April 12, 2016
The trouble for Miller began on March 22, when he climbed a 90-foot sequoia tree in downtown Seattle. He remained there for over 24 hours, refusing police orders to come down. Miller is also alleged to have thrown apples and branches at officers below the tree.
Law enforcement officials claim $8,000 in damage was done to the tree, but they did not specify if the damage was done by Miller or by police in their attempts to evict Miller from said tree.
In total, more than 70 negotiators, police officers, and crisis response team members were on the scene, including four fire engines leased from different companies. According to ABC, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Herschkowitz wrote:
“This caused an incalculable waste of time and services and arguably affected the efficacy of local law-enforcement’s reaction times to other serious calls for service around the city.”
Herschkowitz’s statement can be taken on its face, or turned sideways to ask if such an overwhelming response was necessary for a man merely climbing a tree.
Miller’s mother, Lisa Gossett, stated to The Seattle Times she had not spoken to her son in over five years, after making numerous attempts to help him with his mental health issues. She claims she is heartbroken, but also disgusted that “there are all of these people out there worried about the tree but they’re not worried about him, the human. He’s obviously sick. It feels very hopeless.”
To give an idea of the depth of Miller’s mental illness, he was reported missing on December 23 of last year, until he was found wandering the streets on 12-30-15.
Seven term Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy spoke out on Miller’s behalf on his official Facebook page on April 9:
“Friends, you really can’t make this stuff up. Schizophrenic #ManInTree who desperately needs psychiatric care is brought in shackles before a judge because he’s been charged with first-degree malicious mischief and third-degree assault. What was the outcome? The judge ordered him to stay away from the tree..but he first needs to make his $50,000 bail. Just look at this picture and tell me our mental health system isn’t a mess. It’s unbelievable! Recall that for 24 hours last week, Cody Lee Miller remained atop a giant sequoia tree in downtown Seattle. Since that time, there’s been a greater outpouring of concern over the tree than the plight of this young man who is so clearly in the throes of a psychotic break. He’s ordered to have ‘no unwanted contact’ with a sequoia, yet no concern over getting him into treatment. Such a sad indictment against an abusive system that would order no contact with a tree, yet remains silent on getting the mentally ill into care. Cody’s mom talks about his downward spiral and has made it her mission to be a voice for families who desperately want to help their loved ones but are blocked by federal & state laws that make it impossible to help mentally ill family members. Meanwhile, Congress is still stalling my Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, HR 2646.”
Miller has been officially charged with malicious mischief and assault. He is currently being held on $50,000 bail and is ordered to have “no contact” with any trees pending his release. However, considering Miller has not held a job in many years, it is unlikely he will be able to walk free before his court date on Monday. It seems the justice system in America would rather keep Miller as a prisoner and pay for his incarceration rather than pay for his rehabilitation. In the state of Washington, the average cost of incarceration per day is around $100.
This article (Schizophrenic Man Arrested, Being Held on $50,000 Bond for Climbing a Tree) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Lou Colagiovanni and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Tim Murphy. If you spot a typo, email email@example.com.