On Friday, June 22nd, the Alameda District Attorney dropped the remaining obstructing arrest charge against Robert Ovetz, Ph.D., a community college professor arrested observing the January 28th Occupy Oakland march. Oakland Police were videotaped beating Ovetz after arresting him. Ovetz was appearing for a trial readiness conference in Superior Court when prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss the case. He was among nearly 400 marchers corralled and arrested without being ordered to disperse in front of the YMCA. After being punched in the face by police and having his glasses broken Ovetz was violently thrown to the ground, and struck with a baton on the ground. Ovetz’s attorney Matthew Siroka is now preparing a federal lawsuit for the violation of his civil rights and the use of excessive force by OPD officer Martin.
The remaining charge dropped by the DA was “obstructing delaying or resisting an officer in the course of his duties,” a misdemeanor under California Penal Code section 148. Ovetz was initially charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor and jailed for 3 days.
Ovetz repeatedly informed the officers that he was not resisting arrest and did everything they instructed him to do, but was nonetheless beaten violently. Officers threw him to the ground and OPD officer Martin hit him with a baton twice. Ovetz suffered severe bruising on his body as well as injuries to his face, jaw and two teeth. Ovetz was taken to the emergency room for his injuries. Video of Ovetz being beaten while being thrown down and lying on the ground is available on YouTube at the link below. His bike was also thrown to the ground and damaged and his glasses were broken.
Ovetz was observing the Occupy Oakland effort to turn an empty building into a community center. He is writing a book into why protest movements turn violent.
OPD gave the media Ovetz’ mug shot and charged him with felony assault on a police officer to cover their own violent crimes as part of an effort to discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement. Ovetz intends to file suit in order to clear his name and hold OPD accountable.
Some of the media is complicit in repeating OPD’s falsehood by reporting that 400 peaceful marchers were “rioting” and by re-publishing Ovetz’s mug shot without verifying their story.
On February 11, 2012, for example, KCBS 5 falsely claimed that the arrests occurred at the “scene of a riot.” There were no such charges against Ovetz. The San Francisco Chronicle and other papers also printed Ovetz’s mug shot on their website.
Ovetz requests that these news outlets remove his mug shot and/or print a correction to these inaccuracies.
Ovetz’s wounds required an emergency room visit to Highland Hospital, repair to two teeth, and repairs to his bicycle. In jail he was denied prescribed medication, placed in a unit with inmates transferred from the state prison system, stripped searched numerous times, and denied a mattress and toothpaste.
There is at least one other federal civil rights lawsuit naming OPD officer Martin. OPD Internal Affairs’ investigation into Ovetz’s complaint is still incomplete.
o Video footage of Robert Ovetz being beaten by Officer Martin of OPD (start at 0:36) is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bezz-6Q09ng&feature=bf_prev&list=UU05htuFcXyMA432PrGR0nrQ&lf=plcp
o Photos of Ovetz’s wounds from being hit with a baton on his back are available by request.