Oakland: Statement regarding January 8 courtroom chaos

From Anarchist News:

for comrade Jack

statement below:

This past Tuesday morning, nearly 100 people gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza to say goodbye to Jack. Jack was arrested on January 7, 2012 during the very first FTP march in downtown Oakland. This march was called as a response to OPD and the local Oakland state apparatus’ repression of all rebellious elements in Oakland with brute force in the wake of Occupy Oakland. After clearing the encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza twice, a struggle over territory in Oakland’s downtown became a near daily event. Some would try to hold on to Oscar Grant Plaza as a zone where struggles could be coordinated and actions organized. A twenty four hour vigil continued even as the camp was gone. After many brutal arrests and regular brawls with pigs over control of downtown turf, a Fuck the Police march, that ended up becoming a weekly tradition for months, was called for the first Saturday of January. It was at this demonstration on January 7 that Jack was arrested and given bullshit charges – multiple felonies for assaulting a police officer and a made up “possession of an explosive device” charge that would eventually be dropped due to lack of any evidence. A year long court battle eventually resulted in Jack taking a plea deal: 1 year at Santa Rita Jail (though with “half-time” and “good behavior” he’ll be out in six months) and multiple years of probation.

Together with our comrade and his family leading the way we walked quietly in the street some eight blocks to the court house. About 50 of us somberly filed into the courtroom. Jack was called before judge Carrie Panetta (daughter in law of former CIA director Leon Panetta) who rambled about the length of his sentence. She banned our friend from ever making contacts with “his victims” (as though pigs can be victims!) otherwise known as officers of the Oakland Police Department. After agreeing to the year long sentence, with only half to be served, the judge ordered the bailiffs take Jack into custody. Almost immediately dozens of people were clapping and hissing. Screams filled the air. “Burn the prisons!” “Fuck the police!” “Death to pigs!” “Hang the Judges!” “Pig Fuckers!”“Brick by brick, tear this court to the ground!” People stomped on the ground, cursed the judged, and brought smiles to the dozen or so inmates being sentenced that day. It was a modest yet appropriate response to a system that tears loved ones away from each other and reproduces the laws that defend the horrors in this world Jack was resisting in the first place.

After a minute or so of yelling we decided on our own accord to leave the court. By the time half of us were in the hallway the bailiffs had been ordered to arrest at least one person. These court-pigs rushed into the crowd with tazers and extendible batons. By the end of the pig-initiated melee four people were in custody and dozens of others were fleeing the courthouse. Family members of other prisoners were pleased with our disruption and shouted, “Fuck the police!” from passing cars. Another person leaving the courthouse in the aftermath of the fight nodded in approval and stated “I want friends like y’all”. We do not mention this to inflate our egos or position ourselves as a vanguard. This is merely evidence to prove that the people of Oakland continue to identify the courts and pigs as the enemy despite media representations to the contrary.

Oakland experienced a social explosion in 2011, an explosion no anarchist could have foreseen. One that soaked our wettest dreams. Inspiration drawn from concurrent struggles throughout the United States and across the world fed the naivety of even the most seasoned street fighters. Oakland seemed to be in the midst of an insurrectionary moment. It would not be long before the consequences of a year long social rupture caught up with us.

A wave of repression continues to crest over the West Coast. In the Bay Area alone many dozens of our comrades are in jail, on probation, or facing charges. Squats have been evicted and our social centers are under the gun. From the Bay to Seattle houses have been raided, grand juries have been convened, comrades are in prison, others have fled, and some have cowardly turned their backs on us in cooperation with the State. We acknowledge our stories are not unique. This wave of repression has crashed down on multiple cities across North America and the world.

Sometimes we drown in our collective hopelessness. We take cover in our homes. We cradle ourselves with distractions. We cope with silence. Last Tuesday we spontaneously chose a different path. We grieved loudly. The reality of yet another loved one ripped from us proved to be too much. If only for a moment their halls of justice were graffitied with disruptive screams and we brought the Oakland Commune to our enemy’s pig pen. We hope memories of yesterday will bring strength to our friends behind bars. This time the gavel did not delay our resistance. Our hopelessness has again turned into rage. May our struggles reflect such a turn.

Fire to the prisons. Fuck the police.
Freedom to our comrades. Freedom to all prisoners.

Postscript: As of Friday January 11, all four comrades arrested in the courtroom melee have been released from Santa Rita. Only one has appeared in court and his charges are not being filed at this time by the DA. Hopefully the same will be true with the other three who have court in February.

Bay Area: “Jesse the brickthrower” needs your support

From Bay Area ABC:

Jesse the Brickthower was accused of throwing bricks at police during a May Day Occupation. He is facing felony charges, of felony assault, assault on a police officer, and vandalism.

He has a history of mental health problems dating at least as far back as the age of 16 when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is also a vet who has PTSD, and has problems with substance abuse.

He will be having a pretrial hearing Wednesday the 27th. Apologies to both Jessie and his supporters for not getting this out earlier.

Occupy Oakland prisoners attacked inside Santa Rita Jail

From yael@sfbg.com:
In the aftermath of the mass arrests of Occupy Oakland protesters– and whoever else happened to be on the wrong street at the wrong time– on Jan. 28 in Oakland, there have been loads of reports and rumors about brutality inflicted on those arrested. Most of those arrested were held in Santa Rita jail.

My observations:

I spent 20 hours in jail, and I saw some cruel treatment. I saw people suffering after being denied medication. I saw people with allergies to the food that was provided refused any substitute and unable to eat, sometimes for more than 24 hours. I saw people crammed into holding cells meant for groups a third their size, so that some people had to remain standing, sometimes for more than 24 hours. As many arrestees were wearing clothing coated in tear gas and pepper spray, those chemicals continued to waft through cells and affect all present.

Reports:

I have reports directly from sources of arrested occupiers being beat up in jail with police batons. At least 20 people were zip tied, meaning their hands were cuffed behind their backs– and more often than not, if they happen to be cuffed too tightly and their hands go numb and even blue, police won’t loosen them– for more than eight hours. I know that some people who were denied access to a restroom ended up sitting in their own vomit and urine for at least four hours in some cases.

UPDATE Another report from someone who was released Monday night:

“I was held for 53 hours for a misdemeanor charge which every single person here, and there, knows will never be brought, and indeed which will be met with a class action suit for wrongful arrest that the city of Oakland will be compelled to settle. I have a perforated peptic ulcer. Early on in the stay I requested non—prescription care — liquid antacid, which the jail keeps on hand — when I began to have an ulcer attack, which is to say, when I began to bleed internally. I was not given such care until an attorney was able to intervene by phone many hours later. I received one capful, which was mildly effective for about three hours. Further requests were ignored. As many will know, a bleeding ulcer attack is both painful and potentially fatal….Food was often not provided for periods of up to 14 hours. For a long period I shared a cell with 27 other people; it was about ten by ten feet. For a period I was in a cell labeled “Maximum Occupancy: Two.” There were ten of us, three very sick. We stood. One of the people slumped over on the toilet, that being the alternative to standing.”

UPDATE

“Three people I know were denied medication for HIV infections while being held for multiple days, which is a life-threatening choice made by the county”

“two women were denied anti-depressants that they had with them when they went to jail”

Unconfirmed reports:

Daily Kos quotes an anonymous source who reports that “prisoners from the Oakland Commune were being denied medications (some had seizures) while the guards said they didn’t care if they died. Some people were brutally beaten. The put tear gas in the vents of my cell twice.” According to Occupy Oakland media spokesperson Omar Yassin, a report that someone was tear gassed in the jail’s hallway is likely credible.

Then there’s the people who were injured during the protests Jan. 28. Also according to Yassin:

At least a dozen people had welts on their faces or bodies from being beaten by clubs or shot with rubber bullets. One woman was shot in both arms with rubber bullet; one man was shot in the face with rubber bullets while holding a video camera to document the events. Several protesters were shoved to the ground and received wounds on their faces while being arrested. Police raised their rubber-bullet rifles to the faces of protesters throughout the day, threatening attacks– a rubber bullet to the face can cause brain damage and blindness.

A spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department refused to comment, although she did say that they’ve “been bombarded with calls about this all day.” Shocker.

UPDATE According to Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Sergeant JD Nelson, no complaints of mistreatment at Santa Rita have been filed.

Nelson said that peanut butter was made available to vegans those allergic to meat, in direct contrast to what I witnessed in jail.

In response to reports that some detainees were held on buses in the Santa Rita parking lot for up to eight hours, during which time they were refused bathroom access and in some cases made to sit in their own urine and vomit, Nelson said that “Generally when they come to the jail the buses are unloaded fairly quickly. Obviously some people are going to go first, some last.”

He told me that detainees were denied medication because “We do we allow them to take their medication in jail. People will try to smuggle stuff in.”

When asked about reported beating in jail, Nelson replied, “I haven’t gotten any reports of any skirmishes between officers and those arrested. We would report it if there was any use of force,”

According to Nelson, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has video footage of all of the areas in the jail where arrestees were held, and, unless there was a lawsuit preventing its release, he would make the footage available to me soon. For now he said, “I don’t even know if they’ve been developed.” (Is this 1984? Not in the Orwellian sense. In the technology sense.)

More on this soon. Send me information that you have, yael@sfbg.com

Occupy Oakland in urgent need of bail funds

OCCUPY OAKLAND NEEDS BAIL FUNDS! (click here to donate)

Police Chief Howard Jordan has been quoted in AP saying there were almost 400 people arrested yesterday. There are many people who were arrested that need urgent medical attention, people who have been injured by the police or do not have their medication with them that they need to treat prior conditions. We need the money to bail these people out!

Many people who have medical needs were unable to prevent themselves from being arrested, or to retrieve their medication, because the police did not give a dispersal order– they just kettled. We are still gathering names.

Our bail funds have been dwindling significantly as a result of the police backlash against occupy oakland in the last month, if you are able, PLEASE donate – 10, 50, 100, whatever you can!

Go to this link!

https://www.wepay.com/x35uob0/donations/occupy_oakland_bail_fund

Occupy Oakland: 300 arrests, several injuries as demonstrators attempt takeover of abandoned community center then besiege Oakland City Hall

From Capitalist Media:

OAKLAND — Police arrested about 300 people Saturday as Occupy Oakland protesters were thwarted trying to take over a vacant convention center and a YMCA but later broke into City Hall, where they burned a flag taken from inside.

Police used tear gas and “flash” grenades in the afternoon against 2,000 protesters who tried to tear down fences around the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center, where they hoped to establish a new camp. Police said some demonstrators started throwing objects at officers. There were at least 19 arrests in the afternoon.

After 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), police in riot gear declared a group of protesters gathered near the YMCA under mass arrest for failing to disperse, according to local media reports and livestreams. Police said about 100 demonstrators were arrested at the YMCA.

Full coverage here.