California man charged with most Oakland damage
Share with others:
One man -- a 21-year-old Californian -- has been charged with doing most of the damage that was done in the city during the two-day G-20 Summit.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper last night said David Japenga was taken into custody shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday after police saw him breaking businesses' windows during a protest along Forbes Avenue in Oakland.
Chief Harper said Mr. Japenga, who at first refused to give his name, then gave the false name of Eric Blair, broke more than 20 storefront windows and glass doors, including $20,000 worth of windows at Citizens Bank on Craig Street in Oakland. He was single-handedly responsible, Chief Harper said, for most of the $50,000 in damage done during summit protests.
Mr. Japenga was charged with felony criminal mischief, instruments of a crime, and providing false identification. Chief Harper said Mr. Japenga was not living in Pittsburgh and had come into the city for the summit.
Director of Public Safety Michael Huss said police made 83 arrests, but that city officials were "very pleased" with how things went during the summit.
"It's been a long week, but the results are there," he said. "It's a proud day to be a Pittsburgher."
Earlier yesterday, the defense strategy of other G-20 protesters became evident as several of those charged with mostly minor crimes said they were either caught up in the tumult or victims of police over-reaction.
Ryan Beaupit, a 17-year-old University of Pittsburgh freshman, said he was just trying to get away from advancing riot police Thursday night in Oakland and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He said he was sprayed with some kind of gas and wrestled to the ground around 11:45 p.m. He has a gash near his knee, marks on his back and other mild injuries.
"I think the police over-reacted," he said, adding they also "made rude comments to me" and threatened him with jail if they caught him again. "It's not something I want to experience again."
Similarly, Josh Berman, an 18-year-old Pitt freshman, said he was trying to obey an order to disperse, but found OC gas behind him and police coming from both sides. He pulled on a bandana and goggles to protect himself from gas, which seemed to earn him the ire of the police.
"I'm running serpentine pattern to get away from the rubber bullets, and every cop was trying to get me," he said.
He was accused of throwing rocks at police, which he denied, though he admitted to expressing frustration at the police presence.
"Everywhere I go, it was people in riot [gear] hassling me," he said.
He was charged with failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and possession of instruments of crime.
"The general notion on campus from what I've seen is that students are upset about what happened," said Drew Singer, editor in chief of The Pitt News. "And while some students were out on the streets last night, the people who were actually committing the acts of vandalism and other illegal things were generally not Pitt students.
"We don't know for sure who was doing the damage because the majority of them were wearing masks. They were wearing the same uniforms as some of the other groups marching around town."
Albert Petrarca, a veteran protester, said that the Lawrenceville march was peaceful until it was hit with OC gas, forcing protesters to scatter.
Later, when police ordered marchers to disperse, he was reminded of the footage from protests in Tianenmen Square in 1989 when a lone man stood before the tanks.
He sat down in the street and raised both hands into peace signs.
"An officer came up to me and politely said, 'You have to move or you're going to be arrested.'
"They were very polite. I had no complaints."
After he was taken into custody, he and several other arrestees were taken to be processed at the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh.
Those arraigned yesterday ranged in age from late teens to late 50s. While many were released on no bond, pending hearings next week, some were held on bond ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, payable at 10 percent.
Lauren Wasson, 23, of Garfield, was charged with obstruction of highways and aggravated assault after she "threw bicycle at Officer [Shawn] Dady, striking Officer Dady with it." Her bond was set at $10,000, payable at 10 percent.
Mr. Huss said today should be a normal day in Downtown Pittsburgh with most road barriers and fencing removed by morning.
First Published September 26, 2009 12:00 am