Occupy Oakland protesters arrested Saturday appear in court

January 9, 2012 9:37:43 PM PST
The war between Occupy Oakland and the city it wants to occupy continues this week. On Monday the battle shifted to the courthouse where demonstrators arrested Saturday night were supposed to face a judge.

Occupy Oakland protesters who were a part of an anti-police demonstration had their day in court.

"If you are oppressed by the same system in which we're protesting against, the movement will stand-up," said protester Jessica Hollie.

Hollie was at the Alameda County Courthouse to support the six people arrested over the weekend for their part in an anti-police demonstration that turned violent on Saturday night.

"There were over, my estimate would be, 200 police officers in riot gear which made it turn into a more volatile situation," said Hollie.

Some of the protesters in custody had their charges reduced to a misdemeanor and their supporters immediately called that a victory.

"The problem here is that OPD needs to stop filing charges that the district attorney legally cannot actually pursue," said Laleh Behbehanian, an Occupy Oakland protester.

Police were quick to point out that protesters did not have a permit to demonstrate and that at least one of the people arrested was carrying an explosive device.

"The explosive was about a quarter of a stick of dynamite that was found on this individual," said Oakland Police Spokesperson Officer Johnna Watson.

Protesters marched from City Hall to police headquarters carrying banners, laced with expletives, directed at police. It was at Washington Street near 7th Street, when police say, things got out of control. Protesters threw bottles at officers, started a bonfire, defaced a media van, slashed tires on police cars and smashed the windows of the Starbucks at the corner of 8th Street and Broadway. That Starbucks still remained boarded up on Monday.

And caught in the middle of all it was small business owners who simply want to co-exist among the demonstrations, while making their customers feel comfortable enough to come in and support them.

"We don't want people to be afraid that because there are protests, business shouldn't be running still," said Marsilio Gabuardi from Tamarindo Mexicana.

Protesters say police failed to give a dispersal order before making their move on the crowd. One protester told ABC7 that he was hit by a bean bag bullet, but we have not been able to confirm that independently. Attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild are representing many of the protesters.