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by RMO Defense Committee
Friday, Sep. 26, 2003 at 11:10 PM
Contact us for more info at email@example.com
Robert Middaugh-Olivarria was served with a federal arrest warrant over three years ago, alleging that he assaulted a federal officer, wore a mask to evade recognition in the commission of a crime, and carried a concealed dagger during a July 4th demonstration in Los Angeles, CA.
The incident in question took place in 2000, in front of the Westwood Federal Building. An anti-immigrant hate group rallied on the south side of Wilshire Blvd. with a sound stage on the Federal Building lawn (with permission granted by federal authorities). Meanwhile, anti-racist demonstrators gathered on the north side of Wilshire Blvd., to counter-demonstrate against the racist anti-immigrant rally. In response to racial slurs and other taunts, a contingency of anti-racist protesters crossed the street and conflict ensued. Federal officers swiftly intervened on behalf of the anti-immigrant protesters (surprise!). During the scuffle, unknown person(s) allegedly used unopened cans of soda as projectiles. According to the prosecution’s complaint, a can exploded and splashed one of the officers with the carbonated contents. The officer (Thomas G. Goldsmith) proceeded to arrest Rob for “assaulting an officer.” In this case, BEING SPLASHED WITH SODA supposedly warranted federal assault charges.
In addition to the ludicrous nature of the “assault” charge, other questionable aspects surround Rob’s arrest. Throughout the demonstration, Rob had his shirt tucked in and a sheath was clearly visible over his clothes, suspended from his waist. The sheath housed the object that he had in his possession. According to CA Penal Code 12020, (with which he is being charged), “knives worn from the waist of the user are not included in this section.” During his arrest, the officer that searched him untucked his shirt, which caused the weapon to BECOME partially concealed. But, most importantly, it was LEGAL for him to carry the object in the manner in which he held it.
Furthermore, the officer alleged that he “saw [Middaugh-Olivarria] with a soda in his right hand throw the can at [him].” However, Rob is left-handed. Why would a left-handed individual hurl a projectile with his weaker hand? Also, according to eyewitnesses, Rob HAD ALREADY BEEN DETAINED before the alleged cans were supposedly thrown.
Finally, the charges were initially filed on Jan. 11, 2002. Rob demanded a speedy trial, which should have taken place 180 days after the charges were filed. He was arrested by U.S. Marshals in August 2003, and the trial will begin in September. This is an aberration that illustrates how the “justice” system is a farce and fails to adhere to its own policies.
Who is Rob?
Rob was released from Avenal State Prison in July 2003, after serving two years for trumped up charges stemming from his involvement in the now infamous 2001 Long Beach May Day demonstration, which resulted in over 100 arrests. Rob was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. He was already on probation due to an earlier incident that occurred with the LAPD, which led to his first strike.
He was initially facing 24-26 years in prison if convicted for the May Day charges. He did not have money for a lawyer, so when he was offered a plea bargain, he felt it was the only reasonable option. He was sentenced to three years in prison and received his second strike.
Rob has been active with several diverse groups and has organized around a variety of issues, such as police brutality, racism, indigenous relocation, environmental destruction, animal rights, nuclear proliferation and militarization of the Mexican border. The disparity in this case between what occurred and the charges filed against Rob is an outrage. Clearly, he was targeted for his outspokenness and his political activities. He began to be targeted after he was arrested for protesting against the WTO in the 1999 “Battle in Seattle.” He was arrested again for participating in the freeway shutdown in protest of the Riverside police murder of Taisha Miller in 1999. Then, he was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer during the 2000 Democratic National Convention protest in LA. His current case is a continuation of the state’s attempts to silence a vocal and uncompromising activist. This situation is a travesty and mockery of the justice system and shows how far the government will go to squash dissent.
So, How Can I Help?
Rob’s family needs him and he can’t afford another to be charged with another felony. California has a “three strikes and you’re out” law, in which a person who is convicted of three felonies may end up facing life in prison. Although the current case is a federal case, and thus exempt from the law, Rob’s situation is still precarious. He can receive between a one to ten year prison sentence if convicted for these charges.
We are currently engaging in a letter writing campaign, urging the judge to dismiss the case against Rob. To receive a copy of the form letter we are sending out and for copies of this pamphlet and information updates, please e-mail:
Get involved today! Don’t allow Rob Middaugh-Olivarria to be steamrolled again by the “just-us” system.
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