Black Lives Matter Freeway Trial Starts with Opening Statements

Opening statements will take place Thursday morning in the trial of the seven Black Lives Matter Los Angeles defendants who took to the 101 freeway on the morning of November 26th in 2014.

After seven days of jury selection, there are no Black jurors in the box or alternates. Two motions were put forward by defense counsel to the judge accusing the prosecution of deliberately cutting anyone who was visibly African-American or LGBT from serving on the jury.

The City Attorney’s Office, represented again by Jennifer Waxler tried to exclude one of the defendant’s pre-teen son from being in the courtroom citing that she would hate to have Children’s Services involved. That motion didn’t fly far.

In addition, Waxler tried to force local blogger P.M. Beers to register with the courthouse as a journalist before being allowed to sit in on court proceedings. That didn’t fly either with the judge since no such rule applies, only for television cameras who want to record video. I should note however, this is the same prosecutor who also tried to have P.M. Beers arrested for blogging about her own trial for obstructing the sidewalk. A trial that Waxler lost.

Waxler, never one to disappoint, also put forth a motion to exclude defense counsel from speaking about the First Amendment in their defense of the seven activists.  That too was denied by the judge.

The City Attorney’s Office plans to call at least 19 witnesses between the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Police Department to make their case against the seven accused of willfully and maliciously obstructing a public street and refusing the lawful order of a peace officer.

Six of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles defendant’s—Povi-Tamu Bryant, Damon Turner, Jas Wade, Todd Harris, Rosa Clemente and Haewon Asfan are being represented by attorney Nana Gyamfi with Caree Harper representing Sha Dixon.<

The case is being heard in the East Los Angeles Courthouse by Judge Beverly L. Bourne. Bourne was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013 and was elected in 2014 for a term that expires in 2021. Prior to being appointed she was a Deputy alternate public defender for Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office and a public defender Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office.

This will be an interesting trial just on the fact that in Los Angeles we expect people dying of a heart attack to pull over to the shoulder and die there. We don’t want anything to make traffic worse than it already is. Getting 12 jurors in Los Angeles who feel otherwise or who can look beyond the inconvenience of being stuck on the 101 freeway during the morning rush hour the day before Thanksgiving–is going to be an uphill battle.

Los Angeles still holds the title for the most arrests made during protests related to a Ferguson grand jury’s ruling in the death of Mike Brown with over 323 arrests. Los Angeles is also the city spending the most money and time to prosecute activists arrested.

The Court of Public Opinion

  • Sha Dixon

    Hi Jasmine! You have my name spelled wrong. It’s actually Fredrisha. However, I would greatly appreciate it if you called me Sha Dixon. Thank you in advance!

  • cutty sark

    I get curious whenever I hear some group of people has taken to assemble on a road or freeway, thus slowing or blocking the flow of traffic.

    I remember the first time I ever saw something like this happen right in front of me.

    It was 20-25 years ago. On a weekday around 12 noon, I was driving alone in my car along Wilshire Blvd. approaching Robertson Blvd. and then traffic suddenly came to a stop.

    There they were! – blocking the entire intersection. Row upon row of normal looking, well dressed white people – at least 100 or maybe 200 of them.

    They were an organized and coordinated brigade marching and chanting. I could sense the purpose in their step. I could hear the urgency in their voice.

    I was curious to find out what they were chanting.

    What was so important that they would miss work or school or whatever else they would have been doing at that time?

    What was so important to risk getting arrested or fired for missing work to join this group marching in the street and blocking traffic?

    Apparently, there was an election coming up and the California ballot contained an initiative these demonstrators were impassioned to defeat.

    Supposedly, the initiative would codify into law the restriction and reduction of civil rights and liberties to anyone suspected of being homosexual in the State of California.

    The group I saw marching in the street that day were determined to communicate their belief in the importance of stopping that initiative from winning a majority of votes.

    In the years that have have passed since that day I was blocked in traffic due to those marchers, I have once or twice come upon the same style of demonstration happening live before my eyes.

    I have certainly heard about many other intances through watching the news. And I’ve learned of others while studying history.

    Looking back upon the various messages groups felt were so important to communicate they would risk blocking traffic and angering other people, that they would risk getting run over, or arrested, jailed and prosecuted —

    that whether or not their message or issue gained popular approval or simply faded away,

    I haven’t found, in hindsight, any message that was purely selfish by the demonstrators.

    None that turned out to be frivolous.

  • I’ll change it. Thanks!

  • Good luck Sha Dixon!

  • Sha Dixon

    Thank you! <3

  • Sha Dixon

    Thanks Jasmyne!

  • cutty sark

    LAPD Chief Beck doesn’t need to walk onto a freeway in order to communicate with the public.

    Mayor Garcetti doesn’t need to block traffic in order to get people to stop and listen to something he wants to say.

    They can simply call a press conference and be assured the television cameras and radio microphones and newspaper scribes will show up.

    The message will relay via standard networks of mass communication and saturate the screens and the headlines. The message will get recorded for soundbites and replay.

    But not even the Chief of Police or the Mayor can expect the media to gather and obey for the purpose of communicating an identical message repeatedly.

    If the Chief wants to simply repeat himself in order to drill a message into the public head, he will need to trick the media into helping him.

    That is exactly what Chief Beck did in the final months of 2014.

    The Chief wanted the public to listen each time he repeated his story of the Ezell Ford shooting. So he tricked the media in to helping him and fooled the public in to paying attention.

    The Chief misused his authority to place a hold on release of the Ezell Ford autopsy report. He misled the news media and the public when he told them his purpose was to protect potential witnesses from altering their recollection due to information found in the autopsy.

    Any logical thinking child can tell you that Chief Beck’s explanation was not sincere.

    Chief Beck did not cite any research, expert authority or commonly accepted belief that autopsy reports cause witnesses to incorrectly remember what they saw or to alter their memory of what they remember.

    Because that is not a problem in reality.

    And if Chief Beck was truly concerned about tainting witness recollection, he would not have used every opportunity to repeat his version of the Ezell Ford shooting.

    Chief Beck enlisted other elected officials to join him when he misused a call for witnesses in order to trick the media into repeating his Ezell Ford story.

    Chief Beck and his ally Mayor Garcetti even manufactured and played out the story of a false conflict between them over the hold on the autopsy report in order repeat the Ezell Ford story hidden as new news.

    The Chief and the Mayor hid the true purpose of their histrionics.

    They were inculcating you in their version of the Ezell Ford shooting.

    When the Ford autopsy report was released, you heard the media tell you that its contents supported Chief Beck’s version of what happened.

    That the police tried to stop and speak with Ezell Ford. That Ford tackled one of the cops, got on top of him and was trying to take his gun away. That the other cop fired his gun twice into Ezell Ford but that couldn’t stop him. The cop pinned underneath Ford was able to get his backup gun, reach over and around Ford’s torso and fire into his Ford’s backside – finally ending the struggle.

    When the autopsy was finally released to the public and you heard that it was in agreement with the story which Chief Beck had told you so many times over and over again, you knew not to bother reading it for yourself.

    For any regular civilian to have any chance of getting you to study the Ezell Ford autopsy report, or even look at it for a minute – they would probably need to walk out and lie down on the freeway.

  • cutty sark

    L.A. County Coroner Dr. Mark Fajardo has resigned only 2 1/2 years after being hired, explaining his decision is due to burdens of understaffing. He will return to a position with Riverside County that pays over $100,000/year less than his current salary.
    No one has asked and Dr. Fajardo has not said that its worth the pay cut to quit and leave town before the fallout hits from his role in the Ezell Ford autopsy.