Chaos in Oakland Court
From SFGate (blog)
The scene has played out dozens of times in Oakland courtrooms in the past 14 months. An Occupy activist, arrested during a demonstration, makes a court appearance as supporters look on from the gallery. Sometimes the supporters sit quietly, obeying the strict rules set out by the court, and other times they shout disapproval, or chant slogans, and get the boot.
On Tuesday, three of them got arrested, authorities said.
It happened in Department 11 of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, during the 8:30 a.m. sentencing of 24-year-old activist Jack Rusk of Oakland. Earlier, he had pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault in a deal with prosecutors that called for a year in jail. Prosecutors dropped a slate of charges — including assault on a peace officer and possessing explosives — that stemmed from an Occupy anti-police rally Jan. 7, 2012.
Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, an office spokeswoman, said Rusk was indeed sentenced in a brief hearing and remanded into custody by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies.
Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said some audience members then shouted at Judge Carrie Panetta, who ordered one woman to be arrested for contempt. He said that as deputies arrested the woman, two other people interfered and were also taken into custody on suspicion of obstruction. The arrestees, who were jailed, were not identified.
One of Rusk’s attorneys, Jeff Wozniak, said there were about 30 supporters in the courtroom, and that after the sentencing they began to chant, “Jack, Jack, Jack.” When Panetta ordered sheriff’s deputies to clear the court, Wozniak said, the supporters started chanting, “F— the police” and “F— the courts.” As people filed out, he said, Panetta ordered the arrest of the woman, who was within a thick crowd, and chaos followed.
“By the time I got out into the hallway, they had Tased someone, taken out their batons and arrested four people,” Wozniak said. “It was a very unfortunate series of events.”
Nelson said he did not know whether deputies had deployed a Taser.
“Whenever there’s any courtroom disruption, our deputies are going to be there to handle it,” he said. “If a judge orders a person to be arrested, they’re going to be arrested.”