Occupy Activists Charged With Felonies for Interrupting Mayor Sanders’ State of City Address

by on January 14, 2012 · 15 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Popular, San Diego

Local News Website Denies Police Claims That Activists Were Warned Before Being Arrested

The most disturbing thing during Mayor Sanders’ “State of the City” address that he delivered last Wednesday night (Jan. 11th), was not the swan song of a lame duck politician, but that four Occupy San Diego activists who interrupted his speech were all charged with felonies.

Usually, disturbing a public assembly, like a City Council meeting, is a simple misdemeanor.  But in a spiteful frenzy of vengeance, police have charged Alberto Ordonez, Christopher McKay, Tahra Ludwig – who is an OB Ragster,  and Michael Garcia with felony conspiracy to commit crimes.  The crime here, of course, was that these activists stood up during Sanders’ speech and called out the human megaphone “Mic check! Mic check!”

In a twist of the law, disturbing an official meeting or speech is a misdemeanor. But if one conspires to commit a misdemeanor with others, that’s a felony. It’s a stupid law, but one that has been on the books for a long time. So, if two people enter a store to stage a petty theft – misdemeanors – and they conspire to do it – it’s a felony.

Keegan Kyle, of the Voice of San Diego, called our well-known by now assistant police chief, Boyd Long, to ask why.  Long has been the top commander of the SDPD dealing with the occupy movement. He has been responsible for leading the 3 month long period of undue and unconstitutional harassment of the activists, arresting and detaining people for such heinous crimes as registering voters, sitting in a chair, for bumping into an officer, for carrying signs and flags, and for erecting a Christmas tree.

Kyle reported:

Long said the police kicked in the felony charges because the four protesters had identical scripts of the chant. He said the group had also made comments in an elevator with police “indicating they had all conspired before going to the meeting.”

Kyle also stated in his article:

 Long said police had warned the protesters before they entered Balboa Theatre about interrupting the meeting. Capt. Mark Jones “kind of pleaded with them,” Long said. “He said we have a free speech area outside.”

 The protesters stayed inside and began chanting “mic check” at the start of Sanders’ speech. Long said police demanded the protesters stop chanting and most did. But four wouldn’t stop, he said, so police arrested them.

However, the Voice article denied that police told the protesters to stop before their arrest.  It turns out the Voice “editor and CEO were sitting directly behind the protesters, however, and said they never heard police tell the protesters to stop. Police simply moved into arrest the protesters, they said. Some protesters did stop chanting once police moved in the group’s direction and those who did weren’t arrested.”

Felonies are serious business.  Due to the conspiracy charge, each person arrested faced an increased bail of $10,000 and if convicted is looking at up to two years in custody.  The Voice reported that  all four had posted bail by Thursday afternoon. The cases will be handled by the District Attorney’s Office.

Thank you Voice of San Diego.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Timon January 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Heil, Hitler! Heil, the right-wing! This is nothing new: fascists will always resort to force when their pathetic mental constructions fall like a child’s matchstick house. The movement will go on and win. That will also be nothing new.

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avatar J. Monroe January 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

If you don’t want a police state, don’t elect cops to office, especially mayor. Sanders is an ex-cop. This is why San Diego should not consider Bonnie Dumanis for mayor as well. When the only tool one has is a hammer, one tends to see every problem as a nail.

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avatar Frank Gormlie January 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm

bump^

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avatar dana diema January 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I also hear there was only one script unlike what the police report said. The conspiracy felony charge is stupid. If they arrested everyone who talked about grffiti or who talked about smoking a joint, the jail would be full of felons! Isn’t there some precedent to refute this absurdity?

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avatar Jack January 15, 2012 at 10:08 am

I hate to say I told you so….

The Government, including its protective security the Police, view the Occupy folk as the enemy; the same category as Hells Angels, and Drug Cartels. Anything which disrupts the status quo of sitting mindlessly like sheep being lead to the slaughter is viewed as enemies of the state.

I am sure if the powers that be look hard enough, they can find something which fits Occupy into the purview of the Patriot Act and would gladly ship all Occupy members off to Guantanamo…indefinantly.

Be careful folk. We are nearly 30 years past 1984 and it is not getting any better. Do not let yourself be fooled. These are serious times and speaking out comes with a price.

Peace, Jack

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avatar Monty Kroopkin January 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm

And Mayor Sanders and his top police officials are NOT guilty of a felony of conspiracy to violate our constitutional and civil rights? Who will arrest THEM? Who will prosecute THEM?

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avatar OB Joe January 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Hmmm … it’s a type of question thrown out there that’s supposed to get us thinking. Who will arrest Sanders and Lansdowne? Yet it’s also a question borne from a frustration of always being on the losing end of our capitalism.

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avatar OB Joe January 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm

The blatant efforts by San Diego police to intimidate the occupy movement back to the stone age continues unabated. Somedays it seems to work, but not today. There were a lot of OSD folks in the Martin Luther King parade (1-15-12).

Meanwhile, not one politician has come out here in paradise in support of the occupiers – except Lori Saldana. (Lorna Gonzalez is not a politician – altho’ she has been.)

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avatar Nat Greene January 16, 2012 at 8:02 am

Sanders is a corrupt pig, always has been.

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avatar editordude January 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm

We had earlier posted a photo taken by Sam Hodgson of the Voice of protester Mike Garcia being arrested at his seat in the audience, but took it down upon Hodgson’s request. Since a significant part of the story in this post is about Voice staff disputing the official police version of what happened just prior to Mike’s arrest, a photo of his arrest – and the identities of those behind him are part of the news, and are part of the evidence of someone being illegally arrested – and hence part of the public record.

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avatar Monty Kroopkin January 17, 2012 at 12:04 am

So as part of the public record, the photo is going to be posted again?

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avatar editordude January 17, 2012 at 8:08 am

No, we have taken it down. Hodgson is threatening to sue the OB Rag because we used it without his permission. He insists that he be paid his current rate or he’ll take us to court. Here is our position:

Sam, let’s use another example of what I’m talking about. Say you took a photo of someone being murdered (I know it’s an extreme example, but bear with me) and you published it for the public to see. In that photo is the murderer and the victim and importantly the witnesses. Now let’s say the perpetrator was hidden by someone else, yet the fact of the crime and who did it is in your photo. And those who wanted justice wanted to use your photo as evidence of the wrongdoing and the cover-up. You would still charge them? If you answered ‘yes’ – you have learned nothing from photographing the occupy movement. Where is your sense of sharing. Okay you make a living off your photos. We don’t make a living off our website – we are volunteers – trying to set the record straight.

A crime was committed when Mike Garcia was arrested and your photo is partially proof of that misconduct. Your paper – the Voice, your photo, and the acts and witnesses it shows were the story. You cannot hide behind copyright laws when you have evidence of wrongdoing. Besides that, if you know the law, you must request the removal before any legal action is taken.

We’re not trying to make enemies here. We are trying to tell the truth and set the record straight. Your photo is part of that record.

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avatar civil liberties January 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Further, if 2 people conspire to commit an infraction – say, crossing the street against the light – it can also be charged as felony conspiracy. People need to remember that, and need to be smart about not talking in front of police, who are not your friends. Also, I don’t know if this happened, but it always wise to wait for a bail reduction hearing before rewarding the system by paying bail, because that is what you do when you pay bail. Good luck.

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avatar Frank Gormlie January 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Well, that’s a stretch – felony conspiracy for infraction – don’t think so.

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avatar civil liberties January 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Sorry, but I’ve seen that happen (infraction to a conspiracy). The truth is they will never prosecute these, but people have to educate themselves…refuse to pay bail and plead not guilty and demand a jury trial.

We’ve done that in Occupy Sacramento (110 arrests) and the city offered sweetheart deals. We never budged. All cases so far dismissed even up to the eve of trial…hang strong. Do you have a pro bono legal team. I coordinate the legal team here and we have 38 lawyers. :)

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