Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PART THREE: The Late, Great Toe Stepping Trial Of The Century! Alfred Flowers vs. Don Samuels!

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

Some adult language included. Some elements of parody included. Be warned.

So after the first day of testimony concluded, see Part Two, I wrote something on my blog that night about jury selection in the trial. A troll came along and commented, as trolls are wont to do, telling me I should expect a subpoena if I showed up in court the next day, click here for that conversation, see comments.

The subpoena never happened, of course, though it would have been an honor to do my civic duty and take the stand, if asked. I was only late for the second day of court because of a prior appointment. (Parody begins here) So I missed the testimony of my fraternal twin half-brother Ben Myers, who reportedly got up on the stand and tried to say he (Brother Ben) could see Don Samuels' foot come down and step on the foot of Al Flowers.

Lies And The Lying Lie-Bags Who Tell Them

For the record, our Mama Sweetums calls Ben "the world's worst liar" but, normally, she only gets boiling mad for a day or two about stuff Ben does like lying about whether he paid any taxes on her trailer house. Yet, for some reason, Mama Sweetums seems to think "lying under oath" is the most serious of sins, something you'll never get forgiven for, unlike, for example, getting liquored up and murdering a neighbor in drunken mutual combat while jacked up on Original Formula Nyquil and vodka. The jury said "mutual combat." I'm talking GRAND jury, here, Mama was never even put on trial for that incident, no thanks to Ben Myers who said he'd be Mama's attorney but then never showed up in court because he claimed to have lost his watch, which turned up at a strip club, turned over by an honest stripper, who would have thought?

In any case...Mama has a weird thing about lying under oath and how God will forgive anything but THAT. So when she found out what Ben did on the stand, our Mama wasn't angry. No, she began crying and keening in a loud voice, saying Ben was "dead to God" and she herself would be harshly judged for failing to protect his mortal soul as a mother should. She even blamed me for not being in court that day, like I could have just...

...jumped right up and said, "Ben, don't lie! GOD IS WATCHING!"

What am I supposed to do now, dear reader? Should I tell Mama Sweetums that people can be genuinely wrong about reality, convince themselves something is the truth when it's not, and testify accordingly? Therefore their souls are not in danger, for they are merely DELUDED, not purposefully lying under oath?

Or should I say, "You're right, Ben'll be taking that long dark train to hell, alright. Does this mean you're going to give me his half of the trailer when you die?"

On the one hand, I sure want to get one over on Ben...but this really hurts our mother. So I'm put in the position of having to make elaborate excuses for Ben to spare the feelings of Mama Sweetums. But between you, me, God and the internet, I can be completely honest: Ben is a big fat liar and the jury saw right through him.

(End of parody font except, well, that last sentence was transitional between the parody world and reality)

And so I missed the testimony of Ben Myers, but I walked into court in time to see and hear Alfred Flowers talking about his precious feelings. His feelings, that is to say, about Don Samuels.

Al Flowers Talks About His Feelings...And His Toenails, Or Lack Of (Ewwww)

Don Samuels, said Flowers, doesn't represent African Americans. Samuels is JAMAICAN, said Flowers, in an accusing tone.

I snuck a glance at the jury to see if any of this was flying with jurors like Mr. Martinson.

No, it really wasn't flying.

Returning to the subject of his feelings, Flowers said he was distressed after the press conference that he couldn't "be in there and advocate." He had to "pull back" and figure out what he could do.

By "pull back," I presume Flowers may have meant look over his shoulder and wonder if he would be arrested for shoving a city councilman, until he managed to file a lawsuit a few days later as a preemptive political defense, so he could have characterized any arrest as retaliation.

Flowers talked about "pain in his heart." Flowers said his wife wasn't in favor of him doing "political stuff" anyway, because there is a fear of "what can happen to me."

Clark asked: When you saw Don that day, in what capacity did you see him? Flowers saw Don as a city council member. (All the more frightening, one might note, since Al Flowers SHOVED DON SAMUELS IN THE BACK. What would have happened if Flowers DID NOT see Don as a public official at that moment?)

Clark asked: Prior to that day, did you feel like a strong advocate? Answer: I KNEW I was a strong advocate for the community.

Clark: Were you aware of other ways to complain about Don Samuels? Filing stuff? Why did you file a lawsuit?

Flowers said: Because the Civil Rights Department, CPED, they are all run by the city. They will shut you down.

Flowers said he knew the police were coming and what he said was "Tell the truth. Tell what you did, Don."

Actually, what the "Dottie Titus Tape With Audio" shows, at about 12 minutes, 10 seconds, is Al Flowers saying "No you...you pushed me, don't, don't tell no lie. No, you better quit lying. You backed--you ain't got no bidness--you backed into me. You elbowed me."

As soon as the police were done talking to the council member, Flowers said, they (the police) "came and got me." The police said they were doing this to Flowers because of Don's "status."

Asked about a picture of himself holding up a fist, Flowers said he was saying "Black power!" in the picture. By this he meant, "We kill each other because we never come together. While millions of dollars come in we--"

Objection from the City Attorney, James Moore. The objection was sustained, Flowers answer struck as non-responsive. The jury was told to disregard what Flowers said. Chalk another one up for the defense.

Flowers felt what Samuels did was "intentional," not "accidental."

I Have Problems...That's Personal

James Moore stood some distance away from Al Flowers to cross examine him.

"As soon as you came in," Moore asked, "You began YELLING?"

You could characterize it that way, Flowers agreed, though he'd presented witnesses who'd tried so hard to downplay that aspect, and his attorney had gone on about, oh gee, MICROPHONE PLACEMENT. "I talk loud."

Moore pointed out how Flowers was not really "asking questions" but was shouting a REPEATED STATEMENT. Moore asked Flowers about the statement "I live in Jordan." You didn't really live in Jordan, did you?

Well, Flowers replied, I have a friend who lives in Jordan...I thought I was going to be living with that friend...I have problems. That's personal.

Quote marks, back there. "I have problems. That's personal."

Then, in an amazing statement of madness and hubris, Flowers explained: I thought I was going to run the Fifth Ward city council and I was going to live in Jordan."

This is why he's the Mayor of Crazy Town and, no, I'm not writing in the parody font.

"I was STAYING with somebody," Flowers explained, about his Fifth Ward residency qualifications.

Taking Flowers' mad desire for power for what it was worth, building on it, Moore said: "He (Samuels) was in your way, and that made you MAD, didn't it?"

One can't help but think of John W. Hinckley, Jr., who thought he was going to shoot President Ronald Reagan and live in the White House with actress Jodie Foster. It's a mad dream but, damn it, a man's got to have a dream. Al Flowers thought he was going to replace Don Samuels and run the Fifth Ward. Only in a world where gasoline is used as currency and warlords build a city fueled by pig excrement could something like that happen.

Why, Moore asked, are you yelling "Don't get in my way." Moore asked about the statement "You better go ahead...you better go somewhere." And "Don't get in front of me...tell Don don't get in front of me" and "Don't step in. I got a right to speak."

Moore asked, gently but firmly, "He never raised a hand to you, did he?"

Flowers began talking about aggressive backing up and toe stepping.

Moore pointed out how, after the incident, Flowers wasn't chilled in his free speech. He kept speaking out. Heck, Flowers ran for MAYOR.

After getting what he needed from Flowers, Moore appeared to decide it was time to let Flowers just show off the way Flowers' mind works for the jury. Even though Flowers' answers didn't always seem responsive, Moore kept letting Flowers talk himself into a hole in the ground. Moore asked about whether Flowers had other means to speak to Michael Browne besides shouting him down, and Flowers would go into a rant about stimulus dollars or whatever. Flowers alluded to a "prior relationship" with Browne, and actually said after Browne was "ousted from City Hall," Browne stopped working for "the people" and their civil rights. However, after Browne "did this thing" with the neighborhood association, Browne was "back in good" with the city and made his way back to City Hall.

The city, Flowers said, has taken over all the community organizations and they are no longer run by the community.

And so it was inside the bubble of madness which is the mind of Al Flowers: inside the bubble you don't realize it is madness, but you think it is reality. Real reality is very unpleasant: your mayoral campaign doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell and you are not a hero to the community, but a laughingstock. People like Michael Browne and Don Samuels, these are the heroes of the community and you, Al Flowers, are a loud scary buffoon.

The community will not rise up and throw off Don Samuels, as you think inside your bubble of un-reality, an un-reality supported by unrealistic peers and friends such as Zack Metoyer and Farheen Hakeem. No, rather, the community will reelect Don Samuels again and again.

Worst of all, there is no deep dark conspiracy by the city against "the people" whose champion you purport to be. Indeed, the city is desperately trying to help "the people" have quality schools, decent housing, safe streets. Al Flowers, your shouts of "black power" are an anachronism, like spraying DDT to get rid of mosquitoes is an anachronism.

In the post-Obama for president world, "black power" is already here, and it is embodied by individuals like Michael Browne and Don Samuels. White neighbors go to the polls and, along with black neighbors, Asian neighbors, bi-racial neighbors, our colors don't even MATTER neighbors but we vote for Don Samuels at the polls. We punch out the little paper chad and we vote for BLACK POWER but we don't really think of it that way, we simply vote for the content of character.

You, Al Flowers, are not the champion of the people. In fact, you are in the way of the people.

Al, you said it yourself: I HAVE PROBLEMS.

Al, go work on your personal problems where you live in South Minneapolis and stay out of the problems of North Minneapolis.

It was time for a break for the jury. After the break, one of the court aides fetched the attorneys with the words "Let's roll."

Al Flowers came to the stand and there was a shift in his testimony, which was rather notable. Suddenly, Flowers was much more willing to talk about his FEELINGS, how deeply he had been hurt by the alleged assault (emotional damages, ka-ching!!!!) and Flowers even discussed the intimate details of his toes. Flowers alleged he possesses no nails on his big toes and was in "immediate pain" because Don Samuels was on his toes.

Furthermore, Al Flowers talked about having a FLARING ULCER which flares up if he has stress. The ulcer is so bad it has stopped him from drinking and he can't eat certain foods. After "the incident" Flowers' ulcer flared up and he stayed home for a while. Don Samuels is to blame for Al Flowers' flaring ulcer. Flowers said he wouldn't go anyplace where he knew Samuels would be, until resolving the court issue.

Compare this testimony with this video, click here.

At this point the plaintiff "provisionally rested."

An Amazing Parade Of Defense Witnesses Rapidly Hit The Stand

James Moore seemed determined to present all his witnesses that second day and let the jury go deliberate. Though Moore could have taken a great deal more time, there was really no need. The plaintiff's case was bogus and videotapes had captured key evidence.

First to the stand was council president Barbara Johnson, first elected in 1997, the year my 13-year-old son was born. The jury seemed to sit up a bit: Johnson was a powerful woman, and a couple of the jurors were from Minneapolis. She was their council president, too.

Part of the Jordan Neighborhood is Johnson's ward. Johnson provided an explanation of how a neighborhood association "empowers the neighborhood." She went into some discussion about how, yes indeed, millions of dollars were to be allocated to cities. These dollars would purchase abandoned or foreclosed homes to rehab or demolish. Johnson attended the press conference because of consternation about the elections, and a new board being elected. She wrote a letter of support for the new board because "it was important to recognize the process had taken place...there was a legitimate board."

Johnson personally witnessed Michael Browne interrupted by Flowers "hollering." Browne was unable to speak during some of the hollering. Council Member Don Samuels "stepped in front of Flowers."

Flowers shoved Don Samuels. No physical contact was initiated by Don Samuels. Johnson described herself as "watching closely" as the tense situation unfolded. She saw Samuels pushed forward twice. No, she didn't see what happened with the feet, nor what happened with Al Flowers' hands.

Jordan resident Dave Haddy took the stand. Again and again, Clark tried to shake Haddy's testimony but Haddy was like a pit bull clinging to a bloody leg: Haddy didn't know about any "theory of the defense." Haddy knew what he'd seen: Flowers pushed Samuels. There was enough space between the two men to see Samuels DID NOT step on Flowers' feet, perhaps a full foot of space.

At one point, Haddy pointed out the incident was on videotape. LOOK AT THE TAPE, Haddy urged.

Asked about whether he'd communicated with Don Samuels about the incident, Haddy admitted he had: He'd waved his subpoena in the air and said, "Thanks a lot, Don." Don Samuels lives right across the street from David Haddy. The jury smiled. This is what neighbors talk about in Jordan: not about mowing the lawn, but about the latest subpoena.

Jordan resident Tyrone Jaramillo took the stand: Tyrone ran for the board to help promote transparency and rectify impropriety. Was Flowers yelling? Jaramillo said Flowers was "borderline screaming." Samuels had been "walking calmly," then stepped in front of Flowers, back turned. Jaramillo actually read Samuels' body language to mean, "I don't want a confrontation."

Al Flowers' "Chaotic Trance" Caught On Videotape

(Please note: Megan Goodmundson is the girlfriend of the author of this blog post)

Jordan resident Megan Goodmundson took the stand. The jury was likely to see Megan as a key player in this incident, in three different ways: after the police dragged out Al Flowers, Megan had gotten the floor of the press conference and addressed issues at length on the "Dottie Titus video." Goodmundson had also been heard chanting "shut up, Al" as Flowers continued his extended rant at Michael Browne. Most important, Goodmundson had shot the silent videotape which showed--more clearly than any other piece of evidence--the shoving by Al Flowers and the period of time when the alleged "toe stepping" took place.

Plaintiff attorney Clark appears to have a special hard, dark place in her heart for Goodmundson. Indeed, Goodmundson had been somewhere near the center of the previous Flowers case regarding the cancellation of the cable access show. It was 12:15 PM, approximately, when Clark said "Good morning." It wasn't morning. After thinking about it for a second, and wondering if Clark was going to follow up with a question, Goodmundson agreeably said, "Good morning."

The whole thing was just...awkward. But at least Clark was making a show of civility unlike her uncouth client, who would later growl that I'd been "waiting to suck Don Samuels' dick" as I came out of the men's room into the hallway next to the court room.

Goodmundson testified she had first become involved in the neighborhood association in October of 2002, right when she moved into the neighborhood. In early 2003, she served 2 and a half years on the board, but continued to volunteer afterward. For a few years she helped with the annual elections. In 2008, she helped with the nominations committee after the first committee "didn't fulfill their obligations." (This was apparently Goodmundson's polite way of saying "dropped the ball.")

Yes, she'd helped on the Don Samuels campaign for city council. Guilty as charged.

Goodmundson wanted to be at the JACC press conference to "see neighbors who had been elected, and hear what they had to say." When Flowers arrived, he made a grand entrance, announcing he'd "arrived in Jordan" and had a house. Flowers went around greeting people at JACC headquarters.

Goodmundson had a camera with her that day. It was brand new, a gift from her parents. She had never used the video setting on the camera before. This was the first time she'd shot video, and she assumed the camera recorded video AND sound.

Why did Goodmundson shoot the video? Because Al Flowers was shouting loudly and "I had a camera in my hand, I thought I might as well use it." There was "contention" and here was Flowers shouting loudly. Goodmundson demonstrated how she held the camera above her head to get a good view. A still photo showed Goodmundson's hand, holding up the camera. Jill Clark's tone remained unconvinced: there had to be a conspiracy to record Al Flowers at angles which didn't show his feet!

Why did Goodmundson chant "Shut up, Al?" It was because Al Flowers seemed to be in a "chaotic trance" and she was trying to "snap him back to reality." Al was disrupting the proceedings. Even after Flowers was quiet or, one should say, LESS NOISY, Flowers still "made no effort to be quiet." At one point, Flowers loudly answered his cell phone and rudely talked while Browne was trying to give his statement.

In regard to the lawsuit, Goodmundson said she still couldn't believe it: Flowers shoved Samuels for no good reason, and then filed a lawsuit. Sometimes Goodmundson wakes up and finds it hard to believe "This is reality."

Clark ended with an odd question which didn't seem to fit anywhere: Do you feel there are people who, if behavior passes a certain boundary, think it is better to call the police than engage in self-help?

Sure, Megan agreed some people think it's better to call 911.

Later, I wondered what the question meant: were people supposed to enable Al Flowers, cover for him, endure his scary fits of temper and NOT CALL THE POLICE because the officers would oppress Flowers? We should all just endure Flowers because, really, calling the police is WORSE?

Is Al Flowers A Broken Man?

During the trial, I watched the body language of Al Flowers. He seemed unhappy and nervous. Though Flowers was the plaintiff, it seemed like there were times Flowers was actually the one on trial. One witness after another testified about how they really, really didn't approve of Flowers' behavior, for real, and poor Al Flowers just had to sit and hear the harsh criticism. The 911 tapes were the worst: Flowers shouting like a lunatic in the background as Vladimir Monroe called for police. And then three other people called the police.

Another thing I thought was interesting: I never saw Al Flowers write a note to his attorney, nor point to any written material at the plaintiff's table. In my observation, clients write notes for their attorneys. Clients point to some meaningful words in some document. I didn't see Flowers do that. For Flowers, words all appear to be verbal. The written word doesn't enter into the picture as meaningful. As a writer, this strikes me as quite odd.

Al Flowers looked broken and sad, like a race horse with a broken leg. Others who observed Flowers phrased it this way:

Flowers has lost his mojo.

During breaks, both sides retired to separate conference rooms in the vestibule of the court chamber. At one point, I could hear Jill Clark doing a harsh imitation of Megan Goodmundson: "Shut up, Al...shut up, Al." It was all bitterness and bile in the plaintiff's room. But in the defense conference room, on the other side of the vestibule, the joyous sounds of socializing were heard, laughter and conversation. I longed to be in that room, but I had a job to do.

In court chambers, during a break from the "self-inflicted trial of Al Flowers," a sentencing hearing took place, presided over by Judge Schlitz. A Hmong citizen of Canada named Mr. Phan, (spelling unknown) age 32, pled guilty to being in possession of 100,000 pills of MDMA ("ecstasy") with intent to distribute. Phan went to high school and two years of college in Canada. He felt he spoke English just fine, and had no accent, but a Hmong interpreter dutifully sat by, at the ready. A young woman in the back of the court room seemed to be a relative: too far away to be a wife, I was guessing a sister.

It was like, ho hum, a prison sentence handed down in the recess of the toe stepping trial. SOME folks were still involved in real, serious activities.

Out in the hallway, a woman who seemed to be a friend of Jill Clark commented, "What a waste of tax payer dollars."

Yes. Common ground. But perhaps we might disagree on whose FAULT that is.

Before the jury came back in the Al Flowers trial, the judge had a conference in open court with both attorneys. He said the jury will be asked "Whether Samuels took adverse action and whether the action would have chilled a person of ordinary firmness."

If they don't find an assault, the judge said, I may direct a verdict for the city.

"If they don't find an assault," the judge said to Jill Clark, "I don't see how you have a First Amendment claim."

And so it really WAS the great toe stepping trial of the century: the jury may have THOUGHT they were deciding many things, but really it all came down to whether you believe Al Flowers' toes were stepped on.

An Electric Current Goes Through The Jury Box At The Testimony Of Michael "Kip" Browne

Michael Browne took the stand and went through his resume for the jury. The jury appeared impressed. Here was a trial about civil rights and the defense witness was...a civil rights attorney? This was so much more impressive than the third party also-ran plaintiff witness, the oddly-dressed guy from cable access, and (parody font) my dubious semi-sibling Ben Myers, who fancies himself an attorney, but has been known to end up paying money to somebody he sued, click here.

It's not SUPPOSED to work that way, Ben.

(End of parody font)

Browne explained he ran for the JACC board because of the issue of vacant and boarded houses. Browne "wanted to do something about that." Browne finds the distinction of "pro-city" versus "pro-community" to be meaningless labels. The press conference was, in fact, an attempt to bring people together and "heal the rift."

There are issues in the neighborhood. There are serious issues. Besides vacant houses, there are crime issues: drug dealing and prostitution.

At this, it seemed like a slight electric current went through the jury. Several sat up slightly. Their expressions seemed to say: it's THAT bad in your neighborhood? No wonder you are passionate about your neighborhood association. You are fighting for your lives. OK, this is actually serious. I need to really pay attention, here, because this is SERIOUS.

Why did Samuels stand in front of Al Flowers as Flowers tried to shout down Michael Browne, the man so passionate about his neighborhood and doing something about the drugs, the prostitution? Browne said Council Member Samuels seemed to be offering up his body "like a human shield" so Flowers would be "screaming at the back of his (Samuels') head."

At this point, Jill Clark asked city attorney James Moore to stand up and help her with a demonstration. Many attorneys would have objected at that point but Moore was all, like, WHATEVER. Clark poised Moore between herself and Browne on the stand. Then Clark shouted at that back of Moore's head: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Clark also waved her arms.

See? Clark said. It doesn't work. You can still hear me.

In my opinion, the demonstration backfired. In fact, it demonstrated how meaningful it was to stand in front of somebody and shield somebody else from rude shouting. Nobody ever said Al Flowers couldn't be heard just because Samuels was standing in front of him, nor that he couldn't be seen. The demonstration tended only to show the plaintiff was being ridiculous by insisting an assault happened by somebody standing with their back turned, and such an assault was the whole intent of standing with the back turned.

City Attorney James Moore asked Browne how he got his current job with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. Browne answered he moved with his boss, basically, to run stuff.

Any aggressive physical action by Don Samuels toward Al Flowers? No, there wasn't.

Mayoral Aide Sherman Patterson testified. Again, the jury sat up respectfully. The witnesses brought by the defense were powerful people, not losers and malcontents. Witnesses were hitting the stand like soldiers hitting a beach in rapid-fire succession, actually being prepped for launch by a paralegal in the defense conference room. Here was Patterson, an important aide to the mayor, but his testimony didn't even last long. It was one witness after another, bang bang bang.

John George "PJ" Hubbard hit the stand. The judge wanted to know where "PJ" came from. PJ explained he got his nickname "from growing up." PJ Hubbard had a clear recollection of the Farheen Hakeem conversation: she was being very animated "as if somebody was doing something to her" and PJ thought, "Are you fo' real?" (Parody font:) No, she answered, I'm Far Heen." (End of parody font)

Robert Hodson took the stand and said he ran for the board because of questions about the finances of the organization. It was "suggested he run with an idea to get an idea about the finances." He was interested in the FINANCES, not so much the community issues. It was, for him, like an "academic exercise." If anything, Hodson would call himself "anti-city" because he is in frequent disagreement with city policies.

Hodson was at the center of a long moment of testimony drama, since Hodson was the only witness who called 911. The 911 tapes were introduced as evidence as Hodson sat on the stand.

The 911 tapes were categorized by name of operator (who knew?) and the time and date. Attorney Moore wanted the jury to be clear on this: the names of the files visible on the computer were the names of operators, not callers.

Hodson testified he'd called 911, but then hung up because he was "told others had dialed 911." The operator actually called him back.

The first 911 tape was Vladimir Monroe, who must have been quite near Al Flowers. Al Flowers' shouted words can be heard so clearly the listener can figure out where in time, precisely, the 911 call fits with the video tape that has audio. Listening to the call, one can't help but be reminded of dramatic television programs where somebody is calling 911 and, in the background, one can hear the sounds of the emergency which caused the dialer to summon police: the drunken, armed man...the domestic beating...the lunatic making crazed demands.

Even knowing how things turned out, one still subjectively half-expects Vladimir to be violently confronted on the audio tape, the phone wrestled from his hand, the line going dead with an electronic shriek.

The next 911 call was Anne McCandless saying, "Al Flowers is going off on Don Samuels" and "Al just SHOVED Don Samuels." McCandless pointed out she was a retired Minneapolis police sergeant and, in fact, requested a specific officer to be sent BY NAME. The 911 operator pleaded, "Let me do my job."

The next call was a 911 hang-up.

"Could that have been you?" Moore asked Hodson. Could have been, Hodson agreed.

The audio tape then records the operator calling Hodson back. The operator is very focused on whether weapons are visible.

"It's Al Flowers, so who knows what he carries?" answers Hodson, who points out, "They haven't come to blows, yet."

At one point, the operator has a disbelieving tone. This is happening at the neighborhood association office? The council member is right in the middle of it?

"NEVER A DULL MOMENT!" Hodson exclaims, cheerfully.

Jill Clark asked, "Did you know whether Don Samuels had a weapon on him that day?" Hodson answers no, he did not know.

But, Clark pressed, the operator didn't ask you THAT?

No, Hodson had to agree, the operator did not.

And there you have it. The conspiracy. The smoking gun.

The last call was an unknown female. It was brief, because squads were on the way.

One Guy Goes To The Bathroom, EVERYBODY Goes To The Bathroom

Dan Rother was the next witness, but he'd stepped out to the men's room. So the judge decided it was a good time for everybody to take a break. When Rother testified, he said he was recruited by the JACC Executive Director, Jerry Moore, to run for the board. Rother described Flowers as "very vocal and wouldn't wait his turn." Rother clearly saw Al Flowers' hands come up and shove Don Samuels.

Clark had no questions for Rother. Rother got off easy.

Don Samuels Can't Stand "Disorder And Disrespect"

Don Samuels took the stand again. His duties, he said, are to make policy and to tweak policy, to address livability issues, and constituency concerns. He tries to assure access to city government. Though his political career arguably started on the Jordan neighborhood council, he is forced to "distance himself somewhat" to avoid "the perception of undue influence." He respects the grassroots neighborhood process and doesn't want to "contaminate the purity" of the process.

Samuels went to the press conference to "witness and be seen as involved in the neighborhood's work."

Yes, at one time Samuels had been hoping to set up an office in the JACC headquarters. When Don Samuels tries to meet with people in the neighborhood at the Bean Scene, all his appointments "get interrupted ten times" by somebody coming in to talk. But the old board didn't give him an office and, the way things ended up, neither did the new board.

Oh, well.

Don Samuels testified he "can't stand disorder and disrespect." On the day in question, Flowers was "persistently and unnervingly loud."

Clark stopped the proceedings for a sidebar conference. The proceedings continued after the sidebar. What was THAT all about, I wondered?

Why, Moore asked, did Samuels make his GESTURE of physically standing in front of Al Flowers as Flowers shouted down Michael Browne?

Because, Don Samuels answered, he wanted to "create a sense of confidence that there was leadership which disapproved of the disturbance" and "we weren't all just sitting down subject to a RANT" and "there had to be a response that this was not OK, this disorder."

Samuels explained, "I was careful and thoughtful about what I was doing. So I approached with my arms folded. I walked in front and stood with my back to him. It was a symbolic gesture that said we are having a meeting in this circle."

Moore asked about the conversation with Farheen Hakeem. Samuels said "Farheen approached me. I don't know her well. She was expressing her disapproval of me. I said, you ran for political office and you were a promising young lady. And now you align yourself with marginal people, with craziness. This is not good."

Moore asked about whether Samuels could order the police to do his bidding. Samuels answered, "In my relationship with the police, they tend to tell ME what to do." He described an incident where he was caught speeding because his daughter had to go to the bathroom very badly. A cop pulled him over and gave him a ticket. The daughter just had to wait. Samuels denied getting special treatment from the police.

Clark questioned Don Samuels about the conversation with Farheen. Samuels said of Farheen, "She is aligning herself with violence."

"Violence, sir?!" Clark exclaimed.

"Violence," Samuels said, calm and even.

I waited for the line of questioning to continue. What violence is Farheen aligning herself with? That was the obvious question. The obvious question didn't come. Clark moved to a different topic.

Was it out of order, Clark asked, what you said to Farheen?

Samuels didn't think it was out of order.

Did you tell Farheen that Flowers was CRAZY? Clark asked.

Yes, Samuels replied, calmly.

However, Samuels said, he doesn't DISLIKE Flowers. Samuels face seemed to say, "I actually feel sorry for Al."

"What was meant by leadership when you stood in front of Flowers?" Clark asked, and I could see the "color of law" argument being built: Samuels did what he did as a council member, not a private individual. Samuels said he hoped somebody would "take leadership." He was trying to support somebody "taking leadership."

Clark didn't seem to like the "symbolic gesture" line of reasoning AT ALL. What is more powerful against a "chilled my free speech" case than the response, "No, I didn't, I just used free speech right back"? Clark pointed out Samuels had not written any emails talking about the "symbolic stance."

"I didn't need to," Samuels said, and appeared to shrug. "Everybody understood it." Furthermore, right after the incident happened it was "posted on YouTube."

Samuels explained he has "often put (himself) passively in harm's way." He has led the community this way. And, really, he'd be glad to provide examples.

I leaned forward, hoping Don would talk about the time he told a drug dealer to leave his neighborhood, while holding his baby daughter in his arms. Clark wanted none of THAT, however. What, she asked, did Samuels think the police would do when they showed up?

Samuels thought the police would "come...and stand there and do nothing." He had seen it happen before.

And so that day of testimony wrapped up. The jury would have to return the next day, November 11, to deliberate in a closed courthouse.


Anonymous said...

Great coverage--it's almost like being there!! THANK YOU, JNS!!

Johnny Northside said...

Oh, you wouldn't want to be there. It's quite uncomfortable in the men's room.

JNS Reader said...

Agreed. Nice work, Johnny. I'm not getting any work done this morning!

Anonymous said...

Hey didn't this person used to post comments here?


Johnny Northside! said...

No. Those are different people.

Kevin said...

Are you sure? The name is VERY similar.

Johnny Northside! said...

I'm sure. I know who the other person is and it's NOT the rapper.

General Disarray said...

Ignorance is bliss! I am not the rapper nor am I a MAN. I changed my name due to his death. I like this name better anyways... Or are you going to ask me if I'm the little ginger companion of professor chaos on south park?

Commander Digre said...

Actually, General, I just assumed you were another of John Hoff's many made-up characters that he uses to post comments so it looks like people actually read his blog.

Johnny Northside said...

Said the troll who has made up about two dozen different identities.

I never make up identities to comment. Frankly, I barely have time to keep up with the POSTS so what do I care about increasing the comments? We get plenty of comments, plenty of traffic and, well, plenty of trolls...who must now behave themselves, or their remarks just won't be published.

Kevin said...

I still don't get it. The previous commenter stops the rapper dies. I can put two and two together. What are you trying to hide?

Anonymous said...

I just saw this. I think this may be the same person. Otherwise why would the paper keep bringing it up?


Johnny Northside! said...

It's NOT the same person.

Also, one troll comment rejected.