'Todos Somos Arizona' members slam 'crackdown'

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Immigration activists accused City Attorney Carmen Trutanich on Tuesday of trying to “crack down” on political dissent by seeking to penalize them with up to a year in jail for what they described as “nonviolent acts of civil disobedience.”

Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter disputed the allegation, saying activists from Todos Somos Arizona are being prosecuted for handcuffing themselves together, laying down on the street and blocking traffic for hours last July to protest the passage of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070.

“This office is not prosecuting these defendants because they are exercising their right to protest,” he said. “This office respects every individual’s right to protest. What this office is prosecuting is the crime that has been committed by these defendants; that is, they failed to obey a lawful order by Los Angeles Police Department to disperse.

“They were lying in the street, chained together, disrupting traffic, creating a danger to the community, and preventing thousands of people who were stuck in a massive traffic jam from getting to work, from going to pick up their kids from school, from conducting and carrying out their legitimate business,” the prosecutor said.

Through “street theater” staged Tuesday in front of City Hall, activists also protested the impending trials of Todos Somos Arizona members accused of blocking buses from entering the federal detention center in May during a protest against deportation; and of Bus Riders Union members accused of disrupting a May 27 Metropolitan Transportation Authority meeting to denounce bus fare increases.

They also complained about charges against five Cal State Northridge students who protested last March against tuition fee hikes; and against nine other students who held a demonstration last May to call for the passage of the DREAM Act.

Carolina Sarmiento is one of several Todos Somos Arizona protesters facing prosecution.

“We are not criminals, we have not done any violent act at all,” she said. “On the contrary, we think Carmen Trutanich using our tax money when we’re in a crisis moment to process all these community members, and trying to threaten us with a year in jail…is a criminal act.”

Leigh Shelton, a representative for Todos Somos Arizona, said the controversy surrounding SB 1070 resulted in “non-violent civil disobedience protests all across the country, and in those cases no protesters have felt the kind of crackdown that they have in L.A.”

“Even in Arizona, under Sheriff (Joe) Arpaio, the charges were dropped against those protesters,” she said.

Carter declined to discuss the punishment that prosecutors would be seeking against the activists, whose court hearings are set to begin this month.

“Each and every one of these individuals has the right to a trial,” he said. “They can argue their case to a jury and a judge.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (43)
  1. Ted Smith says:

    Good for the City Attorney; these individuals did more than protest without a permit–a few disrupted the ability of thousands to conduct business, go to their doctors, etc. I hope these protesters get a sentence comprable to the disruption of innocent lives they caused.

    1. Sanityforus says:

      UH your a moron these people DID what we ALL as americans have the RIGHT to do and thats DEMONSTRATE

    2. Raquel Anderson says:

      These protesters were using their freedom of speech to express their beliefs, just like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the LA Mayor and so many leaders before them. They should be charged with an injunction and pay a fine, as usual, instead of being singled out to be jailed (which by the way tax payers have to pay for, people, this isn’t rocket science!) Thanks for nothing Trutanich, you just lost your re-election by trying to jail mothers and other harmless community activists for following in the footseps of MLK.

  2. Pascual Hernandez says:

    Each and every one of these individuals has the right to a trial,” he said. “They can argue their case to a jury and a judge. Well Mr. Trutanich on your next run for office We’ll be your Judge….YOUR ASS WILL BE OUT OFFICE.

    1. Tired of the BS says:

      They should go to jail! As usual, they broke the law(meaning they are probably here illegaly to began with) Not only did they cause traffic jams and other problems, they cost the city sending the police to disburse them. Wasting ou tax dollars again!

    2. Roger Thornhill says:

      Pascual, tell you what, next time you are taking your sick child to the hospital, or going to work, or driving to a job interview, I’m going to lay down in the street in front of you and not let you pass, in the name of securing the borders. Of course, I’ll expect you to support me in that endeavor. Or does that not work when you are the target of this foolishness?

    3. Geeviant says:

      How many of these people were actually citizens?

      I just hope that it WAS someone dear to Pascual’s heart who needed help, e.g an ambulance, who wasn’t able to receive it due to morons like Pascual who think this wasn’t a crime.

    4. sanityforus says:

      RIGHT to a ‘trial is right and WE the people will find them INNOCENT and trutanmoron can go find ANOTHER job ( I think new york is FULL of billboards he can go stir crazy there and TRY to prosecute them )

  3. dream ass says:

    i get a ticket for jaywalking,i pay or get a hold placed on my license. when you lay down in the streets and block traffic..you should be fined heavy and sent to jail. THIS IS NOT MEXICO. and if you do not want to be charge for being dumb. then go to arizona.

  4. Andy says:

    If they did this in their own country they would probably be dead by now

    1. mike says:

      they did it and got Ran over by a bus check the vid sites

  5. siksi'ksskin ksikkihkini says:

    They are called Illegal Aliens because they have broken the law, the law europeons brought with them, and made while in control of Native American territories forcibly taken from the true and lawful inhabitants of these lands. The brainless fools that are against illegal imagration are usually children of school age, college students that are brainwashed by the liberals that have taken over the education system. I am sure that most of these people do not earn their own way, live at home or off the taxpayers. I am a Native American of the Blackfoot Nation I would like all europeon visitors to return to their countries of origination, you came here and took what wasnt yours because you possessed greater technology, most hispanics are Native Americans, mixed with europeon blood, so they actually could stay, but under Indian law we would kill all drug dealers, and murdering gangs. But I believe the europeons will never relenquish their control of North America, nor will they ever compensate the people’s ancestors they murdered, stole from, displaced, and attempted to deny their rights to their own religion freedom, and property. Although Native Americans do not believe human beings can OWN land. My long winded point is if you wont leave, then live by YOUR LAWS, ALL OF THEM!
    The taxpayer money saved in the first several years after deportation, would alleviate many state deficits and then the loser democrats could spend it all on new planes for their moronic representitives and senators, spending millions of dollars flying back and forth across the U.S. for no other reason than to figure out new ways to steal from the inhabitants of the U.S.

      1. Wally Wharton says:

        So are you.

  6. Eddie Rodriguez says:

    The City Attoney is taking the CORRECT and moral action. The protestors, as any reasonable adult will know, must face the consequences of their actions.

    1. sanityforus says:

      YOU have a hispanic surname and you AGREE with trutanich et al morons ? Turn in your green card/passport and drop your citizenship to mexico your a traitor to your own

  7. Jose G says:

    Lets use Mexico’s law here. What is it? Oh ya good bye.

  8. CMolina says:

    When my parents came to this country LEGALLY some 40 years ago, my sister was about 6 years old. They sent her to school and she didn’t know a lick of English. On her first day, she came home crying. My mom asked her what ws wrong and she said that she didn’t understand any of the kids and they had to learn to talk with her. My mom stopped her right at that moment and told her, “NO. We are in THEIR country and you need to learn the language, the customs and the culture. They don’t need to learn your language. We are in America now.”

    Flash-forward 40 years and people not only come here ILLEGALLY, but they come here with some ridiculous sense of entitlement. I say Get your papers, pay your taxes, learn the language and be humbled that this country welcomed you with open arms. Bunch of whining ingrates!

    1. Nate says:

      Well, they come here illegally and they find work doing jobs that most people don’t want. They should just be given the papers but the companies that run this counry know they can make better profit by ensuring that they do not become legalized. This country has far from welcomed with open arms my friend. And lastly, we took this land from the original inhabitants and then later we took more land (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California) from Mexico. If you pay attention to history you would know that we even promised them not to take the land from the Mexicans who owned it, and that we would even keep Spanish as an official language – but that lasted all of a few months.

    2. sanityforus says:

      Too bad your kind didn’t get lost coming here. Who the hell do you think you are denigrating your own ? So YOU came legally, YOU follow the ‘rules’ of the way here. None of the ones who come here have this ‘entitlement’ YOU claim they have ( seems to ME that YOU think YOU are better than the ones who come here any other way but YOURS ) the ONLY ingrate here is YOU you selfish brat do I get Crackers with YOUR whine ?

    3. Sparrow says:

      You are an embarrassment to Hispanics everywhere. My parents came here legally too. I was born and raised here as were my siblings. Yet I do not denigrate those who out of desperation find any way they can to escape the poverty and crime down south to come here. Don’t judge people whose stories you don’t know.

  9. krg says:

    We are not criminals, we have not done any violent act at all,” she said.

    Since when do you have to be violent to be a criminal? Breaking the law is breaking the law no matter how you do it. Disrupting traffic and disobeying an order from law enforcement is BREAKING THE LAW. And for that, you get punished. Just like crossing the border wihtout the proper permission is BREAKING THE LAW and you get punished.

    Seriously what part of that do these people not get?

  10. Tim says:

    The hubris of these whining punks is disgusting. Uh, yeah, you are criminals if you break the law. Good on Tru for standing up to them.

  11. Max says:

    I feel saddened to share this with you all, but according to the Washington Times illegal aliens cost California $10.5 billion every year. Look it up, it’s an article from 2004. That means they’ve costed the state nearly a TENTH OF A TRILLION DOLLARS IN JUST THE PAST TEN YEARS. IT IS AN IRREFUTABLE FACT. LOOK IT UP.

  12. Lester says:

    Bravo, Carmen Trutanich. Well Mr Trutanich in your next run for office you GOT MY VOTE! Your ass will be in office!

  13. Wally Wharton says:

    Any organization with the word “Todos” in the title is questionable.

    1. sanityforus says:

      UH Wall-E why hasn’t your battery run down yet ?

  14. Lauren T. says:

    Nuch is misguided. He’s trying to run for DA, but he won’t get far by making enemies with latino voters who watched him attack immigrant rights’ activists on every Spanish-language TV news program today in LA today.

  15. encee says:

    Wow, there are some serious right wing fascists leaving comments on this site. First off, people do have a right to protest and dissent. It’s called the first amendment of the constitution. Also, nothing the city attorney said has disputed what the protesters said. They were involved in a non-violent protest and it was a civil disobedience action. Their only supposed crime was not following an order to disperse. People need to get that. If I am at a rally, a demonstration or any sort gathering and I fail to disperse, that’s a low level misdemeanor. Seriously, think about all the serious crimes that are done everyday and then think about the severity of this case. These people are being threatened with up to a year in jail for a failure to disperse. This prosecution does not at all fit the level of the transgression.

    The city attorney’s office is lying. These people are being prosecuted for political reasons. If anyone else, including the people on this website, were cited for a failure to disperse at most they would be handed some community service. In the grand majority of cases they would simply be cited, made to pay a ticket and then released. In Arizona the protesters there barely even got that, so why is the Los Angeles City attorney wasting time going after peaceful protesters? A failure to disperse order is about the same level of misdemeanor as a jaywalking ticket, but you wouldn’t expect go to jail for a year because of it. The prosecution of this case does not fit the caliber of the supposed “crime,” plain and simple. It’s excessive, out of proportion and bordering on cruel and unusual.

    If you are facing an unjust law you also have a moral responsibility to resist. Yesterday was the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have been on the side of these protesters. He faced jail time for standing up to unjust laws, but no one thinks it was right of the system to do that to him. Back then segregation was legal, but that didn’t stop righteous people like King from standing up to it. No one thought King was sent to prison simply for “breaking the law”. He was sent to prison because the political system wanted to punish him, just like the political system today wants to punish these protesters.

    The city attorney’s office is lying. These people are being prosecuted for political reasons. If anyone else, including the people on this site, were cited for a failure to disperse at most they would be handed some community service. In most cases they would simply be cited, made to pay a ticket and be released. In Arizona the protesters barely even got that, so why is the Los Angeles City attorney wasting time going after peaceful protesters?

  16. bill says:

    let see a year jail time or a whole lot of tax dollars on a jury trial you won’t win for someone protesting and slowing you down on your way to starbucks?
    but the molester living next door to you just gets probation for molesting you or your kids..
    you shoul all go to jail for hate crimes damn complainers and if you driving your kid to the hospital you went the wrong way stupid andnext time call 911…..

  17. bluntz says:

    Being a legal non-latino foreigner in this country, I do believe that amnesty should be given to the “illegal” immigrants. Gangs, drug lords etc. exist in all major cities over the world and shouldn’t be burdened upon the hardworking latino community, this is an issue that all governments have failed to address. My personal experience with the “illegal” and legal latinos here in LA is that they are some of the most hardworking people of Los Angeles. Kudos to all of you and thank you for helping me and my family!

  18. The Deacon says:

    Justicia Para Todos Somos Arizona en Los Angeles, California!!

    Que todos los pendejos se regresen a su país o que aprendan otro idioma idiotas!

    Yo no entiendo su Racismo o Nativismo, pero los originales de estas tierras también quieren que se vayan al carajo….

    Buenas Noches Pueblo

  19. swhitS says:

    They should never of blocked traffic. What would have happened had a fire truck or ambulance needed to go through? They could have caused serious damage here and also to themselves.
    We want to keep the right to protest but let’s be sensible do it somewhere where you are not putting honest working people at risk. They are illegal so deport them for that. Jail is another waste of taxpayer monies on these people.

  20. Guillermo says:

    California Law 843b PC virtually mirrors Arizona SB 1070. It’s been on the books since 1997, but its not enforced. So, we do have a law like Arizona’s

  21. Jose says:

    Appears like these folks are obviously being singled out by Carmen Trutanich. If everywhere else protesters have been set free, why are things different in this matter? What is Trutanich trying to prove?

  22. Leilani says:

    The Tohono tribe on the border has been asking illegals to stop trespassing for years. I remember this being aired years ago on a PBS program. The young Hispanics representing the Illegals (I guess) merely laughed at the older woman representing a tribe. It was disgusting, but later I really saw the attitude of the Latinos – on YouTube and in the rallies.
    They are not well liked among other groups and that includes blacks, Asians, Native Americans. I don’t see how Hispanics coming in bring us anything special. And they inadvertantly or purposely bring in cartel members and drugs.
    They brush it off. They also brush off the fact that they bring in a lawlessness – and yet use the law to sue us.
    I am only hoping that those who have previously supported them will drop that support in the light of the chaos over budgets all over the US.
    It is about time.

  23. Leilani says:

    In Hawaii, the locals (brown people, you know) cheered when ICE arrested and deported Mexican illegals. The last thing they need is competition for jobs.

  24. resepi kek says:

    You’re truly correct on this writing

  25. داغ says:

    That’s an all round well written post…

  26. Business Directory says:

    I do not disagree with you!

  27. makeityourring diamond says:

    That was a truly joy of a piece..

  28. Video Capture Device says:

    Thank god some bloggers can still write. Thanks for this piece of writing.

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