Lloyd K. Marbet
19142 SE Bakers Ferry Road - Boring, OR 97009-9158 - Phone: (503) 637-3549, Fax: (503) 637-6130
Sent by email on 10/22/04
Dear Friends and Fellow Activists,
We are brought together by the pain and suffering visited upon us by those whose duty it was, above all, to protect our rights, not trample on them. In response to this we have endured the frustration of dealing with a negotiation process that we had hoped would bring us protections great enough to act as a deterrent from this happening again and not only to us but to all those oppressed who seek to raise their voices against injustice and war.
I respect the skills of our attorneys and I have attempted to follow the twists and turns that we have gone through in an effort to craft a settlement agreement. Two meetings ago we had determined, jointly as plaintiffs, that we had a final offer to be made to the defendants, which if rejected would lead to the litigation of this case. That offer consisted of two choices. The City of Portland could either enter into a settlement agreement that provided some level of protection for the first amendment rights of protestors, combined with a financial payment for the pain and suffering of the plaintiffs, along with attorney fees and costs, or it could increase the level of financial payment to the plaintiffs, along with attorney fees and costs, and offer us an apology which is the form of an admission of guilt. Again if both of these alternatives were rejected we agreed we would litigate.
Now comes the final temptation. The defendants will not agree to the minimal level of protections that we have offered to settle with them on, including changes reflecting their own concerns, and in the alternative they will not apologize for what they have done. They will pay us money, and ironically it is not even their money, it is money belonging to all of the taxpayers of Portland. Money that will be taken away from a city struggling to fund many social programs that we support.
I write this very early in the morning after awakening and reflecting on what transpired in our last meeting. I think to myself, was it right for me to stand in the path of what seems to be a joint agreement from all those concerned, including the lawyers who have put their personal resources on the line. I anguish over whether what is achieved here might not offer some protection and at the same time help with financial difficulties of my own. All it requires is that I accept the final offer of the city which says loudly and clearly that they are not interested in protecting first amendment rights; what they are really interested in is protecting their right to act with violence if they deem it necessary as well as to be able to promote in rank those who perform this violence on their behalf, regardless of their racist background and violent excesses. All it requires is that I abandon my original goal and put a dollar sign on my suffering, and as it has been pointed out I was only pepper sprayed and have, as of yet, no known long term physical impairment.
I have never forgotten the experience I went through when the police hit me with their stream of chemical agents. At one point I was having great difficulty breathing and the thought occurred to me, while flailing around blinded and in pain, that I might actually die from what was happening, and how ironic it was since I had committed no violence whatsoever towards anyone. It has been even more difficult for me to witness what happened to some of you when replaying the videotapes. There is no amount of money which can pay me enough to go through it again, and I am unwilling to accept the last temptation of the city which merely amounts to business as usual and the insult of allowing them to buy me off.
I came to our last meeting greatly troubled by this turn of events. In my struggle to address this I thought of an alternative approach that I could live with but I find that even that approach apparently challenges the wishes of everyone involved. Even with the contributions that we have been asked to make to the Constitutional Rights Center, I am not convinced it will ever be enough. Those who come after us will also face the same kind of financial problems, both attorneys and plaintiffs, and I have found that there never seems to be enough money to cover the injustices in this world. I have also entered into settlements before but never regarding this level of violence or challenge to our constitutional rights, and I would rather litigate than give in to what they have done to us and what they are now on the verge of accomplishing in its aftermath. I refuse to be a number on their ledger sheet, but I am only one plaintiff and I do not wish to be an obstacle to the desires of the rest of you, as well as the endless equations of what we might or might not succeed in accomplishing if we do this. I am willing to withdraw from this case and stand aside so that you all can move forward but I cannot accept this settlement.