As protests and rioting continue to muddle the line between ‘peaceful’ and ‘violent,’ 2 more individuals (names withheld to protect the accused) have been arrested for having allegedly attacked police officers during protests in Berkeley and Oakland. According to one law enforcement officer, a 27-year-old man attempted to steal his official police bicycle in Berkeley, he was arrested on charges of second-degree robbery (CA Penal Code 211). In Oakland, a 22-year-old man has been accused of having resisted arrest and assaulting an officer when he allegedly attempted to run over a policeman who was attempting to stop the individual from allowing 2 persons ride atop the van he was driving. These cases represent the continuous battle between police and citizens in the Bay area.
Let us take the first instance, that of the incident in Berkeley. In order to be convicted of second-degree robbery, a person must take property from another by use of force or fear. They must also remove the property from the individual directly and against their wishes. This crime is always considered a California felony and you could spend up to 5 years in state prison, pay a $10,000 fine, or end up on felony probation if you are found guilty. Prosecutors will have to prove all the above elements of this crime in order to gain a conviction of the 27-year-old man in Berkeley, including that he used ‘force or fear’ in order to attempt to take the bicycle from the officer. Many questions remain, including this one: can a citizen use force and fear toward a police officer when there is no weapon involved?