Defend Umojafest Peace Center Against The Rich!
$6,279 raised
33% of $19k goal
87 contributors
70 Weeks running
BILLIONAIRE LANDLORD VIOLENCE
AGAINST UMOJAFEST PEACE CENTER & HISTORIC AFRICATOWN
EXPANDS AND ESCALATES TO TARGET US ALL!

IF YOU, OR ANYONE YOU KNOW, LIVES UNDER A LANDLORD,
then you need to defend yourself!
PLEASE TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION TODAY:

FROM THE O.T. DEFENSE COMMITTEE: PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 16, 2018

BILLIONAIRE LANDLORD VIOLENCE

AGAINST UMOJAFEST PEACE CENTER & HISTORIC AFRICATOWN

EXPANDS AND ESCALATES TO TARGET

ALL LOW-INCOME TENANTS IN WASHINGTON!

IF YOU, OR ANYONE YOU KNOW, LIVES UNDER A LANDLORD, then you need to defend yourself!

PLEASE TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION TODAY:

1) Please call and email the Supreme Court of Washington at (360) 357 2077 and Supreme@courts.wa.gov . Tell them to accept review of Omari Tahir’s appeal from Division One’s case number 76605-8-I.

2) Please make a donation to the Omari Tahir defense fund at: https://www.fundedjustice.com/campaigns/saveumojafest

3) If you have time and/or applicable skills which you can volunteer to the Defense Committee, specifically legal, fundraising, campaign mobilization, or political/corporate research skills, please contact the Defense Committee at (206) 940-3807 or otdefensecommittee@gmail.com .

DEFEND YOUR OWN BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS! Join the fight against these tenant-hating judges and billionaire landlords!

Time line of facts in Historic Africatown’s Struggle to exist in Seattle:

*1981- Charles Royer’s City Hall proposed to install a Seattle Police Precinct Fort in the middle of the Black community, right at 23 rd and Yesler where the Cannon House now stands instead. The community responded by liberating the proposed building site, taking over four abandoned houses there, moving formerly homeless families into them and proposing a positive institution—an African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center (AAHMCC)—instead of a police-station.

*1984- The police-station proposal was withdrawn from the Central Area, making Historic Africatown the first Black Community in the US to successfully prevent the construction of a proposed cop station. The AAHMCC proposal had gained popularity, and even the politicians were paying lip service to it.

*1985- The proponents of the Black museum decided it was time to establish it. They identified a large disused public building in the heart of the Black community, and proceeded to build their museum by liberating that building on November 23, 1985 , with what became the longest running civil disobedience action in recorded history. The sit-in lasted for twelve years and two months, until January 1998 , when the legal purchase-and-sale agreement was jointly signed between the AAHMCC and the branch of city government that had until then owned the building. This legalized the sit-in, so that it was no longer an act of civil disobedience, but simply an exercise in land ownership by the AAHMCC.

*1998- Ironically, the police only stormed and shut down the museum just five months after it had been formally legitimized. In June, Paul Schell’s City Hall, acting in concert with the William Rufus King County Council, ordered a SWAT Team raid against the AAHMCC, breaking down its doors, destroying its exhibits and educational materials, stealing its temporary portable buildings from the parking lot, ejecting the duly incorporated AAHMCC organization and imprisoning its President. The SWAT team placed the building under control of a condominium development project headed by an FBI agent. The FBI-led condo project still occupies the building to this day, and claims to be the “museum”, even though the AAHMCC still to this day holds the only authentic signed purchase-and-sell agreement, from that January.

*2000 The 2000 census showed that the 1998 SWAT raid against the AAHMCC had coincided with a turning point in Seattle’s demographic history. The 1980-1990 decade would thereafter be known as the last decade in which the Black percent of Seattle’s population increased. By 2000, the percentage of Seattle residents recorded as African American had begun to decrease—from 10.0% in 1990 to 8.44% in 2000.

*2008 A decade after the raid on the Museum, the Umojafest Peace Center was established at 24 th and Spring in Historic Africatown. Two studio buildings were liberated from blight to host youth programs, cultural events, neighborhood outreach activities, Cynthia McKinney & Rosa Clemente’s 2008 Seattle Campaign Headquarters, a Hurricane Katrina Survivors Council, a music recording facility, a small community library and an office for the continuation of the duly incorporated AAHMCC (the authentic Museum).

*2013 In spring of 2013, the youth programing component of the Umojafest Peace Center moved to Central Area Africatown’s historic Horace Mann public building at 2410 E. Cherry Street, after intervening to liberate and rescue that building from a privatization scheme the year before. Once again, after about six months, Mike McGinn’s City Hall sent a SWAT team to shut down the building and evict the educational programming. The eviction was carried out without a warrant or eviction order.

*2015- In 2015, the family claiming settler title to the land on which the Umojafest Peace Center stood descended into a civil war with itself. The family’s right wing, led by an attorney of the infamous billionaire-ruling-class law firm K&L Gates, usurped control from the family’s moderate wing and began a campaign to purge the Black businesses and institutions from the block, starting with the Umojafest Peace Center. They tried to terminate the block’s African American caretaker without compensation for his many years of service, and to intimidate him away from using the block’s federal post office for the paper-mail related operations of either the Umojafest Peace Center (of which he was a founding member) or the AAHMCC (of which he is still President). The caretaker was left with no recourse but to file a federal lawsuit against this reactionary landlord clique.

*2016- Rather than face the caretaker’s lawsuit by honest direct means, the K&L Gates-led clique filed a retaliatory suit in King County court, seeking to evict their caretaker and the Umojafest Peace Center and thereby move their legal dispute with him from a federal court to a local one over which their clique has more influence. Even though the caretaker fought hard to try to keep the dispute in its original federal venue, the K&L Gates-led clique has coaxed the local court into trying to rule over many matters of the dispute besides simply their eviction request, including matters that are explicitly questions of federal law.

*2017- In February 2017, the King County Court changed the date/time of the eviction trial four times in one month without timely telling the Umojafest Peace Center’s caretaker, and then arrested him on “contempt of court”, confiscating all his legal papers, when he showed up at a previously scheduled day and hour he hadn’t yet learned had been changed. He was held in custody for over a week, taken to his civil eviction hearing in a jumpsuit and handcuffs, where he suffered a medical emergency from severe hypertension and was held in contempt of court again and re-imprisoned while the eviction trial was held in his absence. An eviction order was issued against him on this basis, which he was never allowed to orally contest at any court hearing whatsoever. He appealed both the eviction and the contempt charge, but in March a Seattle SWAT team evicted the Umojafest Peace Center anyway, with the King County Sheriff boarding the caretaker up inside the building overnight on March 15 before the Seattle Police Department extracted him on March 16.

*2018- This brings us to the present, where YOUR rights are now in danger. It should be no surprise to you that African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center President Omari Tahir-Garrett is once again the canary in the coal mine. You can preview the ways the billionaires are about to attack the rest of us all—by watching what they do to him first...

This April, Washington State’s Division One Court of Appeals issued an “Opinion” that:

Grants K&L Gates—And All Other Landlords—Absolute Power Over Tenants!

Curtails Tenants’ Due Process Rights!

Lets Single Landlords Ban Tenants From Entire Neighborhoods!

Threatens All Tenants With Indefinite Detention If They Seek To Oppose Evictions In Court!

The Court’s April 23 Opinion—rendered on behalf of a landlord who’s a lawyer at the billionaire K&L Gates law firm—alleges that Washington’s Court of Appeals has no obligation to consider the authority of either the 1 st , 5 th , 6 th or 14 th Amendments of the US Constitution when examining the appeal of a tenant whose body is imprisoned by a judge during an eviction trial. The Court claims that a tenant need only be accused of “contempt” in order to be imprisoned while the eviction trial proceeds in the tenant’s absence, and that the tenant can meanwhile be locked up for an unlimited time without being told how to remedy being in contempt or appointed a defense attorney.

The Court of Appeals Opinion upholds the King County Judge’s experimental 2017 decision to jail a tenant/caretaker for over a week, with no recourse towards freedom and without appointment of a defense attorney, as a means of conducting an eviction trial without allowing the tenant to defend himself therein. As part of the text of the order evicting him from a single studio structure, the tenant is currently banned from the surrounding five blocks, including a federal Post Office, forever!

The landlord class has already rushed to celebrate this court ruling as a victory for itself over all tenants.

On May 11, a landlords’ organization called the Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHA) filed a third party motion asking the Court to publish this Opinion, in order to increase the speed and reduce the cost of thousands of evictions which, in their own words, “make up a significant portion of trial court dockets”. RHA’s motion states that King County alone was already processing over 7,000 eviction cases per year as early as 2013, which can be done more efficiently if this experimental precedent is accepted as the new normal way for the courts to treat all tenants! Although the Opinion remains unpublished, it is still citable in court, and RHA will surely encourage landlord attorneys and judges throughout WA to invoke and copy it.

The King County Judge, Suzanne Parisien, first ordered the tenant/caretaker in this case to be incarcerated on February 21, 2017, and did not allow his release until eight days later, completely separating him from all his legal papers during this time, while issuing the order to evict him on the basis of a kangaroo “civil trial” that was held meanwhile held on February 23. When the tenant was taken from his jail cell on that day, he presumed he was being brought to an arraignment hearing for the charge for which he had already been jailed for over 48 hours. Instead, he was placed in a wheelchair and pushed into the courtroom of this eviction “trial” in jail garb, restraints and still without his legal papers related to that case, which he proceeded to demand.

When it became clear that he was not going to be restored those papers, but that the Judge was going to “proceed” anyway without giving them back to him, the tenant suffered an episode of severe hypertension, had to be carried out of the courtroom by a medical aid car and was then hospitalized for about five hours before being returned to the jail cell while his eviction was being ordered. He later attempted seven (7) times to introduce the hospital’s medical report into the court record as evidence that his absence from the trial was involuntary, but the Court of Appeals dishonestly “finds” that he never submitted this medical record and that his absence from the trial was “voluntary”. It further “finds” this to be procedure it deems proper for the treatment of all tenants in Washington in all similar situations hereafter!

Suzanne Parisien was elected to the King County bench in 2012, following a campaign in which she reportedly refused to be interviewed by either the African American, the LGBTQ, the Women’s or the Jewish Bar Associations or, for that matter, any Bar Association other than the King County Bar Association (see www.seattletimes.com/opinion/editorial-the-times-recommends-chris-washington-for-king-county-superior-court/ ).

This ruling is being issued in the context of Paul Allen’s demolition of the unionized Red Apple Grocery Store in the historically African American Central Area, the proposal by Lake Union Partners to replace that store’s market share with the anti-union and gentrification-oriented chain “New Seasons”, the hotel industry’s recent attacks against Chinatown, and the ongoing climb in Washington’s rents and homelessness. It is also happening at a time in which the end goals of gentrification and displacement are being vividly illustrated to all the world by the weekly mass killings of dozens of Gaza and West Bank Palestinians by the settler gentrifiers’ military, as punishment for daring to protest and assert any human right to return.

The 73 year old disabled tenant/caretaker, Omari Tahir-Garrett, has five times requested the appointment of a public defender in the matter of his arbitrary incarceration by Parisien (as per the US Constitution’s 6 th Amendment). Every time, the courts have refused to provide him a defender. The workers and peoples of Seattle have therefore created of the Omari Tahir Defense Committee, in defense of the human rights of Omari and all others who live under threat of arbitrary imprisonment or eviction.

*Anyone can independently verify all of the facts about the above court case by looking up the record in the relevant case numbers 16-2-10995-SEA in King County Superior Court and 76605-8-I, 77005-5-I, 77572-3-I, 77417-4-I and 77843-9-I in the Division 1 Court of Appeals.

As of today, the Omari Tahir Defense Committee has launched a campaign to help Omari and a dedicated civil rights attorney appeal this gross injustice to the Supreme Court of Washington. This will require some resources and action. Defense Committee co-chair Leith Kahl stated:

The Gates and Allen billionaire landlord class are once more trying to radically reshape the rule of law by aggressively attacking the Black grassroots institutions and Black elders in our community, and hoping that the rest of us won’t stand up to defend them. If we don’t stand up because it isn’t happening to us YET, or if we don’t stand up because we’re afraid it MIGHT happen to us next, then we only ensure that no one will be there to stand up for us when it DOES. We need to stop this BEFORE it becomes a precedent. We cannot allow these wealthy landlords to amass such absolute power over us all.”

IF YOU, OR ANYONE YOU KNOW, LIVES UNDER A LANDLORD, then you need to defend yourself!

PLEASE TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION TODAY:

1) Please call and email the Supreme Court of Washington at (360) 357 2077 and Supreme@courts.wa.gov . Tell them to accept review of Omari Tahir’s appeal from Division One’s case number 76605-8-I.

2) Please make a donation to the Omari Tahir defense fund at: https://www.fundedjustice.com/campaigns/saveumojafest

3) If you have time and/or applicable skills which you can volunteer to the Defense Committee, specifically legal, fundraising, campaign mobilization, or political/corporate research skills, please contact the Defense Committee at (206) 940-3807 or otdefensecommittee@gmail.com .

DEFEND YOUR OWN BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS! Join the fight against these tenant-hating judges and billionaire landlords!

 

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