Dec. 12, 2011 indybay.org
by Dan Bacher
The City of Sacramento late Monday – under a barrage of questioning by the
court about a failure to provide discovery to the defense – dismissed all
charges against nine Occupy Sacramento defendants scheduled to start their
trials on Tuesday, December 13.
After trial court judge Earnest W. Sawtelle repeatedly chastised city
attorney Gary Lindsay for turning over only 2 of 44 items of discovery –
which were due no later than Dec. 5 by court order – Lindsay conferred
with his office then announced the City would drop all charges "in the
Occupy Sacramento Legal Committee coordinator Cres Vellucci called it a
victory for the First Amendment, noting:
"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.
weekly or midnight on weekends is unconstitutional. We think the City of
Sacramento knows that and does not want to see it challenged in a court of
"One-hundred and eleven (111) people have now been arrested at Cesar
Chavez Park peacefully protesting the law. They have risked their freedom
to preserve the rights our founders fought for, and Americans have died
for more than two centuries.
"We now ask the City of Sacramento to save the taxpayers of Sacramento the
cost of arresting and prosecuting other people simply expressing their
free speech rights. Now is the time to sit down and work out an agreement
that allows all Sacramentans their First Amendment rights."
In total, there have been 111 arrests at Cesar Chavez Park for curfew
violations. Thirty-five people had their charges dismissed earlier,
according to Vellucci. After today's decision, 7 people may still face
trial in January.
Another 24 people, including "Joe," who was arrested by police after
occupying a tree in Cesar Chavez Park, were arrested last week. "There is
no word yet regarding those arrested last week," noted Vellucci.
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
"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. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional
profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the
implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of
their dreams of reform are not."
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Dec. 12, 2011 indybay.org