September 18, 2013

Charles Oliver: It couldn't happen here?

Charles Oliver

— The San Leandro, Calif., City Council has voted to fly the flag of the People’s Republic of China over City Hall on Oct. 1, which is a national holiday in the communist country. Critics note that China is a major human rights violator. But those who support flying the country’s flag say it may help the city attract Chinese investment.

Three years ago, some 350 students helped paint a mural designed by artist Betsy Reid at an elementary school in Lake Oswego, Ore. School officials decided last year to convert the school into a junior high school. As part of the change, new principal Kurt Schultz ordered the mural painted over. Now, following complaints from parents, Schultz says that maybe, just maybe, he should have handled things differently. “I did a little bit of investigation into the history of (the mural), but clearly didn’t investigate far enough,” he said.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld a $7,000 fine against Elane Photography, which refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s wedding because the owners oppose gay marriage. The court found the studio violated the state’s Human Rights Act by refusing to serve the couple and that the First Amendment did not protect the studio. If I ever get married, I’m sure I’ll trust someone who is only working for me because of the threat of legal action to take the photos.

Several miners in the area around Chicken, Alaska, say they were frightened when a squad of armored and heavily armed men emerged from the wilderness and began searching their mining claims. It turns out the men were part of a SWAT team from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They were there to make sure the miners weren’t violating the Clean Water Act.

Officials with the Escambia County, Fla., sheriff’s office say they don’t know how many deputies entered a home without a warrant, but Cristina Moses and Travis Nicholas, the occupants of the home, say it was at least six. The deputies stormed into the couple’s bedroom, pulled them from the bed at gunpoint, threw them to the ground and handcuffed them. Then they shot their two dogs. Even though the deputies had no warrant, the sheriff’s office said everything they did was OK. The deputies were looking for a man who assaulted someone nearby, and they claim to have seen an upside down bucket outside an open window in the home. That gave them reason to believe their suspect may have broken into the home, so they say they had every right to break into it themselves.

Nicholas Brown says he’s considering a lawsuit against the United States Marshals Service for falsely arresting him for drug and weapons violations. Marshals stormed into his house and took him into custody but later realized they had the wrong man. Brown says that if they'd noticed the address on their warrant was for Columbus, Ohio, and the house they raided was in Hillsboro they might have figured out he wasn’t the man they were looking for before arresting him. And if they’d noticed that their warrant said the man they were looking for was black, while he is white, that might have also made them realize he wasn’t the man they were looking for.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.