Occupy LA protesters, who were arrested for exercising their First Amendment free speech rights, are being offered a deal that would allow them to avoid court trials if they pay $355 to a private company for lessons in free speech.
"The 1st Amendment is not absolute," Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Atty. William Carter told the Los Angeles Times. He added that the city won't press charges against protesters who complete the educational program offered by American Justice Associates.
American Justice Associates offers the program taught by an attorney, Neil G. Anderson, a former police officer and Supervising Deputy District Attorney for Sacramento County, and his partner attorney Deborah Bryce McKinley of Atlanta, GA.
Anderson, who lives in Newcastle, California, is currently listed as “inactive” by the State Bar of California and therefore ineligible to practice law in the state. McKinley is currently licensed to practice in the state.
The majority of Occupy LA protesters, who were arrested the night of the LAPD's eviction of the encampment, were already held for at least two days with a bail of at least $5,000.
A civil rights attorney who has worked with the protesters called the free speech class "patronizing," and said the demonstrators who were arrested are the last people needing free-speech training.