Charges were upheld against the final protester charged for his involvement in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstrations in a court hearing Wednesday.
UC Berkeley graduate student Jasper Bernes became the only protester of the 13 charged following Nov. 9 not to have his charges dismissed at his court appearance at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.
Although charges for the majority of the protesters involved resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer and remaining at the scene of a riot, Bernes also faced charges for allegedly battering an officer.
Bernes’ attorney Vylma Ortiz said she feels Bernes is being targeted because he was also arrested and charged with resisting arrest last week during his participation in the May 1 Day of Action protests in Oakland.
Bernes was held for more than 10 hours when he was arrested last Tuesday but was released on bail the next day, according to Ortiz.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said the incidents on Nov. 9 and May 1 were not related in the final outcome regarding the Nov. 9 charges.
“He was originally charged with battery upon a police officer,” Drenick said. “It’s a very serious misdemeanor charge. Both cases have been evaluated independently.”
The district attorney’s office has amended the original complaint against Bernes to add the additional charges stemming from his May 1 arrest, according to Drenick.
The 12 protesters who appeared in court before Bernes had their charges dropped following a letter sent by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to the district attorney’s office stating that Birgeneau had withdrawn his support for the protesters’ prosecution.
“Everyone has a first amendment right to protest and to state speech freely … (the DA) is going after what you call repeat offenders,” Ortiz said. “I am interested to see what the university thinks of expressions of free speech and a first amendment protected activity.”
Bernes next court date is set for 9 a.m. on May 16 at the courthouse, according to Ortiz.
Anjuli Sastry is an assistant news editor.