Four months after covering celebrations in Los Angeles, California, following the Dodgers’ World Series win on Oct. 27, 2020, multimedia journalist Lexis-Olivier Ray says he received a citation for failure to disperse that evening.
Los Angeles and cities across the U.S. experienced protests against police brutality throughout the summer, and crowds in L.A. had clashed with police earlier in October during celebrations of the Lakers’ NBA championship win. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.
USA Today reported that the Dodgers celebrations took place mainly downtown and in Echo Park, a neighborhood near Dodger Stadium. Ray was on assignment that evening for L.A. Taco, a digital-only outlet focused on the city.
Ray told the Tracker that while documenting the scene he was assaulted by LAPD officers, who tackled him to the ground and beat him with batons just after midnight, damaging his equipment — an incident which the Tracker has documented here — but he was not detained or issued a citation.
It was a surprise, Ray said, when he got a letter from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office on March 3, 2021, notifying him that the office had received a report alleging that he had “violated Section PC409 Riot — remaining after warning to disperse on Oct. 27, 2020.”
Failure to disperse is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The letter ordered him to appear for a hearing on March 8, stating that should he fail to appear, criminal charges may be brought against him.
“I spoke to a public defender that said if I appear it will likely get thrown out,” Ray said, “but I have a lot of questions about why I received this notice in the first place.”
Neither the city attorney’s office nor the Los Angeles Police Department responded to requests for comment as of press time.
This content originally appeared on U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents and was authored by U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents.