Free Speech 8–The prosecutor feared taking this case to trial and so he agreed to dismiss all charges in exchange for community service. The FS8 NOT enter any pleas and ALL CHARGES ARE BEING DISMISSED!!
***IMPORTANT!!! Please read this before continuing***
This website is intended to make activists aware of a particular case for a couple of reasons:
1. To make all activists in the Los Angeles area aware of repression against activism at UCLA and Los Angeles more broadly.
2. To assist these particular activists in galvanizing support.
THIS WEBSITE SHOULD NOT DETER ANYONE FROM ANY FORM OF LEGAL ACTIVISM. REPRESSION ONLY WORKS IF ACTIVISTS STOP DOING THEIR WORK.
Please do not insult the activists in this case and, more importantly, those whom you are fighting for, by using this case as an excuse not to engage in any form of legal activism.
On December 5th, 2011 the Free Speech 8 defendants accepted an informal disposition. The activists have made no plea of guilt and the case will be completely dismissed in 18 months if they stay at least 300 hundred feet away from the homes of three of the targets they were protesting for that period of time.
This is a good deal because they have not pled guilty and do not need to take chances with a jury trial. However, it does restrict their protest activities to some degree in the case of the UCLA campaign against primate vivisection. The locations they have been ordered to stay away from are the homes three UCLA vivisectors, so it will be important that other activists continue these protests in their absence so this campaign can keep going. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be emailed about future protests if you are interested.
Three of the Free Speech 8 defendants have been engaged in a federal lawsuit for the past year against the UCLA PD for their harassment of animal rights activists. Their lawyer was on the Free Speech 8 legal team as well. All funds raised for the defendants will be diverted to this case to help ensure that UCLA PD is held accountable for and prevented from engaging in similar harassment arrests in the future.
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
ACTIVISTS’ BEGIN TRIAL DECEMBER 5th, 2011 @ 8:30am
Please come support the Free Speech 8 activists at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Division 52, 7th Floor, 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles CA 90012. The trial will begin on December 5th and is likely to continue throughout the week. After the trial begins updates will be posted daily on this website.
Local activists have started a letter writing campaign and petition to demand the charges against the Free Speech 8 be dropped by the city of Los Angeles due to the blatant violation of free speech rights. Please join in these efforts.
SO MUCH SUPPORT!!!
The Free Speech 8 has received so much support to show solidarity and to raise money for legal fees and possible fines. So far there has been a solidarity protest in Luxemborg organized by Save Animals and a screening of Bold Native, in Irvine California (the Bold native crew donated proceeds from sales the the Free Speech 8!). Not to mention, the folks at Vegan Revolution are donating 100% of their proceeds from the sale of their cycling caps to the cause.
And there are more events on the way:
November 5th, Long Beach, CA
Benefit Movie Night, Screening of “Jill’s Film”
9:30-11:00pm. Event is free, donations are welcome
December 3rd, Long Beach, CA
Folk Punk Benefit Show
Featuring the musical styling of: Jessie Williams, The Manx, New York Taxi, and more!!!!
A $3-$5 donation is requested if you can afford it.
If you want to organize an even in your area, join the Benefit Show Madness and post your event. The Free Speech 8 would also be VERY excited if you did solidarity protests. They were arrested while protesting primate vivisection at UCLA, but any protest against animal abuse or activist repression is appreciated.
The case was also highlighted on the radio show the New New WRTZ hoted by Rob z and can be listened to online.
CASE UPDATES: ACTIVISTS BEGIN TRIAL DECEMBER 5th, 2011 @ 8:30am
Sept 13: The defendants, lawyers and 20+ supporters were present in court today. The trial was postponed due to one of the lawyers being tied up in another trial. The trial was rescheduled for DECEMBER 5th @ 8:30am at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Division 52, 7th Floor, 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles CA 90012. The defendants want to thank everyone who came out for support at today’s court date, and everyone who supports from afar. The judge commented on the large number of supporters, joking that they were why traffic was backed up downtown today.
Sept 8: Due to scheduling conflicts with the legal team, there is a chance that the trial may be pushed back. Unfortunately, we will not know for sure until the scheduled trial date of Tuesday, September 13. Please join us in court that day to support the defendants if you are available. Otherwise, look to this page for updates on how the trial will progress, and future dates to support the Free Speech 8. An update on the outcome of the upcoming court date will be posted on Tuesday.
Aug 30: Activists begin trial on Tuesday, September 13, 8:30 a.m. at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles. Trial is expected to continue for the remainder of the week, and perhaps into the following week. Your presence in the courtroom is appreciated. If you are able to attend, please dress appropriately.
FREE SPEECH 8 SUPPORTERS, PLEASE REPORT TO: Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Division 52, 7th Floor, 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles CA 90012.
WHY ALL ACTIVISTS SHOULD CARE ABOUT THIS CASE
This case is an attempt to stifle free speech
This is a free speech case, plain and simple. The UCLA police department and Los Angeles city attorney’s office are trying to reinterpret a law to abridge what constitutes legal protest activity. Neighborhood protests and pickets are completely legal in Los Angeles and have been engaged in by many social movements. However, police officers find them a nuisance and vivisectors are annoyed by them; and so, in an attempt to shut them down, the UCLA police and LA city attorney’s office are trying to make them appear illegal.
Activists are being punished for things they have not done
In an interview, one of the arresting officers stated clearly that he views above ground legal activists as no different from activists for animal liberation that engage in illegal actions. Law enforcement has not been sophisticated enough to capture covert animal liberationists. The assault on the Free Speech 8, activists who choose to show their faces because they have chosen legal tactics, reflects UCLA’s desire to punish someone, regardless of the reason.
This is a case of police harassment
As a way to further punish activism against UCLA vivisection, the UCLA police and LA City Attorney’s office pulled every video recording of these activists protesting on this campaign and added as many charges as they could for other protests. These charges are other violations of Los Angelece Municipal Code 56.45 E as well as a variety of alleged noise violations under codes 116.01 and 41.57. Though the sound ordinance codes all state the officer is to give a warning prior to citation, these activists were not given warnings and are being punished retroactively for protests that occurred up to one month prior to the arrest. One activist faces six charges and the other seven face eight charges each, which are a various combination of these three codes.
This case is about money, not rights
This prosecution is an assault against activists who challenge money-making institutions. Vivisection receives large grants, and UCLA gets over 50% from each grant received. They want to keep the money flowing by stifling dissent. The bottom line is that UCLA is more interested in protecting its assets than respecting individuals’ constitutional right to free speech.
On May 15, 2010, 12 activists were engaging in picketing and demonstrations in the neighborhoods of UCLA primate vivisectors. This activity occurs on a monthly basis and is completely legal. Activists were picketing in the neighborhood of vivisector Edyth London when they heard sirens in the distance. Two UCLA Police cars parked at the top of the street and demanded everyone sit down. The UCLA Police did not observe the activists behavior before turning on their sirens; they arrived ready to arrest, with zip ties prepared. Activists were made to sit on the sidewalk where they were when the police arrived. Though administering citations would not require any arrests, UCLA PD chose to handcuff and arrest all 12 activists.
This protest activity has been going on for years and nothing in the activists’ behavior that day was different from any other protest they had engaged in for this campaign. UCLA PD and LAPD have observed these protests on a monthly basis for years and had not found the behavior of the activists illegal in the past. On the day of the arrest, no warning was given; neither was an explanation given to any activist for several hours as to why they were being/had been arrested.
The citations eventually handed out noted that activists were arrested at the home of the vivisector, Edyth London, when the arrests actually occurred several houses away. One activist questioned this in the holding cell, as well as their right to take her finger prints; she was refused legal council by the commanding officer and was threatened with being sent to county lock-up for 48 hours. She was refused release until she agreed to provide fingerprints and sign the ticket noting the wrong arrest address.
Charges against the minors were eventually dropped. One adult activist settled, as he was moving across the country to begin medical school and could not travel to court. Eight adult activists remain charged.
The main charge against the activists is a violation of LA municipal code 56.45 E, focused picketing. Activists were not in violation of LAMC 56.45 E as they never stopped within 100 feet of the sidewalk of the residence; rather, they marched, and never stopped on the sidewalk directly outside the residence. Further, they never came at any point within 100 feet of the dwelling. LAMC 56.45 E is written in a vague manner, so the debate is whether activists interpreted the law correctly, which activists, their legal observer, and their lawyers all think they did. Even the UCLA PD and LAPD agreed with their interpretation for years. They changed their interpretation of the law that day, and did not give any warnings to the activists to inform them of this prior to arrest. Activists are also charged with various noise violations for chanting during these daytime protests.