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Wednesday, May 14, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tacoma Man Refuses `Get Out Of Jail' Card

AP

TACOMA - Will Baker has overstayed his welcome at the Pierce County Jail, but jail officials can't seem to get him to leave.

Baker, a well-known community activist, was arrested for disorderly conduct at a Tacoma City Council meeting on April 29. Shortly after he was booked into jail, Helen Holdren and three of her friends posted the $125 bond that would have set him free.

But Baker refused to sign for it.

The Hilltop activist had a change of heart after his landlord delivered an eviction notice. He told guards Saturday that he was ready to sign his bond papers because he didn't want to lose his apartment, said David Minikel, a local attorney who has become Baker's de facto spokesman.

But it was too late. The bond money, which sat around unclaimed for a week, had been sent back to Holdren.

Reached at her home yesterday, Holdren said she has no intention of posting it again.

Holdren said she and her friends initially decided to post the bond because they sympathized with some of Baker's views, such as his criticism of the Safe Streets neighborhood safety program.

Baker has regularly attacked Safe Streets, the Hilltop Action Coalition and the Pierce County auditor at City Council meetings.

Baker had been offered a release on his personal recognizance earlier, but he refused to sign those papers, too. He's told Minikel he will leave only if the city drops all charges against him and apologizes.

Curt Benson, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said he and Sheriff Mark French talked to Baker last week and tried to persuade him to arrange bail and leave.

"The sheriff wanted to make that bed available for a felon," Benson said.

Baker refused to discuss it.

A few days later, Baker did want to leave. After finding out the bond money was gone, Baker asked jail staff to arrange it. They told him to do it himself, provided him a phone book and phone, and then left his jail door open for an hour Saturday night.

Baker refused to come out of his cell to make the call, Benson said.

At about 9 p.m., jail staff locked up his doors again. He's been there since.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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