Five protestors plead no contest, six to face trial

Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
A sign in support of the "Wheeler 9" hanging on the fence around the vacant lot on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street.

The legal fate of twelve of the arrested protesters from the March budget cut demonstrations have been decided by plea agreements as of Monday.

Four of the 17 protesters arrested March 2 in connection with the Wheeler Hall sit-in pleaded no contest Sept. 14  at the Wiley W. Manual Courthouse in Oakland to misdemeanor disturbing the peace with one additional protester pleading no contest to the same charge Friday – leaving six from that group still facing trial. All of those who settled in connection with the March 2 protest were initially cited by police for trespassing.

The plea that the four March 2 protesters accepted Sept. 14 has the possibility for dismissal after they complete 45 hours of community service. The plea the fifth protester accepted Friday has the possibility for dismissal after 55 hours of community service.

Six protesters from the March 2 protest have had their charge amended to disturbing the peace and waived their right to a jury trial in favor of a bench trial in front of Judge Gordon Baranco. Proceedings for that charge will reconvene Tuesday.

The remaining three charged protesters from the Wheeler Hall sit-in face a trespassing charge plus an additional misdemeanor resisting arrest charge and are scheduled to begin trial for both at the Wiley W. Manual Courthouse on Oct. 11.

The March 2 decisions come after all seven of the ledge-sitters arrested March 3 pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor disturbing the peace charge September 12 at the same courthouse.

Per an agreement between the district attorney’s office and defense counsel, the ledge-sitters’ charge will be converted into an infraction if protesters complete 30 hours of community service by Nov. 18.

The three remaining protesters who were arrested at that instance did not have charges brought against them by the District Attorney.

Sarah Burns is the lead crime reporter