FORKS — A Spokane family hounded from Forks on June 3 will receive more than $2,000 in donations and a poster signed by nearly 200 well-wishers, a Port Angeles woman said, while investigators continue to delve into who barricaded the family’s campsite to intimidate them.
Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that search warrants for social media accounts are still being processed and that little headway had been made since the week earlier in identifying the perpetrators from among the 10 people King has said had direct knowledge of the incident.
About 10 warrants have been granted, most of which are for information on Facebook accounts, he said Friday.
“We’re focusing on digital evidence,” King added.
King said Friday investigators are still “crafting” warrants.
“One warrant may lead to another,” he said.
People in the group who had direct knowledge of the incident, ranging in age from teens to their 40s, have refused to cooperate at all in the investigation or gone mum when asked key questions about what occurred, King said.
A Spokane family reported being followed from a parking lot in Forks, where they had been accused of being members of a leftist group, to their campsite, where they were blocked in by the felling of five alders over the road. High school students chainsawed through the trees to clear the road and deputies escorted them out of town.
Ava Readdy, who organized the GoFundMe effort that raised $2,353 before the fundraising website’s fees are subtracted, said that she talked with dozens of people about the ongoing investigation while she collected poster signatures at Veterans Memorial Park in Port Angeles on July 4.
She said they were split, with about 60 percent in favor of continuing the investigation versus about 40 percent who thought it was not worth looking into the felling of $183 worth of trees — the five alders that were cut to block the family from exiting in their converted white school bus.
The general consensus among people Readdy talked with on Independence Day was, “they were very frustrated,” she said.
“They felt that the people who refused to speak with Brian King, that they were cowards.
“They just felt these people needed to man up, that if they did something, they just should come in and say mea culpa and apologize and face the music.
“They were really angry that [the perpetrators] had ‘thrown the rock and hid the hand.’”
Sheriff Bill Benedict told Peninsula Daily News on July 5 that more than $5,000 has been spent on overtime for the investigation, adding that “the reputation of the county and the city of Forks is hanging in the balance on this.”
Readdy said there was a common theme among those for and against the investigation: the belief that the perpetrators would suffer limited consequences if they are convicted.
“They didn’t have any faith that anything would be done,” she said.
“They really felt our local justice system is just a slap on the hand, or that all you get is a big fine,” that “the police do a fabulous job, and then it just falls apart when it goes to court.”
Readdy said she will send the poster and donations to the family this week.
The family has said that they came to Forks to experience the setting for the Twilight books and movies. Almost immediately, upon stopping to get their bearings, they were suspected of being part of the leftist antifa movement, which they were not, a family member told Peninsula Daily News.
Early in the afternoon on June 3, the multiracial family were confronted by several people in the parking lot of the Thriftway-Outfitters plaza who kept asking them if they were part of antifa, which had been falsely rumored on social media to be going to white rural areas in buses to trash white-owned businesses and homes.
They were followed to their campsite, harassed by all-terrain vehicles, and blocked from leaving before they were escorted out of town by law enforcement officers who said it was unsafe for them to remain in Forks.
“We’ve received lots and lots of tips, and the public has provided us with lots of information to date, but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t people out there that know more and haven’t shared it,” King said.
There has been discussion on the West End about offering a reward for information that leads to arrests, Michelle Simpson of Sappho said Friday.
Simpson is stepping down as the leader of a Facebook group, “Forks area ad addressing violence through education,” which purchased apologetic newspaper ads addressing the family’s ordeal, and is yielding the reins to a Forks resident.
She said the group surveyed its members about using funds from the $1,500 left over from the advertisements on a reward.
The response was mixed. Some thought the funds should go toward educating people about racism.
Others were worried about what might happen to someone whose information led to a conviction.
“Some folks expressed the concern that they could become a pariah in the community,” Simpson said.
Simpson said the group has since decided to wait “for the warrants to kind of do their work to see what they would turn up there first.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.