Since the raid, arrests have been frequent, and the majority have been from protesting peacefully on public property which only days earlier had been accessible to all.
Last night, On December 17th, two protesters were plucked out from an OLA crowd hanging art and protest signs on the fence skirting City Hall, and arrested. One - Omar - was given a ticket and released after two hours. One was brutally beaten by the arresting officers, jailed, and this afternoon The Legal Committee found out that he has been charged with a felony and his bail set at $25,000. The man who was beaten and jailed - Steven Marcus Releford - is an African American in his twenties renowned for his calm, peaceful and controlled temperament. His arrest, documented by citizen journalists, was arbitrary, vicious and pointless. Omar, a man in his early twenties of Libyan descent, overheard officers concocting a story to justify Steven’s arrest on the grounds he was violent. Video evidence unequivocably refutes this absolutely. This indicates the kinds of corruption LAPD has instilled in their ranks. It is hard not to see Steven's arrest as racially motivated, given that he was one of the few African American males visible in the predominantly white and Hispanic crowd, and yet was one of the most peaceful participants in the art-hanging protest.
Steven was part of a crowd defending their right to free speech and holding a vigil for Bradley Manning, and a vigil for sex workers who have suffered from violence. Officers trying to prevent protesters from hanging their art and participating in the vigil refused to give their name and badge numbers - which is against penal code 830.10. Officers tried to obstruct citizen journalists from filming and questioned protesters’ right to observe, violating their First Amendment Rights under the Constitution. Protesters were told they were obstructing a public walkway under 647c - they were not: traffic on this sidewalk is minimal, and the only obstruction occurred by a police line. Penal code 647c does not give police or other authorities the power to regulate conduct in a public place or sidewalk, which is the basis upon which the LAPD have been citing this code - wrongly, in an effort to justify continual harassment of protesters and abuse.
Other arrests made that evening included six protesters - 5 female and one male - for trespassing into Solidarity Park, wearing orange Guantanamo jumpsuits in protest against the NDAA, and in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. These protesters expected to get arrested, and expressed their desire not to be bailed out before they did this action. Their bail has been set at $5k.