Readers of this blog may recall my post from two weeks ago today about Joe Hoover, S.J., a classmate of mine at the Jesuit School of Theology who was found guilty of obstructing a public thoroughfare during an Occupy Oakland march on January 28, 2012. Joe was sentenced on Easter Monday to ten days in the “sheriff’s work program,” a fine of $233, and two years probation. Because Joe already had credit for time served for the four days he spent in jail after his arrest, he needed to serve only one more day in jail, which he did last Saturday at Glenn Dyer Jail in Oakland.
I bring the matter up again here because there has been a new development. A member of the Occupy movement found that he had footage of the moments immediately before Joe’s arrest, and sent that ten seconds of video to Joe earlier this week. You can watch it here (the password is Occupy, with a capital O).
Joe enters the screen from your left—he is the tall, slight man wearing black pants, a black clerical shirt, a blue windbreaker, glasses, and a tan Marquette University baseball cap. What follows doesn’t need my narration, as you can watch it for yourself. Make sure your sound is on, as the baton strikes are rather dramatic.
I would ask that you keep in mind a few things when you watch this:
1. Joe was convicted of obstructing a public thoroughfare.
2. The arresting Oakland police officer testified under oath that he arrested Joe because Joe was stopping in the street, and then walking very slowly when ordered to hurry, thus obstructing a skirmish line of officers.
3. The arresting officer also testified under oath that he was lined up “shoulder to shoulder” in a solid line of officers moving in sync up the street, and that his fear was that Joe was attempting to get behind them, which would put the officers in danger.
4. A California assistant district attorney commented in response to my initial post that my interpretation of Joe’s case was uncharitable toward the justice system, and that “it seems to me that our legal process, which you indict, has worked in his case.”
I encourage you to watch the video and decide for yourselves if the legal process worked in Joe’s case. While we’re at it, keep in mind that the prosecutor asked for a harsher punishment for Joe at his sentencing because he “maintained his innocence” and “insisted on taking this matter to trial.”
Jim Keane, S.J.