Dear Editor- LAPD Arrests the Truth at Occupy LA

My name is Patrick Meighan, and I’m a husband, a father, a writer on the Fox animated sitcom “Family Guy”, and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.

I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” when 1,400 heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we chanted “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”

As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.

When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had the following done to him: an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the protestor’s legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor’s left foot to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab the protestor’s right foot and twist it all the way the other direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor.

It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.

My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm.

I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel on the hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.

At 9 a.m. we were finally taken from the pavement into the station to be processed. The charge was sitting in the park after the police said not to. It’s a misdemeanor. Almost always, for a misdemeanor, the police just give you a ticket and let you go. It costs you a couple hundred dollars. Apparently, that’s what happened with most every other misdemeanor arrest in LA that day.

With us Occupy LA protestors, however, they set bail at $5,000 and booked us into jail. Almost none of the protesters could afford to bail themselves out. I’m lucky and I could afford it, except the LAPD spent all day refusing to actually *accept* the bail they set. If you were an accused murderer or a rapist in LAPD custody that day, you could bail yourself right out and be back on the street, no problem. But if you were a nonviolent Occupy LA protestor with bail money in hand, you were held long into the following morning, with absolutely no access to a lawyer.

I spent most of my day and night crammed into an eight-man jail cell, along with sixteen other Occupy LA protesters. My sleeping spot was on the floor next to the toilet.

Finally, at 2:30 the next morning, after twenty-five hours in custody, I was released on bail. But there were at least 200 Occupy LA protestors who couldn’t afford the bail. The LAPD chose to keep those peaceful, non-violent protesters in prison for two full days… the absolute legal maximum that the LAPD is allowed to detain someone on misdemeanor charges.

As a reminder, Antonio Villaraigosa has referred to all of this as “the LAPD’s finest hour.”

So that’s what happened to the 292 women and men were arrested last Wednesday. Now let’s talk about a man who was not arrested last Wednesday. He is former Citigroup CEO Charles Prince. Under Charles Prince, Citigroup was guilty of massive, coordinated securities fraud.

Citigroup spent years intentionally buying up every bad mortgage loan it could find, creating bad securities out of those bad loans and then selling shares in those bad securities to duped investors. And then they sometimes secretly bet *against* their *own* bad securities to make even more money. For one such bad Citigroup security, Citigroup executives were internally calling it, quote, “a collection of dogshit”. To investors, however, they called it, quote, “an attractive investment rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser”.

This is fraud, and it’s a felony, and the Charles Princes of the world spent several years doing it again and again: knowingly writing bad mortgages, and then packaging them into fraudulent securities which they then sold to suckers and then repeating the process. This is a big part of why your property values went up so fast. But then the bubble burst, and that’s why our economy is now shattered for a generation, and it’s also why your home is now underwater. Or at least mine is.

Anyway, if your retirement fund lost a decade’s-worth of gains overnight, this is why.

If your son’s middle school has added furlough days because the school district can’t afford to keep its doors open for a full school year, this is why.

If your daughter has come out of college with a degree only to discover that there are no jobs for her, this is why.

But back to Charles Prince. For his four years of in charge of massive, repeated fraud at Citigroup, he received fifty-three million dollars in salary and also received another ninety-four million dollars in stock holdings. What Charles Prince has *not* received is a pair of zipcuffs. The nerves in his thumb are fine. No cop has thrown Charles Prince into the pavement, face-first. Each and every peaceful, nonviolent Occupy LA protester arrested last week has has spent more time sleeping on a jail floor than every single Charles Prince on Wall Street, combined.

The more I think about that, the madder I get. What does it say about our country that nonviolent protesters are given the bottom of a police boot while those who steal hundreds of billions, do trillions worth of damage to our economy and shatter our social fabric for a generation are not only spared the zipcuffs but showered with rewards?

In any event, believe it or not, I’m really not angry that I got arrested. I chose to get arrested. And I’m not even angry that the mayor and the LAPD decided to give non-violent protestors like me a little extra shiv in jail (although I’m not especially grateful for it either).

I’m just really angry that every single Charles Prince wasn’t in jail with me.

Thank you for letting me share that anger with you today.

Patrick Meighan


  1. Thank you for publishing Patrick’s account of this event. I appreciate his unvarnished honesty and especially the contrast between the treatment these nonviolent protestors received while real criminals thrive and prosper.

  2. Patrick, my deepest love to you. & my love to the LAPD & all the misguided fools that are hurting this country because they do not love each other or themselves. I hope soon that everyone will realize that we have been lacking this thing most drastically between us, love, not money. If we loved each other we would not treat others this way. But the world is watching now & there will be more people who desire to become part of a global humanitarian movement than ever before over the next few years. I thank you for protesting, because I am too afraid to. Thank you for doing that for me…

  3. Why wasn’t there a specific protest against Citigroup? It’s my opinion that the point of all the protests was to bring attention to a cause that most of the millions of media watching public still can’t define. Wouldn’t protesting a targeted company be more effective overall? What does a park or street, where traffic should flow for the 1% to go to their jobs every day, have anything to do with Citigroup?

  4. I’m sorry you had to endure physical violence and arrest.

    To be clear when the police/authorities ask you to vacant and you refuse and sit peacefull. it’s still considered resisiting arrest. you made a conscience effort to join the protest and that means you maybe in harm’s way.

    i watch out of my office window Occupy SF and all i see is drinking, bon-go playing and pot smoking; all fine but it does not tell me what they stand for. Get a unified statement across all Occupy cities. Share with me your action plan on how to fix the problems. Complaining will not do.

    Don’t sit around and talk about change, we already have that it’s called Congress.

    You’re a writer…we’re in an age of hyper media you can easily make an impact shining light on corruption instead of getting arrested, putting yourself or others in harms way and wasting tax dollars to clean up the debris and human matter left on sidewalks.

    Look at the bigger picture– banks are not the evil, they’re the tip of the iceberg. Look underneath it you’ll find the law makers who allowed the corruption.

    ‘the truth’ was lost in the Occupy drama not just arrested.

  5. I wonder if the arrestees can sue for police brutality and property damage. I know that it will cost the city money that they cannot really afford, but it might put a damper on future abuses.

  6. Thank You for painting such a vivid picture of your awful experience. Thank you for the juxtaposition of all brave protesters to the organized criminals who continue to profit from their crimes & the misery of the 99%. Thank you for you courage & integrity. Thank you on behalf of all the ignorant people I am forced to defend you to who will one day benefit from your pain while ridiculing you for your unselfish representAtion of the 99%.

  7. One definite good to come from your ordeal and that of your fellow victims is that more and more Americans are seeing the direct evidence we live in a police state. The power elites are showing they have only one tool to deal with citizen anger and protest: violence. The police brutality and torture of peaceful protesters is not an accident; it is the consistent nationwide response to this growing challenge to state power.

    Welcome to #OccupyHollywood. I salute you, Patrick! Julian Assange says, “Courage is contagious.” I hope your experience wakes up your colleagues and helps them find the courage to join the global movement for peace and social justice. With their words AND their bodies.

  8. thank you for what you went through and thank you for getting this story out there. I agree with you completely and I stand with you ~Kaitlin a member of Occupy Little Rock

  9. I agree with you entirely. Every time I hear about an Occupy incident it makes my soul hurt that I’m not not right beside those men and women. How can we ever step forward as a country and as a people if our government can’t, and even seems to refuse to fix this very real, very serious problem that affects everyone.

  10. If you are the Patrick Meighan you say you are (not trying to be offensive, just checking my facts), I just want to say thank you for coming so far forward about these events, and on behalf of those Americans who are awake – I’m sorry I wasn’t there with you. I’m sorry I don’t know how to protect you and all those others whose rights have been so abused by those sworn to protect and serve them. I salute you for your courage and conviction.

  11. i support you. for now i am working and a mother, so my time is not available to be in bodily support. my teaching job is in trouble and soon i will be joining the masses of the unemployed and i hope to be able to join the movement.

  12. Thanks for your cd arrest. I couldn’t be there for this one, I wish I could have. I have been arrested for cd numerous times (anti-war). No matter how non-violent you are, the cops are nasty in small, spiteful ways. Wrenching shoulders when your arms are behind your back, etc. They are well versed in how to slyly hurt the arrestee. I once asked a cop who’d just nearly dislocated my shoulders why he felt the need to do that to a peaceful demonstrator. He grinned and said “Because I can.” Let’s face it, no one who is normal psychologically becomes a cop, there’s always some undercurrent of sadism and power tripping there. If you get arrested, they are gonna show you who’s boss. It sucks. But thank you for walking point for the rest of us on this one, Patrick. And yeah, Charles Prince should be sent to jail forever for his crimes.


    Thank you Patrick. You serve as our shock troop, in an army of ordinary citizens, crushed by History. Because we lock our arms together, they are threatened. Because we stand for unity, they are threatened. Because you are willing to withstand this worst indignation, our cause is furthered. My gratitude is overflowing. I am surrounded by friends whose homes have been fraudulently forclosed upon, whose fragile health could not be supported by their entitlement (yes, they paid for it) insurance, whose family has fallen forever apart, all crushed by the same History. May we survive to see the day that Justice is done.

  14. Thanks for sharing your story.

    I’m super pissed Mr Prince isn’t in prison right now, too.
    But I guess I just don’t see the direct affective correlation between you camping in a park and Mr Prince going to prison.

  15. That kind of brutality and courts that do not recognize civil rights and laws in civl actions with a congress that is unconstitutional relating to Article V of the US Constitution, establish it is time for a lawful and peaceful rebellion.

    Article V is that revolution that Thomas Jefferson mentioned. This is where the principles of the republic come under the ultimate control of the people democratically.

    Lessig power point on article V

    Lots of facts here about Article V.

    Article V conference, Lawrence Lessig at harvard 9/25/11-other attendee video comments

    Optimizing and preparing for an Article V convention.

    Our first and last constitutional right. If we fail to use it . . . . we lose them all.

  16. Hi mate, i am from Serbia.
    Most of us are shocked by how brutal police in USA are. Even on Slobodan Miloshevich time police didn’t show such a brutality like i see on protesters when one of Nazi policeman put spray on faces of people who was just sited down peacefully protesting. Jesus man, that angry me like fire! In Serbia they will be beaten like animals because of that.

    I don’t know what to say brother, keep your head up, world watching and the most psychopathic government will fall down in USA and GB. Be assured my brother.

  17. bernie madoff wasn’t arrested, convicted and sentenced to a zillion years in prison because he stole billions but because he stole billions from the rich.

    that the 46,000 Occupy Los Angeles “Likes” on facebook didn’t surround the police action was what really broke my heart. i think the oppurtunity of a generation has been wasted.

    thank you for your effort, sorry for you pain Patrick. Eat The Rich!!!

  18. We should look for ways to detach ourselves – every single one of us – from inferior products of global capitalism. We should grow our own food, build our own gadgets, generate our own electricity and share our experience and knowledge with the world, for free of course.

    This is the only way to build a better future.

  19. I’ll admit, I read this at first because the author writes for Family Guy. But it’s just further (and well-written) evidence of our descent into a Banana Republic. And not the kind that has billboards of people riding bikes in scarves and nice suits.

  20. Thank you Patrick for sharing your experience and pointing out so clearly just how much the authority in our country only “steps on” the innocent. Out of fear of retaliation from the extremely rich, extremely guilty members of our society, the authorities step back and take no action. How do these authorities go home and explain to their children what they did that day and why they don’t arrest and persecute the people who have no issues with destroying our country.

  21. Really informative and I thank you for writing about your experience. I’m sorry you had to go through this but I appreciate your standing up for all of us and taking the time to share your first hand account. I hope your nerve damage heals.

  22. Thank you, Patrick, for explaining what happened those days. I have several friends who ‘went missing’ that Wednesday night. I only wish that the rest of Amerika (yes, I spelled it incorrectly on purpose) would wake up and insist that something be done. Maybe if people like you, who have a voice, will continue to speak out about the atrocities committed, the rest of our country will support this movement and there will actually be a change.
    Signed, A supporter who can’t go out to protest because I’m a caregiver for a diabetic mother and can’t take the chance of getting locked up.

  23. I guess you should have left before they came in. As children we learn about consequences for our actions. Apparently you did not.

  24. Great writing. Sorry about your hand, and hope it gets better.

    I also don’t understand those who are so cynical that they’d chastise you for trying to make this country a better place.

  25. Rick. Human decency is a credential this country was founded upon. I completely believe Patrick. If what he says is true, then what has happened to him is a tragic referendum on how far our country has gone from its intended values.

    It’s not right that any peaceful protester be treated as such by a government agent. Any government employee, especially a policeman, is responsible for safeguarding the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens. It is not within their rights to use intimidation and violent bullying to impose peace. Leave that to the backwards countries that don’t have a real republic.

    This report has left me very conflicted. I have always wanted to trust our cops, and believe they hold my best interest at heart as a law-abiding citizen. Is this the state of only the LAPD, or part of a larger trend among all “security” or “constabulary” personnel? I think there needs to be widespread probing into reports of police brutality, from the lowest level to the highest.

  26. Thank you, Patrick, for your efforts on our behalf and for sharing your experience. I’m truly sorry to hear about the damage you have sustained.

    Rick, the semi-anonymous poster (#3), it seems you are arguing that the consequences of Patrick’s actions should have been foreseen and he deserved everything he got. I believe Patrick expected to be arrested. A reasonable person would expect their property to be confiscated. The level of violence and abuse and destruction that was perpetrated by the police in this case is not reasonable. No one in the United States would expect such treatment for such an offense. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous and disingenuous.

    We can and will disagree. In a democracy, disagreement and debate are healthy and should be encouraged. Violence in response to disagreement and expression is NOT a part of our ideals.

  27. Police are trained and instructed to handcuff and zip tie in a way that will not injure you. The nerve damage you’ve sustained is due to negligence on the part of the officer and pd and makes them liable for your hospital bills. I’m not suggesting to sue them just to stick it to them…just offering some information for you to use if you like.

  28. That is horrible.Your account of the events proves once more. The triangle of power, money and deception is scared of the occupy movement. Their scare tactics will not work as it has not worked world over. People do not forget and people do not forgive. Change will come. Stand tall Patrick, you have done good.

  29. Everyone should read this article. This kind of brutal response to non-violent demonstration is unacceptable under any circumstances, anywhere.

  30. Really Rick? And what message do you suppose the thieves and fraudsters from Wall Street are sending our children? How is it that in America, free speech is considered a greater threat than trespassing on public property?

  31. Dear Rick:

    Fortunately for many of us, other folks, such at Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Rosa Parks, and Nelson Mandella also knew and accepted the consequences for their actions. Had they left before the authorities came in, our world would be a poorer place. When the government is wrong, men of conscience MUST step forward or else fascism reigns.

    Patrick, thank you for sharing, and thank you for your courage.

  32. @Rick.

    Did you not READ the entire thing? He understood the consequence of joining OWS. He knew he’d likely go to jail as a protester. He says:

    “In any event, believe it or not, I’m really not angry that I got arrested. I chose to get arrested. And I’m not even angry that the mayor and the LAPD decided to give non-violent protestors like me a little extra shiv in jail (although I’m not especially grateful for it either).

    I’m just really angry that every single Charles Prince wasn’t in jail with me.”

    What happened to standing up for what you believe in? What happened to the right to peaceful protest? What happened to compassion for other human beings, regardless of your own beliefs? Hearing about people suffering brutality at the hands of officers who are charged with protecting us warrants fills me with righteous indignation and rage.

    As children, we learn about compassion and empathy for our fellow man. Apparently, you did not.

  33. Rick there are a lot of bigger consequences at hand here than getting arrested. Patric stood up for his civil rights and was not afraid of the consequences this makes him a hero not uneducated. As children we learn about entegeraty. Apparently you did not.

  34. @Rick is correct.

    @Patrick: You saw how the NYC and Toronto Occupy events ended. You knew that the protestors would not leave willingly and peacefully without being forced to. There were consequences for ticking off the rest of the city/state/country you live in – and a hard lesson was learned.

    If there is a next time, when you are told to leave or see police coming in, it is time to quietly and calmly claim that you plan to disperse and then do so.

    The park you occupied was not yours – if you didn’t intend to use it as designed you will be asked to leave. If you decided to stay well past your time and link arms to facilitate awkward removal vs. willingly walk out and leave you need to accept that there can/would likely be a less-than-desired consequence for those actions.

  35. This is getting shared and shared again on Facebook. I live in Pasadena. It has really had me start to think about L.A.’s “Union Organizer” Mayor and what he has said.

  36. @ rick: why should being brutalized by the police and held for 25 hours even though you can post bail immediately be a consequence of civil disobedience/peaceful protest? arrest is a consequence that those who participate in civil disobedience expect and accept; that’s why civil disobedience is such a powerful act. but physical and psychological abuse is not a necessary or proper consequence. have a little human compassion, dude.

  37. @Rick….I guess you were brought up in a home where it was better to be seen than heard. Not in my house, with loving parents and a happy family who learned what is right…and what is obviously wrong. If you do not see how wrong this police actin was, then I’m sure you won’t mind when someday – and it will happen – you get a knock on your door from LAPD. Make sure you leave your house immediately – and don’t look back or else you might be charged with resisting arrest.

    In the meantime, Patrick, as an attorney I cannot believe that you do not have a cause of action against the mayor, the city and the PD. The laws of this country are to be applied equally and it is clear that that is not what happened to you and anyone associated with The Occupy Movement.

    Thank you for standing firm. For representing all of us who are tired of the bribes, policies and actions of a government that is bought and sold by corporate Amerika (to borrow Laura’s spelling). This will not stop us. We will prevail. We must – for the future of this country and democracy.

  38. You’ve made a good point for your side, but…nobody is protesting the police, or the justice system. Maybe you are protesting the wrong thing?

  39. @rick Since when did the consequences for non violently protesting, become nerve damage, physical abuse, and holding someone against their will(he had the bail money, he should have been let out). Ive seen murderers get better treatment. and i thought police brutality was against the law? im seeing dozens of obviously police brutality and yet ppl are still agreeing that “its what them hippies deserve!”. Patrick Meighan has a job, a good one at that. better paying than anyone but maybe a bank ceo or a senator or politician. He pays his taxes, does everything legally(goggle patrick Meighan), and yet he was brutalized for doing what the constitution says he can! I believe everyone is UNAmerican if you dont believe ppl have the right to protest. the CONSTITUTION says americans can. And thats what this country was FOUNDED on. The Constitution.

  40. Were you TOLD to leave private property before the police came? If so, then there’s your answer. If not, then you have some complaints.

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