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CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST WE ARE CHANGE OKLAHOMA ACTIVIST WHO FILMED MALL COPS
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: April 29, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY — Five months after being charged with assault and battery following an unprovoked altercation with Penn Square Mall security guards, We Are Change Oklahoma activist James Lane said all charges against him have been dropped.
Lane, who was interviewed by this reporter about the case last November contacted Red Dirt Report this week to explain that he had been facing as much as six months in jail over an incident last Thanksgiving weekend where he and other WAC-OK activists held an action at the popular Oklahoma City mall during the so-called “Black Friday” shopping day.
After “deception dollars” were dropped off a balcony and a bullhorn was used, Lane, activist Brent Southard and others were chased by mall security guards, including Richard Wisner, Daak Love and David Ray Hodges.
Armed with a camera during the direct action, Lane was approached by the guards who ultimately detained him, injuring him in the process and confiscating his camera. Lane insists he did not resist arrest and that he was treated terribly by the guards and largely ignored by the Oklahoma City cop who arrested him.
As Lane told RDR in the original interview, “Even though I was the victim of the brutal, unprovoked assault, and never touched a single officer, I was charged with assault and battery.”
Lane said that he declined to make a plea deal, which included assault charges and ultimately a disorderly conduct charge.
Lane said the prosecuting attorney obstructed Lane’s attorney’s attempts to gain access to the camera and video that showed what he had done.
Eventually, Lane said, he obtained the video, which had not been deleted, and that would be used at the trial.
“There was some confusion as to why I wanted to go to trial,” Lane said. “The city attorney backed out from the case and put another attorney in.”
Attorney Laura Yates, noted Lane, “seemed shocked” that they were having to go through court. The attorney, added Lane, “had to get the book out and read what they were charging me on.”
The first trial ended with “continuance for discovery.” The second trial, the three security guards were there and were questioned, asked if lane had engaged in disorderly conduct or a physical altercation.
“They said, ‘No, no, no,’” Lane said.
Lane said Yates then asked, ‘When Mr. Lane put his hand up, did he intend to do you harm,’ and they said I did not. That’s when the prosecutor slumped at the podium.”
Lane said he believes Yates was “disappointed the witness told the truth” and that they would not go forward with these trumped-up charges.”
Red Dirt Report called Oklahoma City Municipal Court to speak with Yates. She was not available and has not yet returned the call.
Wisner, Love and Hodges were also served papers for a civil case Lane has filed.
“They were visibly shaken,” Lane said of the security guards after receiving the papers.
Lane said he knows that they are in a pickle.
“They filed a false police report or they perjured themselves in front of the court,” Lane said.
Asked if Yates decided to file charges against the men who Lane claims did not tell the truth about what happened, he said she did not.
Lane said his attorney, Elliot Everett, pointed out a few things where one of the testifying security guards contradicted himself, but he said it apparently wasn’t relevant to the judge.
Everett could not be reached for comment.
As for the civil case, the men have not yet responded to it.
“I am 36 years old,” Lane said. “Never been arrested and never sued anyone in my life.”
Curious about his thoughts regarding what happened, Lane said, “It seems to be a good old boy network. The police officers were complicit in a false arrest. Whenever I told them that the man (security guard) assaulted me, they said I was out of touch with reality.”
“I’m disappointed, more than anything. I thought judicial system sought to find the truth. I’ve discovered it’s just a good ol’ boy network,” Lane said. “A person can get caught up in the system.”
As noted earlier, Lane said he is seeking justice through the civil action he filed.
“If I find (justice) there, I won’t pursue it further,” he said. “But the reason I am pursuing this is I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”
As for his We Are Change Oklahoma activist colleague Brent Southard, he was found guilty of disorderly conduct and received six months probation. Southard told Red Dirt Report he was disappointed with how things turned out.
Lane said the judge said Southard had failed to follow the security guard’s instructions. Lane said they were not cops and joked, “So, I guess anytime someone in a costume tells you to stop, you better stop.”
Added Lane bitterly: “What a mockery of our judicial system.”
Copyright 2010 West Marie Media