Anthony Bryson called on the crowd to raise their fist in a show of solidarity. It was Sunday, October 25, one month after authorities booked Tatiana Turner into jail on suspicion of attempted murder after allegedly driving a white sedan into counter-protesters during a March for Equality in the Yorba Linda Public Library parking lot.
Prosecutors are alleging just that.
But Bryson from the group Urban Organizers Collective and about 50 demonstrators poured into downtown Los Angeles on Sunday to demand, among other things, that authorities release Turner, reduce her $1 million bail, and charge the counter-protesters who threatened her life.
They chanted “Free Tia” in unison while circling downtown Los Angeles as three LAPD vehicles trailed them.
“It’s important for us to draw the attention and awareness of Tatiana Turner’s case and the systemic racism that has kept her behind bars as a political prisoner,” said Bryson.
“Tiana’s incarceration,” added Bryson, “is partly due to the rhetoric and language our president has displayed, which is something that they live by in Orange County. And so, we’re going city to city to spread the awareness of Tatiana Turner, and her struggle in the hopes and efforts she’ll receive bail and get the charges reduced.”
According to a September 29 press release, issued by Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, “Tatiana Rita Turner, 40, of Long Beach, has been charged with one felony count of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, six felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, including one causing great bodily injury, one felony count of mayhem, and two felony counts of the use of pepper spray by a felon.”
She faces a maximum sentence of seven years to life plus 13 years and four months in state prison if convicted on all charges.
Her defense attorney said Turner tried unsuccessfully to get help from deputies after her group was overwhelmed by a hostile crowd. Turner saw people with guns and feared for her life when she got into her car that was blocked by Donald Trump supporters, attorney Ludlow Creary II said. She was trying to get away and didn’t intend to hit anyone.
Moreover, protesters say they’ve become conspicuous targets for arrest, intimidation, and assault by law enforcement officers for protesting police brutality and racial injustice.
“I believe [Turner] is being singled out for the simple fact there are two similar cases, similar cases that are almost identical. And those two individuals are home and free,” said Sequarier McCoy, the aunt of Dijon Kizzee who was fatally shot last month after deputies tried to stop him for riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road.
McCoy’s comments were a reference to an incident in which two vehicles drove through a crowd of people in Hollywood protesting police brutality and the decision in the Breonna Taylor case. Officers were seen taking the drivers into custody, but the Los Angeles Police Department said they released them “pending the outcome of a hit and run investigation.”
McCoy suspects that Turner has long been on law enforcement’s radar because her work as an activist is centered on police abuse and voter suppression.
“From my knowledge, she’s been doing activism work for about four years now. The system doesn’t like a strong leader and so they want to make an example out of her,” she said.
Dr. Nizan Shaked, a professor at Cal State University, called the charges against Turner “completely inflated and bogus.” She emailed Spitzer, expressing her disappointment that the DA’s office continues to trample on the constitutional rights of protesters and activists.
“It’s disappointing that Spitzer is discouraging people from participating in their democracy,” Shaked told L.A. Focus. “We have every right to peacefully protest.”
That sentiment was echoed by Kennedy Carter who said the police are purposely targeting focal leadership within the movement, hoping to discourage them by slapping activists with criminal charges and hefty court fines.
Carter is a gang member and was a close friend to Anthony McClain – a 32-year-old Black man shot and killed August 15 by a Pasadena police officer as he ran away from a traffic stop. Carter said he was with a group of protesters who had gathered in Pasadena to demand the city police department officials release body camera footage showing what led up to the shooting.
He alleges police officers violated his constitutional rights.
“I literally just wanted to speak to the Pasadena Police Department about the bodycam footage and how things got out of control, but instead I got roughed up and thrown in jail and was charged with terrorist threats,” Carter said.
“The police,” continued Carter. “Think because we’re gang members that we don’t care about people getting shot and killed by them. They don’t like to see us standing up for our rights.”
Meanwhile, at the protest was Jawad Vision, better known as George Floyd, a 25-year-old Los Angeles resident who said we live in a system designed to “break and destroy” marginalized communities.
“We are here today to free Tia,” Floyd shouted through a megaphone. “This movement must continue. It cannot be destroyed. It has become our lifestyle.”