In one of the District Attorney O’Malley’s first sane acts in years, her office this morning agreed to drop charges on the so-called ‘Ice Cream 3’. These three activists were charged with criminal acts, and, incredibly with a “hate crimes” enhancement, stemming from a non-physical and non-violent altercation with a bystander during a bank-closing action. Several months ago, I wrote about the travesty of justice in the context of the OPD and DA’s obvious and traditional neglect of hate crimes when the victims are poor people of color. Though the charges have now been dropped, the prosecution, which took months of work from a DA currently dragging its feet on other serious investigations involving the poor and disenfranchised, the damage to the accused in the form of weeks spent in jail and damage to reputation cannot be compensated. Nor can the offense to actual victims of hate crimes who have long complained of a disinterested justice system in Alameda County. Like most victories of justice in a system antagonistic to the poor and non-white, it was hard-won, and not without sacrifice.
Here is the press release from Yolanda Huang, one of the defense attorneys involved in the case:
This morning, felony robbery and hate crime charges were dismissed against Occupy Oakland activists, Nneka Crawford, Michael Davis & Randolph Wilkins. The three defendants commend the District Attorney’s office for dismissing these charges in the interest of justice, and encourage the Alameda County District Attorney’s office to continue to dismiss future cases that are without merit.
Ms. Crawford said: “These dismissals are very telling of how the Oakland Police Department operates. I hope everyone realizes that despite how horrible the charges sounded,the presumption of innocence is really, really important. Please support other occupiers who face charges. It’s hard to explain how felony charges are such a burden and weight, even when you know you’re innocent.”
This case is a clear example of Oakland Police trying to meddle in politics and its efforts to stifle free speech by creating a crime where none existed. This case shows that OPD is not really concerned with public safety but only in creating headlines and sensationalism. The day OPD arrested Ms. Crawford and Mr. Wilkins, they dispatched a sensationalized press release, which ultimately had no basis.
OPD needs to get out of politics and start doing its job. Public safety is not served by OPD creating or manufacturing crimes. Public safety is not served by OPD abusing its powers by arresting people simply to harass.