UPDATES ON THE LONG BEACH MAY DAY COURT CASES: 9/22/01
At the beginning of the month, two defendants, Emily Vanderlaan, and Yutaka Yokoyama began Jury selection for their trial. Hopes were high that Emily and Yutaka would win their court battle. The opening statements for their trial were scheduled to begin on September 11. For obvious reasons, court did not take place on that day. When court re-opened on September 12th, Emily and Yutakas lawyers asked the judge to postpone the trial for a few months until the emotions stemming from the September 11th attack simmered down. The Jury was visibly shaken by the events of September 11th, and one juror even stated that he could no longer serve as an un-biased juror after what had happened.
In a display of intolerance, and in my opinion fascism, Judge Brad Andrews refused to postpone their trials. Emily and Yutaka decided to take plea bargains rather than risk going to trial. They received 3 years probation, and 30 days of community service, and a 0 dollar fine. The circumstances were very unfortunate surrounding Emily and Yutakas decision to take a plea. The result has been a weakening of resolve for the remainder of the May Day arrestees to go to trial.
On September 20th another group of arrestees, who had been avoiding taking plea bargains, were threatened by the Judge that if they did not take a plea that day (one year probation, 30 days community service, and 0 fine) that they would never receive a chance to plead without jail time from that point on. The Judges statement shocked the defense attorneys, as it is usually the Prosecutor that would make such statements/arrangements, not the Judge. The attorneys will be looking into whether or not it was in fact illegal for the Judge to make such statements. Obviously, those in court took the Judges (or was he the prosecutor?) threat seriously and the result was that everyone that day took the plea barging except for two individuals. Those two individuals, along with approximately 10 others who have not yet plead out will be back in court on the 23 of October to have trial dates set. Currently there are approximately 30 people still facing charges.
All the previously mentioned arrestees are faced with 6 misdemeanor charges each ranging from conspiracy, to riot, to failure to disperse. If convicted of all six charges the arrestees are facing up to 3 ½ years in prison. This is serious. In addition to those with the misdemeanor charges, there are still two arrestees facing felony assault against an officer charges. These two individuals (Rob and Alex) will be in court September 25 (8:30 am, Long Beach Municipal Court building) for their next pre trial hearing. One of the arrestees facing the 6 misdemeanor charges, (Chris Harrington), is scheduled to begin trial on October 11th. So far, Chris seems determined to go thru with his trial. As for the rest of the arrestees, it is most likely that the majority of those left facing charges will be entering pleas during the month of October, however there seems to be a small group who are determined to go to trial.
We will keep you updated with current information as it becomes available.
May Day Arrestees Support Network
Box 424 / 996 Redondo Ave / Long Beach, CA 90804
Everyone, please stay steadfast in your resistance. We must continue to fight against oppression. Patriotism is ignorance!