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Lawyer arrested in Occupy protest at Port Hueneme

December 12, 2011 |  4:38 pm

Port Hueneme
It didn't take long for Frank Chimienti to become the first and, so far, only person to be arrested at Monday's Occupy protest at the Port of Hueneme.

Within an hour of joining protesters picketing outside the deep-water port, he decided to lie down in the middle of the road to block a long line of trucks trying to enter, said Chimienti, 41.

When police asked him to get up, he refused. They asked again and when he refused a second time, they arrested him.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests

The Camarillo man, a real estate lawyer, said he was aware of the potential consequences of his action. As  a Buddhist, he said he believes that nonviolent civil disobedience is sometimes necessary to bring  awareness of an injustice.

Chimienti said he believes the Occupy movement is the embodiment of that philosophy. Greed and manipulation of the political system by the wealthy and corporate America have rendered the usual levers of democracy impotent, he said.

"People in power won't relinquish control unless they are forced to,'' he said.

Chimienti, who just a few years ago packaged mortgages for resale, may seem an odd ally in the younger-skewing Occupy movement. Before he chose law as a second career, he was a chemist and  winemaker.

But the death of his wife and the economic collapse caused him to look more deeply at life, he said.

"I've almost become a completely different person than I was three years ago," he said. "I was making $180,000 as a third-year associate."

Now he runs his own real estate practice. He has followed the Occupy movement from its start and camped with the protesters at Los Angeles City Hall for a few days before they were evicted.

His arrest just before 11 a.m. resulted in a traffic infraction. He got along so well with the Port Hueneme police that one of them drove him to his car after he was released, he said.

The whole episode lasted less than an hour, he said.

"I actually made it to a 1:30 appearance in court,'' he laughed.


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Photo: Dozens of Occupy protesters gather Monday outside the gates of the Port of Hueneme. Credit: Associated Press