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Forum Post: Occupy protesters indicted on felony charges in Houston .......again

Posted 10 years ago on Dec. 23, 2011, 3:45 p.m. EST by seshata (40) from Houston, TX
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

By Miranda Leitsinger, msnbc.com

Seven Occupy protesters were indicted on felony charges by a grand jury in Houston on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office says, in connection with their demonstration at the local port as part of a national day of action by the movement.

The decision comes nearly a week after a judge initially dismissed the charges, saying the protesters could not be charged with possessing or using a "criminal instrument" – a felony in Texas – for their use of PVC pipe.

The protesters -- three from Austin, four from Houston -- put their arms through the pipe and used latches on it to connect together, making their arrest more difficult but not preventing it, said one of their attorneys, Daphne Silverman, of the National Lawyer's Guild in Houston. Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, confirmed the indictment.

"They are feeling, 'wow,' is the word. ... They're in a lot of shock. They were very happy with the justice's decision last week, they believed in her, they believed in the justice system," Silverman said. "These people ... are not criminals. These folks are out there attempting to make the country better for all of us."

Silverman, who noted that she believed the law had been wrongly applied by the prosecutor, said it's likely the protesters will be back in court in January to talk about the next step, such as negotiations or to go to trial. If convicted, they face up to two years in jail.

Protester Dustin Phipps -- who is not one of the seven charged -- said it was a "strategic move" by local police to discourage others from participating in civil disobedience.

"We definitely plan on fighting it," said Phipps, 28, a pre-medical student at the University of Houston. "We're going to move forward ... with faith and determination because we understand we have the rights and the upper hand, and we're going to make sure justice is served."

The protesters had joined with other Occupy outfits across the country that were conducting port shutdowns on Dec. 12 to economically disrupt what they called "Wall Street on the waterfront.”

Arrests on felony arrests were occurring in other cities, such as Denver and New York. Civil rights lawyers have suggested the use of felony charges was another form of crackdown on the movement.

The Houston Police Department has used the "criminal instrument" against protesters on previous occasions, according to Attorney Randall Kallinen, who is representing one of the seven protesters. The charge usually does not hold up in court in such cases, but because it is a felony charge it has a chilling effect on would-be activists, he said.

"We’ve been seeing more of them (felony arrests), especially beginning of November," said Gideon Oliver of the lawyers guild in New York. The police and the district attorney’s office have discretion in determining the charges, "and so there are two sort of steps in the process where ... the police or the DA, if they conducted a reasonable investigation, I think, in a lot of these cases would realize that they’re overcharging."

Msnbc.com's Kari Huus contributed to this report. http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/20/9587551-occupy-protesters-indicted-on-felony-charges-in-houston




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[-] 2 points by FawkesNews (1290) 10 years ago

1,000,000 hateful riot police, no match for 10,000 righteous lawsuits....... SoonSue

[-] 2 points by Daphnesilvermandpatt (2) 10 years ago

In Houston, the police officers make the initial charging decision. Then, call a prosecutor in intake, assigned to sit by a phone and decide if they accept or reject the charges proposed by the officers. Sometimes, the prosecutor will reject or change the the charge but mmost of the times the cops get what they want In this case, we know the cops asked for the felony upfront and iit took some time for the prosecutors to decide. People were injured inside the tent but so far iit seems the injuries were minor. Double jeopardy had not attached when the judge found iit lacked probable cause.

[-] 2 points by moediggity (646) from Houston, TX 10 years ago

The charge was already dropped once and will be dropped again due to the law stating that you can't be charged twice for the same crime. Easy to beat bs charge is easy to beat.

[-] 0 points by HarryPairatestes2 (380) from Barrow, AK 10 years ago

Where did you go to law school?

[-] 1 points by moediggity (646) from Houston, TX 10 years ago

what part of "you can't be charged with the same crime twice" do you not understand? It was dropped once before, it'll be dropped again. Either pay attention, or piss off.

[-] 0 points by HarryPairatestes2 (380) from Barrow, AK 10 years ago

You can be charged multiple times for the same crime. Prosecutors do it often. They will charge you with a crime and dismiss it without prejudice if they need more time to investigate or a witness is not available. They can refile the charges if the statute has not yet run.

However, you cannot be charged for the same crime if you were already convicted or acquitted of that same crime. Double jeopardy, look it up.

Now again, which law school did you go to?

[-] 2 points by barbara12 (9) 10 years ago

It proves to all the world that the us people live in a police state, and that they have no rights- or more accurately a slave state were we (99%) are the slaves of the 1% who control the government, by bribes and the cops who are really paid mercenary's to control our behavior by threats and force. --- ows will get donations by the millions to help ows fight against the "satanic empire " (the great Satan)

[-] 2 points by BlueRose (1437) 10 years ago

You can trump up ANY charge, cops know this. Sad that Houston actually does it regularly. Cops are trained to think of protesters as felons who can't address grievances through voting. I mean these cops are BRAINWASHED. They need to chill, it's a little civil disobedience, not freaking felony terrorism.

[-] 2 points by CriticalThinker (140) 10 years ago

@ BlueRose ... The more I read from you the more concerned I become. You make sense and you're confounding the naysayers! LMAO

[-] 2 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 10 years ago
[-] 2 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 10 years ago

Did you hear about the Big Red Tent? The Houston Police and Fire Departments plus Homeland Security at the Houston Port Authority placed a tent on top of protesters to shield the view of onlookers.... http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.104514226332319.6146.100003212258430&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=112122845571457&set=a.104514226332319.6146.100003212258430&type=3&theater

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 10 years ago

I heard about it. It is all to make the issue seem like a bigger deal than it was, or to cover abuse of protesters. I will look at videos when I have time.

[-] -2 points by commonsense11 (195) 10 years ago

Shutting down ports is not civil disobedience. It is criminal behavior. No one has the right to do this. Find a different way to convey your message or prepare for prison!

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 10 years ago

commonsense11, No one has the right to do this?.......Didn't the Boston Tea Party block a port? Wasn't it seen as 'criminal behavior' to the British? In hindsight, wasn't it worth it?

[-] 1 points by commonsense11 (195) 10 years ago

Reasoning like this is why sane people are beginning to shun the movement. You can't even begin to compare the two events. The situation between the United States and England is nothing like your qualms with Big Corporations. People had no representation and no ability to affect change via democratic means 300 years ago. Today we do.

There are also many more avenues available to you today to your message heard. Three hundred years ago word traveled at a snails pace. Today with the media, cell phones, and internet people can be instantly informed. I have no desire to live in a world of bullies that feel like the can infringe on the personal rights and freedoms of others. We live in a nation where we all have the right to vote and change the course of history. Such was not he case during the American Revolution. Don't automatically blame the system when the real problem is the ignorant people voting and electing career politicians. We as a Nation are "Enablers". Your task should be to educate the masses and persuade a vote that will make changes.

I have no problem with anyone that blocks ports, traffic, or needlessly harasses individuals going to jail for a month for the first offense and much longer if they continue to engage in such behaviors.

Bottom line this country belongs to all of us not a few self entitled idiots that lack common sense and the vision to realize you won't change corporate America. You need to educate and change the minds of the nation and obtain change via our freedom to vote. It's not the system that is broken as so many like to point out, it's the people that are broken, continuing to elect the same idiots that have put us in our current situation.

[-] 1 points by buphiloman (840) 10 years ago

You show yourself to be a fool if you think that anyone or any group in this country can affect political change to the detriment of the .01%.

We are EVERY BIT as much under their collective thumb as the colonists were under the thumb of British Monarchy.

Wake Up.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 10 years ago

commonsense11, seems like there are even more 'sane people' on the way:

Occupy the Dream

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Guest Columnist
Thursday, 22 December 2011

The issue of income inequality in the United States demands our attention and social action. In particular in the African-American community, the economic inequities are so real and institutionalized; we are more and more aware of how the devastating impact of income inequality continues cause a downward spiral of the quality of life African-Americans and others who are entrapped in the deep mire of poverty, pain and hopelessness. The dream of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is just as relevant today as we move into 2012 as it was back in 1963 at the March on Washington.

Dr. King's dream was the American dream of freedom, justice and equality for all. Yet, we all should be reminded that by the beginning of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was very concerned and focused on the questions of poverty and systemic economic injustice. The Civil Rights Movement, with the historic coalition between the Black church, organized labor, liberal whites, Latinos, students and peace activists, and many others from a diversity of organizations, had reached a transformative stage in its evolution. The time had come to expose and challenge the diabolic connection between racial injustice and economic inequity.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) under Dr. King's leadership boldly called for a "Poor People's Campaign" to plan a massive "occupation" of Washington, DC in 1968 to challenge the prevailing and pervasive stranglehold of economic injustice not only for Black people, for all of "God's children." Rev. Andrew Young, at that time, was one of Dr. King's most trusted assistants. With respect to the call for the Poor People's Campaign, Young stated, "We intended to arouse the conscience of the nation around the issues of poverty as we had challenged the nation to reject segregation. We hoped the process of training and mobilization would empower poor people in a new social movement that transcended race."

Today, in just a few months time since their initial demonstrations, the Occupy Wall Street movement has been successful in staging major non-violent civil disobedient protests from New York City to Los Angeles and throughout the United States around the issues of income inequality and economic injustice. But beyond the growing number and size of the Occupy Wall Street protests, their greatest accomplishment thus far has been the raising of awareness on a national level about the contradictions of present-day income inequities and injustice.

That is why I am so grateful for the vision and responsible outreach of Russell Simmons, Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, Zach McDaniels, Bishop John R. Bryant, Rev. Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, Sr., and many other Black clergy leaders from across America who have affirmed, "Occupy the Dream" as ecumenical coalition of church leaders who are joining with the Occupy Wall Street movement to push for economic justice for all in the legacy of the dream of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We are part of the 99 percent who are challenging the one percent who increasingly control the wealth and future prosperity of the nation.

Occupy the Dream is the revitalization and revival of the spirit, consciousness and activism of the Black church community working in strategic coalitions with others to demand and acquire economic justice and equality. On January 16, 2012, we will be calling on the Black church and other people who believe in freedom, justice and equality to come out and demonstrate with us in front of Federal Reserve Banks across the nation in both a symbolic and substantive visible protest against the growing massive income inequality in America.

Occupy the Dream is about building the "Beloved Community" that Dr. King envisioned. Dr King said it best, "Change does not roll on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we much straighten our backs and work for our freedom." Yes, we must straighten our minds, backs, money, spirits and souls. We have to work for economic justice..... We have to work for the empowerment of all people. Occupy the Dream! Stop income inequality. The American Spring is coming in 2012. The freedom train is rolling.... Get on board today. Occupy the Dream.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is Senior Advisor for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and President of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN).


[-] 1 points by commonsense11 (195) 10 years ago

Those that impede the personal choice and freedoms of others are terroristic in nature. Attempting to block traffic, close ports, disrupt public transportation are disgusting acts. I support rounding up such individuals and allowing them to spend a few weeks in jail for if nothing else their utter stupidity.

Organizing and electing true representatives of the common man is the only acceptable course of action and utilizes our freedom to choose.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 10 years ago

commonsense11, so would you have rounded up abolistionist, woman suffrage activists, labor movement strikers, or black people who could not vote or get an even exchange for their taxed money in education or public facilities? The battle for liberty and justice in America always "impeded on the personal choice and freedoms of others" (the haves) who behaved 'terroristicly' on the weak and the oppressed (the have nots).

Do not be mistaken.......Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.(noted above) has led the NAACP before picking up Occupy the Dream.

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 10 years ago

Facing two years in jail, ridiculous! A judge already said the felony charges were stupid! What is wrong with Houston? I hope they sue the city. http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/20/9587551-occupy-protesters-indicted-on-felony-charges-in-houston#.TvI0XTI2bEM.twitter

[-] 1 points by randart (498) 10 years ago

Demand a jury trial of your peers. Cities are going broke and pretty soon they will not be able to afford the cost of stupid laws.

PVC pipe? Really?

Maybe everyone should attend the protests naked.

The system of government is not what they hold up as the example in the constitution. Those in power have obfuscated the meaning and spirit of the intended laws and are abusing them to circumvent the Bill of Rights.

This social change is not going to end well people. It is going to get ugly but there are more of us than there are of them.

[-] 1 points by rickMoss (435) 10 years ago

We need a better and smarter way to fight back. We need a smart revolution!

"WAKE UP PEOPLE!” when you've had enough of this nonsense this is where you go: Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( www.revolution2.osixs.org ) "Spread the News"

[-] 1 points by sammyl (3) 10 years ago

please post a free link to it--

[-] 0 points by blackbloc (-19) 10 years ago

criminal justice is a joke in this country we all know it, even if you won't admit it to yourself.

[-] 0 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 10 years ago

given such tactics it is clear we must stratagize methods to up the ante in those locals where this methodology is taking place.

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 10 years ago

I am typing to you from my place in florida, drinking coffee and so forth. You are wasting your time trying to discredit the movement by pretending that it's confined to college kids in NY.

[-] 0 points by mikePac (52) 10 years ago

This story is about LA and not NY.

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 10 years ago

The fact remains, your attempts are fruitless. Do you not have anything better to do? You are part of the solution or part of the problem. I can tell you right now you aren't part of the solution, you choose.

[-] -1 points by mikePac (52) 10 years ago

I have to admit that OWS does have a few good points but who wants to be part of a movement that is full of filth, drugs, rapes, murders, etc???

[-] 1 points by CriticalThinker (140) 10 years ago

full of filth, drugs, rapes, murders, etc. My, my, what news sources are you viewing? Seriously? If that were the case .... nevermind, it's lost on some.

Go back to eating the gruel. It's fortified with innuendo, rumors and propaganda, and 12 essential nutrients.

[-] 0 points by richardkentgates (3269) 10 years ago

As per usual, those folk don't have what it takes to see it to fruition. Only those with the maturity to do so will be here by spring. The rest will be back at the x-box with the newest copy of Call Of Duty. Hang out and see.

[-] -1 points by Occufridazzle (-19) 10 years ago

More to come. Someone just got stabbed in Eugene at a Occupy protest and I think they may of just died but the media is keeping silent. They did shut down the protests though overnight.

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 10 years ago

He did die. Doesn't seem to be any attempt to keep it quiet though, it made the local news outlets web sites, several of them. Unless you mean national media, one drunken fight ending in death is unfortunate but hardly national news.

[-] 0 points by Occufridazzle (-19) 10 years ago

I just heard it on the Metal station. How sad. The day before Christmas. Such senseless violence and for what? They might as well go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Im afraid this Occupy thing is only going to get more violent and destructive. Thats usually how these left-wingers end up.

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 10 years ago

This was an older guy, 50s, drunk, apparently looking for trouble because he'd been in several fights. Only thing it had to do with Occupy was the fact that their group just gave him a target.


[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 10 years ago

I honestly don't know what would have happened. If the dead man hadn't had that last drink, if he'd been with friends, if the street had been empty, if he'd gone home. Lots of if's are possible.

The news reports I read made me think the victim had been looking for a fight and had already been in at least one that night. Maybe he was anti-Occupy and he went there looking for trouble specifically from them. Maybe it would have been just anyone on the street he came across. Everyone has a right to be out in public without having a drunk start a fight with you.

[-] 0 points by Occufridazzle (-19) 10 years ago

No he was just a lowly homeless man and they invaded his home which is the park. You see they survive on donations and with all the penniless occupiers there they cant get any sleep nor find anybody with some donations. Thats all they had left. Then they know they are going to soon get kicked out. They are doing this to the homeless all over the nation. It was real bad for them in Portland. Thats the reality for these people and I do feel for them because I have been homeless. I have no feelings for the pathetic communist punks that call themselves occupiers.