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Community Comment

Remembering poor Otto Zehm…

Dr. John Olsen
Dr. John Olsen

Good morning, Netizens...

Photo Credit: Dr. John Olsen

Of the forty to sixty people present yesterday at the Zip Trip where Spokane Police Department killed Otto Zehm, less than a handful of those present actually knew the former janitor in life. In the four years and one day that have expired since that fateful day, despite representatives from both sides having retained legal counsel and clammed up, very little but the semantics has changed.

Some call the incident an altercation; others call it a confrontation. On the face of it, based upon the damning bit of videotape from the Zip Trip Store's security cameras, Otto Zehm, who was armed only with a 1 liter plastic bottle of soda, never stood a chance of winning any confrontation with the Spokane Police Department that night. No, beaten to the floor into submission, and repeatedly beaten and tasered time after time on-camera and eventually choking to death on an anti-spit mask, he was apparently murdered by the very police force sworn to protect and serve him. That, too, is semantically a slip.

None of the linguistics, however, will ever change the fact that Otto Zehm died, an innocent in the face of unspeakable brutality, sloppy communication and poor administrative policies by the police.

What is the greater tragedy is that after four years and change, only a handful of Spokane citizens, for the most part strangers to Otto Zehm, showed up to remember his pitifully-short run at life. In an altruistically-perfect world, thousands of angry citizens should have showed up and clamored in one voice, demanding that this ugly affair be brought to closure, that the guilty parties in the murder of Otto Zehm be brought to trial, but that didn't happen. The City of Spokane, that sweet-smelling unmalodorous piece of democratic justice in action, should be standing at our side demanding justice for Otto Zehm, but that has not happened either.

Liz Riley for the Peace, Justice and Action League (PJALS), for all her vast capabilities and administrative improvements, still has yet to learn that in order to hold a public demonstration, that she needs to inform the public well in advance, not just the same predictable members of PJALS.

In the Bible it states that Jesus wept. In Community Comment let history show that Dave stood and bawled his eyes out because only forty people showed up to protest the unwarranted death of an innocent man. Never forget Otto.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.