Activists say they and other demonstrators have become the targets of a politicized prosecution by Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich that seeks to criminalize political dissent. Those who took part in the civil disobedience have been charged with at least three misdemeanors and could potentially face up to a year in jail. Attorneys representing the activists say such severe prosecution of peaceful acts of civil disobedience is unprecedented in recent decades in Los Angeles, and note that even in Arizona many immigrant rights protestors were prosecuted less harshly. The crackdown on the activists appears to be part of a larger pattern of prosecution of political dissent by the City Attorney’s office under Trutanich, who is rumored to be running for LA District Attorney.
Activists include a group of immigrant rights’ activists who organized a protest against Arizona’s SB1070 on May 6, staging a sit-in in front of the Federal Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. On July 29, the day SB 1070 took effect, another grouping of activists engaged in an act of civil disobedience at the Los Angeles headquarters of G4S/Wackenhut Corporation, a private prison and security corporation that lobbied for and stands to profit from SB 1070. On May 27, activists protesting against MTA fare hikes were arrested during a sit-in at an MTA Board Meeting. On March 4, CSUN students were arrested for protesting against tuition fare hikes.
The demonstrators, who include students and members and leaders of community organizations, have trial dates beginning on January 18, a day after Martin Luther King Day. Those arrested for acts of civil disobedience in Los Angeles have said they were moved by the words of Dr. King, that “it is our moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
Activists are staging a protest in front of City Hall East, 200 N Main St, LA, to call attention to the issues. Groups participating Todos Somos Arizona Immigrant rights’ activists who were arrested for civil disobedience actions during protests against Arizona’s SB1070, Bus Riders Union activists arrested for protesting against MTA fare increases, CSUN students arrested at protests against tuition fare hikes, Youth Justice Coalition and youth of color who have been targets of criminalization, and supporters