Gary Harrington, accused and convicted of illegally collecting water on his Crowfoot Road property, reported for jail on August 8, amid the clamor of well-wishers who came to support him. Harrington is supposed to serve 30 days in the County jail for what he calls a violation of his civil rights.Earlier he was convicted to theft of water from the Big Butte Creek system, in a story that has proven stranger than fiction.
In a story that appeared on the front page of the Independent on August 7, Harrington said that his civil rights had been violated when a judge refused to allow any defense in his case. He was not allowed to defend himself, present any evidence in his favor nor allowed to speak on his own behalf.
Supporters carried signs in support of Harington. Church members along with friends and members of the public and many who do not even know him came to support him and lift his spirits. He said before entering the jail, “we’re going to fight this, even to the U. S. Supreme Court.” He read a prepared statement on the steps of the jail, spelling out the many reasons he believes his civil rights have been violated.
Many community members feel it is unlikely that he will serve the full sentence of 30 days because of jail overcrowding and some feel that a judge might come to his senses during Harrington’s incarceration. Harrington, himself, said he has no idea if that might happen, because he feels the court system is vengeful. “I don’t know what they will do,” he said.
Supporters included about 60-70 people, young and old, who feel the courts and the watermaster’s office have far overstepped their bounds. They were puzzled as to why Harrington has been singled out while there are numerous other ponds in the watershed that have been permitted since the 1925 decision.
The case is being appealed while Harrington is serving his sentence.