Oakland sues anti-Wall Street protester over smashed windows

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 08, 2012 10:58 PM
Oakland sues anti-Wall Street protester over smashed windows

By Emmett Berg

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oakland officials have sued an anti-Wall Street activist who smashed windows at a police facility during a demonstration last year, marking the first in what could be a string of lawsuits the city files against Occupy Oakland protestors.

The lawsuit against 24-year-old Cesar Aguirre of Elk Grove, Calif., stems from an Occupy Oakland rally that began on the evening of November 2 and stretched into the early-morning hours of the next day.

The complaint seeks $6,654.63 in damages to reimburse the city for the costs related to the repair of smashed windows and a glass door at an Oakland Police Department facility adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza, the favored gathering spot for Occupy Oakland protests since last fall.

According to the suit filed Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court, a police officer saw Aguirre use a folding metal chair to break windows and a glass door.

Aguirre was later arrested for vandalism and failing to disperse, but has yet to be charged criminally.

"The City of Oakland is not a wealthy municipal government," City Attorney Barbara Parker said, adding that the behavior "shows real disdain for our city's long tradition of peaceful protest and dissent, and undermines the legitimate goal of addressing economic injustice."

Neither Aguirre, nor a representative of Occupy Oakland, could be reached for comment on the lawsuit.

Similar civil lawsuits would follow depending on the availability of evidence, Parker said in a news release, because the city wants to shield taxpayers from vandalism occurring during protests, and as a deterrent for others.

Last week Alameda County prosecutors charged three Occupy Oakland protesters with hate crimes, saying they taunted a woman about her perceived sexual orientation before stealing her wallet.

A rallying cry of the anti-Wall Street movement has been that 1 percent of the population has too much of the nation's wealth compared to the remaining 99 percent.

The Occupy protests have lost momentum in recent months after police cleared encampments in New York, Oakland and other major U.S. cities.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Paul Thomasch)