Peacekeepers Interview District Attorney John Humel.
This morning, a team of Peacekeepers sat down for a productive and exciting meeting with District Attorney John Hummel.
One of the very first things Mr. Hummel said was that we could consider anything he said to be “on the record”. He said “If I can’t support my positions publicly, then I shouldn’t hold them privately.” Our team found this to be a refreshing change of pace after Sheriff Nelson flatly refused to answer questions or meet with us, and this openness on the part of the DA helped create an environment for good faith, productive dialog.
The first matter we discussed with DA Hummel was the activist attacked on Saturday. We brought the victim of the assault with us to the meeting, and Mr. Hummel immediately expressed interest in the case. After the victim described the attack, and the Peacekeepers described our evidence, Mr. Hummel agreed that it sounds like a “slam dunk” and even agreed to entertain the idea of pursuing “enhanced charges” by treating the attack as a hate crime (if the evidence supports it, of course).
The next issue that came up was our old friend Greg Walker and his association with Sheriff Shane Nelson. Our readers will remember that Greg Walker is a close personal friend of the Sheriff, and was granted a no bid contract to teach “Verbal Judo” to DCSO. You will also recall that the Peacekeepers broke the story of Walker’s absolutely appalling record of racism, jokes about sexual assault, dehumanizing language about the homeless, and jokes about police misconduct and violence. We asked Mr. Hummel for his response to all of this.
“It’s bullshit, and you can quote me on that.” Hummel said. He made it clear that he considers it inappropriate for an elected official to give away no-bid contracts to their friends. He went on to say that even if Walker *had* bid, he shouldn’t have gotten the contract because “Verbal Judo” is bad training. It perpetuates the “warrior cop” mentality that is the problem in the first place, and that this was the reason the City of Bend declined to have Mr. Walker teach it to their employees. Finally, DA Hummel said that it was a failure on Sheriff Nelson’s part not to vet Walker, and that hiring someone with so much publicly facing racism was inexcusable.
At this point, we outlined our main objection to the Nelson/Walker story. 1) Walker is a close personal friend of Nelson. 2) Walker provides Nelson with “in kind” campaign support by writing opposition pieces about Nelson’s opponent in the election. 3) At the same time Walker is doing work for the Nelson campaign, he’s being awarded a no-bid contract paid with tax dollars. This stinks of corruption to the Peacekeepers, and we asked Hummel for his opinion. He agreed that, at best, it’s inappropriate. The Peacekeepers intend to keep pushing to determine if it’s also a crime.
This brief description is really just the tip of the iceberg for what our team discussed with the Deschutes County District Attorney. There were several ideas we brainstormed with him for meaningful change and progress in Central Oregon. Mr. Hummel was open to these ideas, and we’ll be letting our supporters know more about them as we move forward on them.
As first meetings go, this was as positive as we could have hoped for. We’d like to extend our gratitude to DA Hummel for his candor, and his willingness to work with not only the Peacekeepers, but with the Central Oregon Activist community. The Peacekeepers have a strict policy of not endorsing any candidate or elected official, and we may very well find reasons to disagree or critique Mr. Hummel in the future. That said, hopefully this is just the first in a series of productive meetings with the Deschutes DA.