A new charge has been aimed at Occupy activists: lynching. Sergio Ballesteros, 30, was recently arrested on the charge of lynching. According to the California penal code, lynching is described as “taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer.” This can completely change the way that protesters demonstrate as a protester might be worried of going to jail for up to 4 years. It might also provide more protection for the police.
Ballesteros says he was just standing up for Adam Alders, a drum-playing protester who was treated rough by the police. Booked on a felony charge, he was then released on a $50,000 bail. Ballesteros says that “They don’t have much,” when asked about the case against him.
Baher Azmy, legal director at Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, said: “Felonies really heighten the stakes for the protesters. I think in situations where there are mass demonstrations and a confrontation between protesters and police, one always has to be on the lookout for exaggerated interpretations of legal rules that attempt to punish or squelch the protesters.” Sergio Ballesteros was certainly not the first to be arrested on a lynching charge. Tiffany Tran, 23, was also charged for lynching in December, so the trend is certainly extremely worrying. When asked how she feels about it, Tiffany Tran said: “Now I feel I can’t go out and express myself as I should be able to.”
See the Ballesteros video below with the crowd chanting “let him go”: