Reposting this urgent message I received about Khali, who was arrested on Friday in Oscar Grant Plaza:
FREE 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. (Editor’s note: Occupy Oakland has a permit to conduct vigil in the 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) 227-6700
UPDATE 12.23.2011 – Corrected contact info for Pleasanton DA
Phone: (925) 803-7171
Fax: (925) 803-7170
Branch Head: Eileen McAndrew, Senior Deputy District Attorney
Jaime Omar Yassin speaks more on Khali’s situation,
When police attacked the vigil keepers at #OGP last week, trying to, as City Administrator Santanna allegedly stated, “clear the plaza”, Khali was also arrested. His offense? Sitting on a blanket on a bench while waiting for a ride, according to witnesses.
While others were released on bail, Khali’s complicated past kept him in jail. At his arraignment, Occupiers found that an extra charge of felony assault was added which presumably occurred somewhere within the system over the past week. Khali’s bail was set at an offensively high bar—nearly 600,000 dollars. That’s far beyond the ability of Occupy Oakland, or its allies, to meet, unfortunately. No one knows what will happen to Khali now. I find it heartbreaking that after his own journey through a difficult life, and conquering his own demons, when he finally had the chance to—like so many of us, me included—live a life of meaning and importance to society, he could spend even more of his life incarcerated instead.
Khali’s one of the OG Occupiers now, an integral part of our movement. We need him and miss him.
We’re trying to fill the courtroom on Friday morning for his preliminary hearing to show him that we support him, that we won’t forget about him. And to show the local justice system that we consider him a political prisoner and that we don’t turn our backs on members of our movement, no matter the hardship they’re placed in.
Please fill the court room on the day of his hearing, Friday 9 am, December, 23.
Gale Shenone Hall of Justice 5672 Stoneridge Drive,
Pleasanton, California 94588
From Pleasanton BART:
Take the Dublin/Pleasanton line to the Pleasanton BART station. The courthouse is about one mile from BART. On foot, go east on Owens to Hacienda Drive and turn right. Turn left on Gibraltar and turn left on Stoneridge Drive. The courthouse is on the right in the Hacienda Business Park.”