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RNZ MAGAZINE » Causes, Native American Rights & Culture, People » JOHN T. WILLIAMS by: Ray Martin

JOHN T. WILLIAMS by: Ray Martin

JOHN T. WILLIAMS… by Ray Martin

Since the unjustified taking of John T’s life on the streets of Seattle by police officer Ian Birk, a lot of the media attention was directed on Johns dealings with the police and not the actions taken by this officer. Since the beginning the department fire arms commission ruled this shooting to be unjustified. Even before the video was released Ian Birk was ordered to relinquish his badge and firearm, yet he continues to remain on paid administrative leave to this day. This officer shot this elder and 4th generation wood carver in 4 seconds and never identified himself as a police official. John was hard of hearing and his mobility was greatly effected by his age and lifestyle. Yet this officer claims in those 4 seconds john turned and was in a prone position ready to attack him. None of his statements matched any of the independent statements made by witnesses on the scene.

This officer was not trained or armed with a tazer, but was armed with O.C. Police Spray and his Baton. He shot John multiple times from over 10 feet away, instead of using his Police Spray that is effective from 10-12 feet away. This man was not healthy and physically able enough to pose a deadly threat to him from this distance, and never acknowledged him or made a threat to do so.

Every account made by the police, and fire department officials was different. First the knife was open, then it was closed, then It had a faulty mechanism so it could have closed itself after hitting the ground. Everything that could be done to try to justify this killing was being done by the police and the media. Q 13 Fox news launched a very disrespectful smear campaign in cooperation with the police we feel against John. Reporting on his prior dealings with police. Yet when information to the exact contrary surfaced showing the police departments malice against John and harassment by them, they did nothing to retract or research what they had previously reported on.

Employees witnessed Seattle Police harassing and berating John at “Dicks Drive In” on Broadway and where instructed by upper management not the report on what they saw. One employee I contacted told me she was fearful of losing her job if she was to go public on what she saw. These officers were seen kicking him down the street and shaking up unopened beer cans and spraying them at him. This goes to show the malice the department had for John. They then used audio of him screaming obscenities at them as evidence of his disdain for the police.

To bring an officer up on charges for killing someone is very difficult. They have a certain level of protection afforded to them and proving that they acted criminally is hard when all they really have to say is they were in fear for their life and the lives of other citizens. Prosecutors have to prove that the officer acted maliciously. The actions of police at “Dicks Drive In” go to show the malice the Seattle police had for Mr. Williams.

A public inquest was held with 8 jurors where they were asked 15 questions to decide whether or not the officer was justified in killing John T. Williams. Officer Ian Birk testified that he had no other alternative than to use deadly force. He said Mr. Williams was facing him in an attack position and from a distance of 10 feet away he shot him 4 times. The gunshots however, show that John was not even facing the officer, which is what independent witnesses all say. Witnesses say John never stopped walking, faced the officer, or even acknowledged his presence. The jurors were split on whether the shooting was justified, and the prosecutor will make a decision on whether or not to file in mid February.

In the weeks following this incident there have been multiple accounts of police brutality and racism made against the Seattle Police. There have been numerous protests in the streets of Seattle over the amount of instances in where the police have been caught on camera assaulting people in handcuffs, and using racist foul language against citizens. A 10 million dollar settlement has just been paid to a victim of police brutality and no one is holding this department accountable for its actions.

I have contacted every council member in king county the governor, the aclu, and the naacp asking for independent action and investigations be taken against the Seattle Police Department. I have spoken to numerous reporters from every network In Washington State trying to get a fair account of all the information available. I have faxed the king county prosecutor and the Williams family attorney with all the information I have collected so there is no way they can look the other way and try to say they did not know.

This senseless taking of one of our elders and gifted wood carvers is a case of modern day ethnic cleansing. The position of the police is to protect and serve. John T. Williams was not harming anyone, he was crossing the street doing what he loved, carving a piece of wood. He made no threats to anyone on that day and was killed by a man with malice in his heart and a chip on his shoulder. Nothing the prosecutor does is going to replace what was taken, and if anything good can come from this, let it be a renewed sense of unity among our people. In Johns memory I take a new strength and love for all native people and when I walk the streets of Seattle and see his brothers teaching new students and the younger generation their gift it warms the soul. Rest in paradise John T. Williams.

Written by: Ray Martin aka Bigg Trub

Written by

r/n/z magazine is a d.i.y. style magazine focusing on arts,activism,native american rights,and social justice. with a soundtrack of real country and roots music.

Filed under: Causes, Native American Rights & Culture, People

11 Responses to "JOHN T. WILLIAMS by: Ray Martin"

  1. monica says:

    well written article ray. its good to see you are ignited once more to writing, which is of strong gifts creator has blessed you with~peace

  2. Kymberly says:

    This can be a little something I need to find more information about, appreciation for the article.

  3. BIGG APPRECIATION FOR THE ARTICLE I WASN’T AWARE IT WAS GOING TO BE HERE. A VERY NICE SURPRISE. THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT BROUGHT A LOT OF PAIN AND ANGER INTO MY LIFE AND I STRUGGLED A LOT WITH THE DECISION NOT TO FILE CHARGES AGAINST IAN BIRK. BUT I EXPECTED THAT ALSO. THIS IS STILL VERY NEW OPEN WOUND FOR ME AND HAS EFFECTED ME IN MANY WAYS. I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO MAKE A TRANSITION IN LIFE AND MUSIC, YET I STILL FEEL LIKE MY ANGER FOR THE TREATMENT OF OUR PEOPLE KEEPS DRAGGING ME BAC TO THAT PLACE OF HATE, I HOPE PEOPLE NEVER FORGET WHAT HAPPENED ON THE STREETS OF SEATTLE THAT DAY AND KEEP THE WILLIAMS FAMILY IN THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS. THANK YOU AGAIN AND TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. ALL CLANS, ALL TRIBES, ONE PEOPLE.

    SINCERELY,
    RAY MARTIN AKA BIGG TRUB

    1. El Brown says:

      My dear friend Bigg Trub, my prayers, hugs and thoughts are with you and the Williams family. I agree that we all should take care of each other. I was there in your area and heard about this when it just happened. Healing will take some time so be patient and keep the faith my dear friend.

  4. Thank you Ray, for your article. Your words are very important. Although I’m not related to John Williams, my family shares the same name and I feel a great loss that he was killed in this way. We are all related.

  5. Felecia says:

    Ray,

    This was exceptionally well-written, thought out, and thoroughly researched. I appreciate your candor and the way you respectfully got your point across. This incident is most tragic and is wrong on so many levels. I mourn this loss of a gifted carver whose life was unnecessary taken from him, and his family.

    Thank you for sharing.

    F

  6. Bernard Red Cherries says:

    This the exact reason we cannot and must not “trust” white police officers. This poor brother had no reason to die…..And the police officer who killed him must face some type of repremand and not a pat on the back either. This to brings me to a point of “hate” and “anger”, when we speak the consequences are fatal. And the justice we seek is sent to an early grave. I know many of our Brothers and Sisters are unbalanced and angered, but we must continue to seek Justice and demand accountability of the Seattle Police dept. And continue to pray and ask the “Creator for protection in this time of darkness”.

  7. Richard "Lone Warrior" Leite says:

    excelent report.The country seems to be experiencing an upsurge in unjustified police violence. I saw the video and still wonder why this cop bothered our brother. We must expect that the media will do all they can to defame Mr Williams, but with the witnesses saying otherwise, and Internal Affairs calling the shooting unjustified there remains nothing the media can really do. The Justice Department will no doubt be taking a very hard look at this. I cannot see how they cannot. This was an obvious violation of civil rights and committed “Under Color of Law” which makes it even more severe for law enforcement officers as they are supposed to be held to a higher standard of conduct because of the extensive amount of training they receive. The “Fleeing Felon Standards” are pretty much uniform throughout the nation. The recognized standard is that the officer must “KNOW” as a virtual certanty that the subject in question has used or has treatened to use deadly force in the commission of a crime, and that the subject posses an immanent threat to the lives and safety of the public if he is not stopped immediately.” So I must ask again…how many calls from people in fear were made to the police? This man did not in any way meet these standards. So for his life to be taken is a criminal action that should not be condoned by the law abiding citizens of Seattle. All our ancestors weep at yet another senseless taking of a native life. Our people have been fighting terrorism since 1492.

  8. Alex says:

    Goes to show everyone that these cops now days are untrained rookie punks that are no better than a street thug with a gun!!!!!!!!

  9. Timmy says:

    magnificent submit, very informative.

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