On the morning of April 24, an Occupy San Diego activist was sentenced to an overly harsh 90 days in jail and stiff probation conditions that have nothing to do with his protests. And in doing so, the judge took it upon himself to throw down the gauntlet at the feet of the Occupy Wall Street movement in San Diego.
The activism of Andrew Fisher – nicknamed “Fish” – arrested and convicted of violating California Penal Code section 148 (a)(1) – obstruction of a peace officer, was not appreciated by Judge Richard Whitney, a San Diego County Superior Court judge. Judge Whitney took it upon himself to single-handedly punish Fish and all other potential demonstrators with the Occupy movement. Whitney sentenced him to the 90 days, and with time off for time already served, with overcrowding and good behavior, he’s potentially looking at 43 days.
Whitney stepped out of his role as neutral arbiter and ordered Fish to enroll in a number of programs upon his release into 3 years of probation that have nothing to do with public protest and first amendment rights. Fisher was ordered to have no alcohol or drugs in his system for that time – even though neither alcohol or drugs were an issue in his arrest, in fact, he was sober at the time of the incident.
Supporters in court that morning reported that the judge told Fiser that unless he was real lucky and completed a number of programs and got a full time job, or full time education or combination thereof, that he was looking at time in state prison. The sentence was over and above what the prosecutors asked for, with the absurd conditions of his probation.
One supporter wrote:
There is no justice here. Fish has already spent lots of time working to try to make our world and country better in his choice to be an activist with Occupy. The judge essentially told him that he would not be able to continue that path because if he did he would be going to state prison.
Another activist stated:
Today was a travesty of justice for occupy. Fish Fishticles sentenced to 90 days in jail plus 3 yrs hard core probation. The judge was despicable and told Andrew that he was a waste of a human being! He was utterly cruel and dismissive of everything the attorney said as to the way Fish’s life had changed. The judge had access to a huge stack of testimonials but he was set on throwing the book at him.
Judge Whitney stated this to Fish in the courtroom:
“I think the facts show you have a complete disregard for law enforcement.” “Get involved with college – start doing something productive with your life.”
A facebook page has been set up for Fish to coordinate visitation, etc.