Attorney: Police Used 'Ambush' Tactics in 'Occupy' Arrests

Defense wraps up its arguments in trial of Occupy Members arrested in a Palm Desert Park last year.

Three people accused of illegally gathering in a Palm Desert park during last year's Occupy Coachella Valley protests were swept up in a police "ambush'' intended to intimidate and make examples of the demonstrators, an attorney said today.

"This was about casting a dragnet to randomly catch anything and
everything in its path,'' defense attorney Mark Foster told jurors in his
closing statement.  "You've heard this was the most conciliatory group
imaginable. So why didn't the city of Palm Desert just provide notification
(that it wanted the park cleared)? Because it wanted these arrests to happen.''

Foster's client, former U.S. Marine Jack Lee Noftsger, 28, is charged
alongside 32-year-old Dustin David Powell and 23-year-old Mary Elizabeth Walker with unlawful assembly for allegedly occupying Civic Center Park last October.

A fourth defendant, Stephen Mark Finger, 59, was also charged with the
misdemeanor, but his attorney, Aimee Larsen, successfully argued last week for
a dismissal of the allegation based on evidence that he was not actively
involved in the protest at the time of his arrest.

All of the defendants were taken into custody during a sheriff's sweep
shortly after midnight on Nov. 1.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office says the protesters were
given ample opportunity to depart the park after the city of Palm Desert
refused to grant another temporary use permit for use of the grounds, as it had between Oct. 24 and Oct. 28, but some demonstrators wouldn't budge.
According to prosecutors, by anchoring themselves in a public square as
a group, the defendants constituted an unlawful assembly.

But their attorneys countered that the Nov. 1 law enforcement operation
was staged to frighten protesters away for good.

"This stealth police raid was an ambush,'' Foster said. "They planned
these arrests. They didn't want to go with a simple cite and release. If
(authorities) had made a simple announcement telling my client and others to
leave the area, would we be here today? No.''

The three Occupy protesters had remained in the park in defiance of an
11 p.m. city curfew order, according to testimony from the weeklong trial.
Deputy Grant Grasso testified that the protesters had been given ``multiple
warnings'' to leave before he and fellow deputies, led by then-Lt. Andrew
Shouse, conducted the sweep.

But Foster and Deputy Public Defender Roger Tansey, representing Powell
and Walker, argued their clients were arrested for effect rather than any act
of genuine civil disobedience.

"They never declared an unlawful assembly, yet they turned right around
and arrested them for that,'' Tansey told jurors.  "This case is not just
about government overreach; it's about government overkill. This was a police
ambush on peaceful people. This is about stifling dissent.''

The attorney said there was no "violence'' in the park until deputies
began making arrests, throwing people to the ground and handcuffing them.
Noftsger had to be awakened in his tent before deputies arrested him.

"They were getting ready to leave,'' Foster said. "There was no
permanent occupation. And the police come along and conduct this crazy,
confusing, botched operation, sneaking up on people without making any

"This case is about the letter of the law trumping the spirit of the
law. It's about making a mountain out of a molehill. Do we really want to live
in a state where the government throws the book at somebody for a technical

The defendants, free on their own recognizance, were affiliated with the
national Occupy Wall Street movement, decrying the disparities between rich
and poor.

small axe August 14, 2012 at 10:22 AM
police & theives "curtis mayfield"...............
Geral Sosbee August 14, 2012 at 01:14 PM
The dim witted police have the mistaken notion that this country belongs to them. WRONG! The people own the country, or will wrestle it from the thugs in blue by any means necessary. http://austin.indymedia.org/article/2012/07/19/fbi-global-mafianazi-and-effect-free-press http://www.indymedia.org/de/2012/06/957265.shtml http://phillyimc.org/en/evidence-high-tech-crimes-fbi Cops nationwide are often used by the fbi/cia to harass, malign, mock, threaten and possibly kill the Targets. See examples of the cop's low mentality and homicidal mindset as they verbally assault me and attack my online documentations of police corruption; note that the last link (& related links) below presents evidence of crimes by the UT police: http://forums.officer.com/t127618/ http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/submit.html http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php/_v194/__show_article/_a000194-000220.htm http://pt.indymedia.org/conteudo/newswire/7953 http://www.phillyimc.org/en/evidence-fundamental-corruption-usa http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/part19c-updatefo.html
Steven M.Finger August 15, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I see there are some questions as to the why we did what and, too, that enough facts about the incident are missing that there are some misunderstandings. Please let me know if you would like me to give a brief summary of what really did occur - the published reports were not accurate - or just send specific questions. Now that my trial is done, I can tell you what the issues were, and who did what. Personally, I think you will find that 'back' story enlightening, regardless of which side of the issue you are on - thinking that we were trashing public property, or making a stand for First Amendment Rights.
Aireman August 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM
I'd love to hear an unsanitized version!
Steven M.Finger August 16, 2012 at 01:48 AM
With pleasure! and 'thanks' for your interest. To begin with, here are some KEY points... corroborated with the TESTIMONY of the Peace Officers that made the arrests that night.... 1. SPECIFICALLY, the Officers were told that NO dispersal was to be given - arrests WERE to be made. 2. It was ADMITTED by the planner of the Raid his remark that he did NOT want to see any arrests - was a "half-truth"; in fact, he had just not been able to line up the resources that soon to carry out the arrests. 3. there had been a plan BY THE GROUP and KNOWN to the Riverside Sheriff's Office (RSO) of MOVING the encampment - it was NOT going to be permanent. 4. the Judge for the Trial, from the outset, would not let First Amendment issues be introduced, argued, or considered by the Jury. 5. On the night of the Raid, the question of whether or not the timing was linked to the visit of Koch Brothers was brought up - any mention of similarity between this police action and the break-up of that demonstration was nixed from the Trial. 6. It was 10 full months to arrive at the Trial, held in summer, in Riverside, without the benefit of the Reporters who were there... there were 6 hearings in-between. 7. Nine arrests were made, only 6 were charged, 2 pled-out. Do let me know which of these 7 points you are most interested in hearing more about - or any other. Am willing to discuss all - the reasons behind each, just don't want to overload you on info that is not of interest to you.
Aireman August 16, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Wish the reporters had a say in the matter. Didn't any of them get asked to testify? Didn't know the Koch bros. were here. was out of town at the time.
Steven M.Finger August 16, 2012 at 03:52 AM
One reporter was with THIS site - it is owned by AOL, and AOL had their lawyers object via the Shield Law. Another was a reporter for the the Desert Sun. On the day she was to come in to testify, all calls were suddenly directed to her Executive Editor. (You ARE seeing that there is more to what was reported, yes?)
Aireman August 16, 2012 at 04:26 AM
As usual there is always more to the story eh?
Michael Harrington August 17, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Tell us who leads your general assembly Mr Finger? Is it a union rep? Tell us if your occupy cv group works with the Democrats of the Desert? And if the Public Defender is also an officer of the Democrats of the Desert? No why is occupy cv so closely tied to democrats of the desert? Tell the truth if you can Finger!
Michael Harrington August 17, 2012 at 11:50 PM
The best thing to do is clean all this up , the dirty dems and occupy cv both! If youre gang beleives in free speech Mr Fingers why does it harrass and threaten somone whk exercises free speech? Tell the truth Fingers! Hypocrite! Where is your responbsility Fingers for being nearly 3 times the age of the kids who now have criminal convictions on their records while you , who were there side by side with these kids, walk free! Spouting youre propaganda all over the internet! Tell the truth!
Steven M.Finger August 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Mr. Harrington... as a lawyer, perhaps you can do us all a favor and post the transcript from the trial. That way, all of us here can read the sworn testimony and so many mis-statements and mis-understandings can be rectified. If you can't do that, I will then take the time to post some additional information. For now, though, as some of your questions were not addressed at the Trial, here then is the information you seek. 1. There is, in fact, a Union Rep that attends the General Assemblies. But, as you already know, he retired many, many years ago from the post office. And - having seen you at several of the meetings - you also KNOW that no one person ever 'leads', they simply 'facilitate' so EVERYone has a voice on the matters that they, themselves, raise. (Must go for the evening, will certainly do my best to address your other concerns when I return tomorrow evening - but, please, so that we can all be productive here, ask either questions that you honestly do not know the answer to, or ones that you feel will be instructive for others. And pardon me if that is rash... it just seems that you are now looking for an argument - we all welcomed you when you first said that you would like to represent us, before the no-cost offer became available from the Public Defender's Office and the other two lawyers volunteered their time.)
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I never at any time offered to represent you and you know it. That was a lie made up months later by occupy thugs angry at me for telling the truth and refusing to do unethical acts for them; after I went to a Food Not Bombs Easter 2012 to help feed the homeless, I was told, which was the first time I ever met you or was at an occupy meeting , somewhat by accicent, as I was told FNB Easter feeding did not involve occupy. Either your delusional or a liar
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 01:18 AM
At first the malicious lies such as you just repeated bothered me and embarrassed me, the first to say such lies was the Palm Springs occupy leader , now im no longer afraid to deal with you thugs. Bring it on keep lying! I was in the park on Easter not as a lawyer but yiur malicious gang seeks to embarras me in my profession as thats what your gang does, harrass and attack
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Occupy cv spread these lies about me all over the internet , the lie you just told. Im trying to set this straight and i wont back down from telling the truth simply because you think you found a way to hurt me by lying that I was in a lawyer relationship, I never talked to you about your case and i do family law anyway, try another lie. I thought you said you wanted the truth to come out yet whenever I talk you guys try to intimidate me or attack me. Once one of the occupiers followed me to photograph my car as i left a demicratic rally and stuck a telephoto lens in my face for an hour. Harrassment.
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 01:51 AM
The food I brought for the homeless was eaten by occupy whk didnt look homelss to me either. I dontated food to the homeless I was told and that occupy was not involved. That was all a lie and should be illegal for FNB PS to do to take dontations from me claiming to be a 501c3 like that. Anyway thats how I met occupy by accdient you might say or by being lied to to be more accurate. Months later it was Darel Probst whi first said this lie that I offered to free legal representation to "us" (he was not a defendant so see how lies are inconsistent you now say I offered to represent the defendants) and I was mad or somehting like that, not getting to be the lawyer; this he came up with when I complained to Mary Jane Sanchez Fulton about inviting me and occupiers to the same meeting to form a voting league because occupiers cause trouble and yell at people to vote for Obama (thats no way to run a voting league)
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 02:20 AM
See I mer you on Easter 2012 for thr very first time, and you just said I offered to be your lawyer BEFORE the you had pro bono lawyers, you were arrested in Oct 2011 and you all had pro bono lawyers by the time I met you on Easter 2012. And then it was months after that this lie was made up , months after Easter 2012 that it, on Mary Jane Fultons FB voting league event formation event. I told how I saw Lew Stewart yell at that lady to vote for Obama and that occupy wont make a good "voting league" democraric club. Then Darel posted back this lie that you have yet a new a more ridiculous version of here. All hogwash. If I were a doctor you'd all say I also offered to be your doctor. i just happend to disagree with some of what occupy said so you all attack me in my profession as a dirty tactic while claiming to be all about free speech , you all suppress free speech..mine. It makes no difference if I were a doctor or lawyer or whatver. Stop speading false rumors, I never asked to be your lawyer and I didnt even meet you until months later than you claim here. You tripped up.
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Lew Stewart (identified to me as "union rep" no further details) and Lorraine Salas (identified to me as "teacher and move on " no other details) who appear to me to be the leader and co - leader of Occupy following th departure of Yael Aherham aka Nofstger , Jack III; Proposed to me to form an bar association chapter whose members to form a voting qurom wouldmbe hand picked by Lew and Lorriane, and their vote was already determined, the vote would be to give the dues money and fundraiser revenue to ,first Lew said it would be one of the lawyers "partners" meaning signifigant other" , based on that the lawyers signifigant other helped the lawyer with legal work; when I pointed out my concerns ,Namely that the county already has a budget for such expenses, Lew chnaged this to the money would go to another occupy lawyer who he named and I aksed former client who says he never heard of this. I still want to know who was to get the money.
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Due to this proposal sounding not to be in order or proper, and especially since the vote where the money would go was pre determined and fhe voters hand picked by Lew and Lorraine, (they even showedmme the list of 8 occupiers most from the park) I declared Id have nothing to do with it, and told Lorraine to cease all contact with me ablut this proposal. Ive been harrased , defamed , lied about and threatened ever since, AND IM STILL HERE AND ALWAYS WILL BE IM NOT SCARED OF OCCUPY BUT OCCUPY IS SCARED OF TRUTH
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Before they even knew the members, they knew what the vote should be then picked members whi would vote the way the wanted before the organization was even formed, initially the $$$$ was said to go to one of the lawyers signifigant other. This is all sounding very questionable, but if one questins occupy cv , occupiers go after the person with threats, slander, harrassment.
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM
If you want to address this money funneling fundraiser proposal made by occupy to go to something presumably related to the criminal defense case that just ended, feel free. But if you dont know you dont know. Youre lawyer (former) Aimee Larsen, was NOT named at anytime to be one of the lawyers to get the money she was not involved. So you may not know. But to attack the questioner with false statements is what occupy usually does. Youre the one that broadcast all over the net that you want to talk all about everything! Not me, im a private person and not in the news or a public figure im just taking up the public invitation you made to tell all. Why attack me?
Michael Harrington August 18, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Here is anorher for you, you want yo "tell all" now... Lew Stewart said he works closely with the defense team and the plan was for Tansey to use a "full on first amendment defense" attacking the Sheriff as being anti - free speech and using a pre trial public media campaign to get this attack against the Sheriff out in the public early ; that means before a jury is selected; this suggests the defense team would being using the media , thru occupy, to taint the jury pool or public opinion, Occupy was to carry out the media campaign, one example was a possible march to Palm Springs Police Dept and presentation with a letter of gratitude for Palm Springs PD being respectful of free speech as opposed to the Sheriffs. Any comment?
Michael Harrington August 19, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Fighting corruption is always constructive. I am being constructive.
Michael Harrington August 19, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Dont want to talk about the case afterall. Ok. What about "picnics"? Thats simple. or is it? Occupy CV member Krystle Rogers founded the local chapter of Food Not Bombs, along with Keith Howe. They initially represented to me they are a 501 c 3 and solicited donations (thru Craigslist, Facebook, and a donation box); they also initially said they dont feed Occupy CV . I donated food for Easter to feed the homeless. I went to the park on Easter to help feed the homeless. But they just fed YOU and occupy cv. They admitted they feed no homeless too and blamed other occupiers for it. Then later said they fed a few homeless yet I was there the whole time and never saw it, asked why, and no one cared, occuoiers just ate all the donated food. Including my donations that I gave for the homesless and saw occupy eat it and they didnt look homeless to me. Later Krystle changed her story again. After she and other occupiers shut down my food drive at Demuth Park, they admitted that there FNB is to feed occupy cv, that they are not a 501 c3 and they dont believe in charity. So they shut down my food drive that I was organizing for actual homeless people. One of the occupiers threatened violence, not just taking over the Demuth Community center and making trouble for my event but violence. So a police report was filed. This is corruption. This is occupy cv. To me, bottom line


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