a nonviolent protester, sarah roberts, who the long beach police department arrested last may day, 2001, was wrongfully convicted of two misdemeanor charges of wearing a mask with criminal intent and failure to disperse/unlawful assembly. worse yet, at her sentencing hearing on thursday morning, may 23, 2002, the judge imposed a total of 6 months in jail, ,000 in fines, and 3 years of probation!
at the may day protest, the long beach police department charged the protesters without any provocation, firing hundreds of rubber bullets, beating people with batons, summarily arresting people without cause, and caging protesters in then claiming to have given orders to disperse, using this as an excuse to make mass arrests. the prosecution has not established any intent, criminal or otherwise, in sarah's decision to wear a protective mask; sarah's ability to comply with dispersal orders was blocked by the police themselves; and the judge has shown a strong and clear bias during the trial.
most of the arrestees decided to plea bargain to probation to avoid trial; of those who defended their innocence, sarah roberts is the only one who has been convicted. the 'special treatment' the protesters have received from the police, prosecutor, and even the fbi is part of the broader repression that has been taking place as well as the more local clampdown in long beach, where several more activists (matthew lamont, max lucas, jeff hendricks, and hassan hassan) have been arrested on trumped-up charges due to their political beliefs. in particular, the government agencies are targeting radical and especially anarchist activists to destroy the momentum of the movement in southern california.
sangeeta kumar, one of the people who came to show support for sarah roberts at the sentencing hearing, noted that
"she cried alot during her talking...she was in tight handcuffs and she could not even comfortablly wipe the tears from her eyes...
"the judge said that these activists think that they are above the law and deserve different rights, and it is not the case and especially not in Long Beach
"after Sarah made a request for vegan food -the judge who apparently knew alot about the vegan diet said that surely there would be PLENTY of food to eat besides just meat and dairy-WOW! he's right on! Then he had the nerve to say that she may have to VARY her diet a bit...sarah immediately said that is like telling a Jew to not eat Kosher...and that she is vegan for moral reasons and she will not VARY her diet...and said that they were not giving her vegan food and she had not eaten in 2 days...."