Last Update: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mission College Student Protestor Will Take Court Approved Drug Classes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry Sun | Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 08 May 2014 04:35

Mission College student activist Ann Marie Catano, who was arrested by the San Fernando Police Department on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, and driving with a suspended license, has resolved her pending legal issues.

Catano, who appeared in the San Fernando City courthouse on Monday, May 5, agreed to a deferred entry judgment. Under the program, Catano was required to enter a guilty plea but will have the charges dismissed after completing a drug education and awareness program.

“I was given two options: I could continue to fight the case, and it could take an estimated nine court dates, or I could go to the classes,” Catano said. “It’s one class a week for several weeks; I won’t know how many classes [will be required] until I register for the program.”

Catano, who was on track to graduate in June and set to transfer to UC Berkeley, was active in the on-campus student protest “Occupy Mission College.” She was suspended by campus President Monte Perez for the semester at Mission [and the other eight Los Angeles Community colleges] after confronting a professor, who said she felt threatened by Catano. The suspension, which keeps her from completing the final two classes she needs to graduate, cost her the acceptance at Berkeley.

Other student protests evolved amid claims of unsanitary conditions in campus bathrooms and “bullying” by campus administrators, Mission’s poor transfer and graduation rates, and the denial of tenure for a popular professor.

Catano, told she could not step foot on campus, was with other demonstrators who were on the sidewalk in front of the campus on Eldridge Street in Sylmar on April 23, hoping to get the attention of the visiting accreditation committee.

She left the night protest to go over to the Sylmar Food For Less store with plans to “be right back,” but was stopped and arrested by SFPD officers on the corner of Hubbard Avenue and Glenoaks Boulevard. Catano was driving with a suspended license, and drugs were confiscated from the vehicle following a search by police. She was first taken to the San Fernando police station, then later transferred to the Lynwood Sheriff’s station.

Catano, a single mother of three daughters, denied ownership or knowledge of the drugs, and indicated to police that she had provided transportation to other protesters.

One such protester attended court to vouch for Catano, indicating he had doctor’s prescriptions for two of the three drugs reportedly located in the car.

Catano said police did show her the drugs that were medically prescribed, but not the third drug she was arrested for. She said she told San Fernando police to give her a drug test, but one was never administered to her.

“My lawyer felt there might be harassment because of protests, and it’s possible I was followed,” Catano said. “And the suspended license gave them the opportunity for a search and seizure.

“To keep fighting the case was going to be real time consuming, and I would have to fight it from Lynwood. Even if I did have a good case, I thought it would be better to take the classes.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 May 2014 22:11

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