Occupy LA protestors who were arrested in December have been told that they can avoid a court trial…if they pay $355 to a private company that will “educate” them about their free speech rights. The class is being offered to protestors who were arrested on low-level misdemeanor offenses and do not have a prior criminal history.
Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter claims that the educational program, offered by the American Justice League, will save the city money by avoiding the need for a trail. Protestors who complete the class successfully will not face any charges.
As if the idea of paying off a private company to avoid legal troubles weren’t offensive enough, Carter elaborated on the need for the class, telling the LA Times, “The first amendment is not absolute.” He believes that protestors need to be educated about the “limits” of the first amendment – presumably to make life more convenient for the LAPD.
An attorney who’s worked closely with Occupy LA says the class is “patronizing,” maintaining that nothing the protestors did was against the law. Meanwhile, the city is looking at the possibility of expanding the class, offering it as an option to antiwar demonstrators and students upset with tuition hikes.
It remains to be seen if any protesters decide to take the city up on the offer.
Photo by: AndYaDontStop