City Attorney Pete Holmes contacted a local activist last week and asked her to remove an online petition to get Holmes to drop assault charges against a Seattle police officer.
Earlier this month, Sheri Day helped longtime anti-police misconduct activist Rev. Harriet Walden set up the online petition supporting Officer Garth Haynes.
The petition apparently didn’t sit well with Holmes.
“He was adamant this was causing a problem [and] he asked me to take it down,” Day says. “I found it a little over-the-top and reactionary.”
Officer Haynes was involved in a fight in Ballard while off duty last December. Hayes confronted a woman who walked out of the bar with his coat, and ended up in a fight with three other men. After police arrived and arrested the three men, Haynes, who got a concussion during the incident, was caught on camera kicking one of the men while he was handcuffed. After police took the three men away, a patrol car camera captured one of the men, who is white, referring to Haynes, who is black, with a racist slur, calling him a “spook.”
In July, Holmes filed assault charges against Haynes. The case against the three men who had fought with Haynes was dismissed after Haynes invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to testify.
Three months later, in early October, Day and Walden posted the petition. “Officer Haynes while off duty was the victim of a hate crime and all charges against his assailants were dropped with prejudice,” the petition letter says. “If his attackers, caught on tape, are not charged, he should not be.”
Day, who says she’s been involved in police accountability work for nearly two decades, says she received several calls from Holmes and his staff last week about the petition.
“Frankly he seemed a little more disturbed than I would have expected him to be,” says Day. “I know how many signatures there have been. He made it sound like they were being drowned in these emails from these people.”
To date, the online petition has been signed by 169 people—mostly by police officers.
“I reminded him the people who were involved in the petition, that’s their legal right to free speech,” Day says. “How are you going to ask me to take it down? It’s just not mine to take down.”
Day is scheduled to meet with Holmes soon. In the meantime, she says, she has no intention of taking down the petition. “I’m the kind of person that’s not that easily intimidated,” she says. “He’s not the kind of guy I’m going to be intimidated by.”
Holmes’ office responded to PubliCola’s request for comment in an email, confirming the city attorney “asked the organizer of the petition drive to meet with him and, until that meeting could be arranged at a time convenient to all, he asked that the petition drive be suspended.”
The statement says Holmes “is pleased to meet with community leaders in private.”