Los Angeles D.A. Trying To Put DREAM Act Protesters In Jail -- For A Year


Yeah, I get it, Carmen, you're Tough. On. Crime. Is there anything more predictable than a prosecutor picking on the powerless to enhance his own political future? No, of course that's not what he's doing. He just wants "consequences" for "professional protesters":

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is throwing the book at dozens of people arrested during recent political demonstrations — a major shift in city policy that has him pressing for jail time in types of cases that previous prosecutors had treated as infractions.

Some of the activists arrested, including eight college students and one military veteran who took part in a Westwood rally last year in support of the DREAM Act, face up to one year in county jail.

Trutanich's aggressive stance is the latest episode in the city's decades-long legal struggle over the rights of protesters. The Los Angeles Police Department's treatment of demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention and at a 2007 May Day rally at MacArthur Park led to lawsuits against the city.

Trutanich said in an interview that recent demonstrations, conducted without permits, had cost the city thousands of dollars for police response and disrupted traffic. Organizers of illegal protests should face consequences, he said.

"My whole deal is predictability," he said. "In order for us to have a civilized society, there has to be a predictable result when you break the law. I want to make sure that they don't do it again."

The new policy, he added, was designed with an eye on what he called "professional" protesters who demonstrate repeatedly — sometimes for pay, he said — and never seem to be punished for their illegal activities.

"There's a right way and a wrong way" to protest, Trutanich said. "When you break the law, it's a not a mainstream 1st Amendment activity. You have the right to protest; you don't have the right to break the law."

[...] John Raphling, an attorney who is representing a protester charged with three misdemeanors after a May 21 demonstration at City Hall over rent hikes, said Trutanich's approach is aimed at quashing dissent. "It's saying, 'You better not step out of line, you better not speak out,'" he said. "Why is he taking an approach that's a hundred times more harsh than anyone before?"

Others accuse Trutanich of acting from political motives, noting that he has flirted with a run for L.A. County district attorney — a motivation Trutanich denies.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.