Politics

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Largest March in Eureka History

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 4:44 PM

Marchers turn onto Third Street. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Marchers turn onto Third Street.


Thousands of people turned out to Eureka's waterfront this afternoon in what event organizer Nancy Stephenson has said was the largest march in the city's history. The Eureka Women's March, held in solidarity with other Women's Marches around the world, began at Fisherman's Plaza at First and C. Due to start at 1 p.m., by noon the plaza had already filled, and Old Town sidewalks were packed with hundreds protesters waving signs, many wearing the signature pink "pussy ear" knit caps that have become a symbol of protest against President Donald Trump's admission to grabbing women's genitals without their consent.

The signs in the crowd reflected a diverse spectrum of concerns regarding Trump's platform. Many reiterated their solidarity with women and advocated for reproductive rights. Others expressed their support for LGBTQ, immigrant and environmental rights.

"Hey, ho, the pussy-grabber must go," chanted one contingent.

"Donald Trump eats pizza with a fork," read another sign.

Protesters found creative ways to resist the elements. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Protesters found creative ways to resist the elements.
Peggy and Rachel Grossman, a mother and daughter, waited in a line that spilled out the door of Ramone's Cafe before the march, holding umbrellas and protest signs. Rachel, a College of the Redwoods student who voted for the first time in this election, said she came out to support other women and to be with her mother.

"We're standing in solidarity and supporting women," said Peggy Grossman. "We are standing up for other minority groups as well."

"It's important to show that there are people who have respect and kindness," added their friend Lu Hicks.

A driving rain sent some people under tents at the plaza, but it had ceased by the time the speakers began. A diverse group of men and women spoke briefly about their concerns for the administration, calling for unity and offering suggestions on how to organize under the new administration.

Cheryl Seidner of the Wiyot Tribe led the crowd in a moment of silence and prayer.

Dr. Wendy Ring encouraged people to take action and ask their local governments to become sanctuary cities and to implement strong climate action plans.

Terry Uyeki, one of the march's organizers, recalled her grandparents' experiences in Japanese internment camps and called for attendees to stand in solidarity with Muslims and immigrants.

Songs performed by Joanne Rand and the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir earned loud applause, as did a poem read by Sue Lee Lawson, inviting people to "come walk in the rain with me."

A large crowd at Fisherman's Plaza. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A large crowd at Fisherman's Plaza.

The crowd was so large that, once the march began it bottlenecked as people followed a marching band along the waterfront. A large section of the crowd split off and went down First street, where they reunited and filled F Street, turning north on Third, turning around to return to the plaza. The mood was largely positive and the crowd was filled with families, couples and dogs.

An hour after the Women's March ended a separate splinter protest by a local anarchist group blocked traffic at Fourth and H Streets. Several arrests were made.
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Silent People in Black Protest on Arcata Plaza

Posted By and on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 2:32 PM

MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
Several dozen protesters joined the People in Black Inaugural Day Vigil on the Arcata Plaza this morning. They held signs or simply expressed their First Amendment rights with their silent presence as they gathered at the same time as the inauguration. Their goal was to share their concerns about and objections to the incoming administration.

Another, noisier, protest was held in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka, with protesters making speeches and knocking down a symbolic wall.

Slideshow
People in Black Vigil on Arcata Plaza
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People in Black Vigil on Arcata Plaza

Mark Larson attended a silent Inauguration Day vigil on the Arcata Plaza.



By Mark Larson

Click to View 12 slides


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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Huffman to Skip Trump's Inauguration

Posted By on Sat, Jan 7, 2017 at 3:34 PM

Huffman
  • Huffman
The Huff has decided to sit this one out.

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman announced on his Facebook page this afternoon that after much consideration, he’s going to break with precedent and spend inauguration day in his district volunteering.

“Ordinarily, on Inauguration Day, I would take my place above the west steps of the Capitol and join colleagues and dignitaries in honoring a great and solemn American tradition: the peaceful transfer of power which must always transcend partisan differences,” Huffman wrote. “However, there is nothing ordinary about this inauguration or the man that will be sworn-in as our next president. I do accept the election results and support the peaceful transfer of power, but it is abundantly clear to me that with Donald Trump as our president, the United States is entering a dark and very dangerous political chapter. … I will not sit passively and politely applaud as it begins."

Instead, Huffman has decided to spend Jan. 20 in his Second Congressional District doing yet-to-be specified “positive things,” including some volunteer efforts that constituents can join him in.

Huffman's decision has thus far proved popular with his constituents. Within a couple of hours, the post had garnered more than 160 comments, almost all of which were positive and supportive. Stay tuned to Huffman’s Facebook page to get more details as they’re announced and check out his full post copied below.

The full post from Huffman’s Facebook page:

I have struggled with the issue of whether to attend the Presidential Inauguration on January 20th and here is my decision.
Ordinarily, on Inauguration Day I would take my place above the west steps of the Capitol and join colleagues and dignitaries in honoring a great and solemn American tradition: the peaceful transfer of power which must always transcend partisan differences.
Ordinarily, I would do that without hesitation for any President, regardless of their politics or personality, as a show of respect for the institution and the will of the voters — and as a gesture of goodwill to foster reconciliation and collaboration as we put the election behind us and prepare to work with the new administration.
However, there is nothing ordinary about this inauguration or the man that will be sworn-in as our next President. I do accept the election results and support the peaceful transfer of power, but it is abundantly clear to me that with Donald Trump as our President, the United States is entering a dark and very dangerous political chapter. I will do everything I can to limit the damage and the duration of this chapter, and I believe we can get through it. But I will not sit passively and politely applaud as it begins.
As much as we all hope for the best, we should be clear-eyed about the warning signs of exactly who Donald Trump is and what he will attempt to do as our President. We know, or at least should know, what is coming. The question is, what to do about it?
I believe the antidote to Donald Trump is kindness, thoughtfulness, tolerance and inclusion — and the way to defeat his dark political agenda is not to sit around complaining and criticizing; it is through active citizenship, principled resistance and positive counteraction.
Toward that end, I'll be spending Inauguration Day here in my district doing positive things. I invite you to join me. I will announce my specific plans and agenda in a few days, including some volunteer activities that you can participate in if you wish. Stay tuned for the details, and thanks for reading all the way to the end of this long Facebook post!


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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sometimes Voters Just Sit a Race Out

Posted By on Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 9:24 AM

FILE
  • File
While the latest round of Humboldt County election results didn't change any outcomes, the numbers do reveal some interesting tidbits about the races voters chose to sit out.

Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders said in an email to the Journal on Friday that there are “approximately 5,000 ballots left to scan, which includes the provisional ballots.”

The final tally is slated to be certified Tuesday before being sent to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for approval on Dec. 13.

Voter turnout dipped a bit from 2012 with 67.22 percent of registered Humboldt County residents casting their ballots compared to 72.49 percent four years earlier despite one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent history.

Granted, this November’s ballot did pack a heavy punch for those who opted to weigh in on the state’s 17 ballot measures, including such hot-button topics as the death penalty and marijuana legalization, on top of a bevy of local options from city council races to school bonds to tax measures.

However, not all campaign contests are apparently considered equal in voters’ eyes, with several local council races — some contested and some not — bearing the brunt of what’s known as “under votes.”

And, there are a number of reasons why that might happen.

“An under vote occurs when a voter votes for fewer candidates than there are vacancies, or chooses not to vote in a contest,” Sanders said. “Sometimes under votes are used as part of a strategy to strengthen the chances of a particular candidate. Other reasons for an under vote might be that the voter didn’t feel informed about the candidates or contest, or they were dissatisfied with their choices.”

While most under voting occurred in races in which candidates were running unopposed for council seats, which was true in Ferndale, Fortuna and Trinidad as well as Eureka’s Ward 2 seat, there were still some double digit sit outs with challengers at hand.

The five-way Arcata City Council race for three seats saw 8,451 under votes, or 35.56 percent. That’s up from 18.81 percent in a two candidate race for a two-year seat and a 25.41 percent under vote in another five-person race for two four-year seats in 2014.

Back in 2012, the numbers were higher with the under votes at 47.27 percent, but the race had three candidates for three council seats.

Blue Lake, which went the write-in route after originally only receiving one qualified candidate for three open seats, had an under vote rate of 53.60 percent, which could be attributed in part to the fact that three of the four candidates didn’t appear on the ballot.

The under vote rate there was 31.92 percent in 2014, when three candidates ran for two seats, and 46.07 percent in 2012 with three candidates up for three seats.

College of the Redwoods political science professor Ryan Emenaker said part of the reason for the opt-out choices made in Arcata could be the student vote, which might be more focused on national rather than local elections.

Other reasons could include not voting in certain races “out of a sense of duty or lack of knowledge.”
“If someone has the option to vote for school board but they have no children in that local school district and they have never attended the local schools, they may choose not to vote in that race so that their vote does not dilute the votes of those who really care about the outcome,” Emenaker said in an email.

Where voters didn’t skimp on making their voices heard was the presidential race, with only 834 of the 55,771 Humboldt voters who cast ballots — or 1.5 percent — sitting that round out. Another was the question of whether to legalize recreational marijuana, which saw 1,228 voters sit on the sidelines. That didn’t surprise Emenaker.

“I also suspect that Prop. 64 on marijuana brought people out to the polls, but people that came to vote on that one issue may not have cared about (or known much about) other items on the ballot,” he wrote. “I remember hearing reports from poll workers in 2010, when California last voted on marijuana legalization, that many voters indicated to the poll workers that they only came to vote on legalization, and that they didn't realize there were other items (or did not care that there were other items) on the ballot.”

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Huffman Demands Accountability for Treatment of Pipeline Protesters

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Protesters are pepper sprayed while occupying the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. - ROB WILSON
  • Rob wilson
  • Protesters are pepper sprayed while occupying the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman penned a letter to President Barack Obama today requesting an immediate meeting to “demand accountability for (the) alarming treatment of Water Protectors and peaceful demonstrators at the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.”

Huffman, who penned the letter with Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona), also took the opportunity to denounce the Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to close the Oceti Sakowin camp. Both Huffman and Grijalva led 21 members of Congress earlier this month in urging Obama to deescalate tension in the Standing Rock protests. It seems those urgings went unheeded, as circumstances have deteriorated since then with daily reports of violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

From the congressmen: “[H]eadlines of mass injuries, frigid water being sprayed at demonstrators in sub-freezing temperatures, and of rubber bullets and similar anti-riot weapons being fired at peaceful, unarmed civilians, make it clear that this situation is only getting worse.”

See the full press release from Huffman’s office copied below, and their full letter can be seen by clicking here. And for more on the pipeline project and local efforts to combat it, see past Journal coverage here.

Reps. Huffman, Grijalva Demand Accountability for Brutal Law Enforcement Tactics at DAPL

Washington, D.C.- Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today requested an immediate meeting with White House and Department of Justice officials to demand accountability for alarming treatment of Water Protectors and peaceful demonstrators at the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and to denounce the closure of the Oceti Sakowin camp. The lawmakers, who jointly led 21 Members of Congress in urging President Obama to deescalate the tension at Standing Rock in a November 14 letter, noted today that circumstances since then have only deteriorated:

“[H]eadlines of mass injuries, frigid water being sprayed at demonstrators in sub-freezing temperatures, and of rubber bullets and similar anti-riot weapons being fired at peaceful, unarmed civilians, make it clear that this situation is only getting worse.  Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers letter announcing the closure of the Oceti Sakowin camp to demonstrators represents a concerning and disappointing course of action by the federal government.

“We question the plan and reasoning given by the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Oceti Sakowin camp to the Water Protectors. The members of the Standing Rock Sioux and the hundreds of Americans who join them in opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline are constitutionally protected in their right to peaceably assemble.”

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Anger, Song and a Group Hug at Arcata's Anti-Trump Protest

Posted By on Sat, Nov 12, 2016 at 5:28 PM

Julie Shonkwiler, a Humboldt State University senior and psychology major, left, and Brianna Jensen, also a senior and psych major at HSU, held signs during an anti-Trump demonstration at the Arcata Plaza on Friday. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Julie Shonkwiler, a Humboldt State University senior and psychology major, left, and Brianna Jensen, also a senior and psych major at HSU, held signs during an anti-Trump demonstration at the Arcata Plaza on Friday.
More than 200 people gathered Friday afternoon to march from the Humboldt State University Campus down to the Arcata Plaza and back, decrying the election of Donald Trump as the nation's next president.

The protest remained peaceful throughout, as emotional participants chanted, yelled and sang. Once the march reached the Arcata Plaza, participants gathered around the McKinley statue as about a dozen speakers passed around a megaphone and took turns addressing the crowd, denouncing Trump and the American political system, and urging people to engage and make change.

Many of the participants were HSU and Arcata High School students, though a swath of the local non-student community also participated. As the crowd marched toward the Plaza, temporarily halting traffic on H Street, a Trump supporter found himself stranded in his pickup truck as the crowd passed. He applauded the protest and reminded participants that America is a democracy and that Trump will become president Jan. 20, no matter how many "Not My President" signs are waved. Some marchers jeered the man but the march passed without any real confrontation.

Once the protest returned to HSU, organizer Emily Lynn addressed the crowd, saying the protest took her from feeling helpless to empowered. "What I've learned today is that the people really are more powerful than our government," she said.

Local photographer Mark McKenna was on scene throughout the protest, which culminated in a group hug on the HSU campus, and shares the following slideshow. (Check out his photos from Thursday's protest in Eureka here.)

If you feel strongly one way or another about Trump's election, the Journal urges you to participate in our 45 for 45 dialogue, details of which can be found here.

Slideshow
Anti-Trump Protest in Arcata
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Anti-Trump Protest in Arcata


By Mark McKenna

Click to View 17 slides


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Friday, November 11, 2016

45 for 45: A Call for Letters

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 3:21 PM

A pro-Trump counter protester at the Old Town gazebo on Thursday evening. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • A pro-Trump counter protester at the Old Town gazebo on Thursday evening.
Anger. Vindication. Fear. Hope. Despair. A flood of emotion has washed over the country in the wake of Donald J. Trump’s stunning Nov. 8 upset to become the president-elect following one of the most divisive presidential contests in generations. In the face of this historic event, and the turmoil that’s followed, we want to hear from you, Humboldt. Or, more accurately, we want the president-elect to hear from you. So we’re asking readers to send us letters of 45 words or less addressed to the incoming 45th president of the United States. Send submission to letters@northcoastjournal.com by 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 14.
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Eureka's Anti-Trump Protest 'Passionate but Peaceful'

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 1:01 PM

Ernesto Najera holds a sign at Thursday night's protest.
  • Ernesto Najera holds a sign at Thursday night's protest.
A couple hundred people took to the streets of Eureka on Thursday night to decry the election of Donald J. Trump in a protest Police Capt. Steve Watson called "passionate but peaceful."

Protesters gathered at the Old Town Gazebo, marched up to the Humboldt County Courthouse and back over the course of a couple of hours. Watson said that at one point protesters flooded Fifth Street, and there were a couple of near misses with passing vehicles. A total of about seven officers were on hand to help control traffic and make sure things didn't get out of hand, Watson said, adding that there were ultimately no reports of vandalism or assaults. At one point, a few Trump supporters arrived in Old Town for a counter protest, Watson said, which escalated tensions briefly but ultimately led to dialogue between the two groups.

"This is democracy in action and we'll do everything we can — always — to protect people's constitutional rights to assemble and speak their piece," Watson said. "The one thing that we always ask is that they keep it peaceful. It's a passionate issue on both sides. The country is obviously divided and people feel deeply. But if we truly respect the democratic process, there has to be some attempt for unity."

Slideshow
Old Town Trump Protest
Old Town Trump Protest Old Town Trump Protest Old Town Trump Protest Old Town Trump Protest Old Town Trump Protest Old Town Trump Protest Old Town Trump Protest Old Town Trump Protest

Old Town Trump Protest


By Mark McKenna

Click to View 19 slides




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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Aid Worker Kidnapped in Niger Reportedly from McKinleyville

Posted By on Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Jeff Woodke. - REDWOOD COAST SCHOOL OF MISSIONS
  • Redwood Coast School of Missions
  • Jeff Woodke.
2nd UPDATE:
In a statement sent to the Journal, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman indicated he’s working with the State Department to facilitate kidnaped missionary Jeff Woodke’s safe return home.

“My thoughts are with Jeff Woodke and his loved ones during this extremely trying time,” Huffman said of the 55-year-old McKinlyville man who was abducted in West Africa on Friday night. “It is devastating to see my constituent who has spent his life dedicated to humanitarian service be victimized in this way. I am working with State Department officials and will do everything in my power to ensure Jeff’s swift and safe return home.”

1st UPDATE:
Reuters is reporting that Niger Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum has confirmed the identity of the American kidnapped last night as 55-year-old Jeffery Woodke of McKinleyville.

Additionally, Bazoum issued a statement offering some additional detail about the attack, including that an armed man on a motorcycle arrived at Woodke's home in Abalak and opened fire on an armed guard before a Toyota truck returned to abduct Woodke.

"These criminals are now heading towards Mali. Our forces are on their trial," Bazoum says in the statement, according to Reuters.

Read the full report here.

The New York Times also now has a report up, which can be found here.

PREVIOUSLY:
Multiple news reports are identifying the Christian American aid worker kidnapped by armed gunmen in Niger yesterday as a 55-year-old Mckinleyville man.

Britain’s Daily Mail and CBN News, a Christian online reporting outlet, have both identified the man as Jeff Woodke, a Humboldt State University alum who works for the Redwood Coast School of Missions run through Arcata First Baptist Church. According to the Redwood Coast School of Missions website, Woodke has “committed the past 25 years of his life to a ministry he founded in Niger amongst a number of unreached people groups.”

According to multiple accounts, gunmen stormed the home of a longtime American aid worker in the the West African city of Abalak, killed a bodyguard and a local police officer in a shootout and then fled with a kidnapped American toward Mali. CNN reported that witnesses say the worker was forced to strip down to his underwear before being put into a 4x4 vehicle, noting that “such measures are often taken by kidnappers to avoid hostages being tracked.”

CNN further reported that "authorities are taking all necessary measures to locate the American and his abductors, including imposing a heavy military presence between Abalak and the border with Mali, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly."

Radio France Internationale reported the victim had worked in the area since the 1990s with Youth with a Mission, which bills itself as a “global movement of Christians … dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world.” The group reports that it works in more than 1,100 locations spread across 180 countries — including Abalak, Niger — with a staff of more than 18,000.

It’s unclear who is responsible for the kidnapping and the U.S. State Department has so far said publicly only that it is aware of reports of a kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in Niger. Attempts to reach North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman and Arcata First Baptist Church were not immediately successful this morning.

A short bio on Redwood Coast School of Missions indicates missionary work in Niger has been a huge part of his life’s work.

“Jeff’s passion in providing humanitarian aid to those who are amongst the poorest in the world, coupled with his desire to see God’s kingdom advanced in a largely Muslim world has played a large part in the life and ministry of (Arcata First Baptist Church),” the site says.

On her Facebook page, Christian author Cheryl Ford indicated she was a 15-year member of the same Humboldt County church as Woodke and that her family went to Niger under his leadership a couple of times.

“One had to marvel at the man,” she wrote. “My world kind of stopped yesterday over this news.”

Ford also quoted Tracy Rickstrew, who worked at Arcata First Baptist Church and whom Ford identifies as a “former Niger team missionary,” as follows: “Our friend and director when we worked in Niger, Africa was kidnapped yesterday. Please pray for him and his family. I know his heart would not be for his own life, but for God’s glory in all of this. He is tough and his faith is resolute and we know that there is nowhere on earth that he can go where the Spirit of God is not already with him.”

Back in June of 2014, Woodke was a guest speaker at the Arcata First Baptist Church. Watch the video below:


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Huffman's Flag Ban Rises from the Ashes

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 12:54 PM

thinkstockphotos-87763979.jpg
The Department of Veterans' Affairs announced yesterday that it will ban the flying of Confederate flags in national cemeteries. The announcement comes exactly two months after House Republicans voted to remove legislation sponsored by Representative Jared Huffman that would accomplish similar a similar end from a VA appropriations bill. 

The new policy set forth by the VA will not restrict the placement of Confederate flags on individual graves, but it will prohibit the controversial symbol from being flown on flagpoles above cemeteries. Rep. Keith Ellison, who joined Huffman in urging the VA to amend their policy, referred to the Confederate flag as a "symbol of treason" as well as racism.


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