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April 15, 2009 06:19 PM

(Police taser gun video from KVAL)

A police taser gun video shows that a Eugene officer shocked a protester with 50,000 volts once for five seconds and then shocked him again 11 seconds later for another five seconds while the protester lay largely immobile, face down with his thin arms twisted behind his back or pinned under his side.

The police video was shown in stop motion at the trial of Ian Van Ornum today. Police allege Van Ornum slowed traffic at a pesticide rally last May and resisted arrest. Numerous witnesses alleged police brutality at the Broadway and Willamette event.

Eugene Police Officer Judson Warden testified for the prosecution that pesticide protester Van Ornum was “struggling” with officers and “swung his arms” with a handcuff on one wrist that the officer feared could be “used as weapon.”

But defense attorney Laura Fine confronted Warden with video from the officer’s own stun gun. After watching the video, Warden admitted that after the first tasing and a second before the officer tased him again, “it looks like both hands are behind his back.”

The tasings appeared to cause involuntary muscle spasms during their five second durations. “It appears that he’s in pain,” Warden said of his gun video.

Asked about the discrepancy between his earlier sworn testimony and the video from his own gun, Warden said he was “stressed” with menacing protestors during the arrest, “there’s so much going on.” Warden said he was “very scared.”

The three burly police officers at the scene did not draw their automatic handguns. The police guns are capable of emptying a large magazine in seconds. The protesters were unarmed. Testimony at the trial indicated there were as few as a dozen pesticide protesters at the noon rally which officers described as “peaceful” until the taser arrest.

Two other protesters plead guilty to attempted assault of the police while Van Ornum was being tasered on the ground. Van Ornum was not charged with trying to attack police and no police were injured.

Protester Anthony Farley, a former Eagle Scout now studying at the UO, admitted at the trial that he wrongly “pushed” Officer Warden at the rally after observing what he alleged was unjustified police brutality against his friend Van Ornum. “I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

Police admitted twisting Van Ornum’s arms, pulling his hair and shoving him against a wall and to the ground before tasering him in the process of arresting him for the misdemeanor charge of impeding traffic. Van Ornum’s attorney said he suffered a concussion.

April 15, 2009 12:16 PM

(Police Sgt. Bill Solesbee, KVAL pool photo)

After an anti-pesticide protest ended in a police tasering last May, the Eugene Police department issued a misleading press release that has been largely refuted by sworn police officer testimony this week.

The May 30, 2008 press release stated that taser victim Ian Van Ornum “was dressed as an exterminator and was spraying unknown liquid in the street. When the officer contacted him, he said he couldn’t be arrested and raised the wand toward the officer asking, 'Do you want poison in your face?'”

The press release, widely quoted in The Register-Guard and local TV news, implied that officers thought Van Ornum was threatening to spray them in the face with poison. Readers repeated the impression in letters to the editor. The EPD did not issue another press release to correct the impression.

But Eugene Police Sgt. Bill Solesbee testified at Van Ornum’s trial yesterday that he was the officer described in the press release and was not concerned Van Ornum would spray him with poison.

Asked if he was concerned about the sprayer, Solesbee testified, “no, not really.” The officer noted that if he was concerned he would have rolled up his SUV window but did not. Solesbee said he left the garden sprayer at the scene. “It’s not a crucial piece of evidence.”

Tom Keedy, an officer with the Department of Homeland Security who originally called for the EPD to intervene in the protest, also testified that he wasn’t concerned that Van Ornum had poison. Because the protest was against pesticides, “I assumed it’s innocuous,” Keedy said.

The EPD press release also described Van Ornum as “fighting” with police. But Solesbee and other officers in the case did not testify that Van Ornum struck or attempted to strike them, a common definition of fighting. Van Ornum was not charged with assault but with resisting arrest.

Solesbee testified that Van Ornum resisted being handcuffed, but did not say Van Ornum struck or attempted to strike an officer. “Did I square up and have a punching match with him? No,” he said.

April 14, 2009 04:25 PM

KVAL photo

(Video still of Ian Van Ornum and his defense lawyer by KVAL.)

The trial of taser victim Ian Van Ornum began today with testimony of a Homeland Security officer and Eugene police officer and the judge's ejection of an independent video taker from the court room.

Judge Jack Billings alleged that Tim Lewis, who regularly posts video on YouTube, had video taped members of the jury outside the courtroom in violation of a court order. Billings barred Lewis from observing the trial.

Van Ornum is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at an anti-pesticide protest last May. Protesters and Van Ornum allege that police used excessive force in twisting his arms, pulling his hair, giving him a concussion and tasering him twice. The trial is expected to continue through Friday.

The trial was originally set for Eugene municipal court with the city prosecutor. But the county district attorney decided to try the case instead in state court in a move protesters alleged was a political decision in response to their charges of excessive force.

The decision to elevate the municipal court case was unusual and came at a time that the district attorney and judges are claiming that they lack sufficient resources to try and prosecute burglars and dangerous felons. The DA case has effectively delayed an independent investigation of the charges of excessive force by the Eugene police auditor for almost a year.

Assistant District Attorney Bob Lane said in his opening statement today that the force used against Van Onum was justified by the protester’s resistance to arrest for slowing traffic through the Broadway and Willamette intersection. “This case is going to be an attempt to portray these officers as bad people,” Lane said. “There’s one person who’s to blame, the defendant.”

Van Ornum’s defense attorney Laura Fine said in her opening that police intervened in a peaceful protest in support of a county action to reform pesticide use. Police pulled Van Ornum’s hair, she said, “he was thrown against a wall, he was thrown against the ground.” She Van Ornum was later treated for a concussion.

Fine said police tasered Van Ornum with 50,000 volts twice within 30 seconds. “My client was subject to excessive force.”

April 13, 2009 08:50 PM

The Eugene City Council voted 7-1 to change the city's position on a proposed law allowing bikes to carefully yield and roll through stop signs from opposition to neutral.

A proposal to change the position to support the state legislation failed 5-3. Proponents said the law has worked successfully in Idaho for almost two decades and should also be enacted in Oregon.

April 13, 2009 08:32 PM

The Eugene City Council voted unanimously tonight to approve a grant application for a world-class skateboard park under the Washington-Jefferson viaduct.

April 13, 2009 09:33 PM

The Eugene City Council voted 7-1 to move forward with street assessments for Maple and Elmira streets.

The council left open the possibility of later voting to decrease the average $10,000 charge per home along the street by increasing the amount the city will pay for the street improvement project.

April 13, 2009 06:34 PM

The Eugene City Council voted to reinstate the independent police auditor but censure her for “poor judgment” in showing a private attorney for an alleged victim of police abuse a photograph from the police.

The photograph was of the citizen who filed the complaint against the police and then hired the attorney.

April 9, 2009 04:05 PM


With all due respect to our state capital, it's just not all that often that I find myself feeling hugely envious of an event they've got that we don't*. It happens, for sure: The Armory gets shows that skip right over us. Truly fascinating performers get booked for the state fair. Nifty things I notice when I'm working on the Summer Guide calendar pass me by when they finally come around, and I curse myself (mildly). And sometimes, something truly unexpected catches my eye.

This weekend is one of those times. As a press release rather colorfully puts it, downtown Salem is about to "transform into a bubbling cauldron of bleeding edge independent music" as the Cherry City Music Fest takes over.

No joke. A whopping 140 bands — Americana, blues, classical, country, electronica, folk, hip hop, jazz, Latin, metal, pop, psychedelic, punk, reggae and rock bands — are converging on 15 venues over three days. Among the lineup you'll find new bands from former Sassiest Boy in America (no, I'm never going to stop thinking that's funny) Ian Svenonius (Chain and the Gang) and Calvin Johnson (The Hive Dwellers); Eugene locals including Eleven Eyes, Disco Organica and Halie Loren; Portland indie standouts from The Thermals ** to Horse Feathers (sharing a Friday night bill, no less) to Talkdemonic to Super XX Man; and more bands you've never heard of than you can shake a stick at.

Some bands are doing double duty on Saturday, playing the festival and then booking down to Eugene for night shows: San Francisco's Maus Haus plays at 6 pm in Salem, then at the WOW Hall later that night, while Eugene's Ingredients will hurry from a 4 pm Cherry City show to a show with the Dead Americans at Luckey's.

The festival's Web site says it has a three-part mission: to provide an opportunity for musicians, support local businesses and give proceeds to nonprofits the Mid-Valley Video Festival and Isaac's Room. I'd bet, though, that there's a fourth part that goes unlisted: to do something really, really cool that involves a shit-ton of musicians and plays mix and match with venues and styles.

Now who wants to pick this ball up and throw a similar festival in Eugene?

* Sensitive Salemites, please note: I promise you I am not dissing Salem unilaterally. I am referring solely to the specific sort of events that convince me, myself and I to get on the ol' I-5 for the bazillionth time. I've spent a lot of time on I-5. Sometimes I think I have the scenery memorized. Sometimes I really want a teleporter. Actually, very often I really want a teleporter.

** The new Thermals album, Now We Can See, just came out last Tuesday. In fact, they're playing tonight in Portland. I would like to be there. Barring that, I would like to be in Salem tomorrow night. Neither of these things is going to happen, so I'll be listening to the record on repeat until at least next Tuesday. If you like the Thermals, you'll like the record: They're not exactly reinventing the wheel, but that's why I like 'em so much. They write Thermals songs: Hutch Harris yelps conversationally, the songs bounce along smartly, the lyrics are a touch cynical and a touch hopeful and a touch political; it all adds up to something that had a very small WOW Hall audience dancing as cheerfully and enthusiastically as possible last time the band played here. How I wish they would come back. (I intend to write an actual review of this album once I've had more than, y'know, a day with it. For right now, it's just crush at first listen. It happens.)

April 7, 2009 08:47 PM

In 2006, a little movie called Brick surprised the hell out of me. A high school noir, thick with complicated, stylized detective language, mysterious figures and femme fatales? Skepticism levels were high — and for some people, the conceit didn't work.

It was my third-favorite movie of the year — though to be more honest, it was one of my three or four favorite movies of the year in the sort of multiple-way tie that lists don't generally allow for. I've been waiting since then — or at least it feels like it's been that long — for director Rian Johnson's follow-up film, The Brothers Bloom. When first I heard of it, it was supposed to open last fall. There was a preview in the mainstream theaters and everything.

Then the release date was December. Then it was January.

Then it sort of disappeared off my radar.

Now it's set for May 29. All that date switching could be a bad thing, but I prefer to think it's just a sign that the world doesn't quite know what to do with Johnson's peculiar and charming sort of heightened-reality storytelling. This time through, he's made a film that appears to be about two brothers trying to pull that one last con on a slightly odd woman who's spent her life collecting hobbies. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody are the brothers; Rachel Weisz is the mark; Rinko Kikuchi, from Babel, is the muscle.

It's a recipe I have a lot of hope for. Today, the movie's Twitter account turned up a new trailer, which, in the words of the post, is slightly similar to the old trailer. There may be some sarcasm here; it actually looks very, very similar to the old trailer, with a few new glowing quotes wedged in. It's still enough to make me cross my fingers that this time, the damn movie will actually come out. I hope.

(Want more? Here's an interview with Johnson at Film.com.)

April 6, 2009 04:27 PM

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Adventureland.

Immediate thought upon leaving the theater after Adventureland: I want to hug that movie and everyone involved with it. I'd also like to buy them all a beer. Though that would probably be a lot of beer.

But truth is, when the movie started with The Replacements' "Bastards of Young," I was pretty sure it was getting off on the right foot. You can find the entire list of songs from the film here, though as this blogger points out, there are 41 tunes in the movie and 14 on the soundtrack, which is quite the bummer. You've got your Falco, your Poison, your Lou Reed, your Animotion, your Priest — and a score by Yo La Tengo. Even if the movie wasn't worth it (though it is; more on that in Thursday's paper), you could just listen to the damn thing and be happy.

April 3, 2009 04:03 PM

Photo by Sarah Cass

Is it ballsy or lazy to list your influences as "Life & Death" on MySpace? In the case of Gliss, a band I've somehow never heard of before, I'd guess it's a little of both — though I don't mean laziness in a bad way, necessarily. The trio have a sound that meanders between fuzzy, shoegazer-esque Britpop and something that sounds a little like, well, the Strokes on downers, too tired, too worn out from an all-nighter to pick up the tempo.

Pitchfork says Gliss' second album, Devotion Implosion (which comes out on Tuesday), "is firmly rooted in the Siamese Dream era, when Corgan's band struck a fine balance between shoegazer insularity and American arena rock bombast," but what I've heard on MySpace seems ... actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I totally get that. "Sleep" sounds like the Beatles crossbred with Gliss' sometime tourmates Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; "29 Acts of Love" suddenly gets almost chipper, though singer Martin Klingman manages to sound enjoyably listness and half-drunk even while wrapped in poppier tones and a restless bassline. I can't decide which song makes me think most of My Bloody Valentine, but the more I listen to this band, the more I like them. There's something dreamy and surly, enticing and familiar, languid and alluring about their hazy, swirling retro-pop.

".....when GLISS play live, they all play each other’s instruments....GLISS will turn you on with their fuzzed-out guitars and krautrock rhythms......GLISS will love you back..." — or at least that's what they say. Gliss plays with Takeover U.K. and The Dimes at 9:30 pm Saturday, April 4, at Sam Bond's Garage. 21+ short. $5.

* "First Impressions" is my just-chosen cutesy blog name for when I want to blog about a band the first time I listen to them — which is to say, it's exactly what it sounds like.

April 2, 2009 04:10 PM

Last month, I went to Portland to see And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, a band I love so much that their shows start to blur together in my memory (no, I'm not exactly sure how that works, either). The ones that best stand out tend to be the ones with the most destruction (New York, early 2000s, band members taunting audience members, beer cups flying); most contact with band members (Dante's, a few years back, trying to keep singer/guitarist Conrad Keely from inadvertently falling on me); or the greatest degree of deafness afterwards (Melbourne, 2002). This particular show was definitely good, but not memorable in any of these categories. It left me wanting to see them again the next night — not least because of the second opening band, Funeral Party. We only caught a few FP songs; we wanted more. I ventured into the depths of the iTunes store today to snag their three-song EP, and I still want more.

Do you want to know more? Then keep reading.

The members of Funeral Party appear to be very young and possibly more energetic than any humans have any right to be. According to their bio, they "formed late one night in a park." If you listen to "Carwars," above, you may find yourself reminded somewhat of the Rapture, though with more cowbell. Live, I kept thinking of At the Drive-In with a serious love for the indie rock disco beat. I'm also reminded of a summer spent obsessed with Q + Not U, and just the tiniest bit of a really aggro Franz Ferdinand. Or a punkier Hot Hot Heat, back in the Make Up the Breakdown era. "Where Did It Go Wrong" on the other hand, begins with singer Chad Elliot drawing out his words Interpolishly.

Of course, the band's listed influences all pre-date every point of reference I've mentioned here, but that's OK; I'm thinking of all these relatively current bands because for me, Funeral Party pushes all the same buttons these bands do. (And frankly, I don't spend a ton of time listening to Brian Eno. Sorry.) The band's bio cites a "post-punk dance-craze revival" in the East L.A. neighborhoods the band hails from, and I must agree: post-punk guitars, yelping vocals and a relentless rhythmic sense that makes me want to dance. In my desk chair, even.

It's time to make this band the next big thing, folks. Get to it. And don't forget to listen to the frenzied cheer of "NYC Moves to the Sound of LA" too. That'll put a smile on your face. There are handclaps and a singalong, for chrissakes. I just wish I was listening to it live, instead of in a small room with an even smaller window. Drat.

April 1, 2009 04:04 PM

Apparently, the easiest way to guarantee you can't think of a damn thing to blog about is to tell yourself you're going to participate in Blog Every Day April, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's Wednesday, see, which means this week's paper is done, which means my brain is fried. So it must be time for that old favorite, Internet Miscellany! Get your clickin' fingers ready!

• Apparently, the thing to joke about for this April Fool's Day (Fools' Day? Are we all fools together, or singularly?) is Twitter. At least two papers pretended they were going to Twitter-only. LiveJournal pretended it would automatically cut off each post at 140 characters. The jokes aren't the most original, but put together, they make for an interesting illustration of Twitter's current place in the cultural hivemind. (On a different topic, NPR's amused report about The Economist opening Econoland made me laugh, but I hadn't had coffee yet, so everything was funny.)

My personal favorite annual April Fool's event is the addition of something goofy to the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab lineup. Black Phoenix, for the uninitiated, is the creator of many, many, many addictive scents (I refuse to call them perfumes, for they do not contain the ingredients that make me cough and wrinkle my nose, like most commercial perfumes do). (Also, stop me if I've told you this before.) BPAL scents are particularly intriguing to me because many of them are based on stories, on Shakespeare or myths or legends — or on books by Neil Gaiman (the Gaiman scents are extra super awesome because they benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). Or they're based on places, both real and imagined. Or paintings. Or, in the case of today's humorous holiday, velvet paintings. Last year's April Fool's scents were tiki-themed; the year before, they were based on various dogs playing poker paintings. Don't you want to smell like a Velvet Cthulu? Or a Velvet Unicorn? And if not, why not?

• This guy built Minas Tirith out of matchsticks. I can't even focus on a single game of Scrabble, some days. His attention span is clearly worthy of study.

• Writing about Monsters vs. Aliens this week reminded me of this smart blog post about Pixar's gender problem. The post is from last June, when WALL-E was released, but it's still getting new comments. Like the post's author, I love a good Pixar flick, but sometimes their gender weirdness is truly strange. I will never understand, for example, why every rat in Ratatouille was male. Yes, I'm complaining about the absence of female rats. It's a wacky world we live in.

• "Obama Depressed, Distant Since 'Battlestar Galactica' Series Finale." In classic Onion fashion, this piece manages to be a pretty sharp critique of said finale while also being worthy of a hearty LOL. Honest to the gods of Kobol, I'm still stewing over the finale — and amassing a hearty pile of links I want to talk about when I finally post about it. Just one more viewing of "Daybreak, Part 1" and I'll probably be able to form a post more eloquent than, "OK, so I cried. But I also ranted."

• Over at Pitchfork, the unstoppable, exceptional Amanda Fucking Palmer talks about why she wants her record label to drop her. It's a fascinating and specific look at an industry in at least at much turmoil as, oh, say, the newspaper industry? I think I've heard something about that...

March 31, 2009 09:44 AM

Though his MySpace page lists his home as "nowhere," when last we wrote about Richard Swift he was, as writer Jeremy Ohmes put it, a mustachioed Cottage Grover. Now, he's the latest artist to premiere his new album on MySpace — The Atlantic Ocean (which guest-stars the likes of Ryan Adams) is streaming on his page a week ahead of its April 7 release. (You can also download "Lady Luck" at his record label's site.)

Swift's tour dates currently only have him stopping in Portland, but perhaps he'll drop in at the ol' Axe & Fiddle before long.