"Protestor Arrested at Civic Center Filming"
by Con Garretson, Marin Independent Journal, 4 November 2003

A retired San Francisco police officer was arrested outside the Marin Civic Center Sunday after he refused police orders to leave a movie set where a notorious kidnapping and deadly shootout was being re-enacted.

Francis Patrick Williams was "very upset" that the producers of "Black August" were being allowed to re-enact the Aug. 7, 1970 incident that left Marin Superior Court Judge Harold Haley and three others dead at the Civic Center, San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.

Williams, 67, of San Rafael was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and subsequently was cited and released.

Williams, who was carrying a loaded .25-caliber handgun, told police that he intended to disrupt the filming, Rohrbacher said. Williams, who could not be reached for comment, had no apparent personal or professional involvement with the incident of 33 years ago, Rohrbacher said.

"We had two officers out there doing traffic control and they noticed this man looking at the equipment and trucks," Rohrbacher said. "They told him he could observe what was going on from the sidewalk, but he refused, demanding to see the (film) permit.

"He was warned four or five times and it became clear he wasn't going to go with the program. He said he had a First Amendment right and it was a public building and so on. When the officers began to remove him there was somewhat of a struggle."

"Black August" producer Tcinque J. Sampson said Williams threw a punch at one of the officers before he was taken to the ground and into custody with the assistance of Marin sheriff's deputies.

Security on the set was tightened as a result of the incident and filming resumed, Sampson said.

Rohrbacher said Williams was "very remorseful" about his actions afterward.

In the filming, Judge Harold Haley was kidnapped as part of a plot to exchange him and jurors from his courtroom for the freedom of San Quentin State Prison inmate George Jackson, a prison revolutionary who wrote the book "Soledad Brother."

Jackson's 17-year-old brother, Jonathan, passed out guns to three prison inmates in the courtroom. The kidnappers and their hostages made their way to a van under the Civic Center's center archway but gunfire erupted that left Haley, Jonathan Jackson and two of the inmates dead.

Word of the planned filming led to outrage by law enforcement officials who thought it inappropriate to recreate and film what movie producers referred to as a "liberation attempt" at the scene of the crime.

The producers' request to film on the court floor in the Civic Center's Hall of Justice was denied by Marin judges, and Sheriff Robert Doyle asked county officials to reject filming elsewhere on the grounds as well, but County Administrator Mark Riesenfeld issued a film permit for the weekend filming.

©2003 Marin Independent Journal

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