Law enforcement and civil rights in Coquille, Oregon

By Mary Geddry of Coquille, Oregon. Mary describes herself as "a freelance science writer and peace activist." She blogs at MGx.com. [Editor's note: Many of the articles discussed below are not online, except at Concerned Citizens of Coquille.]

Nestled along a scenic and gentle curve of the Coquille River, amidst organic dairies and verdant hay fields a battle looms large over local civil liberties. Even in Coquille, pop. 4,300 and the county seat of Coos County Oregon, threats to the Bill of Rights have set off a firestorm of action leading to one despotic city councilmember berating the local paper at a recent city council meeting for printing the opinions of 'malcontents'. Councilman Bruce Parker - offended that views not his own have been published - even canceled his subscription to the Coquille Valley Sentinel, est. 1882, and announced that he would no longer advertise his real estate brokerage business in the paper.

The cause of all this brouhaha is a group calling themselves 'Concerned Citizens of Coquille' (CCofC), of which this author is an active participant. The group formed after what was perceived by many citizens as unfair law enforcement by the local police department. At issue are many of the same complaints found anywhere; selective enforcement, malfeasance, nonfeasance and misfeasance and denial of equal protection. After numerous complaints went ignored by city management more than fifty local citizens met on the lawn of the community center one Sunday afternoon and CCofC was born.

Since its inception in June, CCofC has held a civil rights symposium to educate the public, in particular the youth about their 4th and 5th Amendment rights. Next is a push to establish a citizen review board to act as an impartial arbiter of legitimate complaints between citizens and city management.

Since Councilman Parker's outburst at the August 6 city council meeting challenging our 1st Amendment right to free speech many other citizens have come forward voicing concerns over city management practices that extend beyond the police department. A recall petition is reportedly being circulated because of a recently enacted 'gas tax' labeled as a business fee and passed unanimously by the city council. CCofC's ranks have risen owing to this little controversy alone.

Meanwhile, the Coquille Valley Sentinel has published a front page article in answer to Parker's 'vented spleen', defending their right to publish and offer a forum for all citizens equally. Nevertheless, they are reworking their editorial policy and we can all hope the only restrictions regard civility and polite discourse and not content or substance.

Comments

  • Joe (unverified)
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    I want to remind everyone that there are two sides to every story. Anyone who reads this should understand that the author is completely off touch with reality and doesn't care to see anything as it truly is. She's so bitter over her dealings with the authorities (things for which she should have been severely punished for) that she wants to take it out on everyone in the town.

    Mary Geddry has an amazing way with words...you should be warned, however, that she does not have a way with the truth.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    I do not know the ins and outs of this story, or the controversy. But I feel any time a group of citizens band together to question or confront their elected officials, that connotes Involvement, and is a good thing. Everyone should have the right to state their case without harrassment, everyone should have an opportunity to consider all sides of the issue and come to their own conclusions. Any person or entity who tries to silence those voices, is un-American.

    Gee...selective policng and governmental malfeasance? Shocking! Whoever heard of such a thing? Has that ever happened before? And a business enterprise holding back on advertising dollars so that media bends to their will? Has that ever happened before? (If I were a seller who had listed my home for sale with Parker's real estate brokerage I'd be mighty pissed that he would let his personal dealings interfere with the marketing of my home! He has not only a fiduciary duty to them but by license law must provide them with the highest standard of care in all his dealing with them.)

    Joe, it's not enough to just come here and write a character assassination. Why don't you tell us that second side to this story....or what you think it is? The fact that you didn't makes me inclined tho think that Mary has a legitimate beef.

  • ovid rogers (unverified)
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    I'm not too familiar with what is going on in Coquille, but I do know Mary Geddry, and you are right Joe, Mary does have a way with words, but you are very wrong in saying she is not truthful.and I just can't let you get by saying so. Obviously you don't know her. In my many years, I have never met anyone more honest and truthful , than Mary,and any one else that knows her will tell you the same.

  • Marie (unverified)
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    I've been following this story of the group in Coquille. As any thoughtful person reading just the first response to Ms. Geddrys posting can see, and see clearly through, there are some extremely vengeful and short-sided folks living in Coquille. The fact that they so blatently show their disrespect to anyone trying to improve things for the average person living in Coquille, I hope, gives these good folks trying to make things better for their neighbors, added resolve to do so. It's really sad to see someone who, obviously is driven by hate, anger, extreme jealousy and just plain mean-ness think they have the ability to hurt their neighbors with their vile accusations. Too bad they're not bright enough to see they only expose their own deep, deep unhappiness and insecurities. I hope "Joe" can get the help she so obviously needs. Please, "Joe", seek out a mental health professional who can help you deal with your anger, so you may too, like Ms. Geddry, spend your time trying to build healthy relationships with your neighbors, your life would be so much more satisfying. Poor old thing.

  • Mad Mal (unverified)
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    Gee, that Ms. Geddry sounds like a real troublemaker. Good for her! Fat cats need shaking up, in towns small and large. Keep it up!

  • JTT (unverified)
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    I've been through Coquille a couple of times while criss-crossing the state on political campaigns...and believe me, if you're black...you get pulled over for being black...if you have a rainbow/queer sticker on your car, you get pulled over for being gay. I don't have any idea what Mary's specific complaints are about the local police or city management, but from what I've seen in Coquille (Redmond, Grants Pass, etc.)...I wouldn't be surprised. And any time that a group of citizens bans together for citizen involvement, education, holding authorities accountable, and upholding civil rights...I'm all for it.

  • Joe (unverified)
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    Honestly, I can tell from the posts here that none of you are from Coquille. If someone comes on here and says that their rights are being violated, it seems you are going to believe them without hesitance.

    I agree with many of Ms. Geddry's personal beliefs, but I beg to differ when it comes to her views of what's happening in Coquille. Many of the things she's said in the past have been downright slanderous and hurtful to many people in the town. I'd LOVE for the communication in the town to be improved, which Ms. Geddry CLAIMS she wants as well, but she has failed when it has come to actually trying to communicate. She is absent from city meetings and merely relies on the internet and newspaper to voice her insults. As for this site, it's easy for Ms. Geddry to build a reputation of honesty when she clearly leaves the negative things she says and does out of the picture.

    I support the fight against corruption and malfeasance 100%...but when people start making accusations based solely on their own personal grudges and agendas...that's when there's a problem.

    As for "JTT's" comments...I have never witnessed any of the things you've seen, and personally doubt what you say is true. Of course, Coquille doesn't have a large black or gay population, but all of the black or gay people I have met in this town have never had any problems. Coquille is a town of 4000 people and that kind of news would travel fast.

    Oh, and I'm not a 'she.' ;)

  • Joe (unverified)
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    Oh, and I'd like to point out a MAJOR point that the 'Concerned Citizens' dance around on a regular basis.

    Although the group claims that there have been MANY complaints against the police department (which they claim were ignored), only about TWO were complaints of anything related to police malfeasance. Not saying that they should be ignored (which they weren't), but that's a little bit off base from the numbers the CC have been spouting. That's also considerably better than many other towns.

  • DAN GRADY (unverified)
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    SAVE DEMOCRACY, VOTE FOR A DEMOCRAT!!

    Those whom would have taken the time to read my rants will know a common theme in my words could be the title would be a clue! I mention this because this story certainly strikes a cord!

    Indifference to Joe and Mary I won’t venture an opinion as to the accuracy of either’s opinion on this specific situation. That being said this should be an example of how government mimics its federal counterpart when confronted with civil liberties violations or the perception of them to say the least!!

    Government has openly taken the role of our superior, not our subordinate! Government provides fewer services, and privatizes those they do provide until those services become to expensive, or incompetant to provide anymore and then blame government with some childish perverted excuse they call principles!

    The Republican model of governance is one that feels empowered to sort though our civil liberties by means of who you are and what you are to them at the time. The vehicle of exploitation, and further power over its citizens and little else. This trend has ‘trickled down’ much better than the bait and switch economics by the same name!

    Like the ship that a sailor must paint from one end to the other only to chip the paint away no sooner than it drys so as to keep one step ahead of the rust; we as citizens of a democracy must stay diligent like the beleaguered sailor to protect and preserve democracy.

    The minute we let others care for our freedoms and stop paying attention we inevitably have those who would wish to take from us that which was sacrificed for in blood for their own enpowerment, or enrichment!

    Happy Thoughts;

    Dan Grady

  • Curt (unverified)
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    No idea what we're talking about as regards Coquille. I'll google it when and if I get a chance. But .. "selective enforcement, malfeasance, nonfeasance and misfeasance and denial of equal protection" ..? That's a lot of feasance. People that use words like that a lot.. tend to have issues. And to not describe what kind of bad feasing they're doing over there kind of sets off the BS buzzer, too.

    Kids, if you're going to cuss out a police department, describe what they're supposed to have done.. and leave the TV words out of it..

    Curt

  • magix aka Mary (unverified)
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    Thank you to all those who support our efforts in Coquille. Regarding 'Joe', Joe may well be my stalker of these last two plus years or a willing or unwitting agent of same. There is also a distinct possibility Joe is the same person masquerading as an FBI agent on my site recently. An annoyance, yes but not worth anyone's time, certainly not mine.

    To Mr Grady I want very much to believe that voting democrat will restore and secure our civil liberties but recent events in Washington have left me disheartened and skeptical.

  • DAN GRADY (unverified)
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    [Off-topic comment removed. This is not a post about impeaching the president. -editor.]

  • melissa (unverified)
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    "Nestled along a scenic and gentle curve of the Coquille River" - layed my sweet little cousin, Leah Nicole Freeman,15 years old and dead, from "homicidal violence". The "brouhaha" that was spoken of in one of the previous comments,wasn't caused by the CCofC, in my opinion, it was caused by the thoughtless and cold hearted remarks made by city council member Mr. Parker, which resulted in a meeting between Mr. Parker and my Aunt Cory Courtright, Leah's Mother.

  • Joe (unverified)
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    Ma'am, please don't flatter yourself by calling me your 'stalker.' I've never posted on your blog. I've read it, and every time somebody disagrees with you, you berate them and treat them as if they're of 'lower intelligence.' I don't know, maybe it makes you feel like a better person. I am merely a resident of Coquille who is sick and tired of what's happening here.

    To curt, you are correct. It shouldn't surprise you that any time Ms. Geddry has been asked to give a specific example of malfeasance in our town, the request is completely ignored. And any time a person disagrees with the Concerned Citizens, or lightly criticizes them, that person is accused of not wanting to see a local murder solved. Sadly, the Concerned Citizens want to place the blame on everyone else for the lack of communication in our community...but they won't take any sort of responsibility themselves.

    I hope the problems in Coquille are solved...but it will never be solved with blind accusations and blame.

  • Dian Courtright (unverified)
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    Hi! As the blog administrator for Concerned Citizens of Coquille blog & a member of the group, I decided it was time to weigh in on this conversation & answer some of Joe's charges that are specifically made against us, Joe said the group claims that there have been MANY complaints against the police department (which they claim were ignored), only about TWO were complaints of anything related to police malfeasanceany The problem is that for confidence reasons & the fact that some people are afraid of retaliation we can't specifically comment on other peoples complaints against the Police department. So our assertions of many complaints just has to be taken at face value. Just as we were expected to trust the review of said complaints by the "staff" article here that consisted of the City Manager, the Police Chief & the Police Sargent. Joe said, unfortunately any time a person disagrees with the Concerned Citizens, or lightly criticizes them, that person is accused of not wanting to see a local murder solved. Sadly, the Concerned Citizens want to place the blame on everyone else for the lack of communication in our community...but they won't take any sort of responsibility themselves. Joe, you are mixing up a lot of people's personal opinions with what the purpose of Concerned Citizens of Coquille is & what we are trying to achieve. Because we get involved with people & support them in their goals for justice, as in, supporting Cory Courtright, in her goal of Justice for Leah article here & encourage people to voice "valid" criticisms of the powers that be, unfortunately, some people see us as only a negative force. I'm sorry about that because it is my concern that Concerned Citizens of Coquille is a positive force in the community.

    As far as taking responsibility for the lack of communication in our community? Joe, I don't see where Concerned citizens "created" a lack of communication in this community. If there was any lack it was already there.

  • Dian Courtright (unverified)
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    Hi! As the blog administrator for Concerned Citizens of Coquille blog & a member of the group, I decided it was time to weigh in on this conversation & answer some of Joe's charges that are specifically made against us, Joe said the group claims that there have been MANY complaints against the police department (which they claim were ignored), only about TWO were complaints of anything related to police malfeasanceany The problem is that for confidence reasons & the fact that some people are afraid of retaliation we can't specifically comment on other peoples complaints against the Police department. So our assertions of many complaints just has to be taken at face value. Just as we were expected to trust the review of said complaints by the "staff" article here that consisted of the City Manager, the Police Chief & the Police Sargent. Joe said, unfortunately any time a person disagrees with the Concerned Citizens, or lightly criticizes them, that person is accused of not wanting to see a local murder solved. Sadly, the Concerned Citizens want to place the blame on everyone else for the lack of communication in our community...but they won't take any sort of responsibility themselves. Joe, you are mixing up a lot of people's personal opinions with what the purpose of Concerned Citizens of Coquille is & what we are trying to achieve. Because we get involved with people & support them in their goals for justice, as in, supporting Cory Courtright, in her goal of Justice for Leah article here & encourage people to voice "valid" criticisms of the powers that be, unfortunately, some people see us as only a negative force. I'm sorry about that because it is my concern that Concerned Citizens of Coquille is a positive force in the community.

    As far as taking responsibility for the lack of communication in our community? Joe, I don't see where Concerned citizens "created" a lack of communication in this community. If there was any lack it was already there.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Kari --

    I think this post needs to be amended or taken down. I just spent 15 minutes trying to figure out what in the world everyone in Coquille is talking about, to no avail. The articles aren't online, the blogs contain a lot of innuendo but no outline of the issues (at least that was easily found). The people commenting here are talking about homicides and stalkers and claiming they can't mention specifics due to confidentiality.

    I'm all for citizens organizing to raise hell, but I would like to hear both sides of WHATEVER the issue is they're talking about. This post almost seems like we've been let in on the tail end of a private conversation, and now they've all clammed up. Not very useful for a wider audience.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Miles -

    I disagree in part. The initial post made perfect sense - "feasance" abuse or not. Its the rest of the posts that don't seem to go anywhere.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    No don't take this post down....we get so few posts from sections of the state that are some distance from Portland. I would like some clarifications....perhaps a synopsis of what the conmplaints are, and what has been done, or not been done to resolve citizens' concerns.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Wow. Usually noun fraud is used to control behavior. Now duelling noun frauds, like it's the goal.

    Could some friendly gen X'er post the moral lying hierachrchy? All I know is lies to oneself, yes/no; lies to others, yes/no. This "we all lie to ourselves but judge us on how we lie to you" stuff only makes sense if you know the good lies from the bad ones.

    Kind of off thread, but we are in the presence of genius...

  • magix (unverified)
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    One of the requirements for initiating an investigation from the US attorney or state AG into alleged wrongdoing by police is to show or establish a 'pattern of abuse'. Consequently, several people have compiled their details into one report. From there individual cases may be singled out for further criminal investigation if it is deemed necessary.

    Having said all that I will share my own experiences as an example but cannot divulge details of others. Others have much more eggregious issues.

    In brief, signs were placed upon my property by a neighbor . The police advised me that I could remove the signs and to return the signs in 'good condition' to the neighbor. I did so, walking up the public right of way and setting them down on a low fence on their driveway still in the right of way. The neighbor had me cited for trespassing, The officer cited me but refused to file a cross complaint for the placement of the signs on my property in the first place, even after a licensed surveyor confirmed my claims. Further, the neighbor moved my boundary markers and again the police would not follow up. It gets worse from there.

    At any rate there is plenty of 'feasance' non, mis and mal, selective enforcement and denial of equal protection.

    Again this is relatively minor, though it has caused me much personal grief, but when my written complaints were completely ignored by the city manager and I heard of other people having trouble the idea of citizen review board seemed very practical. I hope this helps

  • Joe (unverified)
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    Mary, we all know that the communication in the town needs mending now more than ever. However, the problems within the community are far from extreme. Most of the issues now stem from the personal accusations made, none of which have yet been substantiated.

    Furthermore, though I'm sure your own situation is frustrating, your neighbor has a completely different story of what happened. I'm sure that's also a major frustration for the police, and that may be why they have not acted in the way you feel they should have. It's hard to choose a side when you don't know which is correct.

    Your article is a problem to me. It's simply a stretch of the truth (a rather large stretch). I feel that more should be done to better things in the community, and posting half truths on the internet is never going to help.

  • Dian Courtright (unverified)
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    MCT One thing I want to point out is that Concerned Citizens of Coquille has only been around since June 4th 0f this year. So as far as having a lot of accomplishments under our belt, we don't. Initially It all started from a rally link here Everyone that had complaints against the Police Department was encouraged to attend the City council meeting the next night where we would arrive in force & air our greviances in front of the City Council. I'm not sure what all the complaints were but I heard quite a few frustrated people complaining that complaints they made to the Police department were flatly ignored. It wasn't hard to see that there definitely was a problem between a lot of the local citizens & The Police. The concept of a support group for local citizens composed of citizens came out of this. So far we have accomplished getting citizens complaints reviewed at least, we have supported Cory Courtright in her cause, we have sponsored a Civil Rights symposium (concerned with educating people about their civil rights) we have been meeting on Monday nights to discuss what other things we can do to be a positive force in our community. I have been attending City council meeting (two of the three since June)& plan on attending all I can. Concerned Citizens have spent the whole time we've been in existence fending off constant criticism & attacks on character that have discouraged some people to the point that they quit being involved with us. I believe in our cause I think it's a good one & I don't plan on throwing in the towel soon. I don't mind criticism either, as long as it's constructive.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    I too have no idea what the author is exactly talking about. This post needs to be updated with more specific information so us non-Coquille types can understand what the issues are. Otherwise this is just a gossip filled spat between neighbors that I have no interest in being involved in.

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)
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    I agree that the group's specific complaints regarding police (mal or other)feasance are not very clear. But the point of this post wasn't that. The point was that "one despotic city councilmember" is allegedly attempting to squelch dissent and free press by using his position as both a public servant and local businessman (and advertiser) to challenge this group's 1st Amendment right to free speech.

    Whether this group's claims have merit or not should not be the issue. Regardless, they have the right to organize and voice their concerns without fear of retribution. A detailed laundry list of their specific complaints would only distract from that larger point and I believe, devolve into much more finger pointing and innuendo.

    I'd personally like to thank both the author and BlueOregon for this piece. As progressives, it is my opinion that we can't take the position that any abuse or infringement of anyone's civil rights is merely a "gossip filled spat between neighbors that I have no interest in being involved in."

  • Ms. Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    Read everything here twice....still don't get what's being discussed....

  • Cory Courtright (unverified)
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    Ms Harmon,

    It's about a group of people who came together because we believe our civil rights are being ignored. Freedom of speech doesn't seem to exist for SOME of us here. One of our city council members spouted out at the last city council meeting and basicaly went off about us. We all feel that we have a right to speak out and be heard. We all also feel that our complaints are legitimate - as personally, mine involves a 7 year unsolved murder. That of my 15 year old daughter.(www.leahfreeman.com) Many of the others are about traffic tickets - whatever the case -officials do not respond and get angry. Unfair treatment by local officials. Maybe my version is different than others but I don't know how else to explain it to you Ms Harmon. Sorry, I tried!

  • Dian courtright (unverified)
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    Well, Cory I'm wondering if we are just trying to explain real life to a bunch of political party elitists here.

    Some of the posters like madam hatter seem to get it. I say just ignore the rest of them.

  • Tabitha (unverified)
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    I'd just like to add that I live in Mendocino County, California, and Mary Geddry left a wake of accusations against everyone in her path before moving to Coquille from her home here.

    Don't believe a word out of her mouth. She may be good with words, but like someone here posted before...not a word of it is the truth.

  • Mr. Williamson (unverified)
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    I wish I had discovered that Ms. Geddry was posting here earlier. If you read her blog site you will notice that only their own little group posts there. No one in our town (other then the 10 or so people in their "group" is still giving them any credibility. SHe had two pit bulls that were running around town killing innocent pets owned by other families all over Coquille. She is upset because her dogs were put down. She was given many, many tickets and warnings and ended up in court over the whole matter. People were outraged because one of those cats could have been a small child. Of course she didn't mention that on this blog.

  • Jeff Lavey (unverified)
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    It was not to long ago that I found out from a person that I know that Ms. Geddry was posting comments here. I have not been here very long but some of the other people commenting here got it correct. I have not know Ms. Geddry all that long but I have not found anything she says to be the truth.

    I went to court against her in July and won. That was after an icident back in march where her dogs tried to kill my cat. A policeman told me and I had to take him to the vet about midnight.

    He is ok now. She apparetly doesn't pay her court costs because she was supposed to pay me by July 31st. She owes others too. She also has other cases coming up. She says she doesn't have the money to pay, but she can hire attorney's for herself and her court cases. I will get my money out of her eventually.

    Mary, just tell the truth.

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