Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Suspect in Schell attack faces bail of $250,000

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Calling himself a prisoner of war and a "citizen of the New Republic of Africa," the man accused of striking Seattle Mayor Paul Schell with a megaphone at a Central Area rally Saturday will be held on $250,000 bail, a judge ruled yesterday.

Presiding King County District Court Judge David Steiner said he is concerned about public safety if Omari Tahir-Garrett is released. And he said the "unprovoked assault" on Schell "strikes at the heart of government."

"How can I do my campaign if I'm locked up in here?" Garrett, a candidate for mayor, said, adding that others who have committed crimes far more serious had lower bail.

"The city's legal system is so racist," he said, as dozens of supporters jeered and shouted, protesting the judge's ruling even though Steiner had threatened to have them thrown out.

The day before, another judge had Garrett forcibly removed from the courtroom when he refused to be silent, but yesterday Steiner allowed Garrett to have his say.

Garrett, who said in court yesterday he is both African American and Native American, requested he be tried by a tribal court and told the judge he lives not in the United States but in the "New Republic of Africa" and is not subject to the "European-settler court system."

Steiner told Garrett he was subject to the court, but at Garrett's request allowed him to be unshackled.

His court-appointed attorney, Lisa Daugaard, told the court Garrett was not likely to attack anyone in the room and brought in several of Garrett's friends to vouch for his community involvement in the Central Area.

She acknowledged he had prior convictions of assault and reckless endangerment.

Garrett was convicted of those charges in 1987 when he took a police officer's gun and held it to the officer's head at a University of Washington rally.

After that, he underwent a psychological evaluation, according to court records.

In court yesterday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Soukup recommended that Garrett, who used to go by Cordell Garrett, be evaluated again. Steiner did not rule on the request.

After the hearing, Soukup said Garrett, 55, is being held in the psychiatric ward of the King County Jail, having been moved there after telling a guard he had "delayed-stress syndrome."

Soukup said assault charges are likely to be filed tomorrow.


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