What Freedom? Los Angeles Police Arrest 81-Year-Old Over Free Speech

(ANTIMEDIA) Los Angeles, CA — The caption on a video posted by Pete White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network read:

“Arresting Free Speech…what are they hiding?

“Tut Hayes, an 81-year-old Black Man, is arrested while giving ‘public testimony.’ He is said to be ‘off-topic’ within seconds of speaking and summarily dragged from the podium. Mr. Hayes is a long time fixture in Los Angeles and his legal knowledge, especially regarding the Ralph M. Brown Act, is untouchable. This is dangerous and deadly behavior by the #LAPD and we must resist allowing their illegal behavior to continue.

“Ironically enough the Commission President is #MattJohnson who simply watched a man that could be his father/grandfather get dragged out on his knees. We will not rest, we will resist!”

In the nine months since Matt Johnson became the president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, there have been six arrests of black people for free speech. This is the second time Tut Hayes had been arrested for free speech under Matt Johnson’s reign. Mr. Hayes speaks every week at the police commission meeting, reminding the commission specifically what the law says about free speech at open public meetings. Melina Abdullah was also arrested recently for speaking for a few seconds over her allotted two minutes of time.

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Police commission meetings are video recorded and the full video for each meeting is posted online. Unfortunately, the videos are usually uploaded about two weeks after each meeting. The video for the June 21st commission meeting can be found here once it becomes available.

The Commission meets every Tuesday morning at 9:30AM, inside the LAPD headquarters located at 100 W. 1st St. in downtown Los Angeles. Members of the public are allowed to attend.  There is no requirement to show ID or to give your name, and each person can submit comment cards to speak for two minutes on each topic on the agenda.

If you would like to come and speak out, you may address the commission directly under the agenda item of commission comments. If you would like to address LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, you can speak under the agenda item of ‘Chief’s comments’. Agendas are posted online a few days before each meeting, and are also available on paper at the back of the room, where you can find comment cards. When you have filled out your comment card, you can hand the comment card to any uniformed police officer who is standing along the wall to submit your intention to comment.

In a democracy, checks and balances are required to ensure no person or group has too much unchecked power. Considering the Los Angeles Police Commission does not do the job of holding individual police officers accountable for abusing their powers — even when they shoot unarmed people in the back — it is everyone’s duty to speak truth to corrupted power and to challenge false authority. Civic engagement is an important part of individual responsibility — one Tut Hayes takes seriously by speaking out each week.

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