Occupy Oakland Arrests: Armor-Wearing "Real Life Superhero" Faces Resisting Arrest Charge

Originally posted: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/11/occupy_oakland_arrests_armor-w.php
By Lauren Smiley Tue., Nov. 8 2011 at 9:25 AM
UPDATE, 12:50 p.m.: Those who want to donate to Sorvari’s bail fund can do so here.
Original story:
Three of the Occupy Oakland protesters who were arrested after last week’s General Strike turned chaotic were arraigned in Alameda Superior Court on Monday. Among them was a roughed up “real-life superhero” who had attended the march dressed as a ninja with homemade armor, but whose family believes he might have been mistaken by cops for a black bloc anarchist.
Roy Sorvari, a 22-year-old former Boy Scout who lives with his parents in Antioch, answered to charges of resisting arrest — prosecutors alleged he kicked and attempted to hit a cop with his shield. With stitches in his forehead and two black eyes, the 5-foot-5, 130-pound Sorvari claims he had been beaten and knocked unconscious during the early hours last Thursday — perhaps by police — after the protest turned violent, according to his attorney, Jeffrey Kaloustian, of the National Lawyers Guild. Sorvari faces a felony charge of resisting arrest and a $15,000 bail.
The Alameda County district attorney didn’t file charges for eight other protesters of the 11 who were scheduled to be arraigned yesterday. They were the same ones who’d been held in custody over the weekend or who’d posted bail, according to Greg Michalec of Occupy Legal, an organization set up for the legal defense of arrested demonstrators. The rest of the 103 protesters arrested during last week’s strike will be arraigned in the coming weeks.
Sorvari, awesomely, belongs to a international confederation of civilian peacekeepers — somewhat akin to the Guardian Angels — who don cartoonish costumes and call themselves the “Real Life Superheroes.” The group claims about a half-dozen members in the Bay Area, said a fellow superhero with the handle “Motor Mouth” who showed up in the courtroom Monday to support Sorvari.
“Motor Mouth” said he and Sorvari — whose superhero handle is “Ray” — have been providing security at night for the Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza, protecting the people’s right to assembly.
While “Motor Mouth” didn’t attend the general strike last week, he says Sorvari showed up in his usual superhero get-up — a black balaclava, all-black clothes, ski goggles, and homemade body armor that lights up. In addition, “Motor Mouth” says he’d lent Sorvari a Captain America-like shield for the event.
“Motor Mouth” says he is “120 percent sure” that cops had mistaken Sorvari for one of the black bloc anarchists who emerged after the peaceful march, breaking windows and setting fire in downtown Oakland in the early morning hours on Thursday.
Sorvari’s mother, Lynn, said, “Maybe that was a mistake; maybe he should have had a more high-profile costume.”
His parents, who are between jobs and have four other children, say they are going to start a PayPal account for donations to help them pay $1,500 — the 10 percent they have to put up for Sorvari’s bail. We’ll post an update as soon as the account is up and running.
When Kaloustian came out Monday afternoon after talking to Sorvari, he delivered the following message to “Motor Mouth,” who was waiting in the hallway: “Sorry about losing your shield.”
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Superheroes swoop in to fight crime

Originally posted: http://www.goldengatexpress.org/2011/05/11/superheroes-swoop-in-to-fight-crime/
By [X]press Staff
The sights and sounds of a riot filled the streets on a chilly night in Oakland when suddenly, strange figures emerged from an alley. Covered in glass and grime and with only their eyes visible, they glowed in the mad light of the city.
In the middle stood a man clad in a Kevlar vest, combat boots, and a mask covering the lower half of his face, with Taser knuckles glowing on his right fist.
“Who are you?” someone shouted.
The voice behind the mask looked at them and calmly replied, “We are real-life superheroes.”
This is not a story from the pages of a comic book, but one of real people all over the country who dress up and fight for their community. These self-described superheroes have found a variety of different ways to help their neighborhoods, from organizing blood drives to feeding the homeless. They use their costumes as a way to draw attention to the cause.
Peter Tangen, a Hollywood photographer and the de facto spokesman as well as expert on Real Life Superheroes, calls the people who participate in the movement “a perfect cross section of America.”
Like many denizens of the comic book pages, Motor Mouth, 30, of Oakland, who declined to give his “civilian” name, started out as just an average citizen. Then “fan boy” read a comic that changed his life.
That comic was “Kick-Ass” by Mark Millar, which tells the story of a boy who chooses to dress up and fight crime in his neighborhood. Motor Mouth was instantly attracted to the “poor man’s Batman” aspect of the comic and intrigued by the notion of people in the real world using superhero identities to better their community.
Motor Mouth then did what any comic book lover would do and turned to the Internet. There he found the world of RLSH and knew that he wanted to be a part of it.
The idea of concealed identities and community crusaders is not a new idea, but activity often spikes when the country in times of upheaval, and according to the RLSH website, there are currently several thousand such activists in the country.
The presence of superheroes, real or fictional, is something that Tangen sees as a reflection of the national mood.
“It can be seen even as far back as World War II,” Tangen said. “People need a hero. There is a need to see someone who stands for something right and good. The world around them is losing some of their priorities.”
Motor Mouth attributes his desire to help his community to childhood experiences.
Born to medical worker parents, the need to help others was ingrained in him from a very early age. In his youth, he would often stop school bullies from intimidating other students.
“I think too many people in this world nowadays allow for too much gray area,” Motor Mouth said. “When the reality is, bad is bad and good is good.”
Tangen agreed with that statement.
“Apathy exists, but these people are people who reject that idea,” Tangen said.
Motor Mouth, along with members of a larger group called “The Pacific Protectorate” often take it upon themselves to go on missions in some of the city’s worst neighborhoods at night to facilitate activities ranging from calling police to report drug deals, to breaking up bar fights, or as was the case in January 2009, participate in inhibiting the madness that was the Oakland riots.
Over the course of that night, Motor Mouth and his team stopped teenagers from using a battering ram on a building (with the help of Motor Mouth’s non-lethal Taser knuckles) and saved a woman from an exploding building.
When asked if he was afraid at any point during this night, Motor Mouth laughed.
“In order to be a real life superhero you have to take the fear that may be inside of you and manifest it into something that’s useful,” Motor Mouth said.
Officer Holly Joshi of the Oakland Police Department said these groups have been useful to the community and said that she appreciates their efforts.
“They’re on the right track,” Joshi said. “Citizens have a responsibility to protect their community, it’s not just a police issue.”

RLSH Protect in Oakland Riots

Motor Mouth, Hell-Hound, and Citizen Change were out protecting Oakland during the riots. This is Motor Mouths account of the night.

– Once darkness fell over Oakland, the riot police finally made their move to start taking back the city. My 2 fellow RLSH’s & myself then went to work, weaving in & out of alleys and side streets, attempting to get ahead of the riot squads. We came across some Black Bloc anarchists attempting to break into an ice rink & luckily our very presence made them think twice. Finally we poured out onto Telegraph, which had people running here & there with burning cars and dumpsters littered in the streets. We fell upon alleyway connecting Broadway to Telegraph with a 19th Street subway station entrance in the middle. A group of African-American youths were there, having taken a 4X4 with nails in it they were using as a make-shift battering ram to bash in the side window of what appeared to be a bar. We rushed up on them, weapons out. The second I sparked my Electro Knuckles & screamed “Get the FUCK out of here”, they quickly got lost down Broadway.
– At this point, we finally could see the madness unfolding at the end of the alley on Broadway. Smoke from fires filled the air, people were running in every direction, explosions could be heard here and there. We come to the end of the alley & suddenly there’s an explosion from around the corner. Out of the smoke pouring out of the building, a monstrous black woman comes running out with tons of weaves/hair extensions yelling “Hey niggas look, I got all the weaves, bitches!” then ran off down the street amongst the fires. That’s when Hell-Hound & myself noticed a young black woman drenched in blood on the ground. We picked her up and dragged her into the alley. Hell-Hound got out some of his medical equipment, first starting the wipe the bleeding wound from over her eyebrow with alcohol wipes from KFC. Suddenly Citizen Change & myself looked around corner, we heard 3 loud firing shots, and saw tear gas grenades in mid-flight. The riot police were gaining ground and on the move, directly towards us. I sent Citizen Change to the other end of the alley to see if the coast was clear at all then I looked at Hell-Hound & asked “Can we move her?”. He replied back “I’m not sure, why?”, at which point I said “Cause we’re moving her NOW!”. We picked her up under her arms quickly taking her to the end of the alley when we ran directly into another riot squad on Telegraph. We put our free hands in the air to give the sign of surrender, asking the police if they could help the young woman with medical aid. A white police officer look the young black woman over, looked back at me, then said “Not my problem. You have feet so go walk 3 miles that way to Highland General”. At this point, we luckily came across a street medic (part of the peaceful protesters, I assumed). He took over taking care of the young woman for us & we were back on our way, away from the riot squads & back again after the looters and trouble-makers of the night.
– Weaving in & out of burning trash cans and dumpsters, we made our way behind a fast food resturant. We crouched down, downing what water we had available & trying to get our bearings to formulate a game plan. Some protesters came & hid with us which is when we noticed a glow of sorts coming off of their faces. We looked behind us & a couple of dumpsters and a car were lit on fire in the back of the parking lot for the fast food joint. We realized the riot squads were quickly gaining ground so we booked it, heading down Grand Ave towards Lake Meritt.
– We merged into a massive ground (approx. 200 + people) on the intersection of Grand & Franklin. A young black man with a 10 speed bike started saying next to us “Damn, I wanna get a fuckin’ drink”, staring at the bar on the corner. Him & 2 young women started for the door of the bar, at which point the bar owner shut & locked the door. The young black man then went around the building and started slamming his 10 speed into the bar’s giant main window, all to the horror of the bar owner & his 10 or so patrons inside. That’s when my 2 brave RLSH’s and myself sprung into action. We whipped out all the weapons we had (Change with his standard tazer, Hell-Hound with his 2 shivs, & myself with my Electro Knuckle and my riot pepper spray) and thrust out way against the window, all the while screaming for people to get away as we sparked our electrical devices. The crowd jumped back as we held our ground, with all of them staring at us with their fists balled and seeming to want our blood for us stopping their “fun”. As people started throwing things at us & the riot squads in the distance slowly came closer, Citizen Change jumped the street’s center divide to ward off would be looters from attempting to break into a resturant. As the angry mob in front of the bar started heading down the street, Hell-Hound & myself went to go back up Citizen Change. Suddenly an explosion around the corner and dozens of people were diving into a sake store. A freelance photographer & a reporter started trying to speak to us, asking who we were working with and what not when I noticed out of my peripheral vision that some of the angry mob from before were lobbing giant bottles of sake at us. We pulled the photographer & the reporter aside to their safety as the crowd took off down the street. The female reporter started asking Hell-Hound questions when he simply flashed his Pacific Protectorate badge at her. She gave a puzzled look which is when I yelled “Dude, not everybody understands and we have shit to do. Come on!” at which point we jetted down the street. We ran past a riot squad when I heard one of them yell “Hey, I think that guy has a gun” (in the dark, they mistook my pepper spray canister for a firearm). They flashed a light over but we kept going after the mob of looters & rioters.
– Once we reached the next block, we paused for a second. A second later, 5 or so unmarked cop cars swooped up upon us, drawing their guns and yelling “Get on the ground and put your hands out!”. We dropped to the ground immediately, following all instructions given to us. A female officer dug her knee into my back & put handcuffs upon me, helping me up to then stand. She then brought me over to a cop that seemed to be in charge, he said “Throw the big guy into the car. We don’t need shit from him”, and I was placed into the back of a squad car (keep in mind that Miranda rights were never once read to me nor was I told what I was being held for). I helplessly watched as Hell-Hound & Citizen Change were being handcuffed and sat up while the Oakland Police went through all of their belongings. After long while, they pulled me out & put me on the back hood of the squad car. While they were going through my belongings, a fat white police officer started telling me that they were going to charge me with Possession Of A Deadly Weapon (my Electro Knuckles). I immediately started reciting California State Penal Code on stun devices & weapons (with my Electro Knuckles being one of the legal ones). He was stunned and shut up then gave me a dirty look & shoved me back into the squad car. I watched as the photographer from earlier pleaded our case with the police, at which point they released Hell-Hound & Citizen Change then a minute later, the same fat white police officer opened the door next to me and asked “Do you want to go home or to jail?”. I replied “Home obviously” at which him & another officer helped me out of the squad car, un-cuffed me, gave me my belongings, and sent me on my way.
– After catching up with Hell-Hound & Citizen Change, we walked to the western edge of Lake Meritt & relaxed with some water and cigarettes. I applauded the both of them for their fine work in the field that night, at which point they thanked me for my ability to lead them through what seemed like Hell on Earth. We hugged each other, gave each other high fives, walked to the Lake Meritt subway station near Laney College and as they caught the train home to San Francisco, I walked to my vehicle about 6 city blocks away or so.
– Upon arrival to my vehicle, I realized that I head left my headlights on from earlier and that my battery was dead! Luckily, I had parked in front of The Haz Mat Warehouse & an old friend of mine walked out. He took pity of sorts upon my situation, welcomed me indoors, and I relaxed with his roommates & himself for a bit. Not long after, I went back out to my vehicle to fall asleep with my pillow & blanket so I could get a jump for my car battery in the morning.
Well there you have it, folks. That’s my story. We went to Oakland, we defended it’s businesses, we protected it’s people, and were bold in what we did. The Bay is our home and we stood our ground for it.
– MM