Oakland officials have filed a complaint for damages against Cesar Aguirre, a 24-year-old Elk Grove resident who was arrested on the night of the November 2 General Strike in Oakland after officers say they saw him destroying property near Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Oakland officials have warned occupiers several times that they may try to seek compensation for the few occasions on which there have been instances of property destruction or vandalism. This appears to be the first time the city has followed through on those warnings.
According to Alameda County Superior Court records, the complaint states that on the early morning of November, OPD Officer Anthony Tedesco witnessed Aguirre smashing the windows of the city's Internal Affairs and Recruiting buildings with a red metal folding chair. The officer watched this from across the way in the southwestern stairwell of a parking garage at 17th and San Pablo Avenue, where he was apparently clearing it of “trespassing” protesters.
The complaint continues to say that Aguirre, after smashing the windows, then started ramming his body against a board behind the broken window. Later that night, Officer James Pulsipher arrested him for suspicion of vandalism and failing to disperse.
The complaint states that Aguirre had a “legal duty to not damage property belonging to the city” and that he “intentionally and maliciously broke the windows ... and glass door” of the building. The city is seeking $6,654.63 in damages, plus whatever punitive damages the court may award because the property was destroyed with malice.
As of today, neither Aguirre nor his lawyers had responded to the complaint.
According to a press release from the city, the goal of the lawsuit is to both “assure that taxpayers do not have to shoulder replacement and repair costs for vandalism” and to deter “wanton destructive acts” during future protests.
As Occupy Oakland continues to protest economic injustice and police brutality, city officials have been turning to the courts to punish protesters allegedly involved in illegal activity by filing charges in certain cases and enacting stay-away orders.