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Botaitis eventually left the apartment but was arrested later that evening by Vancouver police. The charges were "first-degree burglary-domestic violence, second-degree assault and felony criminal harassment" (Oregonian, October 26). He pleaded not guilty and was released on $100,000 bail (Associated Press, October 28). He was placed on paid leave and given a no-contact order regarding Ms. Botaitis and Mr. Bacus.
According to his brother, John, who spoke on his behalf, David Bacus is a convicted sex offender and was to have no contact with the Botaitis' 7 year old son, who is in the home of Ms. Botaitis during part of the week. He said the officer was trying to protect the child for whom he has custody (The Columbian, October 28).
Botaitis is no stranger to brutality. In 2009, he and officer Bret Burton (of James Chasse case fame) went to a condo complex to address a parking dispute. He encountered Lyudmila Trivol, who was trying to stop the family car from being impounded. Botaitis pushed her to the ground, stepped on her, pushed her face into the mud and broke her arm (PPR #48). Trivol was subsequently awarded $18,500 in a lawsuit against the city, the county and the condo association, including $5,000 paid by the City of Portland.
On August 23, members of the Portland Police Bureau's graffiti abatement team helped shut down an artists' space in a southeast warehouse, claiming the gallery's "street-art" themed shows had led to an uptick in local vandalism. Todd Durham, owner of the Railyard gallery, hosted a show that started July 4 which included art on the outside of the building. Officer Anthony Zanetti (#40588) threatened a $500 fine against a second gallery, the Samo Lives, because the gallery had failed to apply for a mural permit. Serre Murphy, owner of that gallery, told the Portland Mercury (September 1): "We haven't done any tagging, all we've done is beautiful artwork," but painted over the mural anyway. Durham says the outside murals are meant to deter taggers from hitting the building--the opposite of what the police accuse him of. Ironically, the October Rap Sheet, newsletter of the police "union," has a list of ways to lessen graffiti. #1 on the list? Protect local mural projects!
When Zanetti and another graffiti cop showed up in late August to help lock the Railyard out of its warehouse space, giving them a five day deadline to clear out, Durham was shocked. As well he should be--since when do cops dealing with outdoor spray-painting of private property have the right to close down an art gallery? At the time of the art show, Zanetti and six other cops were stopping people on their way into and out of the gallery (Mercury Blog, August 25).
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through citizen action.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.