Occupy Oakland: Free Khali!

 Occupy Oakland is concerned about the well-being of a demonstrator named "Khali," who was arrested on misdemeanor charges on December 16th, but has been locked up ever since. The Occupy Oakland Tribune released a statement describing the circumstances of Khali's detainment and asking for support onThursday. It says:

At the arraignment, we waited all day for Khali’s hearing because the District Attorney had yet to file any charges (even after four days of incarcerating him). With only minutes before closing the court for the day, the DA announced that charges were being filed and that the paperwork was being drafted and was on its way. Khali’s attorney, Dan Siegel, had only minutes to look over the charges before the hearing began, at which time he requested that Khali be released until his next court date given that he was being charged with very minor misdemeanors. The District Attorney opposed this request, arguing that he couldn’t be released because he was homeless and had no residence on record. Khali immediately notified the judge that he did have a residence and provided the address. It was then concluded that because the staff that could confirm this residence was gone for the day (it now being minutes before closing the court room), Khali would have to remain in jail until his next court date.

Bail, however, was set and Occupy Oakland immediately began the process of posting it. With all paperwork ready to go, we waited for Khali to be transferred back to Santa Rita Jail so his bail could be posted. Shortly after 8pm, we were notified that Khali could no longer be bailed out because he was now being charged with a felony count of assaulting a correctional officer. We have since found out that this alleged incident occurred upon his arrival back at Santa Rita Jail (at the very time we were placing numerous calls to staff at the jail regarding posting his bail). Khali’s bail for this case has now been set for a staggering $580,000.

Occupy Oakland says they do not have details on the assault charges, but they know the following:

  • Khali was originally arrested on minor misdemeanor charges but because of a violation hold he was incarcerated for 4 days before any charges were formally filed.
  • While most people would have been released from jail and asked to appear for a future court date given the minor nature of the misdemeanor charges, the DA extended Khali’s incarceration because of the county’s assertion that he is homeless.
  • We are concerned for Khali’s health and physical well-being. He has shown up for every court appearance with severely bruised, swollen eyes and it’s evident that he is suffering physical abuse.
  • We are also concerned for Khali’s mental health. He is on medication prescribed by a psychiatrist and we have learned that he has not been given his meds, nor even received medical evaluation since his arrest. It is clear during his court appearances that he is suffering enormously from having his medication withheld.
  • We have learned that the alleged assault occurred upon his arrival back at Santa Rita when guards were placing him in solitary confinement. It is unclear why the decision was made to place him in solitary confinement (prior to any alleged assault) given that he was only being charged with minor misdemeanors and was in the process of being bailed out.

The statement concludes:

Khali’s situation is a particularly brutal example of OPD’s targeting of Occupy Oakland. He was picked up on minor charges which, after four days of incarceration and withholding of his medication, have morphed into a violent felony charge that could now lead to a long prison term. They are sending Occupy Oakland a message, and they’re doing it at the expense of Khali’s health and freedom. As a community, we need to stand by Khali and show police and the District Attorney that we will not allow them to continue to target and brutalize us.

Oakland has become infamous for its treatment of Occupy protesters, following the October 25th eviction and use of tear gas, flash bang grenades, and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters. The same crackdown also critically injured the Iraq war vet, Scott Olsen, who was struck by a suspiciously low-flying police projectile and only recently regained his ability to speak.

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at December 23, 2011, 7:01am

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