That Other Trial Happening in L.A. Right Now–Black Lives Matter Goes on Trial

We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).

No, I am not a member of Black Lives Matter. Yes, I am Black and I believe Black lives do matter but contrary to popular belief we aren’t all born card carrying members. I tell the stories the media isn’t and can’t. Don’t make it into more than it is.

While all eyes were focused last week on the start of the trial of Lonnie Franklin Jr. also known to some as the “Grim Sleeper,” in another courtroom in the same part of town a trial just as interesting got underway.

Jury selection wrapped up Friday in the trial of Luz Flores and Evan Bunch. Both members of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Flores and Bunch are charged with multiple counts of resisting arrest, battery on a peace officer and trespassing. This after they were arrested last year in the process of trying to speak with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at Mt. Carmel Recreational Center in South Los Angeles on the opening night of the Summer Night Lights program. These are also the same two individuals that both the Mayor and police chief were denied a restraining order against.

Represented by civil and human rights attorney Nana Gyamfi, things started off Tuesday quite interestingly when neither Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck nor the City Attorney’s who represent him appeared in court.  Needless to say, a bench warrant for one Charles Lloyd Beck was quickly issued.

Judge's Order for Bench Warrant for Charles Lloyd Beck

Mayor Garcetti via the City Attorney’s Office requested for his subpoena to canceled but a judge said that he had to be personally re-served to appear.

“We see this once again as the Mayor avoiding responsibility for his statements and actions which injure Angelenos especially its Black citizens,” said the defendant’s attorney Nana Gyamfi. “The Mayor should set an example by testifying under oath about what really happened.”

On Wednesday after court resumed at 11 a.m. the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Chet Taylor quashed Chief Beck’s subpoena to testify on the grounds that he saw and heard nothing. But mind you, this is also the same man who requested a restraining order against the same two individuals and was denied that.

Below is a copy of the Declaration to the Court by Chief Charlie Beck:

Jury selection continued Wednesday from 1:45 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Thursday started with Deputy City Attorney Blake Armstrong  letting the defense know that he and his colleagues had heard her recent radio show “Uprising the Asafo Edition” on KPFK 90.7 FM where she discussed the Los Angeles Police Commission meetings as well as the Black Lives Matter cases that she has.

Armstrong then proceed to request that Judge Taylor ask prospective jurors if they too had heard attorney Gyamfi’s show. The judge instead decided to ask a generic question of whether the prospective jurors had heard anything in the media about this case to which they all replied no. After which Judge Taylor instructed the prospective jurors to stay away from any media related to this case.

Jury selection continued.

Highlights included:

  • A majority of the prospective jurors had heard of Black Lives Matter
  • A majority of the prospective jurors did not have negative feelings about Black Lives Matter protestors
  • A very small percentage of prospective jurors had negative feelings about Black Lives Matter
  • One juror vocally expressed that she felt that Black lives matter when said “Black lives do matter. There are far too many Black men being put in jail.”

On Friday jury selection continued with 18 in the box and another 32 in the audience.  Several jurors did not return on time so the judge had them replaced.  The new prospects lived in Brentwood, Elysian Park, San Gabriel Valley, Sun Valley and Lincoln Heights.

The prospective juror from Brentwood was the wife of a 20-year Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney . It wasn’t too long before she was thanked for her time and sent on her merry way.

But it’s Juror #15 from Elysian Park who took the cake.

Juror #15 was a Latino male in his 50s who had once applied to be a Los Angeles police officer. He claimed that he was accepted into the Academy but declined after his wife became pregnant. Based on his views though, he definitely considers himself to be some sort law and order man — a cop but not really a cop. When he wasn’t complaining about the protestors in his neighborhood or explaining how it was ok for the police to break the law if it was for the greater good, he was espousing his views on how the Black Lives Matter movement is dividing people. He said it’s up to people to make their own destiny regardless of their circumstances.

A young male divulged that he was an active member of a gang and that he had negative feelings towards the police and was dismissed by the judge almost immediately. Now mind you, active gang member or not, he got his jury summons and showed up on time to court which is more than I can say for quite a few of the other prospective jurors, including a doctor.

While Judge Taylor seemed almost amused and enthused by Juror #15’s point of view as it related to law enforcement — even engaging in dialogue with him, he had no patience for the admitted gang member who didn’t like the police. Go figure.

The new prospective jurors were asked a range of questions by defense attorney Nana Gyamfi including:

  • Does the fact that someone was arrested mean that they are guilty?
  • Does the fact that someone is having a trial mean that they are guilty?
  • Is there anything about the defendants not being in court that makes the prospective jurors feel some kind of way?
  • Have you ever heard of the Black Lives Matter movement or slogan?
  • Do you have any negative feelings about the Black Lives Matter movement or slogan?
  • Do you have negative feelings about protestors?

Juror #15 felt that because the defendant’s freedom was at play they should be in court every day. Not that Juror #15 knew if their freedom was in fact in danger because Juror #15 didn’t know the charges or anything about the case.

Juror #15 was also the sole juror who had negative feelings about Black Lives Matter and protestors.

Juror #15 was thanked for his time and sent on his way — as was the woman from Thursday who quipped that she believed that Black lives do matter.

By the end of court Friday a jury was in place. Opening statements are expected to be made at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday when court resumes in Department 68 of the Metropolitan Courthouse at 1945 South Hill Street.

The Court of Public Opinion

  • cutty sark

    This trial of 2 BLM activists is only the latest demonstration of an unwritten, yet clearly defined policy which drives the City of Los Angeles to expend resources of the police, the courts and the City Attorney’s Office seemingly without regard to their cost in relation to the negligible significance of the legal infractions alleged against the defendants.

    Ms. Gyamfi recently won acquital for the defendant in a separate prosecution involving arrest in DTLA of an alleged BLM/Ezell Ford demonstrator. That trial set to record the inability of the City to deliver the evidence and the witness testimony expected when commiting to pursuit of minor charges against a defendant without prior convictions.

    Despite the resounding failure of the prosecution in that previous trial, there has been no recalculation of priorities or strategy. The City is back with another unrelenting and uncomprimising prosecution of BLM activists before a jury unlikely to condone an abridgement of First Amendment rights without some cause more compelling than what the prosecution has previously argued or promised to show.

    Although the Mayor has not been asked, nor has he publicly admitted to it –
    there should be little to no doubt remaining, that Mayor Garcetti, City Attorney Feuer and the City establishment powers-that-be are the source of a stubborn, rigid and inflexible strategy behind these BLM related arrests and prosecutions.
    It seems that no amount of courtroom embarrasment or judicial rebuke is yet to inform a recalculation of this policy on prosecutions.

    What could be the purpose behind the reactionary treatment of lawful demonstrators?

    Isn’t this prosecution of Flores and Bunch at odds with Mayor Garcetti’s politically progressive public image?
    Where is the payoff in the continued use of city resources towards unsuccessful prosecutions that are out-of-sync with public sentiment?

    I believe the answer lies beyond Black Lives Matter.

    I think its mostly a coincidence of timing that BLM Los Angeles found themselves the target of Garcetti’s new policy on prosecuting demonstrators.

    Garcetti is making a point.

    He will arrest and fully prosecute political demonstrators who convey their message without permission or supervision of the City.

    He will not hesitate to use taxpayer funds in the legal proceedings regardless of the ultimate outcome.
    The goal is not to win conviction, but rather to waylay and tie up activists in the court system for as long as possible. The defendants may win acquittals and possibly be awarded civil damages at cost to the taxpayers, but their activism will get neutralized and potential followers will be dissuaded from similar participation in media-worthy First Amendment events.

    Mayor Garcetti is making this point with someone.

    The rest of us, including Flores and Bunch, are mere bystanders.

    The message is directed at
    Thomas Bach –
    President of the International Olympic Committee.

  • Well said! Well said.

  • “One juror vocally expressed that she felt that Black lives matter when said “Black lives do matter. There are far too many Black men being put in jail.”
    Truth, and don’t let anyone tell you that race has no impact… Or social status has no impact… Or wealth has no impact…Ask Former State Senator Leland Yee, who was caught SELLING machine guns, grenade and rocket launchers and a cache or other FIREARMS to terrorists and only got hit with a 5 year sentence…or ask Fabian Nunez’s son Esteban, who would be doing 25-life right now for a Murder #2 beef with a knife enhancement if not for Fabian’s GIFT by Arnold Klown Hair and is instead only doing 7 years….or the Grand Daddy of them all, the “affluenza” ass clown who KILLED four people while driving drunk anf got a one year stay at a MALIBU rehab clinic….

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but Cutty was speaking of YOU, right? Or was there yet another trial on this nonsense???

  • Inkedfive0

    Jasmyne WHERE HAVE YOUBEEN??? Almost 2 weeks and no new gossip!!!??? I’m going thru withdrawals