Peter Howell, the UC Merced undergrad facing a felony count for the Regents’ meeting, had his arraignment today around 10:45 am. Brought out in orange scrubs and cuffs, Howell’s lawyer asked that the felony charge be reduced to a misdemeanor given that the prosecution’s case is so weak and that there is video evidence demonstrating that Howell never touched the weapon. The prosecutor attempted to defend the position that he grabbed Kemper’s baton, but the reasoning was incoherent. Here’s Howell on the scuffle:
“I put my hands on my chest and backpedaled,” Howell said in the interview. “I was trying to get away. (Officer Kemper) shoved through me, and he may have lost control of his baton. You can hear it rattle on the ground in a video. At no point did I strike him on the head, so I believe that statement was false.”
Regardless, the judge refused to engage the debate, pushing it back to the hearing date, now scheduled for February 22 upon the request of the defense. The judge denied him release on OR but reduced the bail from $30,000 to $15,000.
Hands off Peter Howell!
Update: Howell’s lawyer, John Hamasaki, is looking for anyone who witnessed the alleged incident on November 17 at UCSF-Mission Bay. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a witness, or else if you have photos or videos of the alleged incident.
Safety reminder: Please do not offer yourself as a witness if you have uncharged conduct from that day (that may also show up in photos or videos). This is not an assumption that anyone does, just a precaution. Also, please don’t discuss any possible evidence or witness testimony you may have in writing, including comments sections on blogs and over listservs. Due to the recent increase in state/university repression, we should actively consider being very careful with information, in order to care for each other and ourselves.
[Editor: On a related note, 19 students/demonstrators involved in the UC Irvine sit-in in February are facing arraignments tomorrow, Dec. 29th at 8am at the Central Court (700 W Civic Center Dr., Santa Ana, Orange County)*. The charged face several misdemeanors each. More here.]