News & Events

Occupy Wall Street Protester Guilty of Lynching?

Submitted by Robert Meeropol on Fri, 01/20/2012 - 11:52

This morning I read that an ardent member of the Occupy Los Angeles movement has been arrested and charged with lynching.  You might think the protester, Sergio Ballesteros, attacked and hanged someone.  After all, California’s anti-lynching law was designed to protect minority defendants in police custody from vigilante lynch-mobs.  But no, the police have used the law which defines lynching as “taking by means of riot any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer” to charge a non-violent activist with this felony for allegedly trying to keep a fellow demonstrator from being arrested.

I’m drowning in irony.  First, given Southern California’s history of troubled race relations, and the long-term institutionalized racism of the Los Angeles Police Department, I suspect that city had its fair share of lynching in the 19th and early 20th century, and that this law provided the victims with virtually no protection because the police did not enforce it.  Second, given the heroic pacifism of the Occupy Movement in the face of mounting police violence, I doubt any of the cops holding the demonstrators in their custody could legitimately be called “peace officers.”  Finally, as far as I can tell from the videos, it was the police, not the demonstrators, who were rioting.

But then again, is it really that surprising that a law designed to protect the oppressed, should be turned on its head and employed against those who are rebelling against their oppressors?  I’m sure this isn’t news to the OWS folks whose principle slogan is “we are the 99%.”  Like the lynching law, the 14th Amendment was designed to aid the newly freed slaves.  However, today its main purpose has been perverted to protect the “personhood” of the 1%’s corporate creatures.

I wrote here in early November that: “It is not surprising that OWS became intolerable to the authorities the movement refused to recognize.  Such public naming of capitalism as Public Enemy Number One could not be countenanced...  If the movement persists and grows, as I hope it will, the attacks upon it are sure to intensify.”

This new felony charge is a manifestation of that intensification.  Hopefully the community will rally to Ballesteros' defense.  The police have chosen a target they may regret.  When Ballesteros is not occupying Los Angeles he’s building homes with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at a summer camp for children in Appalachia, studying urban education at UCLA, and mentoring Los Angeles-area kids.  But convicting Sergio may not be the prosecutor’s primary goal.  This felony charge is designed to scare away those who might get involved.  However, strong-arm tactics do not appear to be intimidating the OWS folks.  I hope this attack will backfire, and attract even more people to “the 99% movement.”

This is an appropriate place to reiterate that I had 250 “99%” buttons made in December; 125 were shipped to me.  I have a couple of dozen left which I am distributing for free.   The button maker, Donnelly/Colt: progressive promotional resources, is holding the other 125 so they can fulfill direct orders.   All have a union label.  The maker won’t charge for the buttons, but will charge for postage and padded packaging.  The fee to package and mail one button is $1.84, two $2.30, three $2.76, four $3.22, five $4.41 and ten $6.38. 

If you want any, you can get buttons from Donnelly/Colt, PO Box 188, Hampton, CT 06247 (phone 860-455-9621 & fax 800-553-0006).

[To read Robert's other blog posts about the OCCUPY movement, click here.  To comment on any of those older posts, click on "permalink" at the bottom of each entry.]

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It is clear to me that the 1% has been fully aware of the potential for resistance for many years. They don't sit around playing tiddly winks when they get together. The militarization of the police is part of their plan, and the use of non-lethal force to quell demonstrators has been prepared for from back in Nixon's time. I think they have concluded that the 99% can be defeated as long as there are no deaths on Wall Street. An occasional accident they can handle. If enough people protest in the financial district, and place enough stress on the police, they will use live ammunition, and then they lose.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 15:16

Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters several months ago that the USA is slipping into a new civil war: between millionaires and the disappearing Middle Class merging into the ranks of the poor. This is not new, but has been happening throughout history, finding its finest expression when organized labor marched on Washington, DC in the twentieth century.

Today the corrupt and venal police of Los Angeles County cite lynching laws--reinterpreting them to mean any citizen found attempting to free another mortal from quite likely police brutality (for which Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City are famous) and "cell lynching" (masqueraded as suicide) is guilty of a crime. In 1774, the poor in the North Atlantic colonies (Vermont to Georgia) armed themselves to fight an oppressive government, and at Lexington and Concord sent shot that was metaphorically "heard around the world." The King was denounced, hanged in effigy, his governors tarred and feathered, and the Regulars (soldiers) shot or imprisoned. In 1789, the poor of Paris were tired of similar accusations, and after storming the Bastille on July 14, captured a large number of nobility, parasite pastors (although Bishop Tallyrand renounced his episcopacy), corrupt judges and members of Parlement, and introduced them to the lady created by Dr. Guillotine. That silenced Euroep for a short time, until the late 1840s when the potato famine caused new outbreaks.

To go against a corrupt government and the insensitive rich who control government (as with the Koch Brothers buying the Supreme Court that dutifully ratified Citizens United) is treason only if the people lose. It is restoration of democracy if the people win, standing united against the millionaires and billionaires, marching them to the fate the people collectively decide on, and closing down all tax loopholes so loved by Scott Walker (R-WI) and other stooges. Sadly Madame Guillotine died a long time ago so she cannot offer Cantor and his crowd their afternoon sun and sup.

Unlike the Tea Party, I do not wish to be anonymous as I am neither ashamed of what I write, nor do I deny what I write. I stand with and for the real Americans: those who work, those who struggle to maintain a home and family, those who believe in justice, those who oppose the Tea Party and the radical religious right. I am Dr. Arthur Frederick Ide, and all are welcome to read my blog at The Constitution of the USA guarantees freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to bear arms, the right to equality before the law of all citizens--and no corporation is a citizen as blood, emotions, rational thought, and breathes--none of these are characteristics of a building or a incorporation charter nor any political party.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 20:19

What alternative is there? They used lynching to hang Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 911, and had no WMD. The Elite have committed crimes, and do not want to face their own justice system. They expect the people to follow along and support their corruption. Why should any honest person do that? If there are no jobs that assure we do not support the Elite because of their Crimes, and there is no Justice, and there is no real way to remove them from power, because we know voting is a farce; then it is better to leave America, or it is better to hang oneself from a light-pole in protest as a similar act of self immolation done during the Vietnam War, at the Pentagon. If evil can not be removed, such as cancer. The only result is death. Perhaps death is a better option.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 22:10

Could someone please define the 1%? I support RFC, and opposed the lynching of Saddam Hussein, and really I'm not that bad, but I think I may be one of Them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/29/2012 - 11:59