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Charges not filed against seven out of nine Occupy the Farm protesters

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The Occupy the Farm encampment on April 16, 2012 included tents, a kitchen, various gardening supplies, and a chicken coop.


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JUNE 08, 2012

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has not filed charges against seven out of nine Occupy the Farm protesters arrested during the raid on the UC-owned farmland in Albany late last month.

Although the district attorney’s office has not confirmed the names of the two protesters who may still have charges filed against them at a later date, Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said the charges were not filed against seven of the protesters “based on the interest of justice.”

Gopal Dayaneni, a spokesperson for Occupy the Farm, said the district attorney’s office confirmed his charges were dropped when he called the office, but there is still some uncertainty about what could happen for the other protesters.

“Given that the district attorney is choosing not to prosecute the trespassing charges … they clearly think it’s not significant enough to expend public resources on to pursue,” Dayaneni said. “I am assuming I don’t have a court date on Monday based on what the district attorney’s office told me — instead I will be going on a field trip with my daughter.”

Occupy the Farm protester Stefanie Rawlings, who also did not have charges filed against her, said the district attorney’s dismissal of charges is supported by the farmers and the neighbors of the Albany land known as the Gill Tract.

“There never should have been police intervention — the DA dropping (our) charges supports that belief,” Rawlings said.

Rawlings also said she does not know the names of the two protesters who still have charges filed against them.

“It’s kinda arbitrary as to who it is … it might be people who have had other charges or warrants,” she said. “It’s also hard to wager a guess because I don’t know why (the two protesters) are still being charged.”

Dayaneni and Rawlings are also two of 15 protesters named in a civil suit brought against them by the UC.

The lawsuit, which was issued on May 9, alleges the defendants “cut the chains securing the gates into Gill Tract, entered the property and have since established a campsite and attempted to grow food” on the tract.  The encampment lasted until May 14 when UCPD raided the Gill Tract and arrested 10 protesters.

Dayaneni said he feels the university should follow the same course of action as the district attorney’s office by dropping the lawsuit.

Legal representation for Occupy the Farm and the UC presented arguments at a May 31 preliminary injunction hearing for the civil suit. The injunction could bar protesters indefinitely from the Albany farmland if Alameda County Superior Court Judge David Hunter approves it.

The 15 protesters named in the lawsuit were originally issued temporary restraining orders from the farmland on May 16, which were set to last for a maximum of 15 days.

Anjuli Sastry is an assistant news editor.

JUNE 10, 2012

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