Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Statement to Downey Small Claims Court: Arthur Schaper vs. City of Huntington Park

Here are the notes and the statements I used in my small claims against the city of Huntington Park, where the presiding officer had me unjustly ruled out of order, followed by my false arrest, incarceration, and the harassment which followed.

Please find the statement below:

Good morning, Your Honor.

My name is Arthur Schaper, and I am suing the city of Huntington Park for the following reasons:
1.       Violating my civil rights, specifically to attend an open meeting per the Ralph M. Brown Act
2.       Unjustly calling me out of order during a city council meeting, when I had not disrupted the meeting, and especially compared to the majority of people in the audience.
3.       False arrest: I was placed under arrest because I did not comply with an unlawful order, based
4.       Emotional distress, since I was arrested in full view and forced to under search and seizure following the unjust arrest.
5.       Harassment, because the Huntington Park Police Department issued to me multiple notices to appear, only to inform of notices of correction at the last minute. They deliberately refuse to file criminal charges against me until I filed this lawsuit.

On June 6th, 2017 I was attending the Huntington Park City Council meeting. In fact,  I and many people were forced to wait in the lobby of the first floor of the city hall with many others. The Lieutenant presiding over the first floor, Lieutenant Alfred Martinez, lied to the public, claiming that the chambers was at capacity.

No it was not. I have witnesses—Robin Hvidston and Robert Lauten—who will attest that there was still plenty of room in the city council chambers. I went up on my own, and I found that there was indeed plenty of space.

I sat down in the city council chambers to hear the meeting. People were laughing or making side remarks. One man was seated behind me, constantly yelling out “Shut up, Arthur!” Another woman was flashing a light in my face.

At one point, Sergeant Joseph Settles approached me and told me to stop disrupting the meeting. I asserted myself and informed him that I was not speaking out of turn in the chambers, nor was I preventing anyone near me from hearing the speakers during public comment.

I asked two security members behind me to address the disruptions of the individuals behind me. Neither one of them did anything about it.

At one point, following the public comment from Rudy Cruz, Chief of Police Cosme Lozano indicated somewhat evasively that I was “seemingly out of order”. Mayor Marilyn Sanabria ruled of out order. Then someone in the back of the room—the same people who had been yelling at me and harassing me—that I had already receive a warning.

Cosme Lozano
aka Cosme the Clown

The mayor looked puzzled, asked the audience if that was true. And when people in the audience shouted “yes”, she ordered the police to have me escorted out.

I calmly said to Sergeant Settles that I had not disrupted the meeting, I have a right to be there, and that I ma not leaving.

He pressed on me further, stating “I am giving you a lawful order.” With all due respect, it was an unlawful order, and I am not bound, nor is any other citizen bound to do whatever a police officer says. I have witnesses who will testify that people were trying to find some way just to get me thrown out of the meeting, whether justly or not. Not only that, but there was another gentleman in the city council chambers who had received three warnings before being escorted out. Why this inconsistent enforcement?

Eventually, without recourse or rule of law, Sergeant Settles placed me under arrest. I was arrested for sitting in a city council meeting.

Even as I was escorted out of chambers, I repeated: “I did not disrupt the meeting.”

I was escorted to the city jail, where I was searched, my properties were taken from me. I was then forced to sit in a jail cell for two hours after getting fingerprinted and registered.

I received a notice to appear in court September 6th, 2018, then I was released.

I filed a government claim against the city for false arrest and violation of my civil rights. They rejected my claim.

Government claim filed

I appeared in court September 6th, and noticed that my name was not on the criminal calendar. I didn’t know what was going on. I did obtain a certificate of appearance. I then received an email four hours later from Lieutenant Patrick Kraut, indicating notice of correction. I didn’t understand why they would give me a notice to appear, yet not have a criminal package filed with the DA’s office.

The next notice appear was for October, and I appeared that day, and once again my name was NOT on the calendar. This is tantamount to harassment. Regardless of the statute which gives police departments a year to file on these charges, they insisted on mailing me notices of correction instead of filing the criminal package with the DA's office.

I finally decided to sue the city, which brings me here, and then they issued a fourth notice of correction and to have me appear in court on December 18th. How can it possibly take a police department six months to file a criminal package on a misdemeanor charge? I confronted the Chief of Police about this and he just ran away from me!

It’s ridiculous.

Your honor, I submit to you that the police department did not want to file because they know they had no right to call me out of order or have me arrested.

I further submit to you that the city council attempted to cover up their unjust rulings against me. I have the minutes for the June 6th meeting, in which they claim that I was called out of order, then claim in the minutes that I continued to be disruptive, and for that reason I received a second warning.

That is not what happened. Your honor, the city council lied on their minutes and approved them. I have video from three different people in the meeting, including myself, plus the official City Council recording through Granicus. I have two witnesses here, Robin Hvidston and Gary Gileno, will confirm that I was not disruptive in the meeting.

Even if for whatever reason they city councilman and police officers were justified in calling me out of order—and they were not—I had only received one warning, and there was lots of noise and disruption going on in the city council chambers. Why were they not called out of order?
Not only that, your honor, but the Mayor calmly decided to accept what other people shouted about me in the meeting, when also she had to do was check the minutes taken by the city clerk, and she would have confirmed to the presiding officer that there was only one warning—and even that warning was unjustified.

On top of that, the city council has a history of Brown Act violations against me and others. I have letters from the public integrity division of the LA County DA’s office to confirm this.
I have numerous witnesses here and now who will testify that I did not disrupt the meeting, that the police had no right to order my removal or to place me under arrest.

I had every right to attend this meeting, the city and its police officers on scene had no right to remove me. I urge your honor to ensure that our rights as citizens remain protected, that we prevent arbitrary rulings against attendees in any public meeting from being called out of unjustly and placed under false arrest—just for attending a public meeting.

Not only that, but they seized my phone without cause. I had to return to the city police department to retrieve my cellphone. They had no right to take it, and I imagine that the judge rebuffed any effort for them to break into my phone. The police department had no probable cause to seize the phone.

Again, it was an unlawful order to have me ruled out of order, then to have me placed under arrest. I have witnesses who will testify that in the past they refused to comply with similar unlawful orders from the police department—and they were not placed under arrest.

Also, the same presiding officer called me out of order for NO REASON in the June 20th meeting, which to me shows another pattern of abuse and selective enforcement.

All these videos with specific time-stamps I have provided for you in this thumb drive. If you like, I can also open my laptop and show you what happened in the meeting.

I am free to answer any other questions you may have.

We the People Rising

I have other witnesses here and statements of declaration from other witnesses as needed:

Robin Hvidston
Jesse Suave
Janet West
Gary Gileno
Betty Retama
George and Libby Franco
Francisco Rivera
Rudy Cruz
Robert Lauten
Dura Young and Fred MacIntosh

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