Baldwin Park attorney, activist arrested during park concert

BALDWIN PARK >> Police arrested an attorney who has sued the city seeking the release of several public documents, according to booking records obtained Friday.
Paul Cook, 32, of Baldwin Park was booked at the Baldwin Park Police Department’s jail on suspicion of disturbing an assembly during Thursday’s summer concert at Morgan Park, according to Cook and Los Angeles County booking records. He was released from custody with a misdemeanor citation within three hours of his booking at the Baldwin Park Police Department.
Baldwin Park police officials could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Cook said he believed the arrest was retaliation for his activism.
“It’s all political,” he said.
Cook said he was handing out leaflets critical of the city’s Recreation and Community Services Department to the crowd when the agency director, Manuel Carrillo Jr. took the stage to speak.
“I only said ‘boo’ twice. I said you steal money from the community,” Cook said. “At that point, five police officers came. They said you can’t be speaking.
Two complaints filed by Cook last year and this year seek the release of city documents and accuse Carrillo of misappropriating funds of a charity Carrillo heads.
City Attorney Robert Tafoya said some of documents sought in Cook’s complaints do not exist.
“I think it’s a frivolous lawsuit. It’s a lawsuit that never should have been filed,” Tafoya said of the most recent lawsuit.
The most recent complaint, filed in March, also names Baldwin Park Police Chief and then-acting CEO Mike Taylor, the Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation and Baldwin Park Finance Director Craig Graves as defendants.
Cook’s previous complaint, filed in October, named the city and it’s former CEO, Vijay Singhal, as defendants.
Cook said two officers grabbed him and escorted him from the park, and told him to leave.
Cook said he maintained he had a First Amendment right to speak at the park, and refused to leave. He was then arrested.
Cook said after being strip searched down to his underwear by a female officer, police rewrote his citation three times before ultimately citing him for disturbing an assembly.

— Staff Writer Melissa Masatani contributed to this report.

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  • Jimmy Wilhelmssohn

    My praise and admiration to Paul Cook for his bravery. I have been watching from afar in NC for some time now, and I wish him well.