Bay Area Brief

Thursday September 19, 2002

Redwood City tough  

on lawn furniture 

REDWOOD CITY — Residents of suburbs south of San Francisco may have to consider bolting quality patio furniture to their porches, or bring it indoors at night to avoid being the target of picky thieves. 

San Carlos and Redwood City police have received, during the last two months, more than a dozen reports of stolen quality patio furniture such as porch swings made of aluminum that retail at $341, or teak benches that retail at $950. 

Police are following up witnesses’ descriptions of a white van seen leaving the area of one of the August thefts. 

Marin County eighth-grader says freedom of speech denied 

SAN RAFAEL — A Marin County eighth grader filed a lawsuit against her middle school Wednesday, alleging her First Amendment rights were denied when she wasn’t allowed to give a speech that required audience participation. 

The lawsuit was filed in Marin County Superior Court on behalf of Elektra Fike-Data, 13, who is running for school president at White Hill Middle School in Fairfax. The suit seeks an injunction to stop Friday’s elections until a court can determine whether Elektra can give her speech. 

Fike-Data’s presentation was denied after school officials learned she planned to use audience participation — something they say is against the rules. 

“They can’t do that,” attorney Jim Wall told the Marin Independent Journal. “As long as she isn’t disruptive or obscene, she has free speech rights as a student.” 

Elektra said she thinks it’s a move by the administration to try to derail her campaign. 

White Hill Principal Rick van Adelsberg said students aren’t allowed to ask for audience participation for safety reasons. 

“I’m stumped as to why such a big deal is being made out of it,” he said. 

Man mistakenly flown  

to Mexico identified  

OAKLAND — The body of a man mistakenly flown to Mexico for burial was that of an Ethiopian refugee. 

Hagos Gebre-Amlak, 44, died Sept. 2. Family members in Oakland, who declined to reveal his cause of death, decided to sent his body to be buried in his native country where his mother still lives. But the body arrived in Mexico to the dismay of the grieving family of Roberto Castaneda. 

Castaneda’s body, which was supposed to be sent to his hometown in Mexico, ended up temporarily in Europe. 

A preliminary investigation has revealed the error occurred in a cargo warehouse at San Francisco International Airport owned by Delta Airlines but operated in part by Continental. 

The airlines have agreed to refund both families for the cost to fly the bodies.