LA City Attorney to Occupy: pay for brainwashing lessons on limits of free speech and we'll drop the charges

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office has offered Occupy protesters a get-out-of-jail card: all they need to do to skip their court dates is pay $355 for private "free speech lessons" where they will be taught a highly selective version of Constitutional law that holds that the First Amendment doesn't include the kind of protest they enjoy.

It's like they combined traffic school with Maoist "self-criticism sessions" from the Cultural Revolution to make something worse than both combined.

As a civil rights attorney working with some of the approximately 350 protesters who have been arrested in recent weeks noted, the offer is nothing short of "patronizing."

However, it's much more than that. It's a disgusting and cynical way to alleviate the strain on city courts by having protesters pay for an unofficial guilty plea.

In short, the city is offering protesters the chance to purchase courses in which they will learn about the free speech LAPD officers stripped from them.

Apparently, in L.A., you can pay to learn about the free speech you don't actually have.

NOT SATIRE: L.A. Tells Arrested OWS Protesters They Can Pay for "Free Speech" Classes to Avoid Court (Thanks, phosphorious!)

(Image: Police Lines blocking City Hall entrance, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from neontommy's photostream)


  1. 1984 is Here (hey, I always wanted to use that quote, saw it on a t-shirt a dude used to wear in gym class in the 90s — I was too stupid at the time to know what it meant)

  2. How about instead we throw the LA City Attorney in jail so they can get a short course on the limits of authoritarian power trips?

    1.  It is an elected position, but Trutanich was elected on a “Screw the Constitution” platform. The LA voters want a more authoritarian local govt (as long as it doesn’t go after illegals). Angelelos have always preferred authoritarian law enforcement. We had death squads in the 90’s (LAPD SIS), a chief of police who called for the death penalty for smoking pot (Gates). Paramilitary policing was pretty much invented by the LAPD (SWAT teams started in LA).

  3. So who actually collects the money for these classes?
    Which relative is getting paid as a result of the end of our civil rights?
    Why is having control over a womans reproductive system a bigger issue in this country than the police state we have become?

    1. “Founders Deborah McKinley and Neil Anderson are licensed California Attorneys who are committed to providing professional, effective alternatives to prosecution for entry-level misdemeanor offenders. After seeing the need for a turnkey solution to overcrowded courts and jails, they created the American Justice Program as a win-win solution for all parties involved: the defendant, the prosecutor’s office, the court, and society at large. By referring cases to AJA, the court system now knows it has a workable, cost-effective solution to non-violent crimes.”

      So after privatizing the jails went so well we now are privatizing the legal process?
      Due process be damned, we need cost-effective solutions!

  4. WTF?!?!?

    It seems that freedom of speech only applies if the powers-that-be agree with the message.

  5. Folks, it is not “brainwashing,” it is “political reeducation.” This is perfectly normal practice used in the People’s Republic of China.

  6. Is it just me, or is it hilarious that New York, Chicago, and California are both famous for their police-state behavior and the social-justice (aka liberal) leanings of its citizens?

    1. When push comes to shove, liberals love to tell other people what to do.  The cops are simply the way this is enforced.

      1. Unlike a conservative which would never tell someone else what to do. Oh wait, our freedom stops at the end of their idea of what’s moral. 

      2. Wheras conservatives skip the step of telling and head straight for the punishing until we figure out what you’re saying without saying. Since you’re making a patently unfair caricature, I figured you’d be glad if I did the same.

        1. The city consistently votes for Democrats, but they are assuredly *not* of a liberal bent. Chicago is no Madison.

    1. Except it will be entered into the record that they accepted a deal to avoid prosecution.
      No one will even bother pretending to look at the abuses of the protestors from the police and city, and they will feel safe and secure in their ability to funnel cash to their friends and subvert due process.

      Sounds like a great idea.  /s

      1. Right. So, as I said, people should go to their court dates instead. Save the $355 and force the city attorney to try the case. In fact, they should ask for a continuance as the trial is about to start. It is not uncommon for police, who are required for the case as witnesses to show up for a first court date, but not a continued court date.

        Take the time to read before trying to lecture about subverting due process.

        1. My apologies, I blame painkillers and lack of sleep for my brain twisting what you had said.

        2. FWIW, LA City Atty Carmen Trutanich has had trouble getting the police witnesses to show up for even the first court date. So the defendants have been _opposing_ LA’s request for a continuance, so the case has to be dismissed for a lack of evidence.

          1. Wow. The cops in LA must not get the bonus pay for showing up in court that cops in Chicago get. I’d oppose the continuances then too. Here the cop usually shows up once, but not twice.

  7. I’m going to stick my neck way out here and play devil’s advocate.  There’s often something to be said for the form of civil disobedience that calls for breaking the law–either because the law itself is unjust or because there are greater principles at play–but that’s a far cry from believing that the First Amendment actually means that performing certain actions is not illegal.  If a protester is found to have committed some misdemeanor offense and claims either ignorance or immunity to the law in play, it makes since to me to educate them on the relevant law.

    To my mind, the issue here is not the existence of such a program, but when people are recommended to it, the accuracy of the information presented, and how the costs are externalized.

    Generally speaking I think this crowd would go for effective education/rehabilitation over more traditional punitive measures.  Why is it any different when the subject is someone you agree with ?

    1. I think it is because many here, me included, don’t feel that the majority of arrestees are guilty of any wrongdoing.  That makes all punishment unfair. 

      Have you paid attention?  People have been arrested for resisting arrest. 
      Also for trespassing on public property and not following unlawful orders.

      1. Then the message should be “these people are being unjustly or over-harshly prosecuted”, a message I agree with.  “ZOMG BRAINWASHING” seems like a less-than-responsible approach.

    2. As several of the people holding tickets are credentialed journalists who were covering not participating in the event, this courtroom is the only time they get on the record many of the violations of the civil rights of people during this time.
      This might be the only time they have a chance to get the people responsible for violating their civil rights in a courtroom under oath having to answer difficult questions about the actions during that time.
      They treated these protesters as if they were terrorists out to destroy the city, and now for a small fee all can be forgiven if you attend a reeducation day camp.
      There are no fines/classes for police who overstepped their authority and the rule of law, shouldn’t those charged with upholding the law actually have to follow it?

      As to the classes, they are setup by lawyers who are there to privatize the legal system.  They offer a 40 minute DVD, a workbook, and so much more.
      There is no accreditation listed on their website, there is no letter from the ACLU certifying the system is fair and balanced.  It looks like their main program exists to defer people out of court, pay them money, watch a video, answer some questions correctly, and go away.  I looks like an easy way for the city to avoid the cost of a trial and still get about as much money as they would have gotten in fines in the end.

    3. believing that the First Amendment actually means that performing certain actions is not illegal

      Since we’re discussing what is and isn’t illegal, let’s not forget the Supreme Law of the United States is that no law may restrict the right to peaceably assemble.

      I know that pesky Constitution makes people uncomfortable, but we have now repeatedly seen in its wholesale violation why it is so crucially important.

    1. Odd that.  Zedong wasn’t really big on free speech. 
      Also some of them liked Reagan.  99% of the people like alot of stuff. 

      1. Agree. 99% of the people have catholic tastes. I was talking about the older protesters. The lifers.

    1. Don’t kid yourself into thinking authoritarianism is peculiar to liberals. “It confuses / offends / scares me, MAKE IT ILLEGAL” is a universally popular knee-jerk reaction among the masses — regardless of where they are, who they are, or how they stand politically.

    2. Gotta agree with that, generally. Berkley, CA, is one of the most behavior-regulated cities in America.

    3. ” Push doesn’t have to come to shove; liberals LOVE rules.”

      Of course OWS is a liberal movement, so your generalization misfires somewhat.

      1.  OWS is more populist. It has been the traditionally “liberal” cities that have cracked down on OWS the hardest. (SF, LA, NYC, Seattle, Portland).
        During FDR reign the US was very harsh towards protestors, especially on the left.  It was FDR that turning the FBI into a political secret police by putting a crazy paranoid self hating homosexual in charge (J Edgar Hoover)

    4. Quick, yell “liberal.”  Then we can have a shit-throwing game and divert attention from the fact a large group of people have been denied their inalienable First Amendment rights.

  8. Stuff like this happens + Drone strikes, death penalty,  SOPA, police brutality, Patriot act, torture, NDAA, wars of aggression (WMDs in Iraq?)  and there are still US-Americans (including their government) that like to tell us Europeans that they live in the “craddle of freedom” and _we’re_  one step away from facism. This happens when you start to believe your own propaganda.

  9. Apparently, in L.A., you can pay to learn about the free speech you don’t actually have.

    Or you can pay a lot to have the free speech, like the ad companies painting entire office buildings with campaigns and messages despite city ordinance and tenant objections. So far no one’s been locked up (or, to my knowledge, even fined) for this.

  10. 1) Violate peoples rights
    2) Arrest them
    3) Charge them money to get out of jail
    4) Profit

    I see what the LA City Attorney did there….

  11. Finally we learn the second half of the statement “Free speech is not free. . . ”

    ” it costs $355.”

  12. One thing LA will always do is to get other people to give them money for anything. See our parking enforcement. 

  13. All of a sudden, Judge Dredd and Robo-cop don’t seem quite so far-fetched.  The corporatization of America continues at a more and more rapid pace.  The corporations have bought the government and now the government is selling them the people cheap.

    1. we need to stop giving money to these corporations. we don’t need to invest in the giant banks, put your money in a local bank, the smaller the better. This is how we even out wealth distribution without losing critical freedoms. Take our money and don’t spend it at Wal-Mart or Bestbuy, suck it up and pay the extra $5 at a local mom and pop shop. Give your money to your hard working neighbors, not the 1%!!!

  14. I don’t understand why Occupy supporters are obsessed with their actions being legal — under the first amendment or otherwise. Most Occupy protests clearly enter the realm of civil disobedience. It’s not “brain washing” to teach Occupy participants that, yes, what they are doing, at least in part, is not protected speech under the Constitution.

    There’s nothing wrong with that; participants should just accept and embrace that certain kinds of change require breaking the law. There’s no inherent moral obligation to obey the law. Some of the finest movements in history have embraced civil disobedience. In many cases, movements have used civil disobedience to generate media coverage of disproportionate and abusive force (whether fire hoses in the 1960s or pepper spray today) being used to silence the movement.

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