Trial Notes From Day 5 of My Los Angeles Trial Part One
The following are some of the notes I took regarding 402 motions, where the lawyers ask the judge if certain evidence and types of testimony may be allowed during the trial. There are also some notes from Los Angeles Police officers. Some of the notes will be out of context. For now I will leave out critical analysis, opinion, and will not correct any misinformation presented. These are simply incomplete notes of what was actually said and some of the things said are paraphrased unless noted with quotation marks as actual quotes.
The special prosecutor, Jennifer Waxler, gave her opening statement.
This is not a case to determine if the protest was righteous. (I’m not sure what was said before the next words,) “She violated the law.” The time place and manner of free speech is not pertinent to this. The protest she participated in had no permit. LAPD facilitated this protest for three hours until it got out of hand. Captain Pratt got intelligence that the protesters intended to “take over the Staples Center.” Captain Bert gave a dispersal order at 7th and Flower. In the dispersal order the protesters were ordered to leave the area, get out of the street, remain on the sidewalk, and not assemble or they will be arrested. Captain Bert will tell you at Flower and Wilshire the protesters were in the middle of the street while the red hand, do not walk signal was flashing. Public safety was at risk. Protesters took LAPD on what I will call a “cat and mouse chase.” The protesters were corralled at 6th and Hope. They were permitted, even encouraged, to leave the area. Officer Cruze was part of the blocking force. He observed the defendant walking around saying, “Don’t cooperate.” four or five times.
The lawyer for the defense, James Gates, gave his opening statement.
This case is not as simple or as straightforward as the prosecution would like you to think. This case is about the first amendment rights to free speech, assembly, and the press.
Lieutenant Richard, Rick, Stabile gave his testimony. He was questioned by Jennifer Waxler, the special prosecutor from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. He has 27 years of experience as a Los Angeles Police officer. He is assigned to special events, protests, sporting events, and red carpet events. He stated that he is “responsible for planning events and protests. There are five police stations in the downtown area. He stated that he sees every protest permit and the protest in the night in question did not have a permit. Ms. Waxler asked, “Did that affect how your office facilitated that permit?” I’m not sure how he answered. He did use the term, “spontaneous event.” She asked, “Does the LAPD allow non-permitted protests?” Sabile answered, “No, we don’t allow that.” Waxler asked, “Do you, never the less, in this case, are you aware that the protest occurred without a permit?” Sabile stated that LAPD chose to facilitate the event. He stated that they allowed it to happen as a “management strategy.” He said that they talk to the organizers.
My public defender, James Gates, then cross examined Officer Sabile. Gates asked if the application for a protest permit would go through LAPD and not the city of Los Angeles. He also asked where one would go to apply for a permit. Sabile testified that all city agencies see a protest permit and that LAPD has planning meetings with protest organizers “to find out more specifics.” Sabile was speaking directly to the jury during cross examination. Gates asked if outside of the website is there any notice given to the public that there is a need to obtain a permit. He was cut off by an objection for Waxer. He asked how does the public know that they can or should obtain a permit. I’m not sure what Stabile’s answer was. Gates asked if this presumes that there is an organizer for an event. Gates asked if a person might not know to obtain a permit. Stabile said something about, “needs to have a leader or an organizer.” Gates said, that, “assumes that the event is planned.” Sabile said, sometimes there are, “spontaneous events.” Gates asked, “There wasn’t a leader?” Sabile said, “There’s always leaders. They just choose not to come forward.” Gates said there was not just one group there were multiple groups. Sabile said he believes there were three groups protesting that night. Stabile said that they monitor social media. He also said, “We know who the leaders are.” Gates said LAPD blocked off lanes. Stabile said, “We do traffic control for them.” Gates asked, “LAPD facilitated illegal activity?” Gates said that the police were blocking traffic and allowing the protesters to protest. Sabile said that hundreds of people were going in different directions and blocking freeways. Gates asked under what penal code we would find protesting without a permit. Sabile said protesting in a roadway and declaring an unlawful assembly if there is unlawful behavior. Gates asked, “Is it illegal to protest without a permit?” and “Is a permit mentioned in those statutes?” Gates asked Stabile, “Are you familiar with the law?”
Waxler asked about municipal codes stated if a permit is violated. Stabile said they have stacks of books on statutes.
Gates asked, “Lieutenant Stabile, you understand the law. There are countless statutes on the books. Tell me one.” Stabile mentioned, “pedestrian in a roadway,” and the, “section on unlawful assembly.” Gates asked, “Which specifies that it is a crime not to have a permit?” Stabile did not have an answer.
The prosecution called Captain Brian Pratt to the witness stand.
Pratt has 27 years of experience with the LAPD. He is assigned as an area commanding officer for the Rampart area. Waxler asked him what does it mean to be a captain. He said he is a commanding officer. Waxler asked if he has done protest or crowd control and how many times. He said he has worked at over 100 protests. Waxler asked about his training for crowd control. He talked about mobile field training and said, “Incident command systems allow public service units to work together, police, fire, etcetera.” On the night in question Pratt was assigned as a march branch director during the day watch hours. He explained that there are two twelve hour watches, one from six AM to six PM and one from six PM to six AM. His job was to monitor the protest site. He said something about, “operation central bureau.” He said that the protests began at 10 AM on the day in question. Waxler asked if Pratt was, “present when they marched.” She asked how long they marched. Pratt said that they gathered at the Federal building on Main Street. He said they first began marching at 3:30 PM. Pratt was following the march in a car. There were 150 people at the federal building. The march stopped at 4:30 at the men’s central jail. Pratt said that protesters laid down in the street on Cesar Chavez. The march went west on Cesar Chavez. Waxler asked if any orders were given. Pratt said, “Stay off the street. Get on the sidewalk.”
Waxler had a four foot by three foot full color aerial photo of downtown Los Angeles.
There was a lunch break.
After the lunch break, outside of the presence of the jury 402 motions were argued by both sides.
Waxler brought up the prior 402 motion that the defense had raised regarding the actions of any individual from 3:30 PM until the dispersal order, that particular protester’s actions would be precluded. She asked if the 402 motion refers to the actions of ALL of the protesters and the actions of the crowd. She said, “which goes to the actions of the police officers in a crowd situation.” She said that, “Had there been nothing illegal or any safety concerns an unlawful assembly never would have been called.” She said this is, “critical to the state of mind of the police department. They will testify that there were orders to the protesters that were not complied with. Public safety was at risk. An unlawful assembly had to be called.”
Judge Sztraicher said, “Crowd controll discussion that gives context will be allowed.” Gates said, “Some of the testimony that was given helped frame these issues. The judge said that, crowd actions in a general way will be allowed to give context. Gates said, Stabile was not there. Gates also said that a crowd is a bunch of individuals acting. Gates said something about, “any protest behavior unless she was there.” The judge said he will permit testimony as to what the police did in response to what the crowd did. Gates said, “LAPD state of mind is not relevant to what Ms. Beers did or did not do.” It’s, “not relevant to what she allegedly did.” Gates also said there is “potential for prejudice towards Ms. Beers.” Waxler said, “The people cannot prove that with every single witness. I can’t prove my case.” The judge asked, “What is the relevance of what the crowd was doing to Ms. Beers?” Waxler said, “They were allowed to protest. The protests continue until officers say otherwise. The protests got out of hand.” She continued, they were going to “take over the staples Center!” The march was, “no longer permitted by LAPD.”
Mr. Gates stated that the validity of the dispersal order was not in question. Not having a protest permit is not a crime. The judge asked if the alleged violation of the law was before or after the dispersal order. Both lawyers agreed that it was after the dispersal order. Judge Sztraicher said that he will allow limited evidence as to facts that lead to the dispersal order. Gates said something about, “intel about protesters intentions.” He also said that the first time Ms. Beers is alleged to have been there is at 7th and Flower. The Judge said he will allow limited examination of reasons for the dispersal order because it gives context to the events. He stated that this was more probative than prejudicial.