. but i'm connected to the old peeps. and they have alot to say about things. about things they wish they would have done different ifin they could have. so i'm here speakin for the old ones, some injun, some white, some very old ones. peeps you couldn't imagine from times long ago. my whole life would have been different if that sherrif would have survived in 1872. but he didn't. so i have bits and pieces of the truth. which is more than most but it's still a just a little bit.

but sometimes a little bit is more than they can handle.

spyrock said...

i see people like this lady make a stand and i like it but it usually leads to one being arrested. what i do, no one sees, so they can't arrest me for nothing. but i am doing something. shaministic is the last thing i thought i was, but it might explain alot of things that have happened over the years. so i'm not ruling it out. i'm just saying. the indiginous rules.