California Occupy Activists Charged With ... Lynching
Sergio Ballesteros interfered with protester arrest, say authorities
By Mary Papenfuss, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2012 2:46 AM CST
Updated Jan 18, 2012 4:20 AM CST
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(Newser) – In a bizarre twist, two Occupy California activists have been busted for ... lynching. Under California law the crime involves “taking by means of a riot any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer." Of course the 1933 law was intended to save people from vigilantes, particularly blacks from racists—not activists pulled away from police to protect them from the slammer. Occupy activist Sergio Ballesteros, 30, is being charged with the felony because investigators say he interfered with the arrest of a drummer who stepped off a curb to join an LA protest last week. Ballesteros told MSNBC that he was "startled" by the rough treatment of the drummer, and joined the crowd surrounding police. Suddenly, Ballesteros was on the ground being handcuffed. If convicted of lynching, Ballesteros faces up to four years in prison.

Oakland activist Tiffany Tran, 23, was also charged last month with lynching, though prosecutors opted, for the time being, not to press the charges, the San Francisco Bay Guardian reports. So far, lynching charges in similar cases have been dropped. But "felonies really heighten the stakes for the protesters," warned the director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. "One always has to be on the lookout for exaggerated interpretations of legal rules that attempt to punish or squelch protesters."

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Showing 3 of 27 comments
Jan 18, 2012 10:55 AM CST
It is sad but America is getting closer and closer to a third world country status. When the young people of a country has no say, can you say Iran.
Jan 18, 2012 8:47 AM CST
Sound just a bunch of hillbillies.. Go California!!!
Jan 18, 2012 7:04 AM CST
police state;when the police can arrest you and punish you for standing up for your rights,and tell every one that your the bad guy a lyncher at that....i wish to see some police lynched for they horrible behavior and treatment of people.......just where do the police think they are at china?you cant beat people and lie on people and expect that you the police can get away it ,do you?cause you cant, them days are over..start treating people like they are your mom or dad and quit abusing the people,cause we will fight back!!!!!!!!!!!!! and there is more of us that there is of police