Hundreds remain jailed after Occupy LA raid
About 240 people remained in jail Thursday night after an LAPD operation to clear the Occupy L.A. encampment around City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, police said. On Thursday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against 19 people arrested. Their bail was set at between $5,000 and $20,000 depending on the charges, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
LAPD's raid of the Occupy L.A. encampment early Wednesday resulted in the arrest of 292 people, primarily for failing to disperse from the area around 1st and Broadway once police declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly.”
One of those arraigned, Tyson Header, 35, of Valencia, allegedly spit on an officer and resisted arrest, and was charged Thursday with three counts: battery on a peace officer, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest. Another person was arrested for interfering with police operations, said Officer Karen Rayner, a spokeswoman for the LAPD.
So far about 50 people have been released from custody after being arraigned, posting $5,000 bail, or for medical reasons, Rayner said.
Men are being held in the Downtown Metropolitan Detention Center. Women are detained in the Valley Jail Section in Van Nuys, Rayner said.
“Tomorrow will be the big day, because most of them have to be released, arraigned or bailed out,” she said. A person must be arraigned within 48 hours of their arrest or otherwise released.
As of Thursday evening, the City Attorney’s Office had received 150 arrest reports for filing review from the LAPD, said Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office.
Mike Prysner, 28, got out of jail Wednesday night after posting a $5,000 bail and spending 22 hours in a two-person cell at the downtown jail. Prysner, an activist who works for ANSWER Coalition, is also an Iraq war veteran who served in the U.S. Army for about four years and was honorably discharged in 2005.
He has been a part of the Occupy movement since the early planning stages for the L.A. encampment and has traveled to, and helped organize, encampments in Washington D.C. and Chicago.
“There’s only one narrative out in the press right now,” Prysner said. “That narrative is from the mayor, the LAPD, and the city, which is nothing but self-congratulatory, patting themselves on the back, saying the LAPD is reformed and this is a great example of how well they are treating people…but people who were inside, people who experienced it will tell a very different story.”
Prysner said he witnessed many people being beaten by police batons during the raid on their encampment. He said everyone was taken into custody and put in zip ties with their hands behind their backs and loaded into buses to go to the jail. It was about seven hours before his hands were freed, he said.
“Once we got booked, we found out we were all slapped with a $5,000 bail,” Prysner said. “This is preposterous, because under California law misdemeanors are always released on their own recognizance, which means no bail. It’s near impossible for most of these people to pay.”
The Los Angeles County Superior Court Judicial Council sets the bail schedule for misdemeanor violations and failing to disperse (state penal code 409) carries a minimum bail of $5,000, said Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office. A charge of resisting arrest carries a minimum bail of $10,000, he said.
In order to post bail, a charged defendant must pay at least 10% of that amount in cash. Bail can be higher if the defendant has been charged with aggravated conduct – such as assaulting a police officer or a prior criminal history, Mateljan said.
At arraignment it is possible to have the bail amount raised or lowered, and to request no bail and release on a person’s own recognizance, depending on the specific charges and background of the defendant, said Mateljan.
According to the City Attorney’s Office, the LAPD can exercise discretion, with some limitations, when arresting someone for a misdemeanor violation. Depending on the situation, officers have the choice to detain and release the arrestee in the field with a citation; detain, book (for example, fingerprint and photograph) and release the arrestee with a notice to appear; or detain, book and recommend bail for the arrestee.
Prysner said the city was trying to intimidate people by making their experience more harrowing so that they will not protest again.
When he got out of jail at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Prysner headed straight to the steps of City Hall to join other Occupy L.A. protesters and talk about next steps. He has a court date set for January.
“The movement isn’t going anywhere because the reasons people came onto the street have not been addressed, those conditions have not gone away,” Prysner said
“Thousands of people in this country aren’t doing this because they want to go camping, live in a park and get shot at with rubber bullets. They’re doing this because of the conditions they’re living under: severe student debts, people are unemployed, people have been foreclosed on, they’ve had their social services cut… those conditions have not gone away.”
The City Attorney’s Office is screening arrest reports to determine if people are eligible for a pre-filing diversion program that would allow those who committed nonviolent offenses to complete rehabilitation or educational programs instead of going through criminal prosecution and sentencing.
So far about 50 people arrested appear eligible for the program, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Tami Abdollah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and http://www.twitter.com/LATams.