- Posted August 25, 2014 by
Los Angeles, California
Cali Police use 'Lynching' Charge to Imprison Social Activists
California Police Departments are using the charge 'lynching' to imprison protesters and social activists.
Jacqueline Sanchez, Salvador Chavez, Pouyan Bokaei, Jessica Rey and Janet Mathieson were arrested and brutalized by the Murrieta Police and Border Patrol on July 4th. The police selectively targeted pro-migrant people with violence and arrested them in support of anti-immigration protesters. Many of the Murrieta police are outward supporters of the anti-immigration protests, and it is speculated that they helped facilitate the blockade of immigrant busses with the US Border Patrol. This demonstrates an abuse of their power as police officers and offers proof of their bias in the matter.
The Riverside District Attorney has decided to pursue the 'lynching' charges. Over the phone they said they had reviewed the evidence and felt the charge was legitimate.
Now lets talk 'Lynching'
"The lynching charge surfaced in January of 2012 when it was brought against Occupy protesters in Oakland and again in March 2012 when a UCLA graduate student was arrested during a Regents meeting in San Francisco.
To justify the violence that often accompanies arrests during protests, police departments in California have established charges that apply loosely and whose severity matches the severity of the police assault. The lynching charge is not the charge most commonly deployed in this manner; rather, people who are assaulted tend to be charged with assault on an officer (see for example, Pasadena).
That said, the lynching charge is highly strategic because it is vague enough to apply to the multitude of situations that are suggestive of cooperation between protesters during an arrest and severe enough that the threat can also have a deterrent effect (it carries a higher sentence than Penal Code 4550, the law that applies when someone frees a person from jail or prison). Initially isolated to Northern California, the tactic has spread to other police departments as an effective way of dealing with protesters during the Occupy movement."
The five protesters mentioned were defending refugee rights in a peaceful manner when one of their party was pushed by the anti-immigration protesters. The police immediately sided with the anti-immigration protesters and targeted one of the five arrestees who had no involvement in the issue. The group started walking away saying, "We are leaving, we are leaving." The police then proceeded to violently arrest the 5 and charge them with felonies for lynching. They even referred to two of the arrestees with hateful slurs.
The Arraignments are on August 28 and September 3. A campaign to pressure the Riverside DA into dropping the charges is currently underway.
Photos by Emilie Grunfeld