From the September 1999 Idaho Observer:

Sheriff's deputy warns store owner(s) to not carry The IO

NEWPORT, WA -- In an apparent attempt to keep the citizens of Pend Oreille County ignorant of the case of Morris Bereiter, 49, a man who was pepper sprayed and beaten by deputies Rogan and Schultz for rolling through a stop sign (The Idaho Observer, July, August and September, page 1), Deputy Frank Beatty visited at least one business and, according to two witnesses, threateningly told them that they should not carry The Idaho Observer in their store. Following is the letter that was forwarded to the Pend Oreille County Board of Commissioners.

Two days later, Commissioner Mike Hanson called The IO, asked for more information and then FAXed the reply at right.

Commissioner Hanson seems genuinely concerned about this and other situations which indicate that certain POCSD personnel are abusive of their authority. He has handled this incident extremely well and with all of the diplomacy it warranted. The people of Pend Oreille County should commend Commissioner Hanson for his decency and should also commend Bereiter for standing up to badge-wearing POCSD thugs.

Pend Oreille County Commission
625 W. 4th St.
Newport, WA 99156

To the Pend Oreille County Board of Commissioners:

This is a very delicate matter and I wish to proceed in a manner that will give the proper warning to at least one deputy within the ranks of the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Department (POCSD) and spare certain local small business owners from being subjected to persecutions or harassments if they choose to allow The Idaho Observer to be publicly available on their premises.

At least one store in Pend Oreille has been told by POSCD, in a manner that more than one witness will concur was a veiled threat, that The Idaho Observer should not be made available to the public in specific locations within Pend Oreille County. There is no doubt that this has occurred and it can be proven. The fact that this has occurred in your county is alarming: A deputy using his badge to intimidate business owners from carrying a specific product in their stores. It is irrelevant that this product exists as a result of our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press. It is still a legal product with advertisers and a price tag. For a POSCD deputy to use his authority to infringe on the free access to goods and services in your county is what this letter is addressing.

The Idaho Observer has periodically been made available to the residents of Pend Oreille County since January, 1997. To our knowledge The Idaho Observer had never been of concern to the POCSD until July when we front-paged the story of Morris Bereiter. Provided for your consideration are the July and August editions of The Idaho Observer wherein it is reported that POCSD deputies Rogan and Schultz pepper sprayed and beat Bereiter severely for rolling through a stop sign.

Not only is POCSD's behavior illegal in its restraint of trade and its flagrant abuse of the First Amendment, it is a purposeful intent to intimidate certain citizens so that many other citizens may be denied information that would indicate local police are engaging in behavior that is unprofessional, unsavory, illegal, excessively forceful and unnecessarily violent.

As you are no doubt aware, on August 20, 1999, Judge Richard White dismissed the three charges that had been filed against Bereiter for being assaulted after rolling through a stop sign last January 1. The intelligence, eloquence and tenacity of Mr. Bereiter, a decent and reverential family man who refused to allow the “authorities” to get away with a despicable abuse of authority, is most likely responsible for Judge White's dismissal of all charges. In defense of himself, Bereiter did tremendous amounts of research and, as a result, the charges against him were dropped.

It is obvious that certain sheriff's department employees feel that allowing The Idaho Observer to be available in Pend Oreille County, while it publishes stories about POCSD, is bad for its reputation. While all citizens should applaud Bereiter because he stood up and successfully defended himself against public employees who were out of line, the department apparently doesn't want anybody to know about it. You, as elected public officials who represent the citizens' conscience in government, should also applaud Bereiter, understand that his case may not be the the only one, and truly seek to put an end to what is most likely a pattern of excessively forceful behavior on the part of certain deputies within the ranks of the POCSD.

We simply request that you use diplomacy in dealing with this issue. Under no circumstances should any business person in the county be persecuted in the wake of your actions to mend the behavior of POCSD personnel. We request that within five working days of receipt of this notice that a letter be sent to The Idaho Observer which indicates you have spoken with the appropriate parties. The letter we request should also give us some kind of assurance that in the event a similar incident occurs, you will aid the injured parties in their pursuit of appropriate corrective action.


Don Harkins
The Idaho Observer

Pend Oreille County Commissioner Dist #1
Newport, WA 99156

September 2, 1999

To:    Don Harkins

From:    Mike Hanson

Re:    August 30, 1999 letter

Thank you for bringing the matter of the POCSD personnel action to my attention. These ore the type of actions which are not reported through official channels to this board, so we appreciate being informed when something like this occurs.

As you have requested, and I would have done upon learning about it, I have spoken with Sheriff Jerry Weeks about this matter. Sheriff Weeks was upset over the fact that he had not been contacted by yourself prior to the BOCC (Board of County Commissioners) receiving the letter. He did assure me that he would have an all department meeting to address concerns such as actions which are, as you pointed out, outside of law, and using poor judgment.

I am in total agreement with you that no business person, nor any citizen of Pend Oreille County, should be persecuted for remedial actions taken by the Sheriff toward personnel. I would like to receive, personally, any information about issues such as this from the citizens of Pend Oreille County or elsewhere, when they feel that their rights have been abused by personnel of Pend Oreille County.

As you are aware, the Sheriff is elected by the people, and is not under the authority of anyone else.

I read each issue of The Idaho Observer and truly appreciate the forum you use to tell people events that are occurring that mainstream media do not tell us. Your stand for the rights of the people and the Constitution is very refreshing and much needed today.

Thank you again.

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