Activists begin trial on Tuesday, September 13th at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles. Trial is expected to continue for the remainder of the week, and perhaps into the following week. Your presence in the courtroom is appreciated. If you are able to attend, please dress appropriately.
FREE SPEECH 8 SUPPORTERS, PLEASE REPORT TO: Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Division 52, 7th Floor, 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles CA 90012.
WHY ALL ACTIVISTS SHOULD CARE ABOUT THIS CASE
This case is an attempt to stifle free speech
This is a free speech case, plain and simple. The UCLA police department and Los Angeles city attorney’s office are trying to reinterpret a law to abridge what constitutes legal protest activity. Neighborhood protests and pickets are completely legal in Los Angeles and have been engaged in by many social movements. However, police officers find them a nuisance and vivisectors are annoyed by them; and so, in an attempt to shut them down, the UCLA police and LA city attorney’s office are trying to make them appear illegal.
Activists are being punished for things they have not done
In an interview, one of the arresting officers stated clearly that he views above ground legal activists as no different from activists for animal liberation that engage in illegal actions. Law enforcement has not been sophisticated enough to capture covert animal liberationists. The assault on the Free Speech 8, activists who choose to show their faces because they have chosen legal tactics, reflects UCLA’s desire to punish someone, regardless of the reason.
This is a case of police harassment
As a way to further punish activism against UCLA vivisection, the UCLA police and LA City Attorney’s office pulled every video recording of these activists protesting on this campaign and added as many charges as they could for other protests. These charges are other violations of Los Angelece Municipal Code 56.45 E as well as a variety of alleged noise violations under codes 116.01 and 41.57. Though the sound ordinance codes all state the officer is to give a warning prior to citation, these activists were not given warnings and are being punished retroactively for protests that occurred up to one month prior to the arrest. One activist faces six charges and the other seven face eight charges each, which are a various combination of these three codes.
This case is about money, not rights
This prosecution is an assault against activists who challenge money-making institutions. Vivisection receives large grants, and UCLA gets over 50% from each grant received. They want to keep the money flowing by stifling dissent. The bottom line is that UCLA is more interested in protecting its assets than respecting individuals’ constitutional right to free speech.
On May 15, 2010, 12 activists were engaging in picketing and demonstrations in the neighborhoods of UCLA primate vivisectors. This activity occurs on a monthly basis and is completely legal. Activists were picketing in the neighborhood of vivisector Edyth London when they heard sirens in the distance. Two UCLA Police cars parked at the top of the street and demanded everyone sit down. The UCLA Police did not observe the activists behavior before turning on their sirens; they arrived ready to arrest, with zip ties prepared. Activists were made to sit on the sidewalk where they were when the police arrived. Though administering citations would not require any arrests, UCLA PD chose to handcuff and arrest all 12 activists.
This protest activity has been going on for years and nothing in the activists’ behavior that day was different from any other protest they had engaged in for this campaign. UCLA PD and LAPD have observed these protests on a monthly basis for years and had not found the behavior of the activists illegal in the past. On the day of the arrest, no warning was given; neither was an explanation given to any activist for several hours as to why they were being/had been arrested.
The citations eventually handed out noted that activists were arrested at the home of the vivisector, Edyth London, when the arrests actually occurred several houses away. One activist questioned this in the holding cell, as well as their right to take her finger prints; she was refused legal council by the commanding officer and was threatened with being sent to county lock-up for 48 hours. She was refused release until she agreed to provide fingerprints and sign the ticket noting the wrong arrest address.
Charges against the minors were eventually dropped. One adult activist settled, as he was moving across the country to begin medical school and could not travel to court. Eight adult activists remain charged.
The main charge against the activists is a violation of LA municipal code 56.45 E, focused picketing. Activists were not in violation of LAMC 56.45 E as they never stopped within 100 feet of the sidewalk of the residence; rather, they marched, and never stopped on the sidewalk directly outside the residence. Further, they never came at any point within 100 feet of the dwelling. LAMC 56.45 E is written in a vague manner, so the debate is whether activists interpreted the law correctly, which activists, their legal observer, and their lawyers all think they did. Even the UCLA PD and LAPD agreed with their interpretation for years. They changed their interpretation of the law that day, and did not give any warnings to the activists to inform them of this prior to arrest. Activists are also charged with various noise violations for chanting during these daytime protests.