Friday, December 30, 2011

It Is To Laugh, Part 2

Last week I noted the outsourcing of justice by the Los Angeles City Attorney's office with respect to those Occupy L.A. protesters arrested for occupying the City Hall lawn. This week, the City Attorney has shown more creativity. That office is considering filing a suit against Occupy L.A. to recover the costs of protesters' exercise of their First Amendment rights.

From an editorial in the Los Angeles Times:

With the Occupy L.A. encampment dismantled, the city is left with the task of refurbishing the battered grounds of City Hall and tallying up the costs of the occupation. Officials estimate the city spent $1.7 million in overtime for police enforcement. Graffiti must be removed from three monuments. And it could cost $400,000 to repair the irrigation system and replace the lawn (if the city upgrades to desertscaping). These are not insignificant figures, but suing the Occupy L.A. protesters to foot the bill — an option, according to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich — is wrong.

Of course it's wrong, especially since the City Council and the mayor's office both supported the protesters and welcomed them to stay as long as they'd like at City Hall. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich apparently has other ideas, apparently believing that will end the protests against a disconnect between government and 99% of its citizens. Irony is not dead.

Why the threat of a law suit? Well, it's a tool frequently used by the city:

The protesters did sue first, notes William Carter, Trutanich's chief deputy. In three lawsuits, groups representing the occupiers alleged civil rights violations before they were evicted, asking the courts for an injunction against eviction and for costs associated with their suits as well as any other relief deemed appropriate. Any time the city is sued, its attorneys consider countersuing, according to Carter.

How ... adult. "They started it!"

Once again, the editorial board has gotten it right (something I have to admit is happening more frequently):

... the City Council should drop any thought of trying to get its money back. That's one cost a city must bear for being open to all.


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