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Richard Lee is an independent journalist and political candidate from Seattle, Washington. Since 1994 he is best known for his investigations into the death of Kurt Cobain which he believes was a homicide. Lee was the first to make this claim. He has also gained media attention for incidents surrounding his political campaigns, mainly his run for Seattle mayor in 2001 and 2005.

Contents

Background

Born in New York in 1963, Lee grew up in Chicago and at a young age began writing for the Chicago Reader. In 1982, he wrote the article "Playing for Change" which put a spotlight on the difficulties faced by Chicago street musicians under police harassment. Some time after the story was published, the city council overturned the law and legalized street performances.

Life in Seattle

Lee moved to Seattle in the early 1990s in search of an underdeveloped political climate. He began a short-lived career with the Seattle Weekly, a local alternative paper. After leaving the Weekly, Lee began a weekly public affairs show on public access cable television, Now See It Person to Person, a homage to See It Now, the historic investigative reporting show of Edward R. Murrow.

Lee's cable television show was removed from SCAN permanently in April 2008. Beginning in January 2009[1], Lee has placed episodes online via Google Video.

Investigations into Kurt Cobain

After the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, Lee's coverage of the death led him to evidence and information which raised questions regarding the circumstances of Cobain's end. The official police investigation, under police chief Norm Stamper, concluded that Cobain had died of an apparent suicide. Lee is one of a number of figures to promote the belief that Cobain likely did not commit suicide, but must have been killed by someone else.

Lee changed the name of his show to Now See It Person To Person: Was Kurt Cobain Murdered?, and then to the more definitive Now See It Person To Person: Kurt Cobain Was Murdered. Since then Lee has referred to his show and his related journalism and political activities by the abbreviation KCWM. Since 1994, with occasional involuntary hiatuses, the show has aired weekly and continues to investigate the Cobain case as well as somewhat related and prominent matters of Seattle public affairs. Lee has implicated numerous current and former Seattle public figures with complicity in Cobain's death, including Stamper, former King County Council member and current Seattle mayor Greg Nickels, former Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic, and especially Courtney Love, Cobain's ex-wife.

Lee has appeared in some documentaries about Cobain, such as the BBC's Rock Shrines and Conspiracies TV shows. Lee's confrontational style has led to frequent encounters with police officers and other local figures, often leading to Lee being threatened, assaulted, or even arrested, often on camera and later aired on his show. Lee is protective of his film, and if confiscated, he often fights in court to have the original copy returned to him.

Involvement in politics

In efforts to help promote his beliefs regarding the Cobain death and make them an issue in local politics, Lee has run for city office four times since 1997. He is not a popular candidate among those familiar with him, most of whom seem to think his Cobain theories are nonsense.

In 1997 Lee ran for Seattle City Council. In 1999 Lee again ran for Seattle City Council against Peter Steinbrueck. Lee was disqualified by the courts from the race for using signatures from his 1997 run for his 1999 candidate paperwork. Lee argued that the law does not say what time period the signatures must be from.

In 2001, Lee ran for Seattle mayor against incumbent Paul Schell and current mayor Greg Nickels. During a comprehensive mayoral forum run by the ACT Theater, Lee arrived in a red, white and blue striped dress and spent his speaking time asking questions of Nickels. At one point, in response to audience laughs, he stood on a chair for attention, which made the front page of the Seattle Times the next day. Lee ran for mayor again in 2005, during which he opposed the mayor's support of the Monorail project and anti-neighborhood developments in areas such as South Lake Union, and questioned the validity of Al Runte's "professor" title. Lee finished 5th out of 8 in the 2005 primary.

In addition to the Cobain matter, Lee is also a proponent of paper trails in electronic voting, an opponent of the Seattle Monorail Project, and a proponent of greater neighborhood involvement in city development decisions.

Notable incidents

In 2000 Krist Novoselic gained a restraining order against Richard Lee, which expired in 2005.

In 2004, Lee was arrested in Los Angeles at a court hearing for Courtney Love, in which he attempted to ask questions about killing her husband. The incident was covered in entertainment media, especially on Celebrity Justice.

During the 2005 campaign, Greg Nickels got a mild restraining order against Lee, citing Lee's ambush interview practices over the past years as harassive. Nickel's lawyers, employed by the city, wanted a standard 500 foot restriction from the mayor's home and workplace, which would include city hall. The judge in the case kept the home restriction, but minimized the order to one floor of city hall and to a 50 foot radius in public places and events.

Part of the motivation for the restraining order was Lee's attempt to interview the mayor at a Democratic party event in Fremont to which many Seattle residents including Lee had been invited. Lee was ejected from the grounds by the owner, but remained on the sidewalk trying to ask questions of the mayor. As the mayor was about to leave, Lee was restrained by a plainclothes police officer that Lee then allegedly kicked in the leg. Lee is currently in court over the assault, for which he has pled not guilty, maintaining that it was he who was assaulted by the officer. During pretrial hearings, he succeeded in forcing the Seattle Police Department to return the original copy of his videotape of the incident, which they had confiscated, and refused to return over concerns of publicity. In 2008 the city was ordered to return the original videotape, which Lee then aired on his program; later that year the city dropped the charges against Lee.

Seattle Author Charles Cross, who wrote Heavier than Heaven about Kurt Cobain, has been a frequent target of Lee, who has harassed him at public book signings and talks, where Lee eventually is ejected from the premises. Lee is banned for life from Powell's Books in Portland, OR, after harassing former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper at a book reading.

References

  1. ^ [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7900729416867534999&hl=en Kurt Cobain Was Murdered, 12/8/2007, Part A ] at Google Video







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