Attorney for Immigration Activists in Operation Streamline Trial Asks Judge to Dismiss Charges

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Sketch of Operation Streamline proceedings. - ILLUSTRATION BY LAWRENCE GIPE
  • Illustration by Lawrence Gipe
  • Sketch of Operation Streamline proceedings.

It is day two of the trial against a group of immigration activists who blocked two prison buses on their way to Operation Streamline proceedings in October 2013.

Their lawyer, Margo Cowan, has filed a motion to dismiss because she argues the state does not have enough evidence to support any of them.

The defendants, 12 of whom are in court today, are accused of criminal trespassing, obstructing government operations, obstructing prosecution in the second degree, resisting arrest, obstructing a highway, disorderly conduct, among others.

In the case of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Cowan reminded the judge that many law enforcement witnesses testified none of the defendants were violent, so those two accusations can go. Regarding obstructing a highway, Cowan said it was the police who decided to block the second lane of the I-10 frontage road, not the defendants. "Had the police not blocked the second lane, traffic would have passed safely." The two buses the activists stopped and chained themselves to on Oct. 11, 2013 only occupied one lane.

But the prosecution, Deputy County Attorneys Sabrina Lochner and Rebecca Mueller, said there is more than enough evidence from cops, detectives and the bus drivers to know the defendants are guilty of all charges. "Everything the defendants did that day was disruptive," Mueller said. "The stopping of those buses themselves was reckless, not only was it reckless to stop them in the middle of the street while traffic is coming...reckless to continue to do it," and chain themselves around the tires. 

Again, she said one of the bus drivers was so scared that he reached for his gun. He didn't know if the white SUV belonged to the drug cartel or if it was a terrorist attack. The driver wasn't expecting a disruption that morning. The Hon. Susan Bacal joked that with that description trick or treaters can probably be charged with disorderly conduct, too, because it's a bunch of people coming to your house and they scare you. 

Everyone is back in court at 1:30 p.m., and it is the defendants turn to speak. All along, they've said they'd like to put Streamline under the magnifying glass, the undocumented workers, fathers, mothers going through the proceedings, make the trial about "the people on the bus not under the bus," as defendant Steve Johnston told me yesterday. 


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