“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can wake up as a country”
An Oregon man sent to prison for collecting rainwater on his own property began the first day of his jail sentence with a warning that the American people need to stand up to a government that is operating completely outside the boundaries of common sense unless they wish to see liberty vanish.
After an 11-year battle with the state of Oregon, landowner Gary Harrington was found guilty under a 1925 law and sentenced to spend 30 days in jail for collecting rainwater in three “illegal reservoirs” despite the fact that they are on his property.
After refusing to follow an order to empty the “reservoirs” (which in reality are little more than large ponds), Harrington decided to follow through with the jail sentence as an example to other Americans as to how far the country has slipped from its constitutional values.
Harrington’s case has become a cause ¨bre for Americans sick to the back teeth of big government interfering in property rights.
Flanked by protesters gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail, Harrington said he loved his country and was willing to go to jail “to get the truth out and restore freedom and common sense in America.”
Accusing Oregon state officials of failing to uphold their oath of office and pledge of allegiance, Harrington pointed out that citizens did not consent to be governed by those who fail to understand the rights enshrined in the constitution, adding that officials did not take into account the “historically understood” legal right to collect rain water during wet season.
Harrington pointed out that the state had broken their own law by issuing permits to individuals allowing them to divert water from public supplies, whereas Harrington was merely collecting rainwater that fell on his own property and was not taken from municipal supplies.
“Common sense is the basis for common law, without common sense, the law is insane and we did not agree to be governed by insanity or illegality,” said Harrington, adding that throughout American history, citizens have laid their lives down to preserve cherished rights.
“I’m sacrificing my liberty so that we can wake up as a country and stand for our liberty,” said Harrington, adding that his campaign had only just begun.
As we have documented, Harrington’s case is just one of dozens across the country that illustrate how the establishment is using draconian regulatory powers to eviscerate property rights and re-define Americans as de-facto feudal slaves with no inherent rights whatsoever.
This process is being carried out under the umbrella of the United Nations’ Agenda 21 project, which demands that member nations adopt “sustainable development” policies that are little more than a disguise for the reintroduction of neo-feudalism and only serve to reduce living standards and quality of life.
EAGLE POINT — At 13 feet deep and well over an acre in size, one of Gary Harrington’s three illegal reservoirs off Crowfoot Road looks more like a private playground than a rain-fed, backyard fire pond.
A fishing dock lined with rods and rod holders is tethered to shore near an outdoor barbecue. Boats line the bank. A fish feeder floats nearby, dispensing food to the illegally stocked largemouth bass Harrington says he bought from a Medford pet store.
It’s a place where family and friends spend hot summer days and where wildfire rigs can hook up to a water line any time they need a refill, free of charge.
“The fish and the docks are icing on the cake,” says Harrington, 63. “It’s totally committed to fire suppression.”
It’s a story state police and water managers have heard for more than a decade and still consider irrelevant. Ditto for state courts that three times over an 11-year span have convicted Harrington of illegally storing water without a permit. On Wednesday, Harrington must report to the Jackson County Jail for a 30-day sentence for his latest conviction.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Timothy Gerking last month ordered Harrington to drain the ponds, breach the dams built to create them and pay $1,500 in fines.
But Harrington’s not budging, and he’s undergoing a series of gyrations to keep the ponds and dams intact.
Now 0-for-3 in the court system, Harrington is taking his case to the court of public opinion to gather property-rights sympathies as simply a landowner capturing the rain that falls on his land.
To state officials, Harrington is a serial water thief. To supporters, he’s “Rain Man,” a poster boy for those who believe government is overstepping its bounds.
He’s done about two-dozen radio and television appearances since his July 25 sentencing, all carefully screened to ensure his property-rights message gets across.
“We’re controlling what’s being said, so we get the facts out there,” says Dominic Nutter, who calls himself a legal researcher and not a lawyer who is advising Harrington and screening his media requests. “We’re trying to make sure people understand what their rights are.”
Water resources officials say his rights are clear: He cannot store water without a permit, and he does not have a permit.
The law exempts water collected off parking lots or rooftops and funneled into rain barrels, water resources officials say. If it’s not gathered on an artificial, impervious surface, such as a rooftop, then you need a state water-right permit to collect it.
That’s way different than the roughly 40 acre-feet of water — enough to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools — Harrington illegally captures without a water right behind dams as much as 20 feet tall that he built without permits, state officials say.
“Mr. Harrington has operated these three reservoirs in flagrant violation of Oregon law for more than a decade,” Oregon Water Resources Department Deputy Director Tom Paul says.
“What we’re after is compliance with Oregon water law, regardless of what the public thinks of Mr. Harrington,” Paul says.
Harrington said he has appealed his conviction to the Oregon Court of Appeals and has asked the Oregon Supreme Court to step in and keep Gerking’s rulings from being enforced during his appeal.
On July 18, a week after his conviction and a week before his sentencing, Harrington deeded four tax lots that include the three ponds for $4 to the Farm of the Family Health and Recreation Association. Harrington calls it a “private member association” he set up on June 1 that includes Harrington and select friends and family.
Nutter says the ponds now belong to the association, which has no legal beef with water resources managers.
“The crime follows Gary, not the properties,” Nutter says.
Because Harrington was issued three years of bench probation that includes conditions that he drain the reservoirs and breach the dams, those conditions still apply, says Kate Medema, a state Department of Justice spokeswoman.
“If he says he has no authority to do so in light of these deeds, we’ll probably end up back in court,” Medema says. “We expect Mr. Harrington to follow the conditions of his probation.”
Harrington has argued in court filings that neither he nor any Oregonian is beholden to the water resources department because its members failed to take and file the proper oaths of office Harrington claims are required by the Oregon Constitution.
Gerking ruled against Harrington’s claim.
“Mr. Harrington misinterpreted the state and federal constitutions and his reading of them is overly broad,” Medema says. “His reading would, essentially, require every state employee to take an oath of office.”
Harrington has posted signs on his properties warning any state officers to stay off his property, citing protections under the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Sine Harrington’s sentencing, state water-resources officials have attempted to gain access to his property to see whether Harrington has complied with the judge’s order, but were denied, Paul says.
“I think the court is going to look to us to enforce the judge’s order,” Paul says.
Water resources officials further discussed the case last week with Patrick Flanagan, the Department of Justice prosecutor who handled the most recent case, Paul says. Paul declined to discuss the nature of those discussions.
Between radio and television appearances last week, Harrington set up a website with links to interviews on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” and other media outlets. Fox News is owned by News Corp., which also owns the Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings.
The website, www.empoweringthejury.org, includes a petition to the state of Oregon to reverse Harrington’s July 11 guilty verdict.
Harrington has solicited a videographer to film footage showing that his reservoirs don’t have creeks flowing into them. He intends to post it and other information about his defense that he wasn’t allowed to present in court, he says.
Frustrated water managers are unimpressed.
“We’ve been working on this about 10 years,” Paul says. “We very much support what the court did.”
As the water drama continues to play out, Harrington relishes his Rain Man role in what he and his supporters couch as one little guy’s fight against big government.
“I guess I’m not surprised,” Harrington says. “I realized a while ago that this is a fight worth fighting.”
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Poll finds over three quarters of Americans are concerned about government spy drones
A group of activists in Buffalo, New York are pushing local officials to ban the use of unmanned surveillance drones over the city and set a precedent that the rest of the country can follow.
Last week saw the Common Council Legislation Committee of Buffalo hold a public hearing on the use of the aerial vehicles.
Activists from Occupy Buffalo and the Western New York Peace Center attended the meeting and addressed the committee, urging them to prohibit government and law enforcement use of drones.
“You guys have an opportunity to make Buffalo the first drone-free city in the United States, and I hope you take that seriously,” John Washington of Occupy Buffalo told lawmakers.
“Drone manufacturers will push this hard on you and other elected officials, They will say that one of the reasons [for drones] is fighting crime,” said Charles Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center.
“We don’t need drones in the City of Buffalo. We don’t need further militarization of our police department,” he added.
Buffalo News.com notes that the activists have submitted legislation to the council that would ban city officials from purchasing, leasing, borrowing, testing or deploying drones on the grounds that they are a threat to the public and violate constitutional rights.
“Drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to public safety in the air and to persons and property on the ground … due to limitations in drone vision, capability to avoid other aircraft and adequate control,” the legislation states, highlighting the fact that drones are not currently allowed to fly in U.S. airspace without an FAA permit because they don’t have the technology to prevent mid-air collisions.
“Armed drones and surveillance drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to the rights of individual privacy, freedom of association and assembly, equal protection and judicial due process …” the legislation also notes.
The activists continued their case outside City Hall by handing out flyers, and displaying a scale model of a predator drone (pictured above) while reading facts about the technology over a loud speaker to passers by.
The WNY Peace Center says that two council members have said informally that they will support a vote on the issue when the Common Council returns to session in September.
The activists are urging concerned citizens to contact the Mayor and Buffalo Common Council members and demand that they ban drones from the city.
The contact numbers and emails below for the Mayor’s office were provided by the activists:
Byron Brown – Mayor, Room 201. Phone: (716) 851-4841, E-mail: Mayor@city-buffalo.com
Richard A. Fontana – Council President. Phone: 716-851-5151, E-mail: email@example.com
David A. Franczyk. Phone: 716-851-4138, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Darius G. Pridgen. Phone: 716-851-4980, Email: email@example.com
Christopher P. Scanlon. Phone: 716-851-5169, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael J. LoCurto. Phone: 716-851-5155, E-mail: email@example.com
Bonnie E. Russell. Phone: 716-851-5165, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Demone A. Smith – Majority Leader. Phone: 716-851-5145, Email: email@example.com
Joseph Golombek, Jr. Phone: 716-851-5116, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
David A. Rivera. Phone: 716-851-5125, Email: email@example.com
This week, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration told crowds gathered at the nation’s largest robotics conference that regulations are now being drawn up ahead of the deployment of thousands of unmanned drones in US skies.
FAA head Michael Huerta said that over the next three years drones will begin rolling out, adding that “building human consensus … is an equally important task and unbelievably complicated.”
An IBOPE Inteligencia poll released this week found that three quarters of U.S. residents surveyed said they were concerned or very concerned about government using drone aircraft to monitor Americans.
According to the poll, just 25% of adults believe unmanned drones within US airspace are positive, while 60% say the move is negative. A total of 77% are either very concerned (39%) or somewhat concerned (38%) about government monitoring of US citizens, while 20% are either not at all concerned (9%) or somewhat unconcerned (11%). Nearly two-thirds (63%) oppose domestic use of drones as a crime prevention tool.
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets to protest an official explantion of suicide in the death of Chavis Carter, 21, in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Mr Carter was pulled over by police late last month and searched twice by officers who discovered a small $10 bag of marijuana. He was also wanted for skipping probation on another drugs charge.
Mr Carter had his hands cuffed behind his back and put into a police car.