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.