Last Friday JZ Knight filed a lawsuit against the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation. On Wednesday federal Judge Benjamin H. Settle threw out the attempt at a temporary restraining order that would have kept the Evergreen Freedom Foundation from dissemination of controversial video tapes.
According to the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, the videotapes show JZ Knight, while purportedly channeling the 35,000-year-old Lemurian warrior Ramtha, making “bizarre, bigoted” statements.
Knight, through her company JZK, Inc., was attempting to stop the Evergren Freedom Foundation from submitting a DVD of the videotape to the Thurston County commissioners.
“State law protects citizens from any liability for submitting information to a government agency,” said Trent England, an Evergreen Freedom Foundation attorney. “And federal courts have protected disclosures exactly like this, where an important public issue was at stake. In this case, the issue is politicians accepting support from a bigot and then both parties lying about it.”
Mike Wright legal affairs manager for JZK, Inc., said he was surprised by the ruling, but appreciated Judge Settle warning against pushing the release of more videos.
“While the judge was unwilling to grant this emergency request, he did allow an expedited track to a hearing on a preliminary injunction in a few weeks so he could study the matter in more detail,” Wright stated in a press release to the Nisqually Valley News. “The efforts by the Freedom Foundation to engage in partisan attacks and their attempts to disenfranchise voters while wrapping themselves in a flag is the antithesis what they claim to represent.”
The videos first surfaced two years ago, and prompted the state Democratic Party to return political donations from JZ Knight.
At the time, Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero described the videos in question as “vile, racist and divisive …. (T)hese hateful comments are the complete opposite of everything I stand for. I denounce them. I condemn them.”
Earlier this year Knight contributed $65,000 to the Thurston County Democratic Party. It declined to return the money. Thurston Democrat County Chairman Roger Erskine, in explaining why the money would not be rejected, called Knight “a very good, strong Democrat,” and Romero now states, “I don’t believe she’s a bigot.”
Knight, Romero and others had argued the videos had been manipulated and/or taken out of context. Many of Knight’s students — including Catholics, Mexicans, gays and Jewish people — came forward earlier this month and denied Ramtha was racist or homophobic in any way.
Knight, Romero and other public figures also claimed the videos had been altered in some way to make them appear more damaging.
To disprove these allegations, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation submitted DVDs of the relevant clips lifted from the longer video to the Thurston County commissioners, according to a press release.
“When it comes to sheer, unadorned racism, Donald Sterling can’t hold a candle to JZ Knight,” England said, “and I think government is more important even than the NBA. The Freedom Foundation released clips of the JZ Knight videos to give officials and the public the truth,” he said. “Knight wants to hide the truth, but I trust the federal courts will see through her frivolous claims.”
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma, by JZK, Inc., specifically mentioned the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s Glen Morgan, who is the group’s property rights director.
According to a JZK, Inc. press release, “On May 6, 2014, Morgan submitted verbatim copies of JZK, Inc.’s proprietary video materials to the Thurston County Commissioners in violation of state and federal law. Morgan told the Commissioners that EFF was also disseminating the private videos to 3,200 other officials in the state.
“Morgan and EFF have expressly refused to respect JZK, Inc. and JZ Knight’s private property and legally protected interests. This is a curious stance for an organization that purports to promote the protection of private property rights.”
Morgan said the judge on Wednesday ruled against JZ Knight Inc.’s request for a temporary restraining order, stating it failed on its merits.
“Now it is up to JZ Knight on how much effort she wants to put in to suppress these videos,” Morgan said. “The videos are now a public record in Thurston County. People can request copies of them.”
Morgan said he did not have an inkling whether JZ Knight would push the issue forward following this ruling.
“I have no idea what a 35,000-year-old warrior would do,” Morgan said. “I will say this is the weirdest thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
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