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Shelton Mason County Journal
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Mason County Journal
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May 27, 1971     Shelton Mason County Journal
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May 27, 1971
 

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The Washington State Patrol has an impeccable reputation, earned over the years by performance "and deportment. Through a system of careful screening and rigorous and thorough training, the Patrol has guaranteed that its troopers, when they finally report for duty on the state's highways, are the epitome of strength, professionalism, imperturbability and understanding. They perform an important, largely thankless job, and they do it well. It is a shock and a disappointment, therefore, to learn that the Patrol was involved in a Mississippi-style law-and-order binge in Jefferson County during the Rhododendron Festival two weeks ago. In an apparent move to discourage members of a motorcycle club from visiting Port Townsend during the festival, the Patrol sent a tactical force of 40 to 50 men to the area and deployed them throughout the county in a "show of force." So far, so good. There is nothing more effective for slowing down speeders and prospective troublemakers than a police car every quarter-mile. (A large contingent of WSP troopers helped tremendously in this manner during our Forest Festival last week.) Four Patrol cars and eight troopers were stationed on the Kitsap County side of the Hood Canal floating bridge, where some officers checked cyclists for licenses, registration and equipment, while the others stood by with riot guns at the ready. Still okay; although the riot guns seem a little dramatic for traffic work. Then, somebody goofed. The troopers began arresting, restraining, and booking cyclists for minor traffic offenses. In one case, three cyclists from Poulsbo, after passing inspection at the bridge, stopped for lunch at Hadlock, a short distance south of Port Townsend. When they had finsihed the meal, they then headed for Port Townsend, but were stopped by two troopers, one of whom got out of the car with a shotgun. One driver, accused of having a stop light out, was escorted to the rear of the patrol car, searched, handcuffed, and placed in the rear of the vehicle. His cycle was impounded, despite the efforts of a companion who travelled to town to get a replacement part for the defective light, and he was taken to the county jail. The image evoked by the thought of the cream of Washington's law enforcement personnel searching, handcuffing and hauling to jail a motorist whose only crime is owning a motorcycle with a defective stoplight - bail for which is $19 - is tragic. a WSP troolIO" he may gripe a little, but knows he had it coming. This reaction is due to the Patrol's reputation for efficiency, courtesy, and impartiality. When it resorts to oppressive and unequal treatment of a selected segment of the motoring public, that reputation is tarnished. Arrest at gunpoint, physical restraint and jailing are not the normal and accepted procedures for handling minor traffic offenses in the State of Washington. What caused this aberation? Apparently someone in authority overreacted to the report that a motorcycle gang intended to invade Port Townsend and temporarily changed the mode of operation ordinarily employed by the Patrol. In a talk to the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce, explaining the Patrol's weekend activity, Patrol Sgt. J. W. Haigh defined the motorists who had been selected for special treatment thusly: "We recognize this element by their dirty appearance, their helmets, high-rise handlebars, hair unkempt, all have a loose alliance, and many wear a variety of badges." By majority standards, that describes a decidedly creepy individual. But in singling out persons who fit that description for unequal treatment, the Patrol erased the line between "action" and "'status" which is an important part of American law. It is not a crime to have a dirty appearance. It is not a crime to own high-rinse handlebars. Unkempt hair is not illegal. Membership in a club, even though some of its members may be guilty of crimes, is not a criminal act. An editorial in the "Police Law Reporter" of September, 1968, pointed out the distinction between action and status in regard to law enforcement. "There have been throughout our history, many analogous attempts to apply the police-power of government to protect the conventional majority from too-close association with the unpleasant or undesirable minority," the article informed lawmen. "Police officers have the power under the law to arrest persons whom they have probable cause to believe committed specific crimes. Officers may not arrest persons because they belong to a group, members of which have committed crimes... What a man DOES is the crime, not what he IS. Our criminal laws are directed toward actions, not status. "Of course, some police officers are fully aware of these distinctions, but are unable to resist the temptation to harass groups by arresting their members. To those who would abuse their authority under the law, little can be said other than that they have not helped the image of law enforcement," the editorial said. We believe the image of the Washington State Patrol was dantnged by its actions in Jefferson County. We also believe it was an aberation that will not be repeated. The people of this state need a Patrol with the spotless reputation it has taken years to build. If it descends to the image of the southern sheriff, the loss will be irreparable. By Sheriff Robert L. Hansen Between the hours of 4 p.m., Friday, May 14, 1971, and approximately 5 p.m. Saturday, May 15, 1971, Jefferson County, by virtue of what I believe was deplorable conduct on the part of the Washington State Patrol, was in a state of insurrection. Activity of the State Patrol in the rural areas of Jefferson County caused shock, anger, beligerance, and hostility. Citizens of the state of Washington enroute to Port Townsend to participate in the celebration of the 36th Annual Rhododendron Festival in honor of our state flower, were harassed, in- timidated, and treated as felons. Because of unsubstantiated information relative to problems experienced in Wenatchee during their Apple Blossom Festival, the State Patrol over reacted in that they created their own emergency by exaggerating incidents that occurred in Wenatchee, Washington, which they attributed to outlaw motorcyclists and hippies. As a result, an individual riding any type of motorcycle or an individual driving a vehicle who possessed long hair was stopped at gunpoint for minor infractions, handcuffed, and brought to the Jefferson County jail facilities. The time is now 10:23 a.m. Wednesday, May 19, 1971. The place: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Classroom. In the room as this article is being written are Deputies Michael C. Thompson, Rodney V. Culp, Ernest W. Booth, Jr., Melvin J. Mefford, and Sheriff's Office Secretary Donna J. Galley who is taking dic- tation. Deputy Smith is unavailable. The men are sitting here for the following reasons as I dictate the circumstances of an unbelievable situation. They experienced the weekend with this writer and were present at all times when a decision was arrived at. They are here also to correct this writer in the event that statements relative to circumstances that occurred are not factual or are exaggerated. Following is the way that the celebration of the 36th Annual Rhododendron Festival began in the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. On May 7, 1971, Chief Ernest Phegley of the Port Townsend Police Department and this writer discussed possible problems that could develop during the Rhody Festival celebration on May 14, 15, 16, 1971. Several unsubstantiated comments relative to circumstances that oc- curred in Wenatcbee during their Apple Blossom Festival were discussed. The meeting ended with the agreement that, because there would be motorcycle races in Port Townsend during the Festival, possibly a large number of cyclists, including some undesirable clubs, would be in the area and that some rowdyism might occur. It was agreed that attempts to gather intelligence relative to the number of cyclists that would come to Port Townsend and the number of so-called outlaw groups should commence and that officers of the respective knowledge. The names as best they could gather were furnished. This writer advised the group to be careful of emotionalism, do not overexaggerate what could happen in the event of a large influx of people associated with rowdyism. This writer advised the officers that we must be concerned but because we had very little to go on it appeared as though we would have to play it by ear. Mr. Iness of the State Parks advised the group of the park's attitude relative to motorcyclists. Sgt. Haigh was then asked to comment. He stated that he felt the group was displaying a complacency and went on to state that through reliable informants, WSP was advised that motorcyclists from the entire Pacifc North- west would descend on Port Townsend. That these people came to communities to disturb and disrupt. This writer checked teletypes received and was amazed that this information had not been relayed to this department by WSP. As a matter of fact the teletype indicating the warrants for some members of the Ban- didos gang was shown to Sgt. Haigh and he stated he had not been aware of it. Sgt. Haigh went on to explain that many assaults on the citizens of Wenatchee by cyclists occurred during their festival. He went on to say that sawed off shotguns were leveled at the heads of law enforcement officers and considerable property damage occurred. Sgt. Haigh advised that 40 to 50 troopers would be in this area during our festival. Deputy Culp asked Sgt. Haigh what the troopers would be doing. Sgt. Haigh replied that it would be a show of force and that he would have cars driving in circles if necessary to give the appearance of numbers. The meeting ended. This writer went home in a state of adverse disturbance that there was no prior intelligence relative to the alleged influx of cyclists. On Friday, May 14, at approximately 9 a.m., a call was placed to the Chelan County Sheriff's Department. The individual who sent the teletype advising of warrants was contacted. This writer advised him that we had a festival this weekend, that we were hearing many rumors concerning experiences in Wenatchee during their festival. It was requested of him that he explain exactly what authorities had experienced, and was advised that it would be much appreciated if he did not include any emotionalism and that only factual situations be related. He was asked about sawed-off shotguns and he replied that a disturbance occurred among cyclists, and deputies in- vestigated. As they approached the area, an individual carrying a shotgun approached. The deputies asked him if the weapon was loaded and he replied, yes sir. They requested that he unload it, which he did. The Chelan County Sheriff's Deputy stated that the main problem turn around and go back that they would be subject to arrest; that officers were super- silious: they continually asked, "Why?!" Throughout the night tension mounted, belligerence increased, this writer became concerned. After a few hours rest, this writer returned to the office at approximately 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Belligerence and hostility created by WSP was obvious. At approximately 11 a.m., this writer went to the home of Prosecuting Attorney W. J. Daly and expressed a concern in respect to what the activities and conduct of the Washington State Patrol might entail. This writer was told to remain calm. Harassment of the citizens continued. At 1:23 p.m., this writer advised the deputies that, when they completed their parage responsibilities, they were to report to the of- fice. On arrival, they were advised that, in the opinion of this writer, harassment of the citizens had reached the point of intolerability and that belligerence among the arrested ap- peared to be increasing, and that their attitudes were needed. A group discussion occurred. A plea was made by this writer to the deputies to express their attitudes relative to the cir- cumstances that prevailed. The .group discussion concluded with the unanimous decision that the existing situation had to stop. It was concluded that Washington State Patrol, by virtue of their activity and conduct had exceeded police power, that they had violated rules of acceptable procedure, they had im- periled the lives of misdemeanants both transient and local by virtue of the fact that firearms were employed to effect arrests, that their activities were not law enforcement but harassment, that, by virtue of the fact that they represented an arm of state government, their conduct and activity was oppression in its worst form, that they were a disgrace to law en- forcement throughout the United States, and that evidence revealed them to be in violation of RCW 10.25.030: illegally confining an arrestee in the Jefferson County Jail when he should have been taken to a jail facility in the county of arrest. It was decided that a call be placed to the Chief of Washington State Patrol requesting that troopers be removed from the county. At this time, Washington State Patrol officers brought forth one Bud Halvorsen of Poulsbo, Washington. Halvorsen lived in Port Townsend for 8 years. He, along with his companion and two other couples on motorcycles, approached the Hood Canal Bridge and were stopped by State Troopers brandishing shotguns. Drivers license, registration, and equipment were checked and passed. They proceeded to the Hadlock House where they had lunch spending a couple of hours. They left the Hadlock House and traveled west on County Road 18 and stopped at the Community Shell service station stop sign. They entered onto County Road 12 departments should be advised that they were was a large number of young people drinking and a short distance later were stopped by not to overexaggerate comments by concerned beer and wine and proliferating the streets with Washington State Patrol troopers. Halvorsen citizens or make any remarks that would litter. He also stated that a minister had at- was or !ered off his bike, at gunpoint., He was generate emotionalisz/i in the way of fear or tempted to organize a refigi0us l'ock, fdat~val ii advised,thatlhisstola f',was notworking. He concern, which encouraged a lot of young people. A told them that it had been checked ap- A teletype with the designation APB group cake, camped in a farmer's orchard proximately two hours'before and was ok. They Washington and WSP was sent on May 10, 1971, advising of the festival and motorcycle races and requesting any agencies having knowledge of any outlaw type cycle groups or hippy groups that may be enroute to cause disturbances to please advise. On Tuesday, May 11, Major Poulsen of the Washington State Patrol came to the Sheriff's Office. A discussion occurred in respect to so- called outlaw motorcycle groups and their rowdyism. The experiences in Wenatchee were discussed with a conclusion that most problems were perpetrated by young people drinking and littering. Major Poulsen left the office with the statement that there would be a few extra Washington State Patrol officers in the area. Shortly thereafter, Bill Glenn, Region 1 Supervisor of the State Parks and Recreation Commission appeared in the Sheriff's Office and advised that the Fort Townsend State Park facilities would be open to motorcyclists. He emphasized that registrations would be received until 10 p.m. and at that time the gate would be locked. He advised that rangers would be placed on the gate to allow stragglers who had registered by 10 p.m. to enter. On Wednesday, May 12, at approximately 4 p.m., Sgt. William Haigh of the Washington State Patrol came to the Sheriff's Office to discuss the Rhody Festival. This writer was advised that there would be a considerable number of men in the area. This writer was asked what was the capacity of the Jefferson County jail and the answer was 23. This writer was asked what would be done in the event that there were a hundred bookings. Sgt. Haigh was advised that under those conditions, only the most serious offenders would be held. This writer was asked if I had given any con- sideration to a stockade. The reply was no. He suggested that a quonset hut at Fort Worden State Park be looked into for confinement purposes and also facilities at Indian Island. He advised that because of the festival a large number of cyclists could be expected. The meeting ended with the statement by this writer that, if the troopers were needed, they would be called. At the same time Sgt. Haigh was invited to attend a meeting of law en- forcement officers in the Sheriff's Class Room on Thursday, May 13, 1971, at 8 p.m. Chief Phegley was contacted and festival activities were again discussed. On Thursday at 8 p.m., in the Sheriff's Office, a meeting with the following individuals ixi attendance occurred. All members of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department with the exception of one dispatcher, Mayor Frank Smith of Port Townsend, Chief Ernest Phegley of Port Townsend, Parks Supervisor A1 Iness, and Sgt. Haigh. Officers were advised by this writer that we had little if any in the way of intelligence in respect to how many cyclists, hippies, or others that we could expect. There had been no response to our teletypes. The only information that we had was an APB bulletin issued by the Chelan County Sheriff advising that 9 members or associates of the Bandidos motorcycle gang were charged with carnal Page 4 - Shelton-Mason County Journal - Thursday, May 27, 1971 without his permission, and during this time handcuffed him, threw him into the back of the some nudity and open sex occurred. He stated that to the best of their knowledge the Bandido motorcycle group came and camped in a canyon on the outskirts of Wenatchee. They brought with them a 15 year old girl. During the encampment, sexual promiscuity occurred with the 15 year old girl. When they departed Wenatchee they left the girl behind, who then came in contact with authorities. The warrants issued for the Bandidos was the result of the promiscuity with the 15 year old girl. This writer felt a sense of relief and again em- phasized that unfortunately, unreasonable emotionalism prevailed and this was dangerous. The remainder of the day was spent attempting intelligence and to determine what to do in the event of a large influx of disturbers. It was also decided that the Bandidos motor- cycle club and other so-called outlaw clubs have been coming to Jefferson County for the past 4 years and that, with the exception of drinking which produced some rowdyism, there had been no problems of any magnitude and thot the drinking was not confined par- patrol car, and booked him into the county jail or attempted to. His bike was impounded. His companion was not allowed to take possession of it. Bud Halvorsen explained to this writer and the deputies his experience. Chief Furseth of Washington State Patrol was then called. The time was approximately 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15, 1971. He was told that the conduct and activity of the troopers in Jefferson County was not acceptable. He asked what they were doing. He was told that citizens were being harassed and that troopers we, re holding shotguns to their heads. He asked if this writer was aware that concerned citizens had called the governor prior to the festival. This writer advised that he was not but he was aware of one thing, that no concerned citizens called this office. Chief Furseth asked if the desire was that the troopers be removed from the county. The reply was yes. At 4:37 p.m., Captain Haas of Washington State Patrol called the office to ask why the troopers were wanted out. He was told that their conduct was unacceptable. Personnel of ticularly to cyclists, the Sheriff's Department began to relax. At approximately 7 p.m. ' Friday, state This officer then went to the home of troopers brought to the county court house Prosecuting Attorney W. J. Daly and advised individuals dressed in black leather jackets the Prosecutor that Washington State Patrol with badges hanging all over them.They were had been requested to leave. Their activity was booked for improper mufflers and defective equipment on their motorcycles. Their motorcycles had been impounded. The men were angry, hostile, beligerant, and in a state of despair. They, appealed for rationality. They complained thht they had been arrested at gunpoint. They complained that because they had defective equipment in some form or another, they were handcuffed. This type of activity continued until the early morning hours of Saturday. At 1:59 a.m. Saturday morning, Mr. Bob Shaw called the Sheriff's Office and addressed himself as the National Sergeant of Arms, Bandido Motorcycle Club, and asked if the Bandidos were causing any problems. He was advised that they were not. He advised that if they did, or we suspected that they were going to, to call him immediately giving his telephone number and advising that the motorcycle club police would respond. Some of the individuals dressed in the black leather jackets were recognized by Sheriff's Department personnel as having participated in previous Rhododendron Festivals. Not all persons that were booked were wearing black leather jackets. Some were clean shaven, some had short hair and were casually dressed in acceptable clothing. One local Jefferson County boy, known and respected by Sheriff's Department personnel, who had three other individuals in his car was stopped and while he was talking to the officer writing the citation, another stood by with a shotgun at ready. His explained to him. He concurred. At 5:13 p.m., Charles W. Hansen called the Sheriff's Office and said only to the Dispatcher, "This is Chuck Hansen. Get Bob out here im- mediately!" This writer, Deputy Thompson, and DeputyCulp responded in individual cars. On arrival it was explained by Chuck Hansen that troopers had stopped a motorcycle in front of his home and were brandishing firearms. He had guests in his home at the time. His children and his guests' children congregated on the lawn across from the Troopers' vehicles. Chuck Hansen became concerned that one of the children might be injured if something was to start. He left his home, walked up to a trooper, and requested that the trooper put away his weapon. The trooper's reply was, "I've dealt with hundreds like you. I'll have you in jail in no time." This writer asked the troopers if they had not received a call from their Chief to leave the county. The reply was no. This officer pleaded with the troopers to leave, that emotionalism was high, that anything could happen, could they not see what they were doing. This writer then returned to the office. On entering the office, the-hall contained a number of men in black leather jackets. Hostility was adverse. One man was pleading and asking why a shotgun had been put to his head. Tension was adverse. As this writer proceded through the men, a trooper was standing in the hall. I pleaded with him asking, "Don't you realize what your conduct is doing? vehicle was impounded and the three otherDon't you realize that when an arm of govern- occupants were left with no transportation. The merit conducts itself in the manner that you are boy was booked in the deHerson :ouaty jail for that it is oppression in its worst form?" The deflective equipment, lie nad long hair. officer did not move. I looked at him. I felt, by Complaints continued to the effect that they his look, that he was bleeding inside and, after were harassed and advised that if they did not looking at him a few more moments, I said to him, "I feel sorry for you." At approximately 5:45 p.m placed to the Chief of the Patrol. This writer was available but that someone call. At 5:49 p.m., Colonel and asked what it was that writer advised him that a approximately an hour requesting that troopers leave stated that 18 of them had left, that 18 was not enough, that all exception of the two locally were requested to leave. He the troopers were to be ones could stay. He was would not hassle with him onI take them if he desired were being requested to leave conduct was unacceptable, lie that the Bandidos were m yes, that they have been years. He asked if the died and the reply was yes. remainin troopers would At 6:30 p.m. everything At 7:15 p.m. a citizen rock festival on advised that it was legal private property and done. He was advised that right to free assembly and existed whereby the prohibited. The citiz good enough, something the older people had to At 10 p.m., because of rock festival discontinued. The Bandidos motorc Port Townsend Saturday night to appear in court stayed at the county barns. They started a fire to They burned some fence postS belonging to the Fairboard an 6's from a horse stall to They stayed at the because they had no money. them in the Sheriff's Office. funds enough to pay the Townsend State Park. On Monday, May 17, dividuals arrested a majority of them asked observed by booking Office that most citations appearance date listed. Within is the story as the Jefferson County Depositions by individua harassed are possessed Department. They are not called outlaw motorcycle from individuals who They are businessmen. They are respectable citiz Much, much more could that firearms were taken : and yet there were no boc County Jail with the possession of firearms. carrying firearms and they so. In order to obtain a have been convicted of a drunkard, been d have been a patient in a The Sheriff's Departm obligation in our oath and that is to u the United States m of the State of fulfilled our res sibilities require us to and other disturbances. : It is incompre a recognized and Commerce could posS Governor of this state or Patrol for their conduct during the period now who will be if Patrol feels they cyclists, will it be campers or will it be allowed to continue by government, that it is citizenry will be police state. Editor, The Journal: 1 would like to make editor column to make explanation for at the Forest Festival member of the Silver star First, I would like to that my horse and I to get going with our ridilal parade somewhat, also. I don't know about group, but I ended up of people, cars, and a saw I am very sorry. Secondly, I feel have occurred in the first stationed right across awaiting parade time. Our club takes part in and I assure you the upset, EVER.! There are and noises, which the accepting, but can they be and get going as usual terrifying steam donkey feet away? Surely, this could in the lineup before paraq And, most im any of the spectators should even remotely occurence with the horses