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SIMI VALLEY : 5 Held in Protest Released From Jail

Five suspects arrested in Simi Valley during a protest of a white supremacist group have been released, authorities said Sunday.

The five all posted bail or were released on their own recognizance Saturday night and will be arraigned later, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Swift said.

The five were arrested Saturday during a demonstration against a white supremacist group that tried to march in support of the not-guilty verdicts in the Rodney G. King beating case.

Police put the seven members of the Mississippi-based Nationalist Movement in protective custody before they could begin their scheduled march from the parking lot of City Hall. The supremacists were later released and did not return, police said.

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Two police officers suffered minor injuries, and free-lance photographer Pedro Meyer was hit in the back of the head by a full can of soda, but authorities said the protest could easily have turned more violent.

Simi Valley Mayor Greg Stratton said the incident could have been avoided if no one had paid attention to the supremacist group. He blamed groups from outside the county for the troubles at the protest.

Police declared the assembly in front of City Hall unlawful and ordered people to leave, but protests in front of the courthouse were peaceful and allowed to continue.

“The way we (would) do it differently is for everyone to ignore them,” Stratton said Sunday.

“If the seven of them showed up, did their march and talked to each other and left, we wouldn’t have had problems. It was the people from outside the community that caused most of the problems and gave them some of the publicity they were seeking.”

Many of the 300 people who attended the counter-protest came from activist groups based in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Included were the National Organization for Women, Radical Women, Queer Nation, National Women’s Rights Organizing Coalition, Revolutionary Workers League, Independent Committee Against Racism, the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, the Freedom Socialist Party, Black Employees’ Assn. and Mothers Against Supremacists.

Arrested at the demonstration were Joseph Wagner, 20, of Los Angeles, on suspicion of battery; Joseph Ortiz, 38, of Los Angeles, on suspicion of possessing a weapon; and Steve Moss, 23, of Santa Monica, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

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Also arrested were Juan Rosborough, 37, and Jeffrey Snitzer, 32, both of Simi Valley, on suspicion of remaining after dispersal of an unlawful assembly and resisting arrest.

A 15-year-old Los Angeles boy was also arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, but authorities on Sunday would not release information on where he was being held.


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