Khali and Truth, Two Original OGP Activists in Jail and Need Support

Posted on December 23, 2011

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I also wanted to highlight the situation of Truth, an original occupier who’s been in jail on an unrelated charge stemming from a probation violation. We speak in the abstract of the dangers for people of color, poor and disenfranchised from participating in civil disobedience–Truth and Khali represent the concrete realities. The complexities of being poor and of color in this country present great barriers of police repression combined with the legacies of choices made in an environment lacking options, for people of color turning their focus for the first time towards political activism. The dehumanization of people who are considered native to the prison system by its judges and wardens is revealed by the command given by Judge to bailiff during today’s hearings when it came time to bring a new group in from solitary confinement: “switch the bodies.” But these ‘bodies’ are our friends, our comrades, our peers.

You can contact Occupy Oakland’s Anti-Repression Committee for further details or to get involved.

Truth:

One of our comrades, Truth, was arrested the evening of the General Strike. He now is still in custody due to a probation violation. The Anti-Repression Support Committee would like to encourage everyone involved in the Occupy movement to stand in solidarity with him through this rough time. Truth is (as he put it) “an occupier for life!” and was with us from day one of the occupation of Oscar Grant Plaza until his arrest. We just received a letter from him and he has expressed that he wants to hear from and see fellow occupiers and was overjoyed to know we hadn’t forgotten him.

Here’s a few suggestions on how to get Truth’s back:

1. Go to his courtdates, give him a wink and the evil eye to the judge and DA (who’s trying to give him a year! F-that.)
NEXT COURTDATEJanuary 31st at 2pm at Rene Davidson courthouse (note this is a different courthouse than the arraignments!) on 12th and Oak street. Department 11.

2. Write him letters
HIS ADDRESSEric Benard #AWK373
550 6th Street
Oakland, CA 94607

3. Visit him. He’s at North County Jail (aka Glenn Dyer Jail) which is on 7th Street and Clay.Visiting hours for Truth are Fridays 12:00 3:00 – you must sign up for this visit between 9:30am and 2:00pm, and Sunday 8:00am – 11:00am – sign up times are from 7:15- 10:00am. Each visit is 30 minutes and Truth is allowed 2 visits per designated day. When you sign up to visit you must present a valid form of identification and his PRN number #AWK373

4. Truth’s NLG attorney is looking for witnesses to his arrest. Did you witness his arrest? Please get in touch with the National Lawyers Guild if you think you did, or if you have video or pictures of his arrest. If you’re not sure do not hesitate to check with the NLG. Call the hotline: 415 285 1011

Khali:

Occupy Oakland is facing increasingly brutal targeting by Oakland Police Department and City Hall. This has ranged from issuing citations for having “structures” like umbrellas in Oscar Grant Plaza or parking tickets to community members dropping off food and supplies, to daily forms of police harassment and raids on Occupy Oakland.

Last Friday December 16, OPD conducted a raid targeting Occupy Oakland during which they confiscated all of the personal belongings of the Occupiers maintaining our vigil at Oscar Grant Plaza. In the course of forcibly taking the blankets, food and belongings of our community, police arrested three members of Occupy Oakland on baseless minor misdemeanor charges. Although Occupy Oakland was able to raise money to bail out two of these individuals that evening, due to a violation hold we were unable to bail out Khali who was then forced to remain in Santa Rita Jail for four nights until his arraignment on the following Tuesday.

At the arraignment, we waited all day for Khali’s hearing because the District Attorney had yet to file any charges (even after four days of incarcerating him). With only minutes before closing the court for the day, the DA announced that charges were being filed and that the paperwork was being drafted and was on its way. Khali’s attorney, Dan Siegel, had only minutes to look over the charges before the hearing began, at which time he requested that Khali be released until his next court date given that he was being charged with very minor misdemeanors. The District Attorney opposed this request, arguing that he couldn’t be released because he was homeless and had no residence on record.  Khali immediately notified the judge that he did have a residence and provided the address. It was then concluded that because the staff that could confirm this residence was gone for the day (it now being minutes before closing the court room), Khali would have to remain in jail until his next court date.

Bail, however, was set and Occupy Oakland immediately began the process of posting it. With all paperwork ready to go, we waited for Khali to be transferred back to Santa Rita Jail so his bail could be posted. Shortly after 8pm, we were notified that Khali could no longer be bailed out because he was now being charged with a felony count of assaulting a correctional officer. We have since found out that this alleged incident occurred upon his arrival back at Santa Rita Jail (at the very time we were placing numerous calls to staff at the jail regarding posting his bail). Khali’s bail for this case has now been set for a staggering $580,000.

We don’t yet have all the details about this alleged incident of assault at Santa Rita, but do know the following:

-   Khali was originally arrested on minor misdemeanor charges but because of a violation hold he was incarcerated for 4 days before any charges were formally filed.

-   While most people would have been released from jail and asked to appear for a future court date given the minor nature of the misdemeanor charges, the DA extended Khali’s incarceration because of the county’s assertion that he is homeless.

-   We are concerned for Khali’s health and physical well-being. He has shown up for every court appearance with severely bruised, swollen eyes and it’s evident that he is suffering physical abuse.

-   We are also concerned for Khali’s mental health. He is on medication prescribed by a psychiatrist and we have learned that he has not been given his meds, nor even received medical evaluation since his arrest. It is clear during his court appearances that he is suffering enormously from having his medication withheld.

-   We have learned that the alleged assault occurred upon his arrival back at Santa Rita when guards were placing him in solitary confinement. It is unclear why the decision was made to place him in solitary confinement (prior to any alleged assault) given that he was only being charged with minor misdemeanors and was in the process of being bailed out.

Khali’s situation is a particularly brutal example of OPD’s targeting of Occupy Oakland. He was picked up on minor charges which, after four days of incarceration and withholding of his medication, have morphed into a violent felony charge that could now lead to a long prison term. They are sending Occupy Oakland a message, and they’re doing it at the expense of Khali’s health and freedom. As a community, we need to stand by Khali and show police and the District Attorney that we will not allow them to continue to target and brutalize us.

PLEASE call the Pleasanton District Attorney’s office and express your concern regarding Khali’s (Marcel Johnson) case: (925) 803-7171

This hearing has been been postponed until 1/9/12 at 9am.

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