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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

“Whatcom Three” take on Doug Ericksen

State Sen. Doug Ericksen will be subpoenaed as part of the trial of three protesters who allegedly blocked traffic during a Donald Trump campaign rally last spring. Ericksen was an organizer of the Lynden rally.

“The Whatcom Three” include Western student Josefina Mora, former Western student Thomas Kaplan and a Bellingham resident, Neah Monteiro. They were arrested in May for allegedly blocking traffic in protest of President Donald Trump’s visit.

“We as the public are interested and we’re going to come and take time out of our busy lives and watch.”

Luba Pekisheva, community member

The subpoena the defense has requested was approved by Judge David Grant on April 6, 2017. It will allow the defense to gather more information regarding Ericksen’s potential involvement in the arrests and crowd control.

The trial, which has been ongoing since last year, is set to resume mid-May.

Lawrence Hildes, the defense attorney, said Ericksen and the Washington State Patrol had a say on how arrests were made and in how the crowd was handled.

“We want to know whether WSP and the sheriff’s office were acting at the instruction of the campaign and Mr. Ericksen, or if they were acting strictly on their own instructions,” Hildes said.

Thomas Kaplan and Lawrence Hildes at Whatcom Three hearing on April 6. // Photo by Kirstyn Nyswonger

Sen. Doug Ericksen did not respond to a request for comment made on April 10.

Josh Cerretti, from the Whatcom Three Defense Committee, agrees with what the defense has put forward. He thinks the subpoena will bring forward helpful information about Ericksen.

“He may know some things about how the event was put together that might have had an influence on what happened that day,” Cerretti said.

Both Mora and Monteiro were excused from the hearing on Thursday but more than half a dozen people in the courtroom were there to show their support for the Whatcom Three. Many more have shown interest in staying up to date with the case and have shown that through their involvement on the committee Facebook page, Cerretti said.

Luba Pekisheva hopes her support shows the judge the public is involved.

We as the public are interested and we’re going to come and take time out of our busy lives and watch,” Pekisheva said.

Cerretti, who has been setting up events and getting supporters to the courthouse on trial dates, has seen a lot of support from the Bellingham community.

“A lot of people are really inspired and energized by their actions. There’s been a lot of Western students who have come out and supported both at events we’ve had as well as in the courtroom,” Cerretti said.

The prosecutors, Benjamin Pratt and George Roche, were unable to comment due to the fact that this is still a pending trial.

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