>Forest-death probe urged
>by Suzanne Zalev
>The Times Standard
>EUREKA - Several Southern Humboldt County residents and
>environmentalists want an independent investigation into the death of an
>Earth First activist last week.
>"We do not believe that the company and [Sheriff Dennis Lewis] can be
>trusted to honestly investigate this tragedy and in fact feel that they
>may be suppressing and neglecting key evidence in this case,"
>Environmental Protection Information Center spokesman Kevin Bundy told
>the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
>Activist David "Gypsy" Chain, 24, of Coldspring, Texas, was killed last
>Thursday when a tree fell on him at a Pacific Lumber Co. logging site
>near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. The Sheriff's Department is in
>the midst of an investigation and PL is conducting its own
>Preliminary reports say the death is accidental, but Earth First
>activists have said loggers were deliberately falling trees in the
>direction of Chain and other protesters, who were trespassing on PL
>Sheriff's Detective Juan Freeman said officials flew over the Grizzly
>Creek area Tuesday and took photos and video footage. he couldn't draw
>any conclusions until the photos and videos are analyzed, he said.
>"We wanted to find the scene of the death and we found that and
>photographed," he said, adding he's not sure how much evidence it will
>Freeman wanted to see the pattern of timber falling and said he'll
>consult with experts. The ground investigation is finished, he said.
>Freeman has interviewed about 15 people and has about eight more to
>Results of the investigation will not be released until it's finished,
>Freeman said, and this could take several weeks. He'll turn the results
>over to the District Attorneys Office, which will decide whether to
>press charges against anyone.
>Activist Mark "Rainbow Bridge" Knipper, 43, of Blue Lake. came close to
>being escorted out of the Supervisor's Chambers during the public
>comment period of Tuesday's meeting. Knipper was not signed up to give
>comment but wanted to speak when someone on the list declined.
>Knipper gave names of several activists he said were hurt by loggers in
>past protests and accused officials of being complacent with the
>investigation into Chain's death.
>"This is blood money that you have accepted (for the agreement to
>purchase a portion of the Headwaters forest)," Knipper said.
>Board Chairman Paul Kirk adjourned the meeting and called authorities.
>He said later that Knipper was disrupting the meeting and knew he was
>not on the list of speakers. He was taking time away from other
>residents who were signed up to speak, he added.
>Sheriff's deputies showed up shortly after the brief adjournment,
>presumably to escort Knipper from the chambers, but he had already left.
>Eureka resident Kay Brown, 62, a member of People Against Crime and
>Corruption Today, asked Coroner Frank Jager to conduct a public
>coroner's inquest. It would be a good healing process, she said, and
>there was distrust of law enforcement voiced at the supervisor's
>"If we do not do the right thing, the faller and his family will be
>haunted by this tragedy through innuendo and gossip. the dead man's
>family will be haunted by the uncertainty," Brown said in her request.
>"The public support for either side will fan the flames of discontent
>and the citizens of Humboldt County will end up more impoverished by a
>lack of leadership."
>Jager said he's not "real keen on the idea" of a coroner's inquest. Its
>an old system of investigating an accidental death and costs money far a
>jury, a court reporter and to bring in expert witnesses.
>"Nobody has formally requested it and it's certainly something we'll
>consider," Jager said Tuesday.
>PL spokesliar Mary Bullwinkle said Tuesday that the company's
>investigation is still underway. A video, which Earth Firsters say was
>taken the morning Chain died, captures a man swearing at protesters and
>saying he wished he'd brought his pistol. Earth Firsters claim this was
>a logger, but Bullwinkle said as far as she knows, that wasn't the voice
>of the logger who fell the tree that killed Chain.
>"We still don't know if that is actually one of our loggers," she said.
>It is difficult to identify anyone from the video, and Bullwinkle said
>she doesn't know if the video was authentic and filmed when Earth First
>said it was.
>"I think that we need to wait and see what the investigation results
>are," she said.
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644
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