OAKLAND (Bay City News) An Occupy Oakland protester who was convicted of felony vandalism for smashing the windows of an Oakland police Internal Affairs and Recruiting Office during a general strike protest last November was sentenced today to five years probation.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson also sentenced Cesar Aguirre, 24, of Elk Grove, to serve six months in county jail but allowed him to be freed on $40,000 bail while he appeals his conviction.
Rolefson also ordered Aguirre to stay away from Frank Ogawa Plaza for five years and pay $6,654 in restitution to pay for the damage he caused in the incident on Nov. 3.
Prosecutors said during Aguirre’s two-day trial in August that he was dressed in all-black clothing and wore goggles and a dust mask during the general strike protest.
They said Aguirre grabbed a red metal folding chair and walked to the windows of the Oakland police Internal Affairs and Recruiting Office and swung the chair at the glass windows and doors multiple times before discarding the chair.
Prosecutors said Aguirre then used his body weight to push up against the wooden boards that had been placed behind the glass to prevent entry into the office.
They said an Oakland police officer witnessed Aguirre’s actions from a nearby parking structure and kept his eyes on him until he was arrested by a second officer. Aguirre had glass shards on his sleeves when he was arrested, according to police.
Prosecutors said Aguirre broke a total of six windows and one door.
The Oakland City Attorney filed a lawsuit against Aguirre on March 7 to recover that same amount to pay for the cost of repairs and also seek unspecified punitive damages.
The protest in the early morning hours of Nov. 3 followed a daylong general strike in Oakland on Nov. 2 in which thousands of people marched throughout the city, culminating with a massive march that shut down the Port of Oakland.
The largely peaceful demonstrations during the day grew confrontational that night and into the next morning, when a group of protesters broke into the vacant Travelers Aid Society building adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza, where there was a large Occupy Oakland encampment at the time.
City attorneys said Aguirre was arrested at about 1 a.m., shortly after police arrived and tear-gassed the rowdy demonstration. Dozens of protesters were arrested over the next several hours, and one protester was seriously injured and required surgery.
Aguirre’s attorney, John Kaman, said today that he still thinks that Aguirre is innocent but he thought the sentencing pronounced by Rolefson was fair given the jury’s verdict.
Kaman said he presented photos during Aguirre’s two-day trial indicating that the police officer who identified Aguirre as the suspect was 70 yards away and couldn’t have gotten a good look at Aguirre, but jurors issued a verdict against him after only 15 minutes of deliberation, without looking at the defense’s photos.
Kaman said if Aguirre’s appeal is denied he will only have to serve an additional two months in the county jail because he already has been in jail for a total of four months.