By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
A bail-reduction hearing is set for Marks on Jan. 4 and his trial is scheduled for Feb. 14. Marks faces three charges: resisting an officer, criminal threats and "attempted lynching." Initially, the teen faced seven years in prison. Prosecutors now are offering him 32 months in a plea bargain.
Zoe Rawson, an attorney who donates time to the Labor/Community Strategy Center, says Verdugo Hills High School students and parents have given her examples of "how students are being treated. ... There appears to be aggressive profiling of students that is observed as being related to race and appearance."
Rawson claims that one-third of the black students at the school were suspended during 2007 and 2008, compared with 6 percent of Latinos and 5 percent of whites. She called on LAUSD leaders to make a "formal response to community concerns about whether there is accountability for the policing issues that have been raised" in the Marks case.
Rita Addessa, an education advocate on the East Coast who is disturbed by Marks' eight-month incarceration among tough adults, points to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union showing how youths are funneled out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
The study points to minority students, many with special needs, as those most vulnerable to the "push-out" trend.
On Monday, the Youth Justice Center in L.A. began a four-day, 50-mile march from the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar to the California Youth Authority in Norwalk, calling for an end to the push-out of students into the streets and jails. The marchers dedicated the first day of theit walk to Jeremy Marks.
Ravis says he wants the case to end justly and peacefully, but fears a potentially explosive situation as community anger grows over Marks' long stay in an adult jail, and the fact that a small problem — a 15-year-old smoking — mushroomed into a state prison case against 18-year-old Marks. Yet the 15-year-old who physically fought Officer Robles was released the next day.
"The community is standing by to see if the district attorney and other government officials are really going to continue to support these cops and the nonsensical charges against Marks, or do the right thing and dismiss the case and discipline the officers," Ravis says.
Pittman wants her son out of jail for Christmas and is trying to look ahead. "My son will not graduate with his class this summer, and will never return to Verdugo Hills High School," she says. But, "We'll look into getting his GED and he can go to Mission College to finish his education."
Reach the writer at email@example.com.
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