Ranjnii Eddins, the local poet and teacher who was arrested two months ago, after inquiring about a student's arrest, is reaching out to family, friends, community and the media on the popular online site, MySpace.com.
In a series of blogs on the personalized site at www.myspace.com/rajniicares, Eddins describes his April arrest and calls on justice organizations, educators and business leaders to support his plight.
The NAACP has taken it on already. Eddins, along with other local Seattle residents of color who have been arrested by Seattle Police, spoke at an NAACP conference about the police's lack of follow-up on citizen complaints in mid-April.
Eddins had a pre-trial hearing on May 29 at the King County Courthouse.
In a letter posted to Eddins' MySpace site, Eddins' mother, Randee Eddins, says the experience has taught her family a valuable lesson.
"I guess the lesson the police would have our community learn here is we must warn other educators do not approach the police armed with a question," Randee Eddins writes. "Mothers and fathers do not, youth do not, students do not, concerned community members do not, advocates do not, activists do not ... approach the police whose salary you pay armed with a question ... especially if you are black, brown, red, yellow, bi-racial or low-income."
Eddins' case started on April 5.
While walking to Rainier Beach High School where he was directing a play on the dangers of teen smoking, Eddins, 26, saw a female student being arrested outside the Lake Washington Apartments just across the street from the school.
Eddins said he approached the officers and asked what the girl was being charged with because he was concerned about the girl's parents being notified. She was arrested after police discovered she had an outstanding warrant. Eddins said Officer Nelson asked him what his relationship to the girl was and told him to back up. Eddins says he did and that he told the officers he was a teacher at the high school with no criminal record and asked again what the girl was being charged with.
Police say they were trying to break up a large fight and claim Eddins ignored their orders. Police say they felt concerned for their safety due to the increase in high-crime, gang and narcotics activity at the apartment complex.
Eddins claims he was then patted down for drugs and weapons, and told by Officer Nelson he was going to jail as well. Eddins asked what for and called the situation "ridiculous." In a letter sent via email to supporters, Eddins says he was then placed in handcuffs and moved to a squad car.
Eddins said it wasn't until his release, at midnight that night, that he had learned he was being detained for obstruction of an officer.
Eddins is heavily involved in the community with his spoken word and poetry performances throughout the city and has even performed in the Seattle City Council chambers and Benaroya Hall. He works with local schools on anti-violence though art programs, and was chosen to be part of Seattle's National slam team for 2004 and 2005. He has been nominated for Seattle Poet Populist. Eddins is also a foster brother to 54 foster children his mother helped raise over the years.
Eddins mother questions how officers can become overzealous and arrest someone for asking questions when he was just concerned for the girl's safety and wants to seek positive resolution to racial profiling so it doesn't happen to anyone else.
Randee said Eddins is also the grandson and nephew of law enforcement officers — her father was a retired police officer and her brother is an officer with the sheriff's department.
NAACP President James Bible says he is concerned about the recent stories of what he calls racially motivated arrests and wants the Office of Police Accountability, an internal unit which investigates and reports on citizen complaints, turned into a unit overseen by pubic citizens.
To read more about Eddins' case, visit www.myspace.com/rajniicares.