Naked Pumpkin Runner Hearings: Dec 17 and Jan 12

One nice thing about our legal system is that, with a few exceptions, arraignment hearings are public. Anyone — even you! — can attend and observe. Simply having extra eyeballs present in the courtroom, just watching, can encourage judges, lawyers, and cops to apply extra care and common sense in the legal process.

This is why, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been tracking the legal process related to the 12 indecent exposure citations which Boulder police issued to participants in the 10th annual Naked Pumpkin Run late on Halloween night — a jubilant, silly, nonsexual event enjoyed each year by crowds of locals on Boulder’s Pearl St. Mall. If convicted on this charge, all 12 defendants would be required to register as sex offenders. (Under Colorado law, judges appear to have no room to waive that requirement for adults.)

I saw today that the Daily Camera added court date information to its Nov. 4 story about the the upcoming hearings in these cases:

“Because indecent exposure is a state violation, the cases will be heard in Boulder County Court, not the city’s municipal court. Ten of those cited have a Dec. 17 court date. The other two have a Jan. 12 date.”

As I noted earlier, I’ve been calling the local courts to try to find out exactly when and where these hearings will be held. It was pretty confusing, because neither the county nor the municipal court so far (even as of today) has any record of these cases. Then a woman at the county court suggested that maybe the police hadn’t yet sent the tickets to the courts.

Indeed, that’s the case here. I just called the Boulder police, and confirmed that as of today the police have not sent the tickets to the court. However, I did verify that these cases will be heard in county court, on Dec. 17 and Jan. 12.

The hearings will happen at the Justice Center, 6th & Canyon, Boulder. (Map)

I’m encouraging people interested in justice for these defendants to please attend and observe these hearings.

Here’s what to do…

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Boulder Police DID Have Options: Disorderly Conduct Citation

Yesterday, Boulder Daily Camera reporter Amy Bounds interviewed me about my experience at the 10th annual Halloween Naked Pumpkin Run, where 12 streakers were cited by police for indecent exposure. She used that information to expand her Camera story naming those cited — a list that included several local scientists and students. (I wrote about this yesterday.)

Bounds also added to her story a brief quote from Boulder police chief Mark Beckner:

“Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said indecent exposure was the charge that best fit the violation. ‘We don’t set the law,’ he said. ‘As police officers, we enforce it. We don’t get into the sentencing part of it.”

It doesn’t look like the Camera saw fit to push back against Beckner’s facile claim, which is unfortunate. Because the Boulder police did have another option here. They could have chosen to cite the streakers instead under Colorado statute 18-9-106. Disorderly conduct.
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12 Naked Pumpkin Runners Named, Camera Catches Up

UPDATE NOV. 5: The Boulder police had other options. They could have cited streakers for disorderly conduct instead of indecent exposure. Also, the Daily Camera interviewed me on this controversy…

Yesterday, after much prodding from local bloggers (including me) and commenters on its site, the Boulder Daily Camera finally reported that the streakers who got busted by Boulder police at the 10th annual Halloween Naked Pumpkin Run will, if convicted, have to register as sex offenders. Today, the paper also published the names and ages of the 12 streakers who were cited for indecent exposure. All of these people are over 18, and thus under current CO law must register as sex offenders if convicted.

No acknowledgement of the community/independent media role in pressing this issue was offered by the Camera.

I just called the Boulder Municipal Court (303-441-1842), which informed me that Boulder County Courts (303-441-3750) are handling these cases. The county court rep I spoke was surprised, since normally misdemeanor citations handed out within Boulder City Limits get processed through the municipal court system. However, he did say that if indeed the county will be handling those cases, they should have more information on Friday. So I’ll call back then and will post an update. I’ll also check back with the municipal court, just in case they gave me incorrect information.

I’m contacting the local courts because I want to learn the dates and locations of arraignment hearings for the busted streakers. As far as I know, the public (including media) can observe these hearings. It’d be here that we’d learn whether these cases are being plea bargained down, whether there are motions for dismissal, and in general the attitudes of the judges, cops, attorneys, and defendants.

Stay tuned…

Boulder Naked Pumpkin Runners = Sex Offenders? COME ON!

Scene of Boulder’s 2008 Naked Pumpkin Run busts, plus two nearby real (violent) crimes earlier that same day.

UPDATE NOV 4. The names of the 12 busted streakers have been published, so I’m following up on this case via local courts

On Halloween, as I wrote earlier, I went down to Boulder, CO’s Pearl St. pedestrian mall to check out the costumes — which are always spectacular — and to see the annual Naked Pumpkin Run. (Note: that link above goes to my blog post which includes a video containing nudity.) This loosely organized event has a lot of local fans.

The Naked Pumpkin Run is nothing more than that — sometime around 9-10 pm on Halloween, a bunch of people get naked, put jack-o-lanterns on their heads, and run en masse down the Pearl St. Mall. It’s not sexual, violent, dangerous, or threatening. It’s just silly. It’s unique. It’s fun. It’s exuberant. It’s positive and life-affirming.

And: It’s illegal.

Unlike in previous years, the Boulder police were out in force for this event, where they ticketed several runners for indecent exposure. Consequently, several fun-loving local folks may end up suffering life-altering public stigma as registered sex offenders.

No kidding.

The Colorado Daily posted this video of the event, including some footage of the busts:

Need some irony? All this happened less than 24 hours after two remarkably violent assaults, which occurred just a half-mile from the scene of the Naked Pumpkin Run busts.

Here are the details, as best as I’ve been able to gather them so far… Continue reading

Boulder Naked Pumpkin Run: Halloween 2008

IMPORTANT UPDATE NOV. 2: I researched applicable Colorado law. It does indeed appear that any Naked Pumpkin Runner whose indecent exposure citation gets upheld in court will have to register as a sex offender! Read the details

I just got back from hanging out in downtown Boulder, enjoying the Halloween freakery. The peak of the evening was the 10th annual running of the Naked Pumpkin Run, where a bunch of people put jack-o-lanterns on their heads and streak down the Pearl St. Mall.

Yeah, the cops aren’t happy about this. This year, they ticketed lots of runners, and it look like some may have been arrested. Which seems odd considering the context of today’s local news:

Boulder Daily Camera Halloween News

Boulder Daily Camera Halloween News

Given that, I would’ve thought Boulder’s cops would have had more important law enforcement activities on hand tonight than busting harmless streakers…

Anyway, with that strange introduction, I give you some video of tonight’s Naked Pumpkin Run!…

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The Stereogram Approach to Finding the Meaning of Life

Gary W. Priester (Click image to enlarge.)
Often, the first challenge in life is simply to see the target.

I really used to hate stereograms.

When they became popular in the early 1990s, they often reduced me to serious frustration and headaches. I would stare at them — glare at them, really — trying to will their embedded 3D images to leap out. Everyone else seemed to enjoy these hidden illusions with ease. But my eyes and brain stubbornly refused to do the trick.

Then one day, I realized that I was looking at a dolphin. I just glanced at the cover of a book of stereogram art, and there it was. I was delighted to discover that the image wasn’t “leaping out” at me — rather, I was “seeing into” it. I wasn’t even sure how I’d started to see the hidden picture. All of the sudden, and quietly, it just worked.

Years later, I’ve come to realize that whenever I’ve identified a key mission or purpose I should pursue, it’s emerged (very much like that dolphin) from the background of the world around me. I get a sense that some vision is waiting to be seen, and I prepare my mind to be open to it. Then eventually I see it, and it feels like I always should have seen it.

In contrast, whenever I’ve tried the top-down, primarily rational (rather than intuitive) approach to choosing a course in life, I usually end up not really wanting what I’ve been working for, or liking what I’ve done — which is frustrating and demoralizing on many levels.

I’ve been quiet on this blog lately, mostly because I’ve been spending more time conversing, research, reading, and journaling. To be honest, I’ve been searching for purpose. For a couple of years now — although I’ve been doing a lot of interesting work, meeting a lot of interesting people, and learning a lot of interesting things — privately I’ve been feeling like I’ve been flailing around, seeking direction and purpose.

Finally, I feel like the picture is starting to emerge. Here is the outline so far…
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Bhutto Assassination News via Blogs, Twitter

The Teeth announcement on Twitter of Bhutto’s assassination, viewed via Snitter.

This morning as I was making tea, I learned via NPR that Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Google News already offers a slew of mainstream news coverage of the assassination — based almost entirely on reporting done outside Pakistan, since tight restrictions on journalists remain in force in Pakistan even though President Pervez Musharraf lifted lifted six weeks of emergency rule on Dec. 15. (More on that country’s press restrictions from the International Federation of Journalists and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.)

Given the current dearth of available professional journalism from within Pakistan, the country’s lively blogosphere — much of it in English — has become a key source of original and diverse news, analysis, commentary, and context from around that troubled nation. Today especially would be a good time to start paying close attention to Pakistani blogs.

One of the easiest places to get started is a blog aggregator with the unlikely name of Teeth Maestro

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I’m Twittering the Spanish Digital Journalism Seminar

Following on Steve Outing’s Tidbits post about using Twitter to cover breaking news…

Right now I’m attending the second day of the Seminari Internacional de Periodisme Digital, held at the chic modern Neapolis center at Vilanova i la Geltru, on the Spanish coast of the Mediterranean. I’m posting highlights from my notes via Twitter. If you want to follow me there, I’m agahran on Twitter.

The session about to begin now: Citizen journalist case studies. Pau Llop of the citJ site Bottup (“Bottom Up”), and Marta Torres and Laura Rahoa of BdeBarna.

Participatory Journalism in the USA: My Talk

J-Lab’s Jan Schaffer will be a hard act to follow, but I’ll do my best.

Next Tuesday in Barcelona, Spain, I’ll be teaming up with J-Lab’s Jan Schaffer to give a talk on Participatatory Journalism in the USA: Opportunities and Challenges. This is part of the fourth Online Media Week. I’m really excited about it. I wish Jan could actually be there, but she ended up not being able to attend in person so she’ll be giving her talk via webcast.

Here’s Jan’s presentation (streaming video), and here are her slides (PowerPoint). It’s a great overview, check it out.

After Jan gets to answer some questions live (technology permitting), I’ll expand this discussion by talking about the bigger picture: Why participatory journalism matters, why it isn’t new, and how the news landscape might evolve because of participatory journalism.

What follows is merely my best guess about how my part of the talk will go. Of course, I don’t really do speeches; I prefer to engage groups in conversation so we can explore issues and think things through together. That’s much more fun for everyone. So I will most definitely stray from this script at some point during the talk. (So translators, be forewarned!)

With that, here’s what I’d like to be able to cover…
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CA Wildfires: Watershed Moment for Collaborative Online News?

fire.jpg
Alex Miroshnichenko
Freelance photojournalist Alex Miroshnichenko is offering great fire coverage (and smart marketing of his skills) with Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr.

For the last few days at Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, I’ve been blogging examples of innovative ways that online media is being used to cover the Southern CA wildfires. It’s been astonishing. There have been cool efforts from mainstream news orgs like SignOn San Diego and the Los Angeles Times and even FOX News.

But also, regular people and even some government officials have been using blogs, forums, mapping tools, social media sites, citizen journalism sites like NowPublic, media-sharing services like Flickr, and even Twitter to share news, information, updates, and assistance.

Personally, I think this is shaping up to be a watershed moment for online news. This time, it all seems to be coming together in a new way.

In particular, the collaborative tone of this content that strikes me as significant: map mashups, databases, forums, photo groups, social media, Twitter updates… You can really get a direct sense of how people fit into this story, what they’re doing, and what they want or need. It’s personal, diverse, detailed, and comprehensive.

This is a whole different concept of “news.” It’s becoming a verb, something you DO — not just a noun (a thing that you passively receive)….

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