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Free Speech gets taken to court

Posted by Thomas Gordon on February 29, 2012

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Sam Aresheh was scheduled to make an appearance in court this morning to answer to charges being pursued by the City Attorney of Santa Ana.

What’s his crime?

Speaking up for what he believed in.

According to news reports Mr Aresheh was arrested for violating Santa Ana’s anti camping ordinance. Mr Aresheh was participating in the Occupy OC demonstration in the Santa Ana Civic Center and had erected a tent to escape the elements. He was warned that he would be be arrested and according to news reports from the scene, he and three others were surrounded by roughly 20 police officers and six police cars, including a crime scene investigation van and officers on horseback.

At the time of the arrest Santa Ana was teetering on the brink of insolvency yet somehow mustered up the resources to arrest, jail, criminally charge and pursue a court case against those arrested.

Three of those arrested accepted a plea deal from the Santa Ana City Attorney, while Mr Aresheh decided to face judge and jury.

To add insult to injury, the Santa Ana City Council took action to support the mission and goals of the Occupy movement and to recognize its right to the peaceful and lawful exercise of its First Amendment rights. I’m not in agreement with the message of Occupy, but I’ll always defend their right to free speech in a peaceful manner.

Councilmember Vincent Sarmiento requested that the Santa Ana City Attorney up the resolution and stated “We know that this city, in particular, is part of the 99 percent”

Councilmember Sal Tinajero stated that he and his son had visited Occupy NY and stated that “there is a tremendous amount of money and influence that goes into our government and that the occupiers see that there is a possibility that our democracy could get away from us”

Maybe they should talk to Interim City Attorney Joe Straka about dismissing all charges in the interest of our democracy and the First Amendment.

16 Responses to “Free Speech gets taken to court”

  1. Occupy LA cost over a million dollars to clean up. I am glad the Cit of Santa Ana didn’t allow that to happen here.

  2. junior said

    “Sal Tinajero stated that he … visited Occupy NY and stated that “there is a tremendous amount of money and influence that goes into our government ..”

    Does Sal intend to not take campaign contributions from those seeking to influence him – like developers?

    I don’t agree with you on this one Thomas. There are many legal ways to exercize First Amendment rights. Camping in Santa Ana is not one of those.

  3. junior said

    Oh s**t … look who agrees with me.

    I promised Chris & Chris ……………

  4. “Occupy LA cost over a million dollars to clean up. I am glad the Cit of Santa Ana didn’t allow that to happen here.”

    By whose estimates? The city’s? Aside from the fact that free speech should not be predicated on how much it will cost to clean up afterward, the City of LA, like Oakland, tried their best to ignore the issues brought forward by the #Occupy movement. Had they taken the time to pay attention to what the people of their city were saying, it may not have come to cleaning up the mess. And, I suspect most of LA’s costs were in overtime paid to the city police force for routing the transgressors.

    It is unfortunate that free speech, a fundamental right, is being abridged by our government for a variety of sham reasons. The #Occupy movement is, on its face, a pure form of free speech. The city of Santa Ana frequently doesn’t let it’s left hand know what it’s right hand is doing. Shame on them for trying to shut down.

    • junior said

      “.. free speech should not be predicated on how much it will cost to clean up afterward ..”

      Free speech is subject to reasonable regulation. Try yelling fire in a crowded theater. There are many more issues to consider than just the cost of clean up.

      What has the occupy movement accomplished?

      • I think the Occupy movement as a whole has made their main message clear. By the nature of the movment, however, it can be hard to pin down specifics.They have been criticized for that but I don’t think that is a real fault. Perhaps other sub-movements that have evolved should be responsible for that. And, police overtime has little similarity to yelling fire in a crowded theater as an example.

        • junior said

          It is an example of reasonable regulated free speech – same as not allowing camping in public is reasonable regulation of free speech.

          If you want free speech – get on a soap box in the public square and speech-a-fy all you want. Buy a radio, tv ad – comment on a blog – but don’t think that you go a-campin’ in the public.

          • But freedom of expression is not limited to speech. The Camp as a whole was a study in freedom of expession. But, you do raise an interesting question: why is it illgal to camp on public land?

    • junior said

      “The city of Santa Ana frequently doesn’t let it’s left hand know what it’s right hand is doing.”

      I heartily agree with that statement.

  5. Al Simmons said

    I can’t agree with you here Thomas. Like you, I would defend any legitimate attempt at Free Speech, but that’s not what this was.

    Mr. Aresheh could have said anything he wanted. That’s Free Speech. Hiding in a tent and daring the police to arrest you is not Free Speech.
    If he had complied with the police and simply exited his tent to make whatever statement he felt he was making, he would not have been arrested. To add insult to the city, he is now going to try and up the stakes by forcing the city to tie up a courtroom and empanel a jury (most likely comprised of 12 members of the 99% who can hardly afford to miss work for this nonsense) driving the cost for the government up instead of taking a reasonable plea bargain like all of the other protesters.
    This is a good example of how the occutards became part of the problem, and not part of any solution for the public.

    Can anyone explain what alleged Free Speech he was prevented from delivering? It seems that many others that were there with him found that they had no problems demonstrating their own Freedom of Speech, speaking out against government, the economy, and other evils of this world, even as the arrests were taking place.
    Mr. Arasheh was one of a very few people that decided they could only do that by breaking the law.

  6. junior said

    JG said: “.. you do raise an interesting question: why is it illgal to camp on public land?”
    From the Santa Ana Municipal Code: Sec. 10-400. – Purpose.

    The public streets and areas within the city should be readily accessible and available to residents and the public at large. The use of these areas for camping purposes or storage of personal property interferes with the rights of others to use the areas for which they were intended. The purpose of this article is to maintain public streets and areas within the city in a clean and accessible condition.

  7. junior said

    JG said: “You are stating the law, junior, but are not goving a reason why it is illegal.”

    The portion of the law which I posted states the purpose of the law – the reason.

    JG also said: “Laws can sometimes be injust or unconstitutional. I suspect anti-camping laws are both.”

    The Federal Court does not agree with you JG: “.. the Santa Ana ordinance is valid on its face. It does not impermissibly restrict the right to travel, does not permit punishment for status, and is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad,”

    http://prop1.org/legal/sa02.htm

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