On March 14, hundreds of community members, lawyers and court workers rallied on the steps of LA’s Stanley Mosk Courthouse to stop the planned closure of eight LA County Superior Courts.
On the chopping block are courts in Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona North, Malibu, West Los Angeles, San Pedro, Beacon Street and Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center.
The closures will impact everyone, especially working families and lower-income people, who will be forced to stand in longer lines, wait longer for court dates and spend more time and money getting to court. The plan will also eliminate hundreds of good, middle-class jobs.
Speaking at the rally, SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover said: “We’re going to do everything we can to stop these closures because, if the judges have their way, we’re the ones who will be left behind. Our neighbors and family members will be taking five hour bus rides across the county just to have their day in court. That’s just not fair.”
Court reporter and SEIU Executive Board member Arnella Sims emceed the rally, along with Dexter McLeod of People for Community Improvement. Other speakers included David Sapp of the ACLU, Leslie Gersicoff of the Jewish Labor Committee, Dr. Lewis Logan of RUACH Christian Community Fellowship, Milo Brown of AFSCME District Council 36, and SEIU 721 Vice President Linda Dent, Secretary David Green and Chief of Staff Gilda Valdez.
The People’s Court
A symbolic mock trial was the highlight of the rally, where court workers and community leaders brought witnesses to testify about the devastating impact of the planned closures. Wearing a top hat and suit, Mr. 1% represented the courts. After hearing the facts, the protesters rendered the people’s judgment:
“We hereby require the Superior Court judges to study alternatives to court closures, meet with all of the community stakeholders and produce a realistic plan that doesn’t hurt workers and poor people. Only then will you find a solution that will bring justice to all of the people in Los Angeles County. Keep the courts open!”
Protesters then marched around the courthouse and surrounding government buildings, chanting “Save our courts!”
Here’s just some of the excellent media coverage of the rally.
LA Times: Protesters decry planned cuts at L.A. County courts
LA Daily News: Courtroom Closures Draw Protests
La Opinion: Angelinos rechazan el cierre de tribunales
Annenberg TV News (Video): Hundreds Protest Proposal to Close Eight LA Courthouses
For more info and to get involved, call Wanda Bellamy: (213) 601-2146, Earl Thompson: (213) 300-5529, Arnella Sims: (213) 687-5780 or Linda Mascorro: (626) 841-2325.