Black Lives Matter Activists Go to Trial in Los Angeles Today

P.M. Beers
March 7, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) Los Angeles, California — On the morning of November 26, 2014, a small group of thoughtful, committed activists from the Black Lives Matter Movement in Los Angeles shut down the 101 freeway. This action didn’t receive much mainstream media attention as the focus after the Darren Wilson non-indictment announcement was on the larger, spontaneous, unorganized uprisings that took place. While Black Lives Matter Los Angeles is often given credit for large protests, their protests are more often small, well thought out, and very disciplined. On the week of Thanksgiving 2014, there were more than 323 arrests made during the four days of uprising in solidarity with Ferguson. No other city had made arrests on such a mass scale.

The trial will begin on Monday, March 7, 2016, for seven activists, Povi-Tamu Bryant, Damon Turner, Jas Wade, Todd Harris, Rosa Clemente, Haewon Asfan, and Frederisha Dixon, who were given misdemeanor charges of obstructing a public street and refusing the lawful order of a peace officer.

City Attorney Jennifer Waxler will be prosecuting the case. This is the same city attorney who tried to put Anti-Media journalist, P.M. Beers, in jail for blogging her trial notes.

Black Lives Matter called a press conference on Friday morning. Mainstream media outlets were busy, focused on news of O.J. Simpson’s knife, doing live shots in front of LAPD headquarters. Here’s what your TV didn’t show you:

Black Lives Matter attorney, Nana Gyamfi, spoke at a press conference on Friday:

“We are calling today on city attorney, Mike Feuer, to get on the righteous side of history and drop the charges against Black Lives Matter members, especially the BLMLA seven, who are currently facing trial set to begin on Monday for their peaceful, nonviolent demonstration which occurred in November of 2014. The city of Los Angeles likes to project itself as the progressive city with a concern for social justice, and in particular, racial justice. Mayor Eric Garcetti has called himself a friend to the black community , often citing his work with the peace corps in Africa as well as his walking with President Obama during his campaign. City attorney Mike Feuer pegs himself as a progressive who would work with the black community to address the concerns of black Angelenos . LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is called, locally and nationally, a great reformer of police and police conduct here in Los Angeles.

“The movement for black lives, which includes the Black Lives Matter movement, is but a continuation of the civil rights movement legacy that Mayor Garcetti, city attorney Feuer, Chief Charlie Beck claim to honor. They say, ‘We honor King and we honor Dr. King for his work.’ They say, ‘We honor Mama Parks,’ and the honor Mama Parks for her work. They say, ‘We honor the Freedom Riders who were killed, who were beaten, who were scorned for standing up for civil rights and especially for the civil and human rights of black people,’ but if the city leaders, including Mayor Garcetti, including Chief Beck, and including city attorney Mike Feuer, really honor Dr. King, if they really honor Mama Parks, if they really honor the Freedom Riders, they would do the things that you do when you believe in justice, especially when we talk about peaceful, nonviolent demonstration. Not even the prosecutors of the segregationist South put peaceful, nonviolent demonstrators on trial, not even the prosecutors of Montgomery, Alabama, put Mama Rosa Parks on trial and yet here we have a city attorney, who claims to be a progressive, doing what the rabid white supremacists did not do during the time of the civil rights movement of the 60’s and of the 70’s. Los Angeles cannot claim to honor Dr. King, cannot claim to honor the legacy of the civil rights movement and put Jas Wade on trial. Los Angeles cannot say they honor Mama Parks and put Asiyahola Sankara (Todd Harris) on trial.

“We want to make sure to point out that no other city in the United States is going after peaceful, nonviolent movement members as Los Angeles is. We look at Oakland where they have stopped bridges, where black women have stood in the financial district blocking streets and bearing their breasts, where people have blocked trains on the BART system. We look at D.C. where freeways were stopped, where bridges were stopped. We look at New York City where some of the most famous bridges in the world were brought to a halt based on peaceful, nonviolent protests and we find that those protesters have not been brought to trial. Here in Los Angeles, somehow the progressive city with the progressive city attorney is dealing with black protesters, nonviolent and peaceful, though they are with an iron fist. Shutting down streets, shutting down freeways is a part of the legacy of the civil rights movement.

“When we watch Selma, when we look at the documentaries, where are people? The people who are demonstrating peacefully are in the street. The people who are demonstrating peacefully are on the bridges. This is where people are. This was not a sidewalk movement. This is not a movement where people were up in the air, avoiding any contact with people on the ground. This was a movement where streets were filled and cars were stopped. This is a movement where bridges were stopped. This is a movement where freeways were stopped. It is ridiculous for this city, for this mayor, for this police chief, and in particular for this city attorney, Mike Feuer, to pursue charges and take people to trial for things and for activities that King, Parks, and so many others engaged in and which they claim they honor. A progressive city does not stand for this, and we’re calling on Angelenos to stand up and to rebuke these prosecutions, to let the city attorney, Mike Feuer, to let the mayor, Eric Garcetti, know, to let Chief Beck know, that this will not stand, that Angelenos are for social justice and will not stand for South Africa Apartheid-era tactics being used against peaceful, nonviolent, protesters.”

Follow the hash tag #BLMLA7, @BLMLA, @Jasmyne, and @PMbeers on Twitter to stay updated on this story.

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