Activist convicted after citizen's arrest attempt on Astoria mayor, police chief
ASTORIA — An Oregon man who tried to make citizen's arrests on the mayor and police chief in Astoria has been found guilty of interfering with a police officer.
Zachary Seidel, 30, tried to arrest Astoria Mayor Arline LaMear and Police Chief Brad Johnston at a City Council meeting last June. He also ignored Johnston's order to leave City Hall, reported The Daily Astorian.
A jury on Tuesday found him guilty of interfering with an officer, but jurors acquitted Seidel of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass.
Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Cindee Matyas gave Seidel five days in jail, with credit for time he's already served, and 18 months of probation.
Seidel had earlier told the judge he would prefer jail time to probation, saying "I don't accept them monitoring me."
The judge also ordered Seidel to have a mental health evaluation and stay away from the mayor and city councilors while on probation. She said Seidel will be allowed to send written correspondence to the council on political or public-policy issues.
"I don't want to prevent you from participating in the democratic process," Matyas told Seidel.
Seidel strongly objected to the mental health evaluation. He said the doubts about his mental state were "gaslighting," a term for psychologically manipulating someone into thinking they are insane. But Matyas told Seidel that he sometimes appeared disorganized and might benefit from the evaluation.
The sentencing followed a trial in which Seidel represented himself with advice from attorney Tatjana Queener. He argued that his constitutional rights to free speech, assembly and to petition the government were violated when he wasn't permitted to speak during a city council meeting.
Seidel had missed the portion of the meeting that dealt with the issue he wanted to talk about and tried to speak when the council was about to discuss another issue. After he was cut off, he announced that he was making a citizen's arrest of LaMear, then Johnston, before refusing to leave and being wrestled to the ground by Johnston.
Typically, the public is allowed to speak on individual agenda items and on broader topics at the end of meetings.