Sunday, April 15, 2007

Joyce Elaine Roop

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Joyce Elaine Roop

Thursday, April 12, 2007

1969 Faculty Club Bombing

The 1969 UCSB Faculty Club bombing that resulted in the death of caretaker Dover Sharp is once again officially being being looked into. Full story at the DAILY NEXUS:

( Image courtesy of the DAILY NEXUS )

[ Following is excerpted from "Police To Resume Investigation of ‘69 Campus Bombing
Letter from Former UCSB Grad Student Spurs Police to Revisit Unsolved Homicide"
By Jessica Mullen / Staff Writer, DAILY NEXUS, April 11, 2007, Issue 100, Volume 87 ]


Before the riots, before the massive protests, before the burning of the Bank of America, an explosion rocked the campus community and took the life of one of its members.

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the UCSB Faculty Club bombing that claimed the life of resident custodian Dover O. Sharp and caused over $1,000 in damage. Since 1969, the case has lain dormant; however, a letter received by the Daily Nexus last Thursday offers new developments and potential leads. UCPD is currently looking into the content of the letter and is attempting to contact the author...

Former UCSB philosophy graduate student Steve Ander is the supposed author of the letter that was postmarked from a town in Switzerland and originally written on Feb. 23. He claims to have witnessed the bombing, and described two or three nameless and sturdily built Caucasians as having been responsible for the homicide.

“I saw the men who I think did it. There were two or three of them, tall, solidly built. That’s all I recall of them. Caucasian,” Ander said in the letter.

In the note, which was scribbled on pink graph paper, Ander expressed remorse for not having come forward earlier. The letter’s focus often strays from the topic of the bombing; at one point, Ander reminisces about his rented hillside trailer and his landlord.

However, later in the document, Ander asserts that the three individuals responsible for the bombing visited him at his trailer and posed questions regarding the condition of the custodian.

“I was at my trailer and saw the two or three men I spoke of walking down the road,” Ander wrote. “They asked me of the caretaker - I do not recall if they asked of him by name - [and] went down the road. I followed them. Naively, I took them as bill collectors.”

Three UCPD officers were on hand to receive the document from a Daily Nexus reporter Monday, but would not handle the document without the use of gloves. Among them was UCPD Public Information Officer Matt Bowman. He said that regardless of the credibility of the document, all evidence must be initially presumed to be legitimate in order to ensure safety.

“We must take all matters seriously until determined otherwise,” Bowman said. “We treat all things as equally serious.”

When the bombing occurred, authorities were unable to arrest any suspect or group, and the case has since remained an open homicide...

The explosive used in the bombing was described by law enforcement in El Gaucho [ predecessor to the Daily Nexus] as a sophisticated device consisting of a timer connected to a wine jug filled with a volatile liquid, and a 6-inch piece of pipe packed with an explosive compound. The blast threw Sharp about 20 feet. He died at the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital three days later.

Sharp, 55, had two children but was separated from his wife and lived at the Faculty Club, serving as the caretaker. The victim’s coworkers described him favorably, characterizing him as dependable but reserved...

According to Bowman, the recently received letter gives law enforcement an opportunity to revisit the unsolved case and determine if any new progress can be made in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“I am happy to say that this letter provided was new information to us, and now we can go back to where the investigation was concluded and see if this evidence sheds new light on a new lead,” Bowman said.

Bowman said the crime committed 38 years ago would still be tried in court if law enforcement officials are able to locate the person or persons involved.

“Even though this case is from 1969, it is an open homicide and we would still seek prosecution through the legal system,” Bowman said.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

1971 Indictments

[ March 29, 2007 Excerpt from the SB INDEPENDENT of "Firing a Federal Prosecutor - The Isla Vista Connection" by Bob Potter, coauthor of "The Campus by the Sea Where the Bank Burned Down," an official account of the 1970 riots in Isla Vista. ]


When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted “mistakes were made” in the firing of eight federal prosecutors, his choice of phrase had an oddly Nixonian ring to it. And with good reason. White House meddling in Justice Department affairs for political reasons was an all-too-familiar story during the Nixon years. One particularly flagrant case comes to mind... And interestingly enough, the triggering events occurred in Isla Vista.

Robert L. Meyer was appointed U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles by President Nixon in May 1970. An active Republican, former campaign manager for U.S. Senator George Murphy, and nominee for the state Assembly, he was immediately faced with several explosive and politically controversial cases involving civil rights violations and alleged police misconduct. These included the “mistake killing” of two Mexican nationals by Los Angeles police officers, the killing of L.A. Times newsman Ruben Salazar during a riot in conjunction with the Chicano Moratorium protests, and finally, widespread charges of gross misbehavior by L.A. County Sheriff’s officers during the June 1970 disorders in Isla Vista.

Despite strong pressure from L.A.’s elected officials, including Mayor Sam Yorty, Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess, and Police Chief Edward M. Davis, Meyer’s office pursued these allegations aggressively, convening federal grand juries to investigate the charges. In March 1971, five Los Angeles police officers were indicted by the grand jury, including three on charges stemming from the “mistake killing,” one for abetting a burglary, and one for forcing a female suspect to disrobe. These indictments ignited a huge political furor. In Salazar’s case, a coroner’s inquest ruled the death a homicide, but the police officer escaped prosecution, and no indictments were issued.

It was the Isla Vista cases, however, that brought about Meyer’s downfall. More than 400 reports of police misconduct — including beatings, break-ins, false arrests, and sexual molestation — had been collected from Isla Vista residents. In May 1971, indictments were returned by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles against an unnamed number of law enforcement officers, members of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Branch, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. With the indictments still under seal, Pitchess, Yorty, and Chief Davis all spoke out, with the latter warning that “an ill wind is blowing from Isla Vista.” Sheriff Pitchess flew to Washington, D.C. and met on June 3 with Attorney General John Mitchell. Subsequently the indictments were quashed and never issued.

In November 1971, Meyer was asked to resign by Assistant Attorney General L. Patrick Gray, acting on instructions from Attorney General Mitchell. “He told me they wanted my resignation, effective January 1,” Meyer recalled, “and that I could have it the easy way, or the hard way.” Meyer resigned his position and died of a heart attack a year later, at the age of 49. After leaving office, Meyer said he had been criticized as a “moderate” or “liberal,” rather than a “true conservative.” Many of his policies did not jibe with what his superiors wanted, but the big issue was “a philosophical area epitomized by the civil rights cases” (L.A. Times, Nov. 15, 1972).

Despite all the evidence, the accused L.A. and Santa Barbara sheriffs’ officers were never prosecuted. Mitchell and Gray, for their part, would go on to become notorious figures in the Watergate scandal. Gray, briefly appointed J. Edgar Hoover’s successor at the FBI, was revealed to have destroyed evidence from Howard Hunt’s safe and was indicted for illegal break-ins, though he escaped conviction. Mitchell became the first U.S. Attorney General to be convicted of illegal activities and sent to prison.

Their role in firing a fearless and nonpartisan U.S. attorney in Los Angeles is barely remembered today. But as we contemplate the current politicization of the attorney general’s office, it is worth remembering that quashing legitimate investigations is only a step away from instigating systematic injustice. That is the road the Bush administration, in its tottering final years, may find too tempting to resist.

History suggests the time to investigate thoroughly and clean house at the Justice Department is now.

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Full Text available at the SB INDEPENDENT:

Firing a Federal Prosecutor