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Sergio Ballesteros, 30, has been involved in Occupy LA since the movement had its California launch in October. But this week, his activism took an abrupt turn when he was arrested on a felony charge — lynching.

Under the California penal code, lynching is “taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer," where "riot" is defined as two or more people threatening violence or disturbing the peace. The original purpose of the legal code section 405(a) was to protect defendants in police custody from vigilante mobs — especially black defendants from racist groups.

Please read the article and analysis of a similar, earlier incident in Oakland

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for MSNBC reporting (11+ / 0-)

    Frank Luntz: "Occupy is having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

    by DeanObama on Tue Jan 17, 2012 at 11:25:43 PM PST

  •  Does California have a law on interfering with (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, jacey, Catte Nappe, FarWestGirl

    an arrest?

    From the scant information in the article (police were trying to arrest a protester, he pulled the protester away from the police, it seems) I would think that would be the charge here.  Lynching (aside from the horrid connotation), as I understand it, has more to do with when someone is already in custody (maybe in a jail or a police car) and you remove them for purposes of inflicting your own vigilante justice (at least in the lyncher's mind) on them.  From the very brief description, it seems more like this person was trying to prevent the arrest of another by pulling him/her away from the police.  Of course, some of this has to do with whether that other protester was already under arrest or in police custody, or whether the police were simply trying to make an arrest.  And I don't have those facts.

    Seems to me that the authorities there would not want to overcharge in these instances (especially when there's publicity attached), but that's not my call.  

  •  It appears the tactic is going to be, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jacey, FarWestGirl, Dirtandiron, bumbi

    use taxpayers money to wage legal war against those who cannot afford legal representation.
    We can be most assured the charge as filed is frivolous and over the top. But it's going to cost and you can tell they are searching for ways to make these acts of civil disobedience into Felonies rather than Misdemeanors.  

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 07:45:03 AM PST

    •  Well, not until you have the facts. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, SquirrelWhisperer, bumbi
      We can be most assured the charge as filed is frivolous and over the top.

      They may have over-charged (police do that sometimes, even when it's not a political protest).  Over-charging (something the police often do) is not the same as "frivolous."  If there's a basis for a lesser charge of the same type, it's not "frivolous."  (By way of example, you may be charged with first degree murder when the facts are more in line with second degree murder/)  So, we cannot be "most assured" that it's "frivolous" unless we know that there was no basis at all for the arrest, under any charge.  (See my post above.)  Until "we" know the facts, "we" can't know whether there was a basis for arrest or not.   And, if you read the article, the person involved is (under advice of counsel, which is completely proper) not telling "us" the facts.

      •  Excuse me for using the term frivolous in (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FarWestGirl, bumbi

        context of the charge. It's obvious you are much more knowledgeable than I when it comes to the vocabulary of the legal profession.

        "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

        by Cruzankenny on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 09:10:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I admit to being a lawyer (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl, bumbi

          so I'm kind of sensitive about terms like "frivolous" when used in a legal context (such when discussing legal charges).  

          •  I could tell and took no offense, (0+ / 0-)

            but I was approaching it from a different perspective and now realize frivolous was not the word I was looking for in the first place.
            I meant frivolous, in the context of the charge not really relating to the crime for which it was directed, and I was basing it on the other charge that was made in Oakland and had more details.
            My point was simple. The authorities know that many protestors have resigned themselves to being arrested and have little issue with a misdemeanor charge, especially one that has little more than 50/50 chance of actually coming to fruition in court. Most cases are thrown out or a small fine is rendered.
            This charge of "lynching" is a completely different animal in many respects. For one, if you do get charged with a felony and you're filling out a job application and the question is,"Have you ever been arrested for a Felony?", you now have to answer yes. This is not a good thing for most people who were just trying to practice their First Amendment rights.
            The second aspect is the financial problem of facing a court with basically unlimited resources and you have to put up a $20,000.00 retainer before you get a lawyer to take your case. I know you might be lucky enough to have a lawyer who is associated with the movement and is willing to help for free, but there is still that risk.
            If there is a positive aspect to this tactic of raising the bar regarding the level of what you might be charged with, it causes scrutiny from people who would never pay attention otherwise. Most people watching, see people loaded into buses and figure they dance to the tune, they need to pay the piper, but in the end, the price is a just one.
            I believe Americans are by and large a fair and just people. The authorities can't be throwing around charges like 'lynching', even if by some stretch of the imagination and twisting of the words the charge may be construed as fitting the letter of the law. When people who would normally sit on the sidelines and watch, rather than participate, see obvious abuse of power because of ideology and the use of terms like 'lynching' being applied to someone who grabs a friend's hand and helps her escape the grasp of a riot geared policeman, they're going to stop sitting on the fence and look a little closer.
            They're going to pay attention and wonder why someone is arrested on a trumped up charge of 'lynching' and a cop can pepper spray, read 'assault', helpless people and receive less than a slap on the wrist.
            These attacks may work for the short term, but will galvanize more people in the long run.

            "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

            by Cruzankenny on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 04:24:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Some greater charge is probably (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              warranted in this situation, however, if the little that the article tells us about the situation is true.  It sounds as if there was a protester being arrested and that this person interfered with that, at least to the extent of trying to pull the person out of police custody.  A lot is going to depend on what actually happened, but if what was said there is correct, it is going to be a more serious charge than simply the general misdemeanor type charges for protesting.  

              You can't "help someone escape the grasp" of a policeman.  And doing so is probably going to justify some charges of some type.  

              I suspect that "lynching" was used because TECHNICALLY, if you read the definition above, there's some applicability here -- it's taking somebody from the lawful custody of a police office.  It just has a horrible connotation, and is a public relations disaster, I would think.  I thought first that there would be some "interfering with arrest" charge -- which is going to be more serious than the typical misdemeanor protesters get charged with -- but perhaps California uses that law quoted above when people interfere with the arrest of someone.  

  •  This is what Lynching Looks Like (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, Dirtandiron, bumbi

    Please note the image in the upper right corner is from 1981.

    'nuff said.

  •  holy shit... WTF... that's all I can say.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, Dirtandiron, bumbi

    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

    by Statusquomustgo on Wed Jan 18, 2012 at 09:55:06 AM PST

  •  What's with the smoke bomb? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I saw on the BBC via PBS last night that one of the OWS protesters threw a smoke bomb onto the White House lawn. Since OWS if offline today, there's no actual story. Anyone?

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