Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against eight people jailed in December for chaining themselves to chairs to protest Google’s expansion into San Jose.
The news comes days before the group planned a protest to urge the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office not to pursue charges against them. District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Friday that his office won’t press criminal charges because “cases against protesters are difficult to prove unanimously beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors.”
He urged the protesters to use their voices to disagree without disruption.
“We must balance constitutionally protected free speech with public safety and order,” Rosen said. “While we are declining to file criminal charges, we hope that those who have strong feelings about this issue express themselves using the democratic process of civil discourse — and not disruption.”
The #Google8, as they’ve branded themselves, were set to appear in court Monday on misdemeanor charges of disturbing a public meeting. The group plans to rally Monday in front of the Santa Clara County government center at 70 W. Hedding Street before marching to the courthouse, despite no charges being filed against them.
“We’re still going to protest,” said activist Sandy Perry, one of the eight people arrested at a San Jose City Council meeting on Dec. 4 for chaining himself to his seat. “We thought we were mistreated. We want to make sure they don’t come back and charge us later.”
If convicted, the protesters could have faced six months in jail.
“Google is getting bigger and bigger and they just want to control everything,” Perry added. “We’re asking the DA to show some backbone and drop the charges. We’re sure Google is putting a lot of pressure on them.”
Google’s press team did not respond to a request for comment.
Perry and his peers are linked to Serve The People San José, a new activist group created to protest Google. In December, the City Council unanimously approved selling 10 acres of public land near Diridon Station to the tech titan to build a massive campus. Perry’s group worries the expansion of tech companies in San Jose will squeeze out working families and exacerbate homelessness.
Google plans to develop more than 21 acres of publicly-owned land and the project is expected to bring 20,000 jobs to the city by 2035.
“I’m in this fight because we have a responsibility to each other and our community,” Jocelin Hernandez, another group member who was arrested in December, wrote on Facebook.
Perry said he’s been threatened with arrest twice before while protesting Google. He isn’t scared about possibly ending up behind bars — again.
“We’re going to continue to speak up, but I’m not sure what our tactics will be in the future,” Perry said. “We see this as part of an effort by Google to stifle dissent. As long as our cause is just, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Contact Ramona Giwargis at [email protected] or follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.