Friday, May 07, 2010

Providence IWW protester found guilty of assaulting police, resisting arrest

In August 2007, Alexandra Svoboda was among a group of Providence, Rhode Island-based IWW members who marched up Mineral Spring Avenue in North Providence to protest a restaurant's use of a supply company that was exploiting workers. The marchers were confronted by police who attacked Alex and broke her left leg at the knee, bending it gruesomely in the wrong direction. Yesterday, Alex was found guilty on 4 counts of resisting arrest and simple assault by a jury in the Superior Court in Providence. She will be sentenced on Friday, and could face up to four years in prison.

Please show your support at the Friends of Alex FB page,, and if you can, donate to help pay over $100,000 of hospital bills and legal fees!

The latest update on that page: It is with great sadness and another tragic blow for me to tell you all that Alex was found guilty today on all counts. The sentencing is on Friday. Please hold your actions until after sentencing, keeping in mind that a civil suit against the police will still be pending. Police brutality is a crime and accountability will be had. Please continue to donate. Solidarity forever ~ Friends of Alex

Here are pictures of the assault and of Alex in court after extensive surgery to rebuild her knee (first one by Jonathan McIntosh)

Mark Reynolds reported the story in the Providence Journal Wednesday morning:

A defiant protester whose leg was broken in a struggle with North Providence police officers almost three years ago was found guilty Tuesday of resisting arrest and three counts of simple assault.

A Superior Court, Providence, jury returned the verdict against Alexandra Svoboda, of Providence, after a six-day trial and about 2½ hours of deliberations.

Svoboda, then the union secretary of the Industrial Workers of the World, was in a group of about three dozen protesters who clashed with the police on Aug. 11, 2007.

At the time, the protesters were picketing Jacky’s Galaxie restaurant on Mineral Spring Avenue because it had purchased rice and takeout containers from a New York-based restaurant supply company that was accused of treating its employees badly.

As the marchers walked up Mineral Spring toward the restaurant, the police directed them to the side of the road because they were obstructing traffic.

A scuffle resulted. The police say Svoboda struck officers with a set of drumsticks; her leg was broken during the struggle.

The charges against Svoboda, all misdemeanors, were initially brought in District Court, Providence.

Her lawyer waived the lower court process in favor of proceedings in Superior Court.

Judge Joseph F. Rodgers Jr., who is handling cases in his retirement, oversaw the trial.

Special prosecutor Terrence Livingston prosecuted the case for the state attorney general’s office to avoid a possible conflict of interest. Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch’s office had reviewed allegations of excessive force by the North Providence police. Officers were cleared of wrongdoing in 2007, said Michael J. Healey, spokesman for the attorney general office.

“[The verdict] vindicated the police officers who were there and did their job and did it professionally,” said Livingston on Tuesday.

Svoboda faces a maximum sentence of four years if the judge chooses to sentence her to one year for each count with the terms running consecutively, Livingston said.

Svoboda’s sentencing is scheduled for Friday in Superior Court.

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