The two big questions about plainclothes deputies' arrest of the Spokane DSA's Jeremy Logan before a Black Lives Matter rally

click to enlarge Jeremy Logan, Spokane's co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, claims sheriff's deputies didn't identify themselves when he was picked up on an old warrant. - JEREMY LOGAN PHOTO
Jeremy Logan photo
Jeremy Logan, Spokane's co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, claims sheriff's deputies didn't identify themselves when he was picked up on an old warrant.

In mid-July, Oregon Public Broadcasting broke a particularly outrageous story: Federal law enforcement officers were driving around Portland, sweeping up protesters in unmarked vehicles, refusing to tell the protesters who they were, which agency they were with, or what they were being arrested for. By August, the practice had become a part of a federal congressional hearing.

After last Sunday's protests in Spokane, Jeremy Logan, Spokane's co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and a vocal critic of the police, alleged that something similar happened to him.

A Huffington Post article laid out Logan's claims that while walking to Sunday's protest, he was apprehended by six men in plain clothes, at least one of whom was armed. They threw him in the back of an unmarked silver Dodge Caravan, telling him had an outstanding warrant and was under arrest.
But the men, according to Logan, repeatedly refused to identify themselves, never showed a badge, and gave various contradictory answers about which county the warrant was from.

The men — he says he only later learned they were sheriff's deputies — handed him off to Spokane police officers, who brought him to the Spokane County Jail.

Now the Spokane County Sheriff's Office strongly disputes the accuracy of Logan's claims.


To be clear, there's no dispute over whether the sheriff's office had the right to arrest Logan. Logan has a longstanding Douglas County warrant for "failure to appear" on the books.

Instead, the issue pivots on two critical questions: First, did the sheriff's office swoop in in plain clothes and refuse to tell Logan who they were? And second, did the sheriff's office only choose now to arrest Logan because of his "All Cops Are Bastards" rhetoric and his support of Black Lives Matter?

Let's take each issue separately.  

DID THE SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES PROPERLY IDENTIFY THEMSELVES?

In an interview with the Inlander, Logan reiterates that he didn't see the plainclothes deputies wearing any badges or displaying any sort of identification.


"I asked them repeatedly who they were," Logan says of the sheriff's deputies who arrested him. "The only time I got a response, they told me, 'not to worry about it.'"

He says he worries that these kinds of plainclothes arrest tactics could open up the floodgates to allow right-wing militants to kidnap protesters by pretending to be plainclothes officers.

But an exasperated sheriff's spokesman Mark Gregory, stepping away from his vacation to answer the Inlander's phone calls, strongly disputed the claim that the deputies, part of the sheriff's investigative unit, didn't identify themselves.

He says that according to the deputies who'd made the arrest, they verbally identified themselves as being from the sheriff's office, told him he was under arrest, and said that one of the deputies making the arrest had a badge "hanging on a chain around his neck" and that another had a vest with identification on it. He accuses Logan of "intentionally trying to stoke a response."

"Do you honestly believe he would have got into a van if he didn't know who it was? If they didn't say they were the cops?" Gregory says. "Do you honestly think he wouldn't have been screaming and yelling? This is him putting out a story that we do not agree with and we do not believe is factual."

Of course, if the Spokane Police Department were doing the initial arrests, we might have been able to rely on body-camera or dashcam footage. But the Spokane County Sheriff"s Office doesn't have body cameras, often pitting the word of a suspect against the word of the deputies.

Still, there were other witnesses. Will Neville, an associate of Logan's, says he was about 10 feet away from Logan during the protest. He says he did not hear the deputies identify where they from, even when asked directly.

"I was like, 'Who the hell are you, what’s going on?'” Neville says. “They never said anything. ... I felt powerless.


Neville says he didn't see any of the deputies wearing a badge around their neck, but did see "
one of those little police badge things" on the front of the vest one of the deputies was wearing.

Still, he says it wasn't clear which agency was identified on the vest, and says that "it
seemed like some makeshift one that you could buy from a surplus store that says you’re police."

He does say that Logan appeared to know why he was being arrested, telling Neville that it was "for fines."

Logan says that after the deputies arrested him, they brought him to a Spokane police officer, who took him to jail. He says the officer confirmed to him he had been arrested by law enforcement officers but when he asked "what kind of officers were those?" he said "I don't know."

Spokane Police Department spokesman Sgt. Terry Preuninger says the officer who transported broadly confirms this account, saying Logan asked "who were those guys?" and the officer responded, "I don’t know who they are."

But
Preuninger says the officer just meant that he didn't personally know the names of the sheriff's deputies. He further claims that, after watching the body camera footage, there was nothing to suggest that Logan was freaked out by the incident.

"
There is no sense in his voice of panic or that he doesn’t know what’s going on,"
Preuninger says. "It seemed to be so benign it wasn’t funny."

He acknowledges that there are people critical of the use of plainclothes officers, but he defends the tactic. 

"There are groups that do not like the fact that we have plainclothes capability. We accomplish so much work in our community for a plainclothes' capacity," says Preuninger. "I have been a very sneaky police officer. And have put a lot of terrible people in prison by being sneaky."

But other times, the use of plainclothes officers or unmarked cars can end in tragedy.

In 2010, Spokane Valley Rev. Wayne Scott Creach brought his handgun to check on a car parked on private property. It turned out the car was an unmarked sheriff's deputy vehicle, and Creach was shot and killed in the resulting confrontation. 

Logan worries that this incident could have ended the same way if he were less peaceful.

"They never identified themselves even as officers," Logan says. "If I were a more violent man or armed and paranoid and they had done that, I would have been within my rights to shoot them, I would think."

WHY WAS LOGAN TO BE ARRESTED NOW?

Logan knew he had a Douglas County warrant out for his arrest. He says he had leftover probationary fines after his conviction for possession of heroin.
But back in 2013, he says, he tried to negotiate a $50-a-month payment schedule over those fines.

"They said that wasn't enough, and that they would issue a warrant," Logan says. "I said, 'I guess you'll have to issue a warrant.'"

In fact, Logan says he'd been pulled over twice in Spokane County, once by a sheriff's deputy and once by an SPD officer, and was told that he had a warrant out for his arrest. But he says that Douglas County didn't want to go to the hassle of bringing him all the way to the county to jail him for a fine.

"This is just another step of trying to bash law enforcement and make law enforcement look wrong, when he knew he had a warrant," Gregory says. "Whether he got arrested today, a week ago, six months from now, doesn't matter."

But Logan says it does matter: Why, he asks, would six officers converge on him to arrest him immediately before a Black Lives Matter rally, for something as small as some unpaid fines?

He suggests it was retaliation, maybe for his comments about "antifa" in a July Inlander article.
Gregory says the deputies had attempted to find Logan recently, and even spotted him at another event but then lost him in the crowd.

He says they looked up his warrant status, not because of his political activism, but because he'd made "threatening comments toward law enforcement" online.

Normally, it would be easy to comb through Logan's social media history to see if he'd said anything threatening.

But here's the problem: After Logan got out of jail, he took down both of his Facebook pages. He claims it was because he didn't want to have to respond to some of his right-wing Facebook friends attacking him after he shared his story.

"I didn't want to deal with people that I used to know, that I used to be friends with, telling me I'm a piece of shit so that they can defend the police,"  Logan says.

Preuninger, with the police department, says that he believes one of Logan's comments supposedly made reference to "cutting the heads off of pigs."

Logan says a lot of derisive things about cops.

"I talk about pigs all the time. They are pigs," Logan told the Inlander. "And Sheriff Ozzie is this biggest clown-pig of them all."

But he initially scoffed at the idea that he'd said anything about doing violence to pigs.

"Cutting the heads off of pigs?" Logan said. "No, I don't recall anything like that ... Never anything about slaughtering pigs or anything."

He says he never had the intention of making any sort of threats toward police officers.

"If you wanted to purposely misinterpret a joke or something, then I don't know. You would have to reach to find an actual threat," Logan says. "I've shared posts of riot footage where police officers have been knocked down or where people are making fun of them or that sort of thing... But when you compare that to the violence they commit, it's absurd."

But after the Inlander repeatedly pressed the sheriff's office on what Logan's comments were, Gregory sent over an image with two screenshots. One included a Facebook comment from Logan on June 29, writing about how he wants to "take these pigs' heads off with a hand saw."

click to enlarge FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT PROVIDED BY THE SPOKANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Facebook screenshot provided by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office

"One of our guys took a Facebook screencap of it before his Facebook site magically went dark," Gregory says.

Gregory says that the comments were non-specific enough to be protected under the First Amendment, despite their violent nature. Still, it was a reason for law enforcement to look into his background, and that's where they found the old warrant for his arrest.
He says Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich plans to provide additional context around this issue on Tuesday.

When confronted by the Inlander about the screenshot, Logan admitted he'd written it.

"I didn’t tell you that I didn’t," Logan says. "I said I don’t believe that I did. Now I remember it."

He says the comments had been triggered by viewing footage of police violence after some of the George Floyd protests.

"It had nothing to do with Spokane. I don’t see anything wrong with what I said," Logan says. "I was upset. It was frustrating."

In an Inlander interview earlier this year, Logan defended the protesters who destroyed property, arguing that they're an expression of righteous populist rage against capitalist institutions like Wells Fargo that have a "long history of systemic racism with redlining and predatory banking against the poor."

Today, he says he believes that
"destruction of property has been a useful tactic" and argues that rioting is defensible, even if it's not always the best option.

"I think blocking [roadways] is more useful than burning buildings down," Logan says today. "But it sure did get a lot of people's attention."

Still, he makes a distinction between defending actions and endorsing them.

But what about out-and-out violence? Does he believe that it's justifiable to, say, throw rocks at police officers?

Only in self-defense, he says. If the cops are swinging their batons or attacking protesters, he believes turnabout is fair play.

"Why should the state, who has been completely inept in dealing these situations, have a monopoly on violence?" he says. "What should the response of people who have violence committed against themselves over and over again be? Are they not allowed to defend themselves?"

Still, Logan stresses that he personally wouldn't use destructive or violent tactics during protests.

"I personally am never going to destroy property," he says. "I'm a 40-year-old man who has a painting business."

Logan argues that the way he was arrested was clearly meant to intimidate him.

"The way it was done was meant to terrorize me. All you have to do is come and f—-ing talk to me and say you have a warrant," Logan says. "It was meant to terrorize me and make me feel uncertain about things."

And indeed, when the
Inlander spoke with Logan, he expressed concerns about being watched, saying he'd seen men in black vans on his street this morning.

But he promises he's not going to back down. 

"I'm not going to take this and be afraid of them and go into hiding and not continue to organize," Logan says. "I see this as only helping me to organize people. ... All leftist organizations are going to be united around this. People are pissed. Everyone's outraged."

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...