Occupy Oakland Protesters Charged with Robbery, Hate crime

The Alameda County District Attorney’s office has charged Michael Davis, 32; Nneka Crawford, 23; and Randolph Wilkins, 25, each with second-degree robbery and violation of civil rights “because of the victim’s status and perceived status as a homosexual.”

According to the Oakland Police Department, officers responded to a robbery report in the 4000 block of Piedmont Avenue. The victim told police she had been across the street from Wells Fargo Bank “near a small group of Occupy Oakland protesters calling for a riot,”. She said that she “suggested” they not riot in her neighborhood.

The woman told police that three protesters then surrounded her, battered her, and “yelled vulgar epithets regarding their perception of her sexual orientation.” Additionally, her wallet was stolen.

Documents from the Alameda County District Attorney’s office say the defendants called the woman a ‘Dike’ and used additional derogatory slang terms for lesbians.” The records also say that she was physically injured but not taken to a medical facility.

Yolanda Huang, the attorney representing Davis, said the protesters were leafleting and “engaging people in courteous, civil discussion” at Wells Fargo when the incident started.

Huang said the woman approached a group of protesters and “initiated a verbal altercation.” and that the woman “started using racial slurs, like the N-word” and “accusing people of using crack.”

“Things got a little heated,” Huang said, and the woman grabbed the button on a demonstrator’s jacket. People told her to leave and also tried to restrain the woman, who was “smacking people,” by holding her hand, Huang said. She added that the victim had “prior relations” with some of the other occupiers, but she didn’t elaborate.

Huang said that after the woman used “the N-word,” one of the defendants said, “How would you feel if I called you a bull dyke?”

John Viola, who’s representing Crawford released a statement saying, “These charges are part of a blatant effort” by Oakland police “to discredit and intimidate activists.” He added that the incident has been “exaggerated.”

The preliminary hearing for all three defendants is set to begin March 16.

 

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