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Occupy Oakland protesters rarely charged

Oct. 25, 2012 at 3:49 PM   |   Comments

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OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The vast majority of those arrested in Occupy Oakland protests were never prosecuted, lending credence to claims of police overreach, activists said.

Oakland police have made around 700 arrests, some for felonies but most for misdemeanors, during the protests but the Alameda County district attorney has prosecuted just 109 of the cases. The others were dropped before those taken into custody ever saw a judge, The Oakland Tribune reported Thursday.

Of the 109 prosecutions, just 37 resulted in conviction.

"You could be sure that if the district attorney could prove their case, they would have charged [the protesters]," said Bobbie Stein, a San Francisco attorney assisting the protesters. "Oakland was sort of reacting and just arresting people."

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan defended his department, noting the legal threshold for making an arrest is lower than that of proving someone's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The lack of charges does not necessarily mean the arrests were unlawful or lacked probable cause," Jordan said. "However, we have refined our tactics and approaches to more swiftly intervene and apprehend those who we believe are criminal offenders, and I will continue to work with the district attorney to make cases as strong as possible for charging."

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