Chico artist clears his name

Judge drops case against sculptor Jerry Harris

photo by meredith j. cooper

Local sculptor Jerry Harris (pictured) has waited almost a year to get his justice. Finally, Tuesday (June 2), charges that the 63-year-old of improperly using tear gas were dropped. He never did think they were warranted, but according to the Enterprise-Record, District Attorney Mike Ramsey maintains the case had merit.

In September, Harris spoke with the CN&R about his case, which stemmed from a dispute with one of his neighbors at his Paradise art studio. On July 28, 2008, there was an altercation between the two in downtown Chico, after the Thursday Night Market. Harris charged his neighbor, Wayne Bass, started the fight, which left Harris on the ground and Bass with tear gas in his eyes. Chico PD arrested Harris, who believed he was in the wrong only because the color of his skin was dark, not light like Bass’.

Harris’ case finally made it to trial Tuesday and, to his advantage, none of the prosecution’s witnesses—including Bass—showed up, prompting Judge Clare Keithley to dismiss the case.

Harris, who moved out of his Paradise studio promptly following the July incident, could not be reached for comment by press time, but as he told the CN&R in September, he was extremely proud of being a black man in his 60s without a record. That fact now remains.