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



The Actors' Gang


  1. Recalling “Resurrection City” in D.C. when I was a teen… The only threat I remember was the mud between the wooden walkways… and mom referring to it as “Insurrection City”:

    “…Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The SCLC and other leaders decided to continue the campaign in King’s honor. A month later on May 12, 1968, demonstrators began a two-week protest in Washington, D.C.. The same month thousands of poor people of all races set up a shantytown known as “Resurrection City.” The city was closed down in mid-June and the economic bill of rights was never passed…” –

  2. I am sick of the constant coments about these being “non-violent” protesters. Being Passive Agressive is being violent and that is exavctly what these protesters are doing. The protesters in Davis who were pepper sprayed followed, then surrounded the police and refused to let them leave. They were warned multiple times before the police had no choice (look at the whole tape of what happened and not just the few seconds the media decided to show and it paints a very different picture. People can protest all they want morning to night but it is illegal to set up camp in a public park. They should go home at night and return in the morning instead of turning these places into the crime ridden cesspools they have become.

  3. I too was an innocent victim of police brutality and I am disabled with a small mental illness OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

    As a victim of police brutality myself I am shocked and outraged at the actions on what the police are doing to innocent people. This is a total disregard of human, animal rights and a clear violation of the oath the police took to uphold and defend the Constitution and Bill Of Rights from enemies foriegn and domestic and the oath to serve and protect the people.

    When I was beaten by police whom I called for help to remove my brother and his stuff who I wanted out of my place and my brother wouldn’t leave until I called the police and he left and the police came and barged in my home without my permission and the police were politely told that I was disabled by me and my two friends who were visiting me and that is when the police officers just snapped and attacked me just because I am disabled. What these Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian police officers did two me was illegal and a serious hate crime. These Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian police officers then searched my place without a warrant and one of the Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian police officers said to me while choking me said:

    “If I see you again in public I will put a bullet in you’re head in public even if there are witnessess.”

    What this officer is implying that if he sees me he will murder me because of me being disabled.

    Sadly I have no way to sue these corrupt Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian police officers because even the whole Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian justice system is corrupt and are friends and are also golf buddies.

    I will never again trust or call the corrupt Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian police and I will never trust the corrupt Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian justice system either.

    I no longer respect or trust the corrupt Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian police and I will no longer respect or trust the Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian justice system because of this corruption.

    This happened to me on Sunday May 22nd, 2011

  4. How DARE people accuse an author of embellishing an article about his arrest. Just because one writes for a living does not mean they make up FACTS. Sadly this is what “yellow journalism” has done to the people of our society, they automatically assume everything they read is trash. Trust me, someone there has film of the incident mostly likely and then you naysayers will have to eat your words. Free speech is all well and good as long as it’s for YOU right? It’s not ok if it’s other people? What happened to all for one and one for all? Oh yeah……I forgot…….we aren’t the land of the free and home of the brave any longer – we are the land of Big Brother and people who no longer know their neighbors and spend tons of money on Latte’s and designer this and that because it’s our “right”…..but by golly we won’t give a dime to help our fellow man when he’s down and out due to circumstances beyond their control. ALL of us can lose our jobs at a moments notice -no one is untouchable………

    In reading this article I was thinking of gulag’s in the 1970’s former Soviet Union…..or how things were before the Berlin Wall came down. It also reminded me of what is going on DAILY in China and yet our nation is saddened by those actions. But if it’s close to home it’s got to be because they deserved it? Come on people!

    Had the demonstrators been violent, spit on officers, charged at them, defaced the town and the park…then I would expect some charges, maybe some jail time. BUT, even those actions would not have warranted zip ties being used so tightly that they cut off blood supply, OR having the demonstrators tents ruined. That was a violent act by a police force who could have been used in other areas of LA……..say to combat the gang problem? Is this where LA’s tax dollars go, to gang up on non-violent people demonstrating and having a peaceful “sit-in” in the park (which THEIR tax dollars are spent to maintain it I am assuming – that’s how it works in my town within my state) If I lived in LA I would be pissed off that my tax dollars were so unwisely spent. Keep on keeping on OCCUPY!

  5. Speaking as someone from Britain who has an almost cartoonist view of your police as superheroes from films that are always there to save the day in the end, big bubbles bursting when read the comments afterwards, especially those from a certain someone who i suspect was one of the guys with his boot of freedom in some hemp wearing, nature loving, apparent threats back! Keep strong guys and just remember, what goes around comes around!

  6. Someone needs to set these cops up. Have someone from a distance recording what they do to protesters. It can’t just be DESCRIBED. It needs to be SHOWN and shown WIDELY. Maybe, then MAYBE, things will turn a little.

    And in response to Joshua: America is not the Land of the Free. It’s the Land of the Free Rich. You can get away with anything if you’re really rich, as long as you don’t get amazingly caught red-handed like Bernie Madoff. Super heroes? Batman would have, perhaps, intervened against the police. Superman would have not been too happy, but not sure what he would have said/did. The boot of freedom might as well have a Swastika on the toe.

  7. And in response to Lou1: perhaps, perhaps, but the jackbooted thug cops LOVE to have the “law’ as a weapon to use to protect the rich. So what if the protesters who violating the law. If the black men and women hadn’t done the same thing, they wouldn’t have the equality with whites they have today. They stood up and took a stand and got beat down to change things. Weren’t they violating the “laws”? To refuse to go to the back of the bus was violating the law on the books. To refuse to leave a lunch counter that says “no blacks” was against the law.

    Edmund Burke said that when good men do nothing, evil persists, which is a paraphrase. If we hadn’t stood up to the British, which were enacting “legal” taxation by their constitution, we wouldn’t have a country in which to argue these other issues!!! Just because something’s illegal doesn’t make the law right.

  8. I have seen suspected felons surrender peacefully to police, and they were cuffed and placed into a police cruiser before being transported to the police station for processing. It’s difficult not to assume the Occupy participants (suspected of committing non-violent misdemeanor trespassing) were being “taught a lesson,” by police. I’m not some bleeding heart liberal, nor Lenin-sign-toting anarchist. I’m a businessman, father and husband. The writer’s account is credible and horrifying.

    Jack-booted thugs all of a sudden doesn’t seem like a cliche’.

  9. The purpose of making your arrest as uncomfortable as possible was so that you don’t protest again.

    This was not the LAPD breaking up an illigal encampment.

    This was the LAPD giving you the knuckles to make sure you don’t do it again.

    They did this to the most hardcore protesters because they are the ones more likely to continue the movement.

    Well, LAPD, guess what… you only arrested 293 that night and showed them no mercy…. but we got 2930 more ready to do it again.

    This is not the end of OccupyLA and we will continue to do it to get the message across for the 99%

  10. I really hope these people call get together and SUE the pants off of the LAPD for this. It’s getting to the point where we need a constitutional amendment to PROTECT THE PEOPLE FROM THE POLICE.

  11. Bill said ” Next time police tell you to move, move, it is that simple.”

    Yeah, because in this country when the police say jump, you say “how high?” I don’t think so, buddy. Police do not have unlimited authority to order peaceful citizens around.

    Maybe you missed the memo that corporal punishment is illegal in the USA. Twisting ankles, cutting off blood flow, leaving people tied on on concrete for hours on end is illegal in this country.

    I normally don’t name call in online message boards, but since Bill threw the first stone at the author… no Bill, YOU are the idiot.

  12. I am ashamed of the police department for ther participation in torture. 7 hours of kneeling was needless and would cause permanent knee damage. Our administration is telling Arabs that protesting is democratic and they should follow suit of the Citizens of the United States. Well , obviously, after reading all the feedback from the ” free ” citizens of the United States, I would say that the freedome we and the Arabs are told about and their reality is too different things. The policing agencies of the United States are directly involved in beating , torturing and killing the citizen’s of the United States, as well as racketeering ( running a private security business out of the policing agancies – According to the Grand Jury in the State of Washington, running any business out of the policing departments is considered racketeering ), and hiring ( criminal cops ) police that have been previously arrested and or sued for previously murdering someone while in custody. This problem goes further than isolated incidents of personal torture. Our policing departments are racketeering and criminal. Yet The United States ignors the cries of the citizens of the United States and continues to tell the world that protesting is democratic.

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