OAKLAND -- A man studying to be a Jesuit priest was sentenced to six days in a county jail work program and two years court probation Monday in the first successful prosecution of a case related to the Occupy Oakland movement.
Joseph Hoover, of Berkeley, was found guilty last week of a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a thoroughfare during a violent demonstration in January that resulted in the arrests of more than 300 protesters who attempted to take over the vacant Kaiser Convention Center near Lake Merritt.
Hoover, who is studying to be a priest at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, said he was arrested when he stopped in the street to protect a homeless man from being trampled by a line of police officers who were advancing on a group of protesters.
Hoover testified during his brief jury trial and said after his sentencing Monday that he did nothing wrong and obeyed all police orders but was still arrested.
Evidence in the trial, however, revealed that Hoover was an active participant in the protest and did not attend the Jan. 28 demonstration simply to observe.
While a jury found Hoover guilty of obstructing a thoroughfare it deadlocked on a charge against Hoover of resisting arrest, and the District Attorney's Office decided to drop the charge rather than seek another trial.
Hoover said Monday that he was proud of taking part in an Occupy event and said he has not ruled out doing so again.
"The cop was doing what he felt he had to do and I felt I did what I had to do," Hoover said. "I'm grateful to be part of the Occupy movement."
Deputy District Attorney Angela Chew asked a judge Monday to sentence Hoover to three years court probation because Hoover insisted in taking the case to a jury trial rather than take a plea deal and because he continued to defend his actions.
"The defendant did not take responsibility for his actions early on," Chew said in court.
After the sentencing, Chew said she sought a three-year court probation because that was the routine punishment for a misdemeanor offense.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carl Morris said he would only sentence Hoover to a two-year court probation as he refused both Chew's request for a three-year probation and Hoover's attorney's request for a one-year probation. Morris also refused Hoover's attorney's request to not send her client to the county sheriff's work program.
"It would seem to me that the work program wouldn't hurt him," Morris said.
Hoover was offered a plea deal before the trial in which he would have been found guilty of a misdemeanor disturbing the peace offense and faced two years court probation, but he refused the deal.