Occupy Los Angeles Protester Sergio Ballesteros Arrested At Artwalk For Alleged Lynching
Los Angeles' bi-weekly art walk recently got a taste of the confrontations between Occupy protesters and the LAPD.
The video above begins in the middle of a chaotic scene, making it difficult to verify what prompted the scuffle, but LAist reports that Sergio Ballesteros was indeed arrested and is currently in custody with bail set at $50,000.
According to LAist and Sue Basko, a lawyer who has been advising Occupy L.A., police were monitoring a crowded sidewalk when a drummer thus far only identified as Adam stepped off the curb. Police then immediately swarmed and arrested Adam, according to Basko.
In the ensuing frenzy, police appear to have knocked Ballesteros and a woman Basko identifies as Ballestero's girlfriend to the ground. Ballesteros is then arrested and charged with "lynching," which the California penal code defines as "the taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer."
Basko notes that the charge appears to be a flimsy one, at best. Here's what she wrote on the movement's website:
The police would have to be saying there was a riot, which does not seem to be the case, unless you count police behavior. Two or more people would have to be engaging in this riot and using it to take someone from police custody. Who are the two people? Where is the riot? Who was in police custody and was taken from it? Sergio alone cannot be engaging in a lynching, because it takes two or more people. None of these things appear to have happened.
Basko and LAist also note that Ballesteros had recently appeared on an MSNBC program, where he argued in the movement's favor, leading the attorney to speculate that he had been "cherrypicked" by police for his mainstream visibility. MSNBC's bio for Ballesteros describes him as a former high school teacher and current UCLA graduate student studying urban teaching.
After their encampment was cleared in a November 30 raid that led to over 200 arrests, Occupy Los Angeles has mostly made news for its participation in the Rose Parade and a city report which claimed that the movement has cost the city $2.3 million.
The greater Occupy California movement is comprised of as many as 150 groups, according to a report by the University of California at Riverside. The study found the groups nearly equally divided across the northern and southern parts of the state.
Basko herself has recently made headlines when she discovered that a number of companies were attempting to trademark Occupy Los Angeles' name and slogans.