laraLos Angeles photographer Jonas Lara could face up to a year in prison. Lara was arrested last February while taking pictures of graffiti artists putting up a mural in an abandoned South Central building. His initial charge was felony vandalism, now changed to a misdemeanor of aiding and abetting as he faces trial on May 11.

The cops claim he was keeping a look out for the graffiti artists, which would be kind of difficult seeing as how he was busy taking photos. Lara was photographing the activity for an ongoing project on 30 visual artists and as a journalist he had the right to be there.

In an interview with LA-based photographer’s rights blog, Discarted, Lara says he wishes he was better informed of his rights and spoke up when he was arrested and detained. Lara was also stripped of his camera, lenses and memory cards, which are his livelihood. His equipment has not yet been returned.

Unfortunately, his public defender “didn’t even want to entertain the idea of bringing up 1st Amendment rights or photographers’ rights or anything along those lines.” You can donate to the Jonas Lara Legal Defense Fund here. |PDNPulse, Discarted|

Image: Jonas Lara via Discarted