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Occupy L.A. Protester Arrested at Art Walk on Lynching Charges, Bail Set at $50K

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An Occupy Los Angeles protester was arrested by police at Thursday night's Art Walk on suspicion of lynching.

Sergio Ballesteros, 30, was arrested Thursday night at 8:45pm. His bail was set at $50,000, according to the Sheriff's inmate locator. He was arrested on suspicion of lynching, LAPD Officer Yi Lian told LAist.

"Lynching" might not be what you're thinking: it is a felony charge that describes taking a person from the custody of police officers by means of a riot—or attempting to do so. LAPD officers told LAist that the full police report of what happened that night was not yet available, but a fellow Occupy L.A. protester uploaded a YouTube video that claims to show the moments leading up to Ballesteros' arrest:

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The YouTube user JunglerushStudio explains what (s)he witnessed:

OLA drummer Adam was apprehended by a LAPD bicycle cop just for standing off the curb on an overcrowded sidewalk during the monthly downtown Los Angeles Artwalk event. Sergio Ballesteros was also apprehended. Video is a little blurry at fist as I was in a crowd jockeying for a clear perspective.

Sue Basko, an attorney who has been giving Occupy Los Angeles activists legal advice, writes at the Occupy Los Angeles site that based on the video and the accounts of what happened at Art Walk, she believes the "lynching" charge is trumped-up:

The police would have to be saying there was a riot, which does not seem to be the case, unless you count police behavior. Two or more people would have to be engaging in this riot and using it to take someone from police custody. Who are the two people? Where is the riot? Who was in police custody and was taken from it? Sergio alone cannot be [engaging] in a lynching, because it takes two or more people. None of these things appear to have happened.

This week Ballesteros happened to participate in a roundtable discussion that included other members of the Occupy Wall Street movement around the nation, as well as activists in the Tea Party. MSNBC provided this bio for Ballesteros:

Sergio Ballesteros, 30, from Los Angeles area. A high school teacher for four years, he is now pursuing his master’s degree in urban teaching at UCLA and working occasionally as a substitute teacher. He camped outside City Hall for about six weeks at the Occupy Los Angeles encampment and was among those arrested when police cleared the site on Nov. 30.

Here's the video of the special:

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