- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Duane J. Roberts
Saturday, Jul. 09, 2005 at 7:48 PM
People have asked me if this is true: Did a Garden Grove policeman write up a ticket to an Indymedia journalist who dropped a cigarette butt? After all, this is the same police department we've all been reading about that raided the Westminister home of Theresa Dang in search of a lost flashlight, isn't it? Would it be such a big surprise to anybody now that they actually stooped this low to harass other people whose only real crime was to exercise their constitutional right to free speech and assembly?
gg101255ia.jpg, image/jpeg, 2192x1163
>>> PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY
Friday, July 8, 2005
"M" FOR MISDEMEANOR: HOW GARDEN GROVE POLICE MADE UP A
CRIME OUT OF THIN AIR
Policeman issued criminal citation to Indymedia
journalist who dropped a cigarette butt
By DUANE J. ROBERTS
GARDEN GROVE, CA -- "The press is not free, it cost me
over 0," remarked Scott Larson, a journalist with
the Independent Media Project, who was quoted in
a brief article entitled, "Journalist Under Attack
By The Garden Grove Police Department," that was
posted anonymously to the la.indymedia.org website
on Wednesday, June 29, 2005.
In that article, Larson recounted a seemingly bizarre
incident that occurred sometime during the early
morning hours after the May 25th protest against
Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist where a Garden Grove
Police officer by the name of Lawton cited him for
dropping a cigarette butt. According to Larson, the
citation issued to him was done with malicious
intent: it was done to punish him for videotaping
this same policeman whom he alleges tried to
"harass and intimidate a peaceful protester" standing
outside on the public sidewalk of Garden Grove Police
Among other things, the article mentions Larson later
tried to fight the citation in court, but
that the Commissioner handling his case acted with
indifference. According to Larson, the Commissioner
"seemed to be preoccupied with moving people through
the system as quickly as possible, and did not allow
the opportunity for people to address the court." A
6 fine was imposed.
During the past week, rumors have been circulating
around the internet about the above posting. People have
asked me if this is true: Did a Garden Grove policeman
write up a ticket to an Indymedia journalist who dropped a
cigarette butt? After all, this is the same police department
we've all been reading about that raided the Westminister
home of Theresa Dang in search of a lost flashlight, isn't it?
Would it be such a big surprise to anybody now that they
actually stooped this low to harass other people whose only
real crime was to exercise their constitutional right to free
speech and assembly?
Up until now, Larson, a former Garden Grove resident,
didn't want me to write anything about this matter
until he and his loved ones were many thousands of
miles away from the city he used to live, work, and
play in. "The Garden Grove Police Department is out of
control," Larson told me in a telephone call he made
from the middle of Kansas a couple of days ago. "I
no longer feel safe in the State of California."
On the evening of Wednesday, May 25th, Scott Larson
was an Indymedia journalist covering the protest
against Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, who appeared
at the Garden Grove Woman's Civic Club that night to
deliver a speech before a meeting of the California
Coalition for Immigration Reform. Larson arrived at
the demonstration with a bonafide press credential
that was visible to anybody who saw him; and he
carried all kinds of photographic equipment on him,
including a video camera.
Larson not only shot numerous photos of the
protest as the evening went on, but he captured on
videotape spectacular images of the Garden Grove
Police officers in action, including a scary
situation where about a half dozen policeman suddenly
charged the crowd and tackled a male protester to
the ground, allegedly shoving a nightstick into his
mouth. (according to Larson, this protester wasn't
doing anything to provoke their incredibly violent
Shortly after Garden Grove Police on the scene decided
to declare the protest an "unlawful assembly",
Larson was one of about 40 protesters, concerned
citizens, and family members who raced to their
headquarters to learn more about the fate of the
persons who had been arrested. There he continued to
cover events as an Indymedia journalist, filming
people marching on the public sidewalk near the front
entrance who demanded that all the protesters
arrested by police that night be immediately released.
But while many people were focusing their attention on
activities taking place directly in front of GGPD
headquarters, a young Mexican woman wearing a bandana
over her face began to look at a small stone memorial
for "fallen peace officers" that was off to the side,
just out of everybody's line of sight. As she
began to read the inscriptions imprinted upon it,
one policeman (hereafter to be known as "Officer
Lawton") began to watch her like a hawk.
At first, Officer Lawton just kept a close eye on her.
But he then looked around to see if he himself was
being watched. Believing that nobody was paying
attention to his actions, he began to walk toward her
in a stealth-like manner: he moved slowly and
silently, just like a hungry lion that was getting
ready to pounce upon his prey. The young woman was too
busy reading the words on the monument to take notice
of him coming towards her.
Although there is no evidence to suggest that Officer
Lawton was planning on arresting or even attacking
this young woman, nobody wanted to risk that
possibility. To the policeman's surprise, a few people
had in fact been watching him from the corner of their
eye; they suddenly sprung up from where they had been
seated and began to rush to her defense. Larson ran
over with his video camera and filmed all of his
movements. He and others began yelling loudly to let
everybody know what was going on.
This sudden burst of attention caused Officer Lawton
to become temporarily disoriented. He began stumbling
around like a drunken sailor, almost tripping over
himself at one point. But when he quickly came to his
senses, Lawton began to back away from the young
woman, apparently realizing how awkward it looked
for him to be in such close proximity to a protester whom
many witnesses agree was doing nothing wrong.
With the guidance of her friends, the young woman
walked back to safety of the crowd. And when things
calmed down a bit, most people sat back down. They
realized that whatever Officer Lawton was planning
to do, it had been foiled by their vigilant response
to his rather questionable behavior.
After that incident, Larson felt a bit nervous. He
pulled a cigarette out of his pocket, lighted it up,
and began puffing on it. The nicotine calmed him
down, somewhat. But when he finished smoking, he
threw the butt down onto the pavement, not thinking
about what he had done. That's when Officer Lawton
sprung into action. It apparently was payback time.
Officer Lawton, who had been staring at Larson, called
him to the side and proceeded to write him up a ticket
for "improper disposal of a cigarette." According to
the citation, Larson was charged with violating
Section 23111 of the California Vehicle Code which
No person in any vehicle and
no pedestrian shall throw or
discharge from or upon any
road or highway or adjoining
area, public or private, any
lighted or nonlighted cigarette,
cigar, match, or any flaming
or glowing substance.
But this was no ordinary ticket. Officer Lawton wrote
an "M" for misdemeanor on it. Instead of citing Larson
with the usual "littering" infraction, he charged
him with committing a criminal offense that was
punishable for up to a year in jail and a huge fine.
"Is this police harassment?" Larson remembered asking
Officer Lawton as he wrote up the citation. The rather
hefty policeman allegedly smiled and replied, "Yes."
Officer Lawton might have had a few chuckles that
morning by writing up a misdemeanor criminal citation
against a man whose only offense was to drop a
cigarette butt. But the truth is, the last laugh was
on him and the GGPD.
Although various provisions within the California
Vehicle Code can either be enforced as an infraction
or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances, there
are statutory limits on how overzealous policemen like
Officer Lawton can choose to enforce these laws.
In Larson's case, he was lucky. A careful examination
of the California Vehicle Code shows that what Officer
Lawton did to him was in direct conflict of existing state
law. Section 40000.28 of the Vehicle Code makes it
explicitly clear that Section 23111 cannot be enforced
as misdemeanor unless the person charged with it is
driving or operating a motor vehicle at the time the
offense has been committed; on the other hand, a
pedestrian who violates this law can only be cited for
Since Larson was standing on the sidewalk the moment
he dropped the cigarette butt, the Garden Grove Police
had no statutory authority to charge him with a
crime other than a simple infraction. Hence,
when they made an attempt to file this case
as a misdemeanor offense, they soon found out
that state law could offer them no justification for them
to do so. In essence, they slammed their heads
into a legal brick wall.
And indeed, the minutes of the "Docket Report" for
Larson's case ( #GG101255IA) obtained from the
Orange County Superior Court on the afternoon of
Friday, July 1st clearly show that the GGPD had
no choice but to handle the citation as an
infraction. According to an entry made by a court
clerk on June 21st, they filed this case as
an "INFRACTION charge of 23111 VC filed as
count 1. Date of violation: 05/26/05". Another entry
posted the very next day mentioned "Courtesy Notice
sent" -- meaning that the court had sent Larson a
letter reminding him of the date, time, and location of
his pending hearing, and information about the
lesser charge he was now facing.
When I asked Larson if he received any letters,
he acknowledged that about a week before his
scheduled court appearance, he received one in his
mailbox. What did it say? It informed him that
the citation issued by Officer Lawton on the
morning of May 26th had been "miswritten as a
On the morning of Wednesday, June 29th, Larson
drove from his Garden Grove home to the
West Justice Center in the City of Westminster
and appeared before Commissioner Kenneth I. Schwartz
in Dept. W2. When his name was called, he made an
attempt to argue his case before Commissioner
Schwartz; but Schwartz wanted none of that. Larson
told me that the Commissioner appeared to be
"rushing the cases through system" and was putting
pressure on everybody who came before him to enter
a guilty plea. After squabbling a bit with the Commissioner,
Larson eventually capitulated. According to minutes
of the "Docket Report", Larson plead "GUILTY as to
count(s) 1." Commissioner Schwartz then
ordered him to go forthwith to the clerk's office and
pay 6 worth of fines, fees, and penalty assessments.
He promptly paid it and left the courthouse.
When I asked Larson about what he thought about
all of this, he said it really doesn't matter to
him anymore now because he's thousands of miles
away from California. Although he told me he didn't
originally want to plead guilty nor pay all
that money, he decided to do whatever it took
to settle this matter once and for all; he
didn't want it to stop him and his family from
fleeing the state: "Sometimes I have to realize
that the system does bite back."
Permission granted for reproduction for the above work
in any non-profit publication provided that credit is
given to the author of this work.
FOR MORE INFO ABOUT SCOTT LARSON
Copy of the "Docket Report" for Scott Larson's case
(#GG101255IA) obtained from the Orange County
Superior Court on the afternoon of July 1st can be
downloaded below from the la.indymedia.org website.
Please see below.
Statutory provisions within the California Vehicle
Code that pertain to Scott Larson's citation and
regulate how Section 23111 can be enforced by law
enforcement agents and judicial officers:
Journalist Under Attack By The Garden Grove Police
Minutes of Tuesday, June 14th meeting of the Garden
Grove City Council where Scott Larson, Theresa Dang,
and others spoke critically of the police
City of Garden Grove
To learn more about how you can help people who were
either arrested or criminally charged for various
offenses by Garden Grove Police as a consequence of
their participation at the May 25th protest against
Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, please go to http://www.may25.org or email email@example.com.
Please consider making a financial contribution.
Also check la.indymedia.org regularly for the latest
news on this matter as they are covering this matter
SEE THE FOLLOWING LINKS FOR OTHER INFO
Minuteman Flap Leads to Home Search
The Los Angeles Times
GG Police pursue phony criminal charge against woman
hit by Minuteman supporter
No probe of police conduct at anti-Minuteman protest
The Orange County Register
The first photo on this page is of Theresa Dang, one
of four persons struck by a minivan driven by Hal
Garden Grove Police Lt. Mike Handfield sends me a
message about Theresa Dang
Report this post as:
by Duane J. Roberts
Saturday, Jul. 09, 2005 at 7:48 PM
download PDF (640.6 kibibytes)
Downloadable PDF of the "Docket Report" for Scott Larson's case (#GG101255IA) obtained from the Orange County Superior Court on the afternoon of Friday, July 1st.
Report this post as:
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 2 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video
Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights
What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It
Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down
Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29
Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf
Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development
Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine
Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents
Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters
City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre
Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling
Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present
Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police
LA Times Homicide Report
More Local News...
Doxa du lobby
Tech workers organize
Architect Stephen Francis Jones
UN Forum Wrestles with Economic Policies 10 Years After Financial Crisis Islands Call for
Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats
What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress??
Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée
The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion
Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service
The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally!
The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder
Paraphysique de la dictature étatique
Book Review: "The New Bonapartists"
The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia
Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine
The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally!
“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize!
The World Dependent on Central Banks
Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine
March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update
Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel
ICE contract with license plate reader company
Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes
Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges
Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes
More Breaking News...