Authorities have been slowly releasing today some of the 78 people who were arrested during protests in downtown Oakland last night, following the involuntary manslaughter verdict of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, who shot unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant in 2009.
Many of the arrestees, who included Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge and Walter Riley, civil rights attorney and father of Oakland-based hip hop artist Boots Riley, were supposed to be issued a ticket and then released, said Marcus Kryshka of the National Lawyers Guild. The organization will be providing pro bono legal support to many of those arrested during last night’s protest.
But almost seventeen hours later, many of the protesters are still being booked, and lawyers expect that some of them will be transferred by bus to Alameda County Jail in Dublin before being released. A handful of protesters will be facing more serious charges of felony arson and assault charges, according to the National Lawyers Guild.
Oakland attorney Michael Siegel, who tried to locate Hinton Hodge at North County Jail in Oakland last night, said police refused to allow lawyers into the jail. As reported earlier, Oakland police arrested Hinton Hodge last night when she refused to stop playing chess during what at the time was a mostly peaceful demonstration at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street. Michael Siegel, whose father Dan Siegel was among the demonstrators who was with Hinton Hodge but was not arrested, said that when he went looking for Hinton Hodge, jailers said “in vague terms that there was a threatened inmate riot, so they were not allowing any attorney visits of any sort.”
The National Lawyers Guild also is looking into allegations that police roughed up some protesters. “We got reports from the street of people saying they were pushed to the ground with batons. There’s a guy with a broken arm who we’re trying to get a lawyer to go see,” said National Lawyers Guild volunteer, Samantha Levens.