On Wednesday, July 6th, a jury found LA CAN Organizer General Dogon guilty of 9 of 11 trumped up misdemeanor charges that supposedly took place during approximately 6 seconds of a 20 minute, non-violent protest in City Council Chambers last May. Although video evidence countered all charges, the jury decided against us – shocking but not surprising since the criminal justice system often has disastrous and unfair results for Black men.
The fight is not over. The sentencing hearing is next up and we are organizing and preparing now.
However, we also want to point out that the City Attorney is continuing to perpetrate the officers’ lies in their press release (one might question why they would do a press release on a misdemeanor trial to begin with – only supporting our theory that this case is a political and personal attack on Dogon, LA CAN and the Right to Housing Collective). The City’s entire description of events (bolded by LA CAN in release printed below) is exactly the two assault charges that the jury DID NOT CONVICT on. Dogon was found NOT GUILTY on two charges of assault on an officer – those charges were directly tied to these lies about digging nails into an officer and pinning an officer against a wall. In fact, it was Dogon who was the victim of use of force. The City’s lies and continued degradation of General Dogon, an amazing human rights organizer and human being, should not be tolerated by anyone.
Dogon’s personal statement reflecting on the trial is included at the bottom of this post. Stay tuned for updated information.
Press Release from the Los Angeles City Attorney:
|THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2011
LOS ANGELES MAN CONVICTED OF CLASHING WITH OFFICERS IN CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
LOS ANGELES – Following a five day jury trial, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury yesterday found a Los Angeles man guilty on multiple criminal counts for his role in a disturbance in City Council Chambers last May. Deputy City Attorney Brad Rothenberg successfully prosecuted the case.
Following less than an hour of deliberation, the jury found Steve Richardson guilty of eight counts of resisting arrest and one count of battery on a peace officer. Richardson was remanded into custody and sentencing has been scheduled for July 14 in Department 52 of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Richardson could face up to 9 years in county jail.
On May 21, 2010, the City Council was meeting to take up the issue of a rent increase freeze. About 40 protesters refused to leave after Councilman Zine asked the sergeant-at-arms to clear the chamber.As officers were escorting the protesters out, Richardson started pushing civilians into police officers and charging against the officers.Officers then attempted to arrest the defendant when he started to resist, grabbing an officer’s hand and burying his nails into the officer’s hand. Richardson also swung his arms and body at officers, pinning one officer against a wall, ripping another officer’s uniform, and kicking an additional officer.Richardson continued fighting even after being cuffed and taken into custody.
Note: Red print added by LA CAN – all of these made-up events and lies were linked to the two charges that Dogon for which he was found NOT GUILTY.
A message from General Dogon, upon his release from jail on July 7th:
In regards to the May 21,2010 incident in city hall, I’d like to take this time to personally thank the LA CAN members, L A Right to Housing Collective members (especially Union de Vecinos), Hippie Kitchen, and all other comrades and supporters for their continued and outstanding support throughout this trial. Thank you for turning out to fight for a just and needed cause. We know that anybody that stands up and speaks out against state oppression is a target of state oppression. Me and the other two other LA CAN members that were arrested that day understood this fact. Although the city dropped all charges against us in the beginning, they later re-filed 11 criminal charges against me only after I had torn up and threw back a violence prevention certificate that was given to me by the city. It wasn’t worth the paper it was written on after the violence they used against us.
During the trial, the city presented their case which only consisted of only cops for witnesses. Because every officer that took the stand in support of the city was caught up in lies and perjured themselves on the stand during questioning, we felt that all of the video that was supplied by the media and Right to Housing Collective members totally contradicted their statements so badly that we (my lawyer John Raphling and I) decided not to present a defense due to this fact. The city had the burden to prove their case in which we felt they did not do. The video clearly showed that “IT IS WHAT IT IS.” And that reality contradicted the statements of police over and over again. We know that there is a risk of putting on witnesses, as much as it is a risk to not put on witnesses. John and I have made many legal decisions together – including the ones that got me free from a 25-to-life sentence a couple of years ago when LAPD targeted me because of my organizing. We decided on this strategy and believe it was the best decision.
Obviously, the jury didn’t see anything the way we saw it and lived it. Yesterday, July 6, the jury found me guilty of 9 of the 11 counts. Although we don’t agree with this verdict, there is still a lot of work to be done. The next court date is July 14 (although it will likely be postponed a couple of weeks) and we plan to pump up the heat. We‘ll be calling on folks to continue this fight together. Once again I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support during this time……………all power to the people.