Thursday, December 8, 2011

To L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa's Great Shame

Dear Mayor Villaraigosa,

I grew up in Los Angeles and have followed your political career from my new home on California's Northcoast. I always assumed that one day I'd have an opportunity to vote for you when you were ready to run for Governor or United States Senator, and I looked forward to doing so. After reading Patrick Meighan's account of the actions you first authorized and then praised at Occupy L.A., I don't expect that opportunity will ever arise. I certainly hope not. But if it does, you can be assured I will work vigorously to see that you are defeated.

I think your career in politics is over. You might have learned something from the Chancellor of U.C Davis about the use of excessive force, but apparently not. And it seems the LAPD has not only not changed since I use to encounter them as a youth on the streets of Venice, but that they and not you are really calling the shots.

This is all very sad for me, as I once held you high regard.

Please resign now and save yourself any further humiliation.

Shame on you,
Richard Salzman
Arcata CA.

(email address is: mayor at lacity dot org)
My Occupy LA Arrest, by Patrick Meighan

My name is Patrick Meighan, and I’m a husband, a father, a writer on
the Fox animated sitcom “Family Guy”, and a member of the Unitarian
Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.

I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people
at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a
blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” when 1,400
heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I
was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style,
arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy
movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we
chanted “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”

As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used
knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly
removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any
personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across
the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the
Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a
pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy
LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health
professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who
requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that
exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my
family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to
shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the
detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described
in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that
was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from
us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance
workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.

When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around
the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each
other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent
protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had
the following done to him: an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the
protestor’s legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and
then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor’s left foot
to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab
the protestor’s right foot and twist it all the way the other
direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would
shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor.

It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the
rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms
voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully
and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms
wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into
my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he
was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain,
the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands
behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with
his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really,
really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I
begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and
would not resist.

My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they
turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and

I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken
to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel on the
hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our
hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass
out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time
before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.

At 9 a.m. we were finally taken from the pavement into the station to
be processed. The charge was sitting in the park after the police said
not to. It’s a misdemeanor. Almost always, for a misdemeanor, the
police just give you a ticket and let you go. It costs you a couple
hundred dollars. Apparently, that’s what happened with most every
other misdemeanor arrest in LA that day.

With us Occupy LA protestors, however, they set bail at $5,000 and
booked us into jail. Almost none of the protesters could afford to
bail themselves out. I’m lucky and I could afford it, except the LAPD
spent all day refusing to actually *accept* the bail they set. If you
were an accused murderer or a rapist in LAPD custody that day, you
could bail yourself right out and be back on the street, no problem.
But if you were a nonviolent Occupy LA protestor with bail money in
hand, you were held long into the following morning, with absolutely
no access to a lawyer.

I spent most of my day and night crammed into an eight-man jail cell,
along with sixteen other Occupy LA protesters. My sleeping spot was on
the floor next to the toilet.

Finally, at 2:30 the next morning, after twenty-five hours in custody,
I was released on bail. But there were at least 200 Occupy LA
protestors who couldn’t afford the bail. The LAPD chose to keep those
peaceful, non-violent protesters in prison for two full days… the
absolute legal maximum that the LAPD is allowed to detain someone on
misdemeanor charges.

As a reminder, Antonio Villaraigosa has referred to all of this as
“the LAPD’s finest hour.”

So that’s what happened to the 292 women and men were arrested last
Wednesday. Now let’s talk about a man who was not arrested last
Wednesday. He is former Citigroup CEO Charles Prince. Under Charles
Prince, Citigroup was guilty of massive, coordinated securities fraud.

Citigroup spent years intentionally buying up every bad mortgage loan
it could find, creating bad securities out of those bad loans and then
selling shares in those bad securities to duped investors. And then
they sometimes secretly bet *against* their *own* bad securities to
make even more money. For one such bad Citigroup security, Citigroup
executives were internally calling it, quote, “a collection of
dogshit”. To investors, however, they called it, quote, “an attractive
investment rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser”.

This is fraud, and it’s a felony, and the Charles Princes of the world
spent several years doing it again and again: knowingly writing bad
mortgages, and then packaging them into fraudulent securities which
they then sold to suckers and then repeating the process. This is a
big part of why your property values went up so fast. But then the
bubble burst, and that’s why our economy is now shattered for a
generation, and it’s also why your home is now underwater. Or at least
mine is.

Anyway, if your retirement fund lost a decade’s-worth of gains
overnight, this is why.

If your son’s middle school has added furlough days because the school
district can’t afford to keep its doors open for a full school year,
this is why.

If your daughter has come out of college with a degree only to
discover that there are no jobs for her, this is why.

But back to Charles Prince. For his four years of in charge of
massive, repeated fraud at Citigroup, he received fifty-three million
dollars in salary and also received another ninety-four million
dollars in stock holdings. What Charles Prince has *not* received is a
pair of zipcuffs. The nerves in his thumb are fine. No cop has thrown
Charles Prince into the pavement, face-first. Each and every peaceful,
nonviolent Occupy LA protester arrested last week has has spent more
time sleeping on a jail floor than every single Charles Prince on Wall
Street, combined.

The more I think about that, the madder I get. What does it say about
our country that nonviolent protesters are given the bottom of a
police boot while those who steal hundreds of billions, do trillions
worth of damage to our economy and shatter our social fabric for a
generation are not only spared the zipcuffs but showered with rewards?

In any event, believe it or not, I’m really not angry that I got
arrested. I chose to get arrested. And I’m not even angry that the
mayor and the LAPD decided to give non-violent protestors like me a
little extra shiv in jail (although I’m not especially grateful for it

I’m just really angry that every single Charles Prince wasn’t in jail with me.

Thank you for letting me share that anger with you today.

Patrick Meighan

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