In an ongoing case against 11 activists, the LAPD and Los Angeles prosecutors have revealed the lengths they will go to repress political organizing. As part of an escalation in the criminalization of political protest, the activists are facing criminal charges connected with multiple protests against the Trump presidency. Protesters called for a sustained mass nonviolent movement against the president. The defendants include students, artists, social democrats, a military veteran, and others who have been referred to as the LA11.
What has been revealed at this stage of the case are dangerous levels of spying and surveillance on legal political activities. The legal cases have just begun, and what is coming out is that the LAPD used informants to record private conversations and even entire meetings of political organizations. Police videotaped and stalked political groups on college campuses as they participated in legally protected activities.
The arrests stem from a number of demonstrations between September 2017 and March 2018, including shutting down the Los Angeles 101 freeway, stopping rush-hour traffic and a massive economic impact as a result. Shutting down interstates has an outsized economic impact compared to the cost of its undertaking. While shutting down interstates can be incredibly dangerous, it is a tactic protesters have long used for its value for drawing attention to causes. Other protests in the prosecutions cases were on the UCLA campus, including an event with treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin.