It was a week ago on July 6 that a jury found Steve Richardson aka as General Dogon, a L.A. CAN community organizer guilty of 9 of 11 trumped up misdemeanor charges. He was charged with 8 counts of resisting arrest and one count of battery of an officer (battery supposedly by “burying his nails in the officers hands”). General Dogon is facing these charges over the non-violent protest that happened last May in the L.A. City Council Chambers. Dogon, myself and another LA CAN member were taken to jail after police used excessive force to removed us from the chambers. Channel 5 footage (below) clearly shows protesters being pushed to the back of the chambers when police start storming on General Dogon and pushing him to the wall. The footage shows how Dogon was attack by police officers and counters the jury decision that he was resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
The jury’s decision does not surprised any of Dogon’s friends and supporters given that the criminal justice system has been the platform for the police to get away with almost anything while innocent people and majority people of color have suffered the consequences of a [messed] up racist system.
General Dogon’s trial was not just because he resisted arrest. The real reason that General Dogon was put on trial by the LAPD was because of his community organizing in Skid Row. He has been a very vocal leader against the Safer Cities Initiatives (SCI) and his leadership in the community has made the police very uncomfortable. He has documented the police actions via LA CAN’s Community Watch program. General Dogon is a well respected leader in the community.
Let it be known that the case of Steve Richardson is a political case. It’s a case against activist who struggle for human and civil rights. L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is seeking to criminalize political dissent. Carmen and the LAPD are going for people like Dogon. The cops are trying to find anyway they can to prevent Dogon from continuing his job as a community organizer. It is important that people understand the connection between the case of Dogon and upholding our 1st amendment rights.
Here is video of the May 21st incident. One will clearly see General Dogon being slammed to the wall by several police officers.
To read my thoughts on the May 21st incident, check the post I wrote earlier this year:
Here is info on Dogon’s case being broadcast on Uprising Radio.
Here is Dogon’s message:
In regards to the May 21,2010 incident in city hall, I’d like to take this time to personally thank the LA CAN members, L.A. Right to Housing Collective members (especially Union de Vecinos), Hippie Kitchen, and all other comrades and supporters for their continued and outstanding support throughout this trial. Thank you for turning out to fight for a just and needed cause. We know that anybody that stands up and speaks out against state oppression is a target of state oppression. Me and the other two other LA CAN members that were arrested that day understood this fact. Although the city dropped all charges against us in the beginning, they later re-filed 11 criminal charges against me only after I had torn up and threw back a violence prevention certificate that was given to me by the city. It wasn’t worth the paper it was written on after the violence they used against us.
During the trial, the city presented their case which only consisted of only cops for witnesses. Because every officer that took the stand in support of the city was caught up in lies and perjured themselves on the stand during questioning, we felt that all of the video that was supplied by the media and Right to Housing Collective members totally contradicted their statements so badly that we (my lawyer John Raphling and I) decided not to present a defense due to this fact. The city had the burden to prove their case in which we felt they did not do. The video clearly showed that “IT IS WHAT IT IS.” And that reality contradicted the statements of police over and over again. We know that there is a risk of putting on witnesses, as much as it is a risk to not put on witnesses. John and I have made many legal decisions together – including the ones that got me free from a 25-to-life sentence a couple of years ago when LAPD targeted me because of my organizing. We decided on this strategy and believe it was the best decision.
Obviously, the jury didn’t see anything the way we saw it and lived it. Yesterday, July 6, the jury found me guilty of 9 of the 11 counts. Although we don’t agree with this verdict, there is still a lot of work to be done. The next court date is July 14th (although it will likely be postponed a couple of weeks) and we plan to pump up the heat. We‘ll be calling on folks to continue this fight together. Once again I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support during this time……………all power to the people.
Go to LA CAN’s blog to read more about General Dogon being unfairly convicted, read the City Attorney press release of Dogon’s case and how LAPD continues their battle against members of LA CAN. Follow their blog by going to http://cangress.wordpress.com/ and find ways how you can support General Dogon.
Here is a footage of the police arresting the co-director of LA CAN, Pete White, hours after General Dogon was wrongfully convicted. Let me also include a footnote. LA CAN members along with several organizations have protested past Skid Row walks without ever being arrested.
Dogon’s next court date is set for Thursday, July 14th.