Today is "Give OUT" day, a nationwide fundraising drive for LGBT organizations. So the timing of the Assembly's passage of AB 1266 couldn't have been better as a way for me to make a pitch or two. The bill ensures that transgender students in California have equal and full access to programs and facilities on the basis of their gender identity.
"This shows the nobility of what a Legislature can do," bill author Assemblymember Tom Ammiano said on the Assembly floor.
The bill clarifies existing law, which already prohibits discrimination against transgender students. While some large districts - Los Angeles and San Francisco - are already successfully working with these students on the basis of their gender identities, many school districts are not presently in compliance with these requirements.
"Because somebody is uncomfortable is not a reason to discriminate," Ammiano said, responding to opponents of the bill, who argued that inclusion of transgender students would cause discomfort to others.
This bill does not require schools to create new programs or new facilities for any students and therefore would not have any fiscal impact. However, making the gender identity requirement clear will help parents and students understand their rights while also helping schools comply with the law, reducing conflict and the potential for litigation, while protecting students' health and well-being.
While a lot of work has been done to decrease bullying for gay and lesbian students, transgender youth are often hit particularly hard and may find it more difficult to find the resources that they need. That's one reason why I have given to the Transgender Law Center, a fantastic civil rights organization based in San Francisco. Though they were founded just over ten years ago, TLC is California's first "fully staffed, state-wide transgender legal organization." You can contribute to TLC here or you can find your favorite LGBT organization at the GiveOUT 2013 home page.
URGENT NEWS ADVISORY
Wednesday, October 17, 2002
Contact: Ryan 916 807 5665.
OCCUPY SACRAMENTO STARTED ORGANIC GARDEN WEDNESDAY;
Challenge to Controversial City Hall Ordinance Results in No Arrests Tuesday Night
SACRAMENTO - Occupy Sacramento activists - including many who risked arrest by defying a controversial City ordinance banning free speech on City Hall property Tuesday night - softened their approach Wednesday by starting a new organic community garden downtown.
Police may still seek to arrest them for starting a community garden Wednesday.
Occupy planted seed beginning at around 12 Noon Wednesday at what is being touted as a new, organic community garden at 1221 C Street.
Activists Tuesday night held a "sleepover to protest poverty and the new ordinance," which bans free speech on City Hall property after 11 p.m. The new ordinance bans such things as sharing food, loud noises, walking on/harming the grass, touching the fountain in the Plaza, using erasable chalk and holding signs too close to City Hall.
Although arrests were expected, police did not jail anyone Tuesday night despite Occupy staying on City Hall property all night.
The ordinance has been called unconstitutional or overly restrictive by board members of the ACLU of Sacramento, National Lawyers Guild and other civil libertarian groups.
There were 110 Occupy arrests last October-December. The City admitted it spent at least $408,000 but did not win one conviction - all the charges were dismissed when Occupy defendants rejected plea bargains and insisted on jury trials. Occupy legal team members said the City did not pursue the charges because it knew the ordinance, similar to this new City Hall ordinance, was unconstitutional and the City would lose on appeal.
The fight for LGBT equality in the Bay Area has faced plenty of challenges. Meet Matt Coles, who has been fighting for them from the beginning.
The rainbow flag is known all over the world as a symbol of LGBT rights and acceptance. Here in San Francisco, a huge rainbow flag waves over the Castro District. But that flag came close to being a trademarked symbol that could have kept it from public use. In 1978 Gilbert Baker, the person who created the flag, came to the Castro law office of a young LGBT civil rights attorney in private practice named Matt Coles. Baker explained that he created the flag for everyone and wanted it to remain free for public use. He needed an attorney to represent him to challenge an attempt from an advocacy organization to trademark it. He didn't have any money, but Matt agreed to represent him. Today, the rainbow flags that symbolize Pride Month are a symbol for the people.
The inevitable lawsuit contesting the brutal pepper spraying of UC Davis students last fall was filed on Wednesday, February 22.
Seventeen students and two recent graduates, represented by the ACLU of Northern California and cooperating attorneys, filed a federal lawsuit against UC Davis over the University's treatment of protesters during a November 18 demonstration.
In a now-famous video that went viral on the internet, University police were caught dousing seated protesters with pepper spray. The video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdDLhPwpp4&utm_source=General&utm_campaign=f6cc05a348-Daily_Update_11_20_2011&utm_medium=email) has become a symbol of the police brutality imposed upon Occupy Wall Street protesters by police forces throughout the country in a national crackdown coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal law enforcement agencies.
"The lawsuit seeks to determine why the University violated the demonstrators' state and federal constitutional rights and seeks to result in better policies that will prevent repetition of such response to a non-violent protest," according to a news release from the ACLU of Northern California. "The lawsuit charges that Administration officials and the campus police department failed to properly train and supervise officers, resulting in series of constitutional violations against the demonstrators."
UC Davis spokesperson Barry Shiller said in an email that the campus could not comment on the lawsuit's details.
"Attorneys for the university and the plaintiffs have been talking," Shiller stated. "We hope those conversations continue. In the meantime, we've not seen the lawsuit and therefore aren't in a position to comment on details."
On Nov. 18, students gathered in the quad on the UC Davis campus to demonstrate against ongoing tuition hikes, as well as against recent brutal treatment of demonstrators at UC Berkeley. UC Davis campus police arrived in riot gear, and officers threatened students, who were seated on the quad in a circle, and ordered them to disperse, according to the ACLU.
"When students remained seated to continue their demonstration, a UC Davis police officer repeatedly sprayed the line of protesters with pepper spray at point-blank range, while scores of other officers looked on. Another officer sprayed the demonstrators from behind. The seated students posed no physical threat to the officers. Pepper spray has excruciating effects that can last for days," the ACLU stated.
Lawsuit says 'unacceptable and excessive force' used on students
The lawsuit said the University's response to seated student protesters amounts to "unacceptable and excessive force that violates state and federal constitutional protections," including the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"The University needs to respect students' rights to make our voices heard, especially when we're protesting University policies that impact our studies," said Fatima Sbeih, a student plaintiff who was pepper sprayed after joining the demonstration on the quad after returning from afternoon prayer.
Sbeih had previously been a volunteer paramedic and afterwards helped tend to other demonstrators who were in pain.
"This was my first demonstration," said David Buscho, another plaintiff. "So many of my friends can barely make ends meet and then another tuition hike was proposed. We had no idea there would be police in riot gear or that we would be pepper-sprayed because we were making our voices heard."
Buscho, a Mechanical Engineering student, said he was in searing pain and had trouble breathing after being pepper-sprayed directly in the face.
"Using military-grade pepper spray and police violence against non-violent student protesters violates the constitution, and it's just wrong," said Michael Risher, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, and one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. "When the cost of speech is a shot of blinding, burning pepper spray in the face, speech is not free."
"The University needs better policies on how it deals with protests and protesters, said Mark E. Merin, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. "Students deserve to know what went wrong and how this could be allowed to happen. They want to make sure it never happens again."
Documents subsequently received from the University of California indicate that the pepper spray used was military grade and, based on manufacturer instructions, should be used from a minimum of six feet away - much farther than the close range at which the students were sprayed, according to the ACLU.
The suit was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial, injunctive relief and damages. In addition to Risher and Merin, attorneys working on the suit are Alan Schlosser, Linda Lye and Novella Coleman for the ACLU-NC, as well as Meredith Wallis.
Al Rojas: State Attorney General needs to conduct full investigation
Al Rojas, a longtime civil rights and pro-democracy activist and one of the founders of the United Farmworkers Union, applauded the announcement of the lawsuit, but said the lawsuit must go further.
"Good for Mark Merin and the Northern California ACLU!" said Rojas. "Finally, somebody is listening. However, the real question is what was the FBI's relationship with UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi."
In 2010, Katehi joined an "elite team" of twenty college presidents on the "National Security Higher Education Advisory Board," a committee that "promotes discussion and outreach between research universities and the FBI, according to Dave Zirin in the Nation magazine (http://www.thenation.com/blog/164783/two-scandals-one-connection-fbi-link-between-penn-state-and-uc-davis).
Rojas said what is needed is a full and thorough investigation by the State Attorney General's Office, since they have state jurisdiction, asking the following questions:
• "Did Katehi participate as an FBI Committee member?
• Did she allow UCD staff to spy on student activists on campus during the student surveillance scandal last year?
• What exactly happened during this surveillance and how was the information used?
• Where is this information now?
• What did Katehi receive inkind from the FBI for this information??
• How many meetings took place with the FBI?
• Why did Chancellor Katehi allow UCD student surveillance?
• Was there a possible violation of the civil rights of students? If this is found to be true, Katehi must be held accountable and fired," Rojas concluded.
Rojas emphasized that UCD is the same University that accepted $25 million to build the Robert Mondavi Arts Center from a wine company, Mondavi, that denied farm workers the right to join a union and paid low wages.
Campus officials conducted surveillance, infiltration of students
Last spring, internal UC Davis emails revealed surveillance and infiltration tactics employed by campus officials during campus tuition increase protests.
A Public Records Act request by a UC Davis Student resulted in the release of 280 pages of documents that disclosed a surveillance and infiltration program by university officials to monitor, and shape the protests, and also the narrative reported by the news media, according to the ACLU of Sacramento County.The request was made by student Bryan Sparks for documents dating from July 1, 2010 through December 6, 2010.
"The Sacramento Chapter of the ACLU is extremely concerned about what appears to be violations of the free speech rights of students at the University of California, Davis during fee hike protests," according to a joint statement by the ACLU in Sacramento and Yolo counties on April 11, 2011.
"The documents reveal high-ranking administrators, and staff members, and leaders of the campus police department formed a network called the 'Activism Response Team' to keep close tabs on student activists, including monitoring student Facebook activity, infiltrating protests and attempting to obtain information about 'anticipated student actions,' and individuals involved in the protests," the ACLU stated.
In one case, a campus police officer marched with students in plain clothes and refused to identify herself as a member of the UCD police department, according to the ACLU. UC Davis officials apologized, claiming it was a "mistake."
Steven Joseph Carter, the tree sitter at Cesar Chavez Park who spent parts of three days in a tree in solidarity with Occupy Sacramento, was released from jail on Tuesday, December 13 on his own recognizance.
The protester spent five days in Sacramento County Jail after his arrest, the longest any of the activists arrested by police has been jailed in the city of Sacramento's campaign against Occupy Sacramento and the First Amendment.
On Human Rights Day, December 10, Occupy Sacramento activists marched on the jail to demand the freedom of Carter and to protest the police brutality, violence and abuses that occur at the facility daily.
Carter, who was held on $16,000 bail since last Friday, is being charged with misdemeanor counts of curfew and "impeding an arrest." The charges carry up to 18 months in jail, according to Occupy Sacramento Legal Committee coordinator Cres Vellucci.
He is being represented by the Public Defender office. His next court date is February 29, 2012.
"In total now, after 24 arrests last week, there have been 111 arrests at the Park. None have been successfully prosecuted," emphasized Vellucci. "The City Monday dismissed charges against nine people who were supposed to go to trial Tuesday."
Occupy Sacramento activists called Monday's dismissals a victory for the First Amendment.
"We have said all along, and our lawyers have argued, that this local ordinance that proclaims the Bill of Rights only relevant before 11 p.m. weeknights or midnight on weekends is unconstitutional," said Vellucci. "We think the City of Sacramento knows that and does not want to see it challenged in a court of law."
The crackdown on the First Amendment by the cities of Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and others across the country is apparently part of a nationally coordinated campaign by the Department of Homeland Security and other federal law enforcement agencies in collaboration with local police departments, as exposed by author Naomi Wolf in her November 25 article in the UK Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/25/shocking-truth-about-crackdown-occupy),
"So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence," wrote Wolf. "It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent."
The ultimate irony is that while the City of Sacramento and the "leadership" of other cities across the country continue to wage their war against the Occupy movement, the First Amendment and Bill of Rights, the Wall Street criminals continue to profit off their bailouts by the Obama and Bush regimes after having violated a plethora of state and federal laws.
In this unjust oligarchy, defenders of the Constitution are arrested and brutalized for standing up for the law while the real criminals not only go free, but are rewarded for their criminal behavior. The police agencies are effectively serving as the private security forces for the Wall Street banksters who should be locked up in federal prison.
The officers involved in the shocking pepper-spray attacks on UC Davis students Friday should be immediately arrested because they've violated federal and state laws, said one of the lawyers from Occupy Sacramento in a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris and other law enforcement officials.
"Physical attacks on persons violate California Penal Code 242 (Battery) and such violence perpetrated by those in uniform is a criminal violation of Federal civil rights law 18 USC 242," said Jeff Kravitz, a constitutional rights attorney.
Kravitz suggested the state, through AG Harris, as well as Yolo District Attorney Jeff Reisig and US Attorney Benjamin Wagner should make the arrests of the UC Davis officers immediately.
"It is imperative that proper action be taken by County, State and Federal authorities... initiating criminal proceedings including the arrest of those who committed the acts of violence or bringing the issues before a grand jury. Leaving he matter solely in the hands of the University is not a reasonable option," said Kravitz.
He added that the University of California's promised investigation is "clearly self-serving and bears resemblance to the investigation conducted by Penn State into the allegations of sex crimes by Jerry Sandusky...an investigation used to protect the university and not the victims."
For a copy of the letter contact Jeff Kravitz, 916-553-4072 or 916-996-9170
Occupy Sacramento said it will sends its occupiers to UC Davis today, November 21, to support the Occupy UC Davis students brutally pepper-sprayed and violently assaulted Friday by UC police. A caravan will leave from Cesar Chavez Park shortly after 11 a.m. for a NOON rally at UC Davis.
"We feel it is a necessity to support and assist our friends at UC Davis in their time of need," said Cres Vellucci, an ACLU board member in Sacramento, and Legal Team coordinator for Occupy Sacramento. "This kind of brutality as seen by the citizen videos circulating the world needs to stop. When someone next asks 'why' is there an Occupy, we only need to point to this example of the 1 percent ordering their public servants to punish - without trial - peaceful, non-violent demonstrators."
"The Occupy movement will not stand for it," said Vellucci.
There have been 84 arrests at Occupy Sacramento since Oct. 6; Last week, 31 cases were dismissed "in the interest of justice" by the City of Sacramento, which is pursuing charges against 25 others. The District Attorney refused to prosecute the nonviolent occupiers, forcing the City to proceed.
Occupy Sacramento and members of SEIU and other unions marched on Governor Jerry Brown's loft home Saturday to call for an end to the epidemic of violence by law enforcement agencies against the Occupy movement, as exemplified in the shocking video of police brutally pepper spraying peaceful UC Davis students at a protest. (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2011/11/20/occupy-sacramento-marches-on-jerry-browns-home/)
The video of the November 18 protest (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdDLhPwpp4&utm_source=General&utm_campaign=f6cc05a348-Daily_Update_11_20_2011&utm_medium=email) has gone viral throughout the world, highlighting the routine violence that has been used by police agencies in California to suppress any dissent to rule by Wall Street and the 1 percent.
The Sacramento City Attorney's office today dismissed nine misdemeanor cases of protesters arrested at the Occupy Sacramento encampment at Cesar Chavez Park - and pro bono lawyers said they expected dozens of cases to be dismissed over the next week.
Another seven people are scheduled to have their charges dismissed Friday. Another nine, including anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan, will have charges dropped early next week.
In all, charges are expected to be dismissed or not filed against 40 individuals, the City has indicated to Occupy Sacramento lawyers. The Sacramento Police have arrested 84 people at the park since October 6.
The dismissal took place as police departments have cracked down on Occupy encampments in New York City, Oakland, Portland and other cities throughout the nation, apparently as part of a coordinated effort by federal agencies under the Obama administration to squash dissent.
"After evaluating the facts of each case and criminal history of each defendant, the City Attorney's office has determined that the arrest and jail time that each dismissed defendant served achieved the People of the State of California's demand for substantial justice," City Attorney Eileen Teichert said in a statement.
The office said it would move forward with prosecuting those protesters with multiple arrests for "violating" the park hours ordinance. The city is proceeding with charges against nine defendants.
Vindication for the Constitution
"This is a step in the right direction," said Josh Kaizuka, one of 36 volunteer lawyers assisting on the case, in reacting to the dismissals.
"This is vindication for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights," said Cres Vellucci, the vice-chair of the ACLU Board of Directors in Sacramento, who was arrested October 6 for being at Cesar Chavez Park beyond a curfew.
"There is no doubt that Defendant was participating in an organized meeting intended to vocalize a community's disapproval of our nation's distribution of wealth," Kaizuka said in the filing. "This dissent was a political statement, and was, by all accounts, conducted in a peaceful manner...defendant was vocalizing his dissent at precisely the place where we, as a community, would expect: the town square."
Kaizuka said, in the "Demurrer," that by arresting Vellucci and 83 others since Oct. 6 at Cesar Chavez Park, city officials and police "impermissibly interfered with constitutionally protected speech, at a place that for over 150 years has been the platform to protest for the right of speech and assembly. Cesar Chavez Plaza, in fact, is built on the location of the original California State Capitol Building site."
Kaizuka called the charges "vague," and asked the court to throw out the case.
Karen Bernal, chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party (whose certification is currently in limbo) is one of the 9 defendants whose case was dismissed today. Bernal was arrested on October 16, along with Cindy Sheehan and other protesters.
"I'm happy that the case was dismissed, but I'm thinking about all of the money that the city spent on arrests and prosecution of protesters when there are so many other real problems that the city has to deal with," said Bernal after her case was dismissed.
The protesters were originally arrested for "unlawful assembly." However, District Attorney Jan Scully, stating that "no crime had been committed," refused to prosecute the protesters for exercising their First Amendment rights.
In an Orwellian move condemned by civil rights lawyers, the City of Sacramento then decided to prosecute the protesters on new charges - remaining in the park after curfew and loitering.
Arrests coordinated with Homeland Security and other federal officials?
As the police crackdowns continue, an investigative news piece in the examiner.com on November 15 revealed that the repression of the Occupy movement was apparently aided by officials from Homeland Security and other federal law enforcement agencies (http://www.examiner.com/top-news-in-minneapolis/were-occupy-crackdowns-aided-by-federal-law-enforcement-agencies).
"Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict 'Occupy' protesters from city parks and other public spaces," wrote Rick Ellis, Minneapolis Top News Examiner. "As was the case in last night's move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies."
"The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement," according to Ellis.
"According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present," said Ellis.
Vellucci said the revelations by Ellis appeared to confirm what he witnessed at the Occupy Sacramento encampment since the city cracked down on the peaceful, legal protest.
"From the first day in Sacramento, it was obvious the police were waiting for media to leave, as if they were trained to do so," said Vellucci. "Now there's evidence that waiting for press to leave, coming out in overwhelming numbers (and using 'curfew' laws was all part of advice Sacramento and other cities received from the federal government, including the FBI and Homeland Security."
For example, Vellucci said that although the curfew begins at 11 pm, the police didn't begin arresting people until 12:15 am on the first night of the arrests. "They didn't start arresting people until the media was out of the park," said Vellucci.
He also noted the overwhelming show of force by the police during the arrests. "Sacramento had as many as 44 vehicles and 80 officers for 4 arrests," emphasized Vellucci. "There were an average of over 20 police vehicles and 40 officers clad in riot gear each night of the arrests."
"Now it all makes sense that somebody from the federal government was advising the city on their crackdown," said Vellucci.
Vellucci noted that Occupy Sacramento lawyers have made a State Public Records Act request of the city to release all of the communications between the police, city staff, City Council and Mayor and the costs incurred regarding the repression of Occupy Sacramento. The city has delayed releasing the documents by two weeks.
Volunteer lawyers announced late Monday they will file a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Sacramento in federal court Tuesday on behalf of those arrested at Occupy Sacramento - and will ask for a temporary restraining to stop arrests at the Cesar Chavez Park demonstration.
"Similar federal lawsuits in other U.S. cities have resulted in an end to arrests," according to Cres Vellucci, Occupy Sacramento spokesman.
79 people have been arrested for asserting their First Amendment rights at Cesar Chavez Park since Oct. 6 when Occupy Sacramento began. So far about half of those have gone to court on misdemeanor charges (6 months in jail, $1,000 fine).
"When the District Attorney refused to file charges last week claiming no laws were broken, the City of Sacramento took over the prosecution," said Vellucci.
All were either defended by more than a dozen volunteer lawyers or the Public Defender office.
Details of the litigation will be released at a major press conference TUESDAY, 2 p.m. at the Federal Courthouse (5th & I Streets). Lawyers and plaintiffs will be available for comment.
Four more Occupy Sacramento protestors arrested for asserting their First Amendment rights at Cesar Chavez Park went to court today. Two of them are veterans, who made a statement about the horrendous injury to ex-Marine Scott Olsen at the hands of police in a raid at the Occupy Oakland site last week. Those arraigned were Daniel Garza (Iraq Vet), Gabriela DeOliveira, Sean Thompson and Kathryn Coke.
Vellucci also announced that Occupy Sacramento has filed a public records request to discover the true costs of the City of Sacramento's suppression of First Amendment rights.
"The costs should be much more than than in Phoenix Arizona, where the city spent over $200,000," said Vellucci. "We have 18-45 vehicles and 40-80 officers at protests at curfew at Cesar Chavez Park."
"We've also asked for all correspondence between police, city staff, mayor and city council about Occupy Sacramento. They have 10 days to respond (from last week)," noted Vellucci.
Activists at Occupy Sacramento have used increasingly creative actions to dramatize their protests of Wall Street control of US politics. Occupy Sacramento hosted two "Zombie Walks" on Saturday, October 29, two days before Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/30/18696099.php).
Shouting, "What Do We Want? Brains!," "Where do we want them? City Council!," over 200 "zombies" from Occupy Sacramento marched from the park through the streets of downtown Sacramento on the afternoon of Saturday, October 29.
Shouting, "What Do We Want? Brains!," "Where do we want them? City Council!," over 200 "zombies" from Occupy Sacramento marched from Cesar Chavez Park through the streets of downtown Sacramento on the afternoon of Saturday, October 29.
Christina Kay and other Occupy Sacramento organizers also led the "zombies" in chants such as "Zombies, united, will never be divided!" as they protested "the Nightmare on Wall Street."
The Zombie Walk, headed by several "zombie banksters," stopped at Wells Fargo and other banks after proceeding through the downtown mall.
At Wells Fargo, one "zombie" man held up a skeleton puppet proclaiming, "Zombies were the 99%." A "zombie" woman also held up a sign saying, "Fatal Error - Capitalism Has Crashed - Install New System."
The afternoon walk was followed by another "Zombie Walk" at 8 pm. The walks took place on Day 23 of Occupy Sacramento, one of hundreds of occupations that have taken throughout the U.S., Europe and Mexico starting with Occupy Wall Street in New York City to protest Wall Street bailouts and the corruption of the political system by corporate money.
As a fan of zombie movies including Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Revenge of the Living Dead, I applaud the creativity of the Occupy Sacramento organizers in embracing the "Zombie Walks" to draw attention to their protest against Wall Street.
More than 30 Occupy Sacramento protestors went to court for the first time last week - 79 arrests have been made since Oct. 6 when the occupation of Cesar Chavez Park began. Those defendants were given Nov. 3 dates to make a plea on misdemeanor charges (6 months in jail, $1,000 fine), according to Cres Vellucci, spokesman for Occupy Sacramento.
All were either defended by more than a dozen volunteer lawyers or the Public Defender office. More of those arrested will be arraigned next week.
All of those who appeared in court last week were arrested for "unlawful assembly" (409 pc), although the County District Attorney, Jan Scully, announced on Monday, October 24 she was not going to prosecute it, saying no crime was committed by demonstrators. Yet the City Attorney's office is still planning on prosecuting the charges of violating city code.
"The unlawful assembly charge is a police or city-created crime," said civil rights attorney Jeff Kravitz. "It cannot prevail in court."
On October 24, Kravitz attended a news conference with defense attorney Josh Kaizuka and Mark Merin, who announced he had sent a warning letter to the city of Sacramento, threatening to sue for violating the civil rights of Occupy Sacramento protesters.
"Good folks in Cincinnati have filed a lawsuit alleging that actions which that city has taken, similar to what Sacramento has done in closing the public park where the occupiers are demonstrating, constitute a prior restraint on free speech and are therefore unconstitutional," the letter stated. "We are prepared to file a similar action here to enjoin and declare unconstitutional the closure of the Park after stated hours, as well as to enjoin the continued arrests of persons claiming their constitutional right to assemble. We believe the chilling effect of these arrests is significant. Obviously, the use of scarce city resources for the arrest and booking of these peaceful demonstrators is senseless."
Meanwhile, the Occupy Oakland General Assembly on October 26 passed a resolution calling for a general strike on Wednesday, November 2. "We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school," the resolution stated. "Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city." For more information, go to: http://www.occupyoakland.org.
Occupy Sacramento announces series of 'ZOMBIE WALK(s)' to the banks Saturday
SACRAMENTO - Occupy Sacramento announced it will hold a series of dramatic "Zombie Walk(s)" to the banks and other undisclosed locations Saturday.
The first "Zombie Walk" starts at 1 p.m. SATURDAY (Oct. 29) beginning at Cesar Chavez Park. There will be another at 8 p.m.
"Make-up" begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Park.
Last week, more 30 Occupy Sacramento protestors went to court for the first time - 79 arrests have been made since Oct. 6 when OS began. Those defendants were given Nov. 3 dates to make a plea on misdemeanor charges (6 months in jail, $1,000 fine).
All were either defended by more than a dozen volunteer lawyers or the Public Defender office.
More of those arrested will be arraigned next week.
Occupy Sacramento protesters first court date
Wednesday, despite District Attorney's pledge
not to prosecute; City says it will take over
SACRAMENTO - Twenty Occupy Sacramento demonstrators who were arrested on the first day of the occupation Oct. 6 will make the first court appearance for Occupy Sacramento WEDNESDAY (Oct. 26) at Sacramento Superior Courthouse (720 9th St.). 75 have been arrested at Occupy Sacramento since Oct. 6.
There will be a rally and press conference at 8:15 a.m. on the 9th St. side of the courthouse.
All of those due to appear at arraignments Wednesday were arrested for "unlawful assembly" (409 pc), although the County District Attorney announced Monday she was not going to prosecute it, saying no crime was committed by demonstrators.
Volunteer lawyers said they expect the city of Sacramento to file new charges Wednesday, and prosecute them - an unusual move by the City Attorney.
"The unlawful assembly charge is a police or city-created crime. It cannot prevail in court," said civil rights attorney Jeff Kravitz early Monday when he appeared with other pro bono lawyers. He predicted the DA would not go forward with the charges, and later Monday the DA confirmed it.
Kravitz attended a news conference with defense attorney Josh Kaizuka, and Mark Merin, who said Monday he had sent a warning letter to the city of Sacramento, threatening to sue for violating the civil rights of Occupy Sacramento.
Occupy Sacramento, civil rights lawyers
Monday to announce possible lawsuit against
City of Sacramento for 1st Amendment violations
SACRAMENTO - There will be an announcement Monday by Occupy Sacramento and civil rights lawyers concerning a possible lawsuit against the City of Sacramento for violating the 1st Amendment rights of demonstrators.
The news conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. MONDAY at Cesar Chavez Park.
Details will be provided at that time.
There's been 75 arrests since Occupy Sacramento began Oct. 6. The first court dates are set for Oct. 26, where demonstrators face unlawful assembly misdemeanor counts.
I don't feel very good about this country this morning, and as so many of us are I'm thinking of how Troy Davis was hustled off this mortal coil by the State of Georgia without a lot of thought of what it means to execute the innocent.
And given the choice, I'd rather see us abandon the death penalty altogether, for reasons that must, at this moment, seem self-evident; that said, it's my suspicion that a lot of states are not going to be in any hurry to abandon their death penalties anytime soon now that they know the Supreme Court will allow the innocent to be murdered.
So what if there was a way to create a compromise that balanced the absolute need to protect the innocent with the feeling among many Americans that, for some crimes, we absolutely have to impose the death penalty?
Considering the circumstances, it's not going to be an easy subject, but let's give it a try, and see what we can do.
So I took a bit of a break this past month, and I figured by the time I came back y'all would have things sorted out: people would be surely by flying around with jet packs by now, God would have sent fires and floods to smite the unrighteous, and, if I really got lucky, Barack Obama would have "grown a pair".
And now that I'm back, debt negotiations are about to commence between that same Barack Obama and the Republican Congressional Leadership, things like Social Security and Medicare cuts are apparently on the table in order to protect tax cuts for the rich, and certain quarters of the Republican Party aren't even trying anymore to hide their racism.
All of which suggests that I shouldn't be looking for a jet pack anytime soon.
But there is some good news: God is apparently working hard, and states like Oklahoma and Arizona and Florida and Georgia and Texas have been alternately aflame or aflood, apparently as a result of their unrepentant behavior...and on the economic front, New York City's Stonewall Inn is going to make a ton of money this summer hosting weddings.
That gives us a lot to talk about...so let's get right to it.
News is suddenly moving so fast that it's becoming hard for me to keep up; that's why we're not finishing the story today that we just began Tuesday. You know, the one about Titan Cement suing two North Carolina residents who appear to be doing nothing more than speaking the truth.
Unfortunately, other important news has forced itself to the front of the line, and it's going to demand that we break schedule, whether we like it or not.
That's why today we're going to be talking about Wisconsin, and how workers there are fighting back against the State's Republican legislators and Governor, who seem to have gone out of their way this past three weeks to govern without the consent of the governed.
It's kind of chilly today in Wisconsin...but I can assure you, things are heating up fast-and it ain't because of spring.
We have spent the past two years watching as insanity has gripped Congress, and even more so with Republicans now running the House.
We have a wavering President, far too many feckless Democrats, and Republicans that have decided to dive headfirst into total "insane mode" in a full-blown effort to destroy this country just as fast as possible.
To give but one example, in my own District, WA-08, we are represented by the absolutely useless Republican Dave Reichert, whose best-known legislative achievement is that he has virtually no record of any legislative achievement whatever.
Now we've had a very interesting relationship, you and I, over these past few years; in my efforts to "bring you the story" I've been a fake political consultant, a fake lobbyist, even a fake historian...and now, I think it's time to try to bring our relationship to a new level.
And that's why, America, I'm announcing my fake candidacy for Congress.
It's been a few days now since we began a conversation that addresses the issue of how frustrated some number of LBGT voters are with the Democratic Party this cycle; this because they find themselves either frustrated at the lack of progress on the civil rights issues that matter to them, or because they see both the Democratic and Republican Parties as unreliable partners in the struggle to assure equal rights for all.
In an effort to practice some actual journalism, I assembled a version of an online "focus group" at The Bilerico Project ("daily adventures in LBGTQ"), with the goal of gathering some opinions on this subject in the actual words of those frustrated voters.
Part One of this story focused on "stating the problem", and today we'll take on Part Two: in this environment, with Election Day staring us in the face, what is an LBGT voter to do?
As before, there are a variety of opinions, including a very informative comment I was able to obtain from a genuine Member of Congress, Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania's 8th District, and that means until the very end you won't hear much from me, except to help "set the stage" for the comments that follow.
You know, it seems like every time I write a letter I have to begin by apologizing for not having written in so long, and that's the case again today.
We only get a few days of real summer up here every year, and I was out having fun at golf tournaments and doing a bit of climbing around the local hills-and you know, I do love doing a bit of nothing at all from time to time-but while I was away, things have gotten even crazier than usual around here...and I'm sorry to say, you've been on the pointy end of the crazy stick, which is something that never should have happened.
Things have been so nutty that you're probably thinking America has something against Islam-in fact, you might be wondering if we have something against our own Constitution.
Well, we don't, most of us, and I'll take a few minutes today to help y'all understand just what is going on in this country.