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Crowd Rallies For Teenager Protesters Want Charges Brought Against Woman

Thu., Oct. 17, 1996

More than 100 people gathered Wednesday in Spokane to ask the county prosecutor’s office to press charges against a woman who stabbed a black teenage boy.

The protesters circulated petitions asking Prosecutor Jim Sweetser, who has ruled out criminal charges, to take another look at the case.

Supporters of 17-year-old stabbing victim Tim Buchanan, including church and community leaders, rallied outside the Public Safety Building.

They have accused Sweetser’s office and investigating sheriff’s deputies of racism.

“I agree with the officers when they say this confrontation didn’t start out as a racial problem,” said Bernice Buchanan, the boy’s mother. “But the way they handled it made it racial. A black person was stabbed and nothing happened.”

Sweetser said he has no intention of changing his mind.

“We haven’t received any new information (about the case) that would warrant that,” he said Wednesday night.

Sweetser said his critics ought to remember the Chris Lindholm case. Four years ago, Lindholm, a white supremacist from Texas, shot a mixed-race couple at the old downtown bus station.

Lindholm received a 24-year prison sentence for assault, attempted murder, malicious harassment and robbery.

“If our department doesn’t take racism seriously, and if we are racists, then why would we have taken an aggressive stand against Lindholm?” Sweetser asked.

“We do take cases of race seriously. But in this case, the evidence isn’t there to support the claim.”

Karen Beeman has admitted stabbing Buchanan, a University High School senior, during a Sept. 7 brawl at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds. At the time, Buchanan was fighting with Beeman’s son, Tristan, a senior at rival East Valley High.

Buchanan has since recovered from several stab wounds.

Acting on the advice of Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll and four sheriff’s detectives, Sweetser determined that Beeman’s actions were justified because she was trying to protect her son.

“This is totally unjust,” Tim Buchanan Sr., the boy’s father, said at the rally. “This woman has been allowed to be judge and jury over the situation.”

Supporters of the Buchanans say if a black man had stabbed a white woman in such a scuffle, the man would be arrested.

Karen Beeman recently said publicly that she is of Samoan descent and not white, as some of the critics assumed.

That fact, however, did little to dampen Wednesday’s protest.

“I think it’s a shame and a disgrace,” said the Rev. Happy Watkins, vice president of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter. “All we are asking is that the prosecutors treat the situation fairly.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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