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Articles Tagged with political protests

Protests over the killing of of George Floyd by a police officer in downtown Minneapolis came with waves of violence and looting across the country. In San Diego, the aftermath of prolonged protests that melded with rowdy rioters was over 100 arrests being made by the San Diego Police Department. At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Monday, June 1, the SDPD announced that the charges were diverse and included failure to disperse, assaulting officers, burglary, and vandalism.

 

Due to the unrest, officials decided to close all state buildings with offices located in the downtown area of the city on Monday. Amy Palmer, the spokeswoman for the state Government Operations Agency indicated that the decision was made after discussions between the California Highway Patrol and the Office of Emergency Services, where it was determined that the closures were necessary. The Department of Motor Vehicles all the way through offices that act to license workers and those that provide healthcare were closed down while urging those employees who can work from home to continue to do so.

 

The protests contained very tense moments. At one point, traffic on Interstate 5 was shut down by the protesters’ presence in the streets. In some instances, officers fired tear gas, flashbangs, and used less-lethal ammunition to control the unruly crowds. Much destruction to the community was left afterward. After the protests subsided, a large group of volunteers spent their day cleaning up businesses that were damaged and picked up debris on the ground from the chaos that took place earlier.

 

What is Considered “Vandalism”?

 

When an individual is determined and intent to destroy or bring about damages to property by way of trashing or tarnishing the appearance of the property, defacing it, or ruining it in such a way that its value is decreased, this act is considered vandalism. Vandalism is a willful crime and can include any of the following acts:

 

  • Using a marker to write on a public bench
  • Carving words, letters, or symbols into a public tree
  • Scratching up a car or slashing tires
  • Smashing windows
  • Spray painting buildings

 

There are other terms that are used synonymously “vandalism.” These include “destruction of property” and “damage to property.” Depending on the state you live in, these terms may describe more serious forms of property destruction. Other states use these terms in tandem with vandalism keeping the crimes in the same category. Crimes associated with vandalism, therefore, vary by state, and as such, so do the penalties.

 

In general, in order for you to be proven guilty of committing vandalism, the prosecutor must successfully make the case that the following took place:

 

  • Your acts resulted in physical damage
  • Your damage was done to another owner’s property who did not give you permission to change their property’s appearance
  • Your acts were done intentionally, not by accident

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While defense lawyers attempt to get through the nearly 100 cases involved with the Dakota Access protests, the sudden imprisonment of two activists came as a shock to them, making them wonder if the state has decided to be vindictive.

Alex Simon, 27, a teacher from New Mexico claims that he was singled out and unjustly arrested. He served 13 out of the 18-day sentence for locking arms with activists against a police line on October 22, 2016. That same day, 140 others were arrested with him. Aside from himself, only one other activist who received a jail sentence, 65-year-old Mary Redway, a retired environmental planner from Rhode Island.  Ms. Redway claims she was jailed immediately, and she served four days inside the women’s booking cellblock of the Burleigh Morton Detention Center. In fact, the booking guard refuse to believe that she had been jailed for “disorderly conduct” since no one ever receives a jail sentence for disorderly conduct.

So far, 310 cases for activists arrested during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy have been dismissed or acquitted. An additional 107 activists made plea deals, and 24 cases have had pre-trial diversions, and one case has made an appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court.  Another 109 cases are inactive, and 259 cases remain to be tried, calendared until July 2018. In total, the Water Protector Legal Collective reports that 854 people were arrested during the encampment of the pipeline.

Judge Merrick, one of the judges on the case, was one of the petitioners who attempted to change the Supreme Court law to stop out-of-state attorneys from defending out-of-state defendants.  The petition failed after the North Dakota Supreme Court received 536 comments against changing the law. In October Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) petitioned Jeff Sessions to help prosecute “to the fullest extent of the law any criminal who try to destroy energy infrastructure.”

Protest Charges

Despite our First Amendment right to free speech, law enforcement officials can stick a number of charges against you just to retaliate against you for protesting.

They include but are not limited to:

  • Criminal trespass
  • Loitering
  • Incitement/rioting
  • Blocking a sidewalk or sweet
  • Failure to cooperate with lawful orders from police
  • Disorderly conduct
  • You can also be charged with violations of city noise ordinances

If you are arrested at a protest, do not resist the arrest; police will certainly place additional charges against you if you do. You do have the right to ask why you are being arrested. Beyond that, you have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise your right to ask for a lawyer immediately once you are taken into the booking facility. You should have the number of your criminal defense attorney ready, and should not go to a protest these days without being prepared with your own lawyer. Continue reading

Police in the Costa Mesa and Orange County area arrested 20 people protesting presidential candidate Donald Trump. Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic in the streets surrounding the area where Trump held a rally. Fights were seen breaking out and some chanted “Racists go home!” Others repeatedly yelled “Whose streets? Our streets!” It is reported that some people waved American and Mexican flags. It is reported that at least one police car had its windows smashed, another police SUV had its tired punctured, and a crowd unsuccessfully tried to flip a police car. Additionally, police claim one cop was struck in the head by a rock. Camera footage shows rocks being thrown at the cars trying to get into the Trump event. It is reported by the LA Times that it was mostly Latino activists present at the rally.

The next day, hundreds of protesters forced Donald Trump to leave his motorcade and cross a freeway while he was trying to get to the Republican debate in Burlingame. They also reportedly tried to storm the hotel where Trump was supposed to give his speech. California is the last state to vote in the Republican primary, and the contest that awards the most delegates. In this notoriously liberal state, it seems as though Americans have lost patience for what they view as the conservative racism and bigotry that Trump represents. Protests are expected to continue as Trump makes his way through California.

Malicious Mischief (Also Known as Vandalism)

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