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Thursday, May. 10, 2001 at 9:25 PM
No felony charges, but an array of misdemeanors brought against the 15 protesters in the afternoon courtroom session.
15 of the 100-odd arrested at the Long Beach May Day demonstration appeared in the courtroom of Judge John H Ing this afternoon for their arraignment. And these 15 defendents found out they will not be facing felony conspiracy charges -- which was what they were told they'd be facing when they were initially booked -- but instead will be charged with six seperate misdemeanor counts ranging from unlawful assembly, through failure to disperse, conspiracy to incite a riot, and disturbing the peace (plus two more). Convictions could lead to further jailtime, plus considerable fines. The group's attorneys (a public defender and two private lawyers, retained by three of the defendants) also negotiated a continuance of the arraignment, to May 21, for purposes of discovery (in other words, the formal arraignment will now occur on May 21 so that evidence can be collected in the interim).
Earlier in the day, a smaller group of defendants (at least ten, I'm told -- I was not present) had their pre-trial hearing. This group's prosecutor asked for their cases to be consolidated, but the district attorney challenged the motion on the grounds that there was not yet enough evidence to determine this; and the pre-trial was delayed until May 17. There was no police report released along with this morning's hearing and I'm unclear as to the precise charges this group is facing.
Throughout the day, defendants and their supporters were patted down everytime they entered the courtroom (in contrast to others), not allowed to bring any writing instruments inside the courtroom, were videotaped in the hall, and generally treated suspiciously by the abundance of cops and county sheriff's immediately outside the courtroom.
More arraignments and pre-trial hearings are schedualed for Thursday and Friday.
Three demonstrators remain imprisoned -- two US citizens, with bail posted at 0,000 and ,000, respectively; and one foreign national, for whom bail has been denied.
Conspicuously, one of the worst-injured of the demonstrators (who has the remnants of a rubber bullet lodged permanently in his calf) discovered, before he was released from jail on Friday, that all of his charges were being dropped.
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