SAN FRANCISCO—Daily protests have been held in San Francisco following the arrest of a Falun Gong practitioner in Chinatown on Tuesday—a case that has raised concerns of discrimination.
Cao Li, the principal of a performing arts middle and high school, who graduated from the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy, was arrested by police after she refused to sign a citation for posted signage that was posted by someone else.
“The arrest of and overnight detention of Ms. Cao is puzzling,” said Dr. Terri Marsh in a statement. Marsh has been retained as Cao’s counsel and is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Foundation.
Ms. Cao, who is in her 30′s, practices Falun Gong, a traditional meditation practice to improve mind and body. For years Falun Gong practitioners have been present in San Francisco’s Chinatown informing passersby about the practice and the persecution of its believers in China.
Ms. Cao had just arrived at the site after which she was approached by police officers asking her to sign a citation for hanging the signs. Cao refused to sign the citation believing it was admitting guilt to something she didn’t do.
“At this point, rather than explain in detail the nature of the document she was asked to sign, the police officers restrained her and took her into custody without any apparent legal basis,” said Marsh.
“Ms. Cao appears to have been arrested without articulable suspicion, much less probable cause, of criminal conduct,” she said.
Cao was transported to the Southern Police Station where she was kept overnight, while still not knowing why she was detained or what charges she might face. Her arrest sparked an overnight protest at the police station with protests continuing on a daily basis.
On Friday protests were held in front of the Hall of Justice, along Stockton St. in Chinatown, and in front of the local police station Chinatown, Central Station.
Standing in front of the Hall of Justice, which is home to the Southern Station where she was held overnight, Ms. Cao said she came to appeal because she was arrested without cause.
Standing with flyers in her hand on Stockton St. Jenny Zhang said that she came to Chinatown in response to the arrest.
“There are people in Chinatown who are heavily influenced by the Chinese Communist Party, which persecutes Falun Gong in China. Those people would like Falun Gong out of Chinatown. We came here today because we would like people to know that Falun Gong is good,” said Zhang.
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