Peaceful protest turns violent
Occupy demonstrators face arraignment for charges stemming from incident outside Civic Auditorium
Four Occupy Los Angeles protesters face arraignment next week on charges that include assault on an officer, felony incitement to riot and obstruction of justice following a Nov. 14 demonstration in front of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where former Mexican President Vicente Fox was speaking.
Benjamin Torres, 29, of Pasadena, Ulises Hernandez, 21, of Van Nuys, Alejandro Torres, 22, of San Pedro and Christopher Wohlers, 23, of Long Beach, are set to appear in court Nov. 30 after an encounter with police that occurred when the four men tried to show a film, “Indigenous Struggles/Zapatistas,” outside the auditorium during Fox’s speech.
Police said problems began when about 50 Occupy protesters attempted to push by officers in an attempt to enter the auditorium, where Fox was speaking. Previously, officials say, some of the protesters had blocked entrances to the building and officers were kicked and struck in the back, according to Pasadena Police Lt. Phlunte Riddle.
“It was a planned protest,” said local attorney Philip Koebel, who is representing Hernandez. “They were there to provide non-violent protest and show a movie by projecting it on the wall. When they arrived, they were prevented from getting in front of the Civic Center. Some jostling occurred. We believe Ulises is innocent of any alleged crime. He never had any contact with the police. The police had no reason to start beating anyone up, and they formed a reason after the fact.”\
Hernandez was released Saturday on $50,000 bail, according to Koebel. He is a member of a family whose foreclosed home in Van Nuys was seized late October after three months of seizure by Occupy San Fernando. Hernandez was arrested and released on $590 bail two days after that incident.
Benjamin Torres, a veteran who served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine medic and now works as a caregiver to a 93-year-old Echo Park woman, was released from custody Friday. Of the four men, only Alejandro Torres, who is no relation to Benjamin Torres, remained in custody. He had a failure to appear in another recent case and is still being held on $100,000 bail, Riddle said Monday.