The case of the high school student charged with attempted lynching drew sharp responses from readers this week ("Jeremy Marks 'Attempted Lynching' Case Reaction," by Katharine Russ). Jeremy Marks, an 18-year-old student at Verdugo Hills High, has been in jail for eight months pending the outcome of his case.
Marks is accused of yelling "Kick her ass" as a female Los Angeles Unified School District police officer grappled with a 15-year-old student who the officer believed had been smoking a cigar, cigarette or joint. As they struggled, the boy knocked a can of pepper spray from the officer's hand.
About 30 students witnessed the incident at a Metro bus stop last May and at least three of them, including Marks, recorded the incident on cell phone videos.
Marks denies he yelled the words. But the officer says he did and leveled the "attempted lynching" charge, defined as trying to "incite a riot during an attempt to free a suspect from police custody."
Marks has been locked away because his family cannot afford to post his bail, set at $155,000 after prosecutors said he is in a gang — an accusation his mother denies.
A reader who identifies himself as Davyjc writes: "As the article states ... '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.'
"This is a new low for police and school officials," Davyjc writes. "The person accused of the minor offense was justifiably released the next day but some kid documenting exactly what happened is given three counts and a possible 32 months in jail? This is a true sign that someone is pulling the levers at the school and with the police wanting certain kids out and this is a huge indication of how they wish to do it. By intimidation and example. What is commonly done in a police state. When people don't stand up for what is clearly a violation of his constitutional right to gather and free speech, then we are all in trouble. Release young Mr. Marks now!"
An opposing view comes from a reader named "birdy," who writes: "Let's see here, young punk kid smoking a joint decided to resist arrest and successfully knocks OC pepper spray out of the hands of a lone female police officer who is surrounded by four to five other male gang members yelling out 'Piru Bloods.'
"I would imagine this officer would have been well within her policy and rights to use deadly force on the detainee or other bystanders trying to get a hold of that pepper spray. Moreover, this kid had been kicked out of several schools for fighting, robbery and who knows what else.
"I commend Officer Robles for doing her job and trying to clean up the areas near her schools, where students who are actually trying to receive their education have to put up with these knuckleheads in the area. That is exactly what LAUSD has hired her to do."
Annie writes: "Please tell me where was the mother when this child was such a pain in the other schools. ... If this had been my child, I would have been walking alongside him to every class until he straitened [sic] up. The kid seems to be trouble. ..."
But Isaiah has a very different view: "We really do need to overhaul our youth judicial system. It is way too easy to place a youth in jail without proper legal aid. We hear people say protect our youth, where are they for this young [person]? It is my hope that people will get involved and get this young man out of jail soon."
Our story reporting that the city of Los Angeles has shuttered the La Plaza United Methodist Church in downtown's El Pueblo district raised the ire of many readers ("L.A. Officials Take Over Church," by David Futch). The city has owned the site since the 1950s, when it was seized under eminent domain in the name of redevelopment. The church continued to operate for a half-century under an agreement with the city. That agreement expired in 2006 and the city has other plans for the land.
Reader Jim Pickrell writes: "Eminent domain here was a mistake and should be reversed. The city should give the church back to the people who built it. Any idea of renting it to them or converting it to a mall is wrong and ridiculous. If the city had built the church, it would be an entirely different situation, but the city did not build the church and has no right to lock anybody out or even keep possession of the land. The fact that the eminent domain took place 50 years ago still doesn't make it right."
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And Liz writes: "Isn't anything sacred? I was baptized and married at that church, so were my parents. I also work for the city of Los Angeles.
"Sometimes I can't believe what is wrong with these people with power who work for the city. Remember what goes around comes around."
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