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.
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.