By John Kusumi
In a jury verdict rendered Friday, political activist Charlie Grapski, facing five politically-motivated criminal charges, overcame three and lost on two.
According to the High Springs Herald, a North Florida newspaper:
Grapski was found to be guilty on two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and not guilty on one count of battery on a law enforcement officer, as well as not guilty on one count of trespassing and not guilty on one count of resisting arrest with violence.
The charges against Grapski originated from an Aug. 13, 2007 incident where Grapski went to the Alachua Police Department to pick up several public records and also to file a complaint report against then Alachua Police Chief Robert Jernigan.
While talking to Jernigan just outside the police station’s front doors, Grapski was arrested for trespassing after Jernigan asked Grapski to leave and he refused.
The charges of resisting arrest and battery on law enforcement officers stemmed from the struggle that ensued as police took Grapski inside the building and placed him in a holding cell.
Now, anyone who reads the above excerpt ought to be struck with the immediate question: If he was not guilty of trespassing, then wasn’t the whole thing a false arrest in the first place?
That is a glaring inconsistency that one can pick up just from the face of it, looking at the top line of the story.
This trial is what Charlie Grapski got for not trespassing — for being within his rights as he visited the Alachua Police Station.
My Analysis of the Situation
The result is two convictions rather than five. Things are not as bad as they might have been, but they’re not as good as they should be. The state should have ended its political persecution of Grapski, and Grapski should have been acquitted on all counts.
As I see it, there is a state of limbo that arises from the two unjust guilty convictions. If they can be overturned on appeal, they should be. However, the Governor or somebody should have already said “enough is enough” and given executive clemency.
There is also a sentencing to come. It is a waste of taxpayers’ money to house Grapski in jail. When he is out of jail, Grapski tends to be “the smartest man in the room,” a towering intellect with more college degrees than you can shake a stick at. Society doesn’t fear Grapski, only the corrupt powerful whom he has challenged.
It raises an eyebrow that “the state,” ostensibly in the name of “society,” is run by and for the corrupt powerful. However, that’s a line of discussion that exceeds the scope of this article.
If the sentencing brings jail time for Grapski, a correct next step would be to submit his case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
This is a human rights abuse, occurring in the United States of America, and it is ugly — perhaps one can say ominous — to watch the U.S. establishment behaving in such a way.
And it’s probably myself who will work on that submission to the UN Office in Geneva. (I’ve recently prepared the submission for someone else who is a Chinese dissident. So I’m familiar with the procedure, as “a Geneva case” has recently crossed my desk.) However, there is still the chance — and perhaps a good one — that the prosecution will conclude with no jail time. (Grapski has no prior felony record.)
We can only hope, and it is time to cross our fingers for that.
Another Viewpoint on the Situation
The article at the High Springs Herald, early on Saturday, was displaying a comment by “InvestiGator,” the handle of someone with whom I’m unfamiliar. His or her post said:
Officer Latimer lied when he accused Grapski of kicking his hand. What really happened? Latimer got his finger caught in the hallway door when Barcia and Joy were moving Grapski down the hallway and he tried to open the door. The injury to his finger was an accident. Just because the jury believed the lie doesn’t make it true.
Barcia and Latimer lied when they accused Grapski of “head butting.” Barcia said he was BEHIND Grapski when his head jerked backwards to hit Barcia in the chin, but his buddy Latimer testified that Barcia was IN FRONT of Grapski, and claimed Grapski intentionally moved his head forward to hit Barcia’s chin in an intentional “head butt” attack.
The jury apparently had no problem with this and many other discrepancies, and they decided to give police officers the benefit of the doubt, even though their testimony was contradictory.
Grapski denies that he intentionally hit or kicked anyone during the arrest.
Jernigan and Barcia committed battery against Grapski, not the other way around. The jury was hoodwinked into believing the false testimony of dishonest police officers.
The whole truth will come out.
At the University of Florida, Grapski was the leader of a group, Students for a Better World, who then became a co-founder of the China Support Network and merged SBW into CSN. That was in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and Grapski became a figure familiar to Chinese dissidents and activists as well as Americans.
After study in London, Grapski returned to the United States and assisted the Presidential campaign of Howard Dean (D-VT).
Grapski became a leading activist in the Democracy for America group which is an offshoot or legacy of the Dean campaign.
Only Grapski and Howard Dean himself have given speeches at every one of the DFA yearly confabs since the group’s launch in 2004.
He attempted to run for the Florida State House of Representatives, when he uncovered official misconduct — election rigging — in a local election in Alachua, Florida.
Having crossed the corrupt powerful of Alachua, that led into the shoving match with Alachua authorities. His criminal trial and conviction, chronicled above, is a denoument of that shoving match.
Grapski is familiar to many at the Daily Kos, where activists have posted action alerts to Free Charlie Grapski and to raise donations for his defense fund.
Below are photographs from a street protest in support of Charlie Grapski: