Immigrants’ rights activists and their supporters rallied outside the criminal courts building Monday in downtown Los Angeles. They took issue with LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s move to prosecute some actions during protests last year as misdemeanors rather than infractions.
Paulina Gonzalez was arrested during a Los Angeles protest against Arizona’s new immigration law. Misdemeanor charges mean she could face at least three months in jail.
“In Arizona, the home of SB 1070, the protesters who were arrested, their charges have been dropped,” she said. “But here in Los Angeles, where the city Council voted to boycott Arizona because of this law, Carmen Trutanich is targeting activists and attempting to criminalize activism.”
Gonzales participated in a protest this past May that blocked traffic around the federal detention center in downtown Los Angeles.
Trutanich barred plea negotiations with those arrested and is seeking up to a year of jail time for them. He said they disrupted traffic and cost the city thousands of dollars in police time. Trutanich said he wants to discourage those who stage illegal protests. Critics said he is chilling free speech.
Trutanich told KPCC’s Larry Mantle on AirTalk Monday that he’s not targeting protesters because of their message, but because their actions have disrupted commerce and other people’s lives.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.