Incredibly, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office is offering Occupy L.A. protesters arrested in recent weeks the opportunity to pay $355 for private free speech classes to avoid their court dates.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times:
Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Atty. William Carter said the city won't press charges against protesters who complete the educational program offered by American Justice Associates.
Carter said the free-speech class will save the city money and teach protesters the nuances of the law.
"The 1st Amendment is not absolute," he said, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled government can regulate when, where and how free speech can be exercised.
As a civil rights attorney working with some of the approximately 350 protesters who have been arrested in recent weeks noted, the offer is nothing short of "patronizing."
However, it's much more than that. It's a disgusting and cynical way to alleviate the strain on city courts by having protesters pay for an unofficial guilty plea.
In short, the city is offering protesters the chance to purchase courses in which they will learn about the free speech LAPD officers stripped from them.
Apparently, in L.A., you can pay to learn about the free speech you don't actually have.
I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.
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Per the comments, I'd like to state, for the record, that I am well aware of the time, place and manner restrictions the courts have established and set upon the exercising of free speech in public domains.
However, I'd also like to state that I fully reject the tightening of these restrictions over the last thirty years which has made redressing the government for grievances an act over which numerous bureaucratic hurdles are expected to be jumped.
And I'd also like to state that many protesters – AND JOURNALISTS – arrested in the past month have been doing nothing to violate such restrictions.
And yet, they still found themselves in jail. I wonder why.