In May of 2010, 18-year-old Jeremy Marks was charged with interfering with an officer, making criminal threats to an officer, and “attempted lynching” (i.e., attempt to start a riot). He was a bystander taking a cell phone video of Officer Erin Robles, a particularly aggressive officer, who bashed a 15-year-old boy’s head into a window because he was smoking a cigarette. Several other bystanders also recorded the encounter with their phones. The videos, including the one taken by Mr. Marks himself, do not indicate Mr. Marks even approached Officer Robles, much less made criminal threats, attempted riot, or otherwise interfered (see our original post here).
Nevertheless, Marks faced up to 18 years in state prison. His family could not afford the $155,000 bail, and he was in jail for months as a result, despite having hurt no one – until a generous engineer at Google, Neil Fraser, donated his own money to pay Marks’ bond. After the story of Jeremy Marks was exposed in LA Weekly, Fraser wrote to LA Weekly, “I am in a position to post bail for Jeremy so that he may spend Christmas with his family.”
Fraser explained, “When I was growing up, I spent several years in Germany — a country still traumatized by the Holocaust. One of the things I learned was that bad things can only happen if good people do nothing. I consider myself to be a good person, so I had no choice but to act when I saw something like this happening.”
This touching story is enough to stir the hearts of even calloused, cynical people. But of course, just as one sees a glimmer of hope, the police are on the trails of the only silver lining in a cloud of lies, quick to smash the last iota of justice remaining in a sordid tale of corruption and tyranny.
Most recently, the police conducted a violent raid on Marks’ family. The raid involved about 30 Los Angeles Police Department officers with their guns drawn. The police searched and trashed the house. They looted the entire place, seizing all forms and means of communication including phones, cameras and computers. They also drew guns on a neighbor who was trying to get his children. Jeremy’s legal documents were also seized (more here).
Yet again, when it comes to police, the rules of civility, justice and even the law, do not apply. Attorney-client privilege means nothing. “Innocent until proven guilty” means nothing. The Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure is indeed illusory. There are few things more “unreasonable” than a search and seizure that involves looting, theft, guns drawn on innocent people, and destruction of one’s home.
A young man who had not so much as touched a hair on an officer’s head had already been in jail for months because he could not afford bail. If “innocent until proven guilty” was ever a cherished concept in the United States, it certainly is not evidenced by the manner in which the legal system now operates. Marks sat in jail until a generous benefactor could pay his way out – this is not innocent until proven guilty; it’s the precise opposite. And of course, when the poor boy finally, and miraculously receives respite from the onslaught of shameful abuses by the legal system, the police are instantly there to quash any hope that there might yet be justice.
Assuming the evidence most unfavorable to Jeremy Marks, his actions towards Erin Robles amount to mere disrespect at the very worst. Yet such disrespect resulted in months of jail, and looting and destruction of his family’s home. Disrespect for a hallowed officer of the law was met with violence, theft and force by an agency that laughably claims to serve and protect people. If it weren’t for the badges and uniforms, the police undoubtedly would be virtually indistinguishable from a violent street gang.