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ilbegone 10-22-2010 08:46 AM

High Desert "clown activist" arrested in L.A.
High Desert "clown activist" arrested in L.A.

The Associated Press


DOWNEY (AP) An activist who attends government meetings around California in a clown suit to criticize officials has been charged with making criminal threats against the city clerk in Bell.

The Los Angeles Times says 63-year-old Edwin Thomas Snell, an Apple Valley resident, was arrested on Tuesday, remains jailed and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in a Downey courtroom.

Authorities say a Bell city council member filed a police report alleging that Snell threatened the city clerk during a recent council meeting in the Los Angeles suburb, which has been hit with a salary scandal.

Because he has two previous felony convictions, Snell could face up to life in prison if convicted. However, prosecutors aren't expected to seek a third-strike enhancement.

Authorities say the charge grew out of a threat related to a public records request.

'Clown suit activist' arrested for allegedly threatening Bell city clerk at council meetings

October 20, 2010

A political activist known for attending municipal government meetings in a clown suit has been arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats against the Bell city clerk.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Edwin Thomas Snell, 63, on Tuesday on the steps of the L.A. County Hall of Administration, where he was attending a Board of Supervisors meeting.

He was being held Wednesday in lieu of $1-million bail, according to the Sheriff's Department website.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said a Bell City Council member, whom he did not name, said Snell made threats directed at a staff member during a recent council meeting.

Prosecutors said the threat was directed at Bell city clerk Rebecca Valdez.

[Updated 3:45 p.m.: A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Snell would be arraigned on the criminal threats charge Thursday in Superior Court in Downey. The case against Snell, who has two previous felony convictions, was filed as a third-strike case that could potentially bring life in prison.

But Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for D.A. Steve Cooley, said Wednesday that under the district attorney's policy, which sets a high bar for any case that could bring a life sentence, the case will probably be handled as though this were Snell's second strike. She said the charge grew out of a threat related to a public records act request.]
That led an unidentified council member to file a police report, and authorities issued a felony arrest warrant for Snell. City officials had previously sought and obtained a civil restraining order against Snell.

Snell, known as the "clown suit activist" because he wears the costume to government meetings across the state, often disparages public officials during public comment periods.

But authorities said they there was little humor in his alleged run-in in Bell, which has been rocked by scandals over high salaries and alleged corruption.

"Clown suit or no clown suit, some things aren't funny," Whitmore said.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Ayatollahgondola 10-22-2010 09:42 AM

Amazing how they have not said precisely what was the threat.

ilbegone 10-22-2010 10:06 AM


Originally Posted by Ayatollahgondola (Post 12840)
Amazing how they have not said precisely what was the threat.

It could be anything. Police reports tend not to be an accurate accounting of an incident, and are quite often greatly exaggerated into an entirely different incident than what actually took place.

Maybe the man got loud with "I want it now" (maybe disturbance of the peace), and the incident was related to or interpreted by the officers as "I'll beat your ass" (terrorist threats).

If nothing else, I believe the man will be threatened with a felony, then offered a plea bargain with probation to serve as a warning against ever coming back to LA County to "stir up trouble", a part of the currently popular "broken window" philosophy of law enforcement.

I understand there are various timings for charges to be filed and subject arraigned or released, depending on what the charges are and whether or not the subject is in custody. I believe the seriousness at which they are looking at him will be reflected in his bail, and whether or not his bail diminishes on a daily basis - regardless of the charges.

And, his bail is one million dollars. He had best retain quality representation.

ilbegone 10-22-2010 01:49 PM

The reason I'm posting this is to emphasize the necessity of keeping one's act clean - and, if possible, have witnesses with video shot in such a way it can't be immediately confiscated by LEO's before being reproduced - while performing anti-illegal immigration activism. I can tell you through personal experience (on the receiving end) that it's extremely easy to framed by someone who knows how to pull the strings.

This article has a little more information


...arrested on a $1 million felony warrant for threatening Bell City Clerk Rebecca Valdez...

..."It was a pretty serious threat - serious enough to where a City Council member filed a police report"...

...Los Angeles County prosecutors charged Snell with one felony count of making criminal threats. He is scheduled for arraignment today in Downey Superior Court...

...Gibbons said Snell's situation all started with a Public Records Act request he made to the city of Bell on Aug. 11.

"He went back to (Bell) city hall on Aug. 27 and apparently was given his request, and that's when the alleged crime occurred," Gibbons said, declining to specify the threat Snell allegedly made to Valdez.

"I can't tell you because it's an evidentiary issue we cannot talk about outside of court," Gibbons said...

...Snell has two prior felony assault convictions out of Pomona...

...City officials in Bell had previously sought and obtained a civil restraining order against Snell...

...For years, Snell has been a fixture at Board of Supervisors and city council meetings up and down the state, donning his colorful clown costume, frizzy wig and oversize costume eyeglasses. Seldom does he allow any elected official behind the dais to escape a tongue-lashing.

But at Tuesday's Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting, Snell was more reserved - dressed in a suit instead of a clown costume, Whitmore said.

When Snell stepped outside for a cigarette, sheriff's deputies moved in and arrested him...
Snell evidently didn't have a clue that a police report had been filed and a warrant issued for his arrest - such as happened to me.

I'm not taking sides concerning Snell, I wasn't there. However, this sort of thing is something to consider concerning possibilities - it wouldn't hurt to learn what one's legal rights are and staying within the boundaries concerning behavior which may otherwise be considered a violation of law.

Patriotic Army Mom 10-22-2010 07:11 PM

It will be hard for me to keep my mouth shut. Soon they will tell us how many sheets of toilet paper we can use at one time.

ilbegone 10-23-2010 01:53 AM

What I find fishy about all this is that that the Bell City Clerk didn't find the alleged incident threatening enough to contact the police herself, it was an unnamed council member who filed the report. Was the council member a witness to the alleged incident, or did he act on convenient hearsay?

Unspecified City of Bell officials had previously obtained a restraining order against Snell, which apparently lapsed or didn't apply under the circumstances - he's definitely an unwelcome outsider.

This smells like the dispensation of a "lesson". The city council obviously has some clout with the police department, perhaps an "appropriate" police report was forwarded to the DA's office.

Even if they don't have anything to convict him on, his bail is set high enough that he's not going anywhere, and it might be a month or so before they get around to providing him with a public defender to present a bullshit plea bargain - all the while in LA county general population - a pretty ugly place to be. If he rejects a plea bargain and the prosecutor has nothing to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt he stays in jail until the day of or day before the trial, forcing the defense attorney to prepare for trial, then drop the charges and release Snell - thus effectively punishing Snell by imprisonment without violating his "rights" plus "fining" Snell by costing him a lot of cash if he hired an attorney rather than using the public defender.

A further note. It's my subjective belief that it's not in a public defender's professional interest to piss off the court by effectively defending his "client", and it might be the same for a local attorney who "works" the same courts. I believe they all keep each other in business, and a naive jury can be a crap shoot for a defendant.

Ayatollahgondola 10-23-2010 04:50 PM

If the case goes to trial, let's get the records. In the meantime, we can write him and see if he'll respond.

ilbegone 10-24-2010 09:25 AM

Booking Number 2518265

Snell Edwin Thomas
Born 12/21/1946
Age 63

As I said before, I don't know Snell, I don't know what happened in Bell since I wasn't there, and I'm not taking a position as to the merit of his arrest.

However, it stinks to me, I do believe he is being framed on account of his particular brand of political activism. Usually Law Enforcement and District Attorney spokesmen will give a description of the alleged crime to the media, but they are being tight lipped in this case. That leads me to believe they are still working on their story.

Snell seems to have had a lot of time on his hands prior to his arrest and a perpetually full tank of gas. He attended a wide variety of governmental meetings where he could comment in various jurisdictions. He doesn't seem to have been particular tactful in his commentary, from what I found at least some of it was baiting and personal, maybe some of it was off the mark.

He has a website dedicated to the recall of various politicians and otherwise a political recall list reputed to include but not limited to San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and other various San Bernardino County regional politicians, Governor Arnold Scwartzenegger, and the city councils of Bell and Maywood.

A city council has quite a bit of influence over the police department, a significant portion of Bell city council members are facing criminal corruption charges (some are still wearing jailhouse orange) and Snell may have been poking a stick into a hive of pissed off bees with his recall movement concerning Bell council members augmented by his public information requesting presence.

It's well worth considering that the police were contacted to file a police report by an UNNAMED BELL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER rather than the public employee with whom he was interacting.

A few descriptions of Snell's antics:


Jan 2009
Appearing before the board in a blue polka dot clown suit, a bushy black wig and a Postmus mask with a glass pipe affixed to the mouth, community activist Edwin Thomas "E.T." Snell grilled the board, alleging its lack of due diligence and ongoing history of corruption.
"Postmus is only the tip of the iceberg of the corruption in San Bernardino County," said Snell, 63, of Apple Valley. He said there was an undercurrent of "homosexuality and pedophilia" within the walls of county officialdom. He referred specifically to Postmus' reported homosexuality and former allegations that surfaced years ago against a now retired San Bernardino County judge.

SB Sun article

Aug 2010
Only two dissenters opposed her nomination during Wednesday’s hearing.* Activist Edwin Thomas Snell said he deemed her unqualified for allegedly not upholding the rights of prisoners. Another dissenter, Atty. Geoffrey Graybill accused Cantil-Sakauye of bias toward women in family law cases.

Edwin Thomas Snell of Apple Valley – who called himself a clown community activist but wasn’t allowed to wear his costume Wednesday – argued that Cantil-Sakauye discriminates against the mentally disabled.

June- July 2008
Often regarded as little more than a nuisance by county officials, gadfly Edwin Thomas Snell may now become a bit harder to ignore.
Earlier this year, in his self-appointed crusade to rid San Bernardino County of corruption, Snell began the process of drawing up petitions to recall several elected officials. Snell embarked on the mission in March, some time before the law enforcement raids on the office of Assessor Bill Postmus and the arrest earlier this week of a top deputy of the agency.

Snell is well-known for his governmental harassment appearances in California.

Snell has a reputation for verbally berating public officials, and is known to wear his clown costume to meetings. He has earned notoriety as the "clown suit activist" and runs his own political website, to circulate recall petitions for state government officials.

He started a petition to recall Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year. He recently tried to start recall movements for both Bell and Maywood city council members.

Ayatollahgondola 10-24-2010 02:23 PM

They are holding him on a million dollars bail? A million for allegations of making a threat? That seems quite execessive.

I'm drafting a letter to him, but who knows if he'll answer

Inmate Name, Booking Number
PO BOX 86164
Terminal Annex
Los Angeles, CA 90086-0164

ilbegone 10-24-2010 03:23 PM


Originally Posted by Ayatollahgondola (Post 12878)
They are holding him on a million dollars bail? A million for allegations of making a threat? That seems quite execessive.

I'm drafting a letter to him, but who knows if he'll answer

Inmate Name, Booking Number
PO BOX 86164
Terminal Annex
Los Angeles, CA 90086-0164

He can't talk about the incident - they read his mail mail. Besides, it may not get to him, or they might not provide him with writing materials at the county level. County corrections officers are nearly all gaping assholes. I was contemplating sending him some paper and stamped envelopes, but meth has been smuggled into jail with stick on devices. His money on the books is probably what he had on his person at time of arrest.

Same thing happened to me concerning bail. A false police report concerning myself (terrorist threats) eventually found itself in front of the city council where I was living at the time. The cop who arrested me (and searched my house without a warrant) said that except for the pressure placed through the political structure they wouldn't have bothered with me.

In my case my bail was $250,000. I asked the judge at my arraignment for release on my own recognizance - he looked straight through me and icely said "I don't think so". After about 20 days they provided me with a public defender who expressed puzzlement as to why I was being held, they didn't have anything on me. However, he also explained that if I didn't take the plea bargain, I would stay in jail to await trial.

I took the plea bargain for a minor misdemeanor conviction, sentenced to time served, and tossed out of the facility in the middle of the night.

I have asked several police officers and one prosecutor of various jurisdictions over the years about how I was set up and they all said that the scumbag who did it to me knew what he was doing.

I don't know Mr. Snell, and I might not like him if I did, but this smells like a railroading to me. Regardless of what a pain in the ass the man might be, the legal system should never be misused in such a manner.

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