Undercover agents kidnap peaceful citizen journalists and demonstrators
January 19, 2014
Paramilitary forces decked out in riot gear met hundreds of peaceful demonstrators convening on the streets of Fullerton, California yesterday, arresting citizens who filmed at the site where 37-year-old homeless man Kelly Thomas was brutally savaged to death by no less than six officers.
Until then, police had cooly ignored protesters as they jammed the streets in objection of a verdict last Monday, which acquitted the two officers who chiefly instigated the beating that led to Thomas’ eventual death. Protesters also called for the resignation of Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes.
Moments before several demonstrators were taken into custody, police had issued a dispersal order, calling the group an “unlawful assembly.” (In fact, the right to peaceably assemble is one of the freedoms expressly enshrined in the First Amendment.)
The order supposedly stemmed from reported protester violence on a CBS-2 cameraman. “The reporter sought shelter in the news van as several people surrounded the vehicle,” reported The Los Angeles Times, after which police began arresting people who refused to leave.
Additionally, police declared protesters were impeding traffic, claims OC Weekly writer R. Scott Moxley directly refutes.
“Revealingly, the police complained that protesters were blocking traffic, but–in truth–it was the cops (armed with military-style weapons) who completely shutdown the street,” Moxley wrote, documenting the events in real time.
“We have bent over backward today to allow them to protest, hoping to keep it peaceful,” Fullerton Police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said in a soundbite picked up by the L.A. Times.
One protester who was broadcasting a live stream of the events via U-stream, was also taken into custody as soon as night fell. In the final two minutes of her last upload (below), activist PMBeers can be heard complaining of her arrest as silhouettes of police haul away demonstrators in unmarked vehicles.
Warning: Strong language
“PMBeer had been live streaming for more than an hour before that, reporting that police had arrested other photographers as protesters and police squared off with each other in the streets,” reports Carlos Miller.
There were also unconfirmed rumors that police had shut off cell service in the area, which would have effectively prevented protesters from broadcasting live Internet streams.
Amid the chaos, the City of Fullerton’s website as well as the Fullerton Police Department website were made temporarily unavailable, possibly by hacker group Anonymous who was apparently organizing recruits under the Twitter hashtag #opfullerton. The group of “hacktivists” had previously taken down the sites in 2011 immediately following Thomas’ brutal beating.
Although the FBI has already vowed to re-examine the events that led to Thomas’ death, a concerned citizen has opened a petition on the White House website calling for the Obama Administration to file federal charges against officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, in light of their acquittal.
Below are photos posted to Twitter of the protest: