Radical media, politics and culture.

Shunka Wakan, "The Death of Gypsy Chain"

"The Death of 'Gypsy' Chain"

Shunka Wakan

March 17th, 2005
To: Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept.

From: Shunka Wakan, eyewitness

Re: Investigation into the death of David Chain, Sept. 17th, 1998

My name is Shunka Wakan. I was and am an eyewitness to what I believe was
the murder of David Chain, on September 17th, 1998, in the Grizzly Creek/Van Duzen
River watershed, near Grizzly Creek State Park.

As an eyewitness, I personally heard the threats made by the Maxxam/PL worker,
A.E. Ammons, just before he began falling trees in our direction. Within the hour, David
Chain was dead, crushed beneath a tree that had been intentionally fallen in our direction. I was nearly crushed that day, as well, and can still remember the feeling of debris pelting
the back of my head and being surrounded by a cloud of duff and dust, as the tree fell just
feet behind me, killing David Chain.

Although an "investigation" was carried out by Terry Farmer's office, the former
District Attorney of Humboldt County, and his homicide detective, Juan Freeman,
David's death was called an "accident."

On the videotape taken that day, less than an hour before David's death, A.E.
Ammons clearly threatens to intentionally fall trees in our direction. He also states that
he wishes he had brought his pistol, and intends to bring it with him, on the job, in the
future. He then goes towards his saw, and instructs his partner to get him his saw, so that
he can start falling trees "into the fucking draw." He knew that we were on the other side
of the shallow gully, and so his words prove that he intended to fall trees in our direction.
We were up there, "trespassing," because we had reason to believe that Maxxam
Corp./Pacific Lumber Co. was illegally harvesting trees, engaging in fraudulent behavior,
and violating marbled murrelet nesting survey and protection laws.

We were exercising our right to protest non-violently, and were, admittedly,
engaging in non-violent civil disobedience. Trespassing has never been punishable by
death, and falling trees at activists cannot be a legal way to deal with trespassers of any
sort. We were merely attempting to have dialogue with the Maxxam/Pacific Lumber
employee, when he began assaulting us with his words, threatening to fall trees at us,
throwing rocks at us, and building up to acting on his threats.

It is my intention to bring criminal homicide charges against Maxxam
Corporation/Pacific Lumber Co. As a citizen of this country and this county, I know that
I have the right to non-violently protest without being assaulted, battered, and/or killed.

Since corporations have corporate personhood, they can also be charged criminally, just
like people. Further investigation can pierce the corporate veil; for now, as a citizen, it is
my intention to bring criminal homicide charges against Maxxam Corporation/Pacific
Lumber Co.

When someone says that they're going to kill you, and/or do something that
would most likely result in your death, and then they carry through with those threats,
and one or more of the threatened people gets killed as a direct result of that action, the
death ceases to be purely "accidental."
I have hard evidence, the videotape from that very day, which very clearly shows
a Maxxam/PL employee threatening to fall trees at us, less than an hour before David's
death. This is exactly what he did, and David was killed as a direct result. How is this an

I understand that an "investigation" has already been done. If that prevents you
from re-opening the investigation, then I would like to expand my criminal complaint to
include former Humboldt County District Attorney Terry Farmer, former homicide
detective Juan Freeman, and former sheriff Dennis Lewis, for criminal conspiracy. The transcripts from the interviews with Juan Freeman clearly show the biased lines of
questioning. The fact that Freeman's determination was to recommend involuntary
manslaughter charges against us eyewitnesses, to D.A. Terry Farmer, and no charges
whatsoever against Maxxam/Pacific Lumber Co. or the logger who fell the trees at us,
clearly shows his bias in this case. How could any unbiased detective possibly decide to
charge the victims of a crime with the very same crime that was committed against them?

This is very reminiscent of the case of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, two
prominent Earth First!ers who were car-bombed in Oakland, CA, in 1990, and then
accused and investigated for carrying the bomb themselves. They, like us eyewitnesses,
were never officially charged, yet the suspicion was planted in the mind of the public,
through the media, and then the entire investigation was dropped. The truth was later
brought out in the civil suit brought by Bari and Cherney, against the F.B.I. and Oakland
P.D., with Bari and Cherney victorious in clearing their names and winning the lawsuit.

Now the criminal investigation can continue in the Bari case, since the question still
remains, "who bombed Judi Bari?"
Calling David Chain's death a mere "accident" undermines the entire justice
system, and sets a dangerous precedent for the future. When an employee of a corporation and/or company can willingly endanger, and even take the lives of, members
of the public, and it can be overlooked as an "accident," it sends a message to the
corporations and companies that it's "ok" to "deal with" people in this manner.

As it sits on the Humboldt County record, David Chain's death was an "accident."
This should be an embarrassment to the people of Humboldt County, to have such blatant
falsehoods as part of their heritage. The investigation of the death of David Chain should be re-opened, so that the details of the case can be re-examined, and brought
before a jury of Humboldt County residents. I feel that, if the facts were presented, a jury
would have to find Maxxam/Pacific Lumber guilty of some degree of homicide, and
would also find a very slanted and biased investigation, with Juan Freeman, Terry
Farmer, Dennis Lewis, and Maxxam/Pacific Lumber involved in a criminal conspiracy to
conceal murder.

A wrongful death civil suit against Maxxam Corp./Pacific Lumber Co. was filed
and won by David Chain's family, in an out-of-court settlement. This should provide
some proof that there was enough negligence on Maxxam/Pacific Lumber's part to
convince them to settle, rather than to fight it, which they seemingly would have done if
they thought that they were completely innocent. Since corporations now have corporate
personhood, they can also be criminally charged, just like any person. The fraud suit
currently being brought against Pacific Lumber Co., by the Humboldt County District
Attorney's office, is a prime example of how this can be done.

Mr. Gallegos mentioned re-opening the investigation, on public radio, during his
initial election campaign. Steve Schectman, who has recently volunteered his time and
services to Paul Gallegos's office, was the prosecuting attorney in the wrongful death
civil suit brought by David Chain's family against Maxxam/Pacific Lumber Co. He has
intimate knowledge of the details of David Chain's death, as well as the biased nature of
the investigation by Det. Juan Freeman.

This issue has become such a part of my life that
I feel that I could prosecute this case myself, with the help of other eyewitnesses and the
documents that detail the investigation. However, if Mr. Gallegos's office would allow
this investigation to be re-opened, with the help of Mr. Schectman, I feel that
Maxxam/Pacific Lumber could be prosecuted for some degree of homicide. At the very
least, the conclusion of "accident" could be re-evaluated, and put before a jury, so that the
people can decide if David Chain's death was, or was not, an "accident."

I also have a new character witness, who will remain anonymous at this time,
who has expressed willingness to testify. How would a jury feel about knowing that the
Maxxam/PL employee later bragged about killing David?

As a citizen of this county, and this country, I believe that I have the right to bring
forth criminal charges against any entity, as long as I have sufficient evidence to prove
my claim. I believe that I do have sufficient evidence to prove that David Chain's death
was not a mere "accident." Having talked with many Humboldt County residents over
the years, I know that there are a lot of people who believe that the investigation and
conclusion to that investigation had been corrupted by big timber dollars and influence.
The investigation into the death of David Chain deserves to be re-opened, so that justice
can be served.

Since David Chain's death, there have been more instances of Maxxam/Pacific
Lumber employees falling trees with members of the public in the area. Additional
threats have also been made, with Maxxam/PL employees vocally expressing that people
are "at their own risk" in a Maxxam/Pacific Lumber work area. A company as large as
Maxxam/Pacific Lumber should have a very specific method for dealing with members
of this public in their work areas. The first step should be to turn off their saws. The
second step should be to call their supervisors, who would then call law enforcement.
Law enforcement could then come out, with regulatory agency representatives, if the
legality of the operation is in question, and make a determination as to whether the
operation should continue or not. If the operation is fully legitimate, and the member of
the public still refuses to leave, then a legitimate arrest could follow. If, on the other
hand, the operation is found to in violation of the federal Endangered Species, for
example, then the work operation could be shut down; if the company and/or workers
refused to leave, then they would also be subject to the same arrest procedure.

Since the pattern of violence and endangering members of the public has not
ceased since David Chain's death, or the victory in the wrongful death civil suit, I feel
that the only recourse left is to bring criminal charges against Maxxam/Pacific Lumber,
to show negligence and liability in the case of David Chain's death, and to show a
continuing pattern of violence towards members of the public citizenry. A conviction of
this sort might discourage Maxxam/Pacific Lumber, and other companies like them, from
allowing violence towards people, and encourage them to develop and employ a
systematic, non-violent method for dealing with conflict, which is frequent and
widespread in these days and times.

Please take this matter seriously, as it is a very serious matter, and deserves our
serious attention. The point here is to bring forth truth and justice, and to avoid further
injuries and deaths. Thank you for your time.


Shunka Wakan

North Coast Earth First! Media

920 Samoa Blvd., Suite #221

Arcata, CA 95521

(707) 822-1513