Rafael Hernandez is one of two guys who attacked me on July 31, 2014 outside the Cheshire County Courthouse. I was recording from the sidewalk when the group of thuggish friends surrounded me, and threw my camera and cell phone on the ground. He pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge of Criminal Mischief and sentenced this Thursday, January 29, 2015.
The court’s orders were: 1) He must pay me restitution for my broken camera battery ($28.94), 2) he must not have contact with me for one year, and 3) he will have a sentence of 60 days in jail suspended for one year on the condition of good behavior.
I attended the hearing to record. He paid restitution in cash (and rounded up to $30). I’m happy to have my camera battery back. I’ll be buying a new one with the money, and it should arrive sometime next week. It’s an essential tool I use for my activism. But I’m not happy with the “justice” that Rafael faced. I don’t think it’s fair that he should have jail time hanging over his head. I don’t think it’s fair that he should have had to go to court, get a public defender, and do all the nonsense associated with all that stuff.
In fact, I heard through my friend Garret Ean that Rafael wanted to make restitution to me in private, and probably would have even paid $100 to avoid court. But the reality is, I didn’t call the police on Rafael. His friends did. I have it on video.
When I was recording on the sidewalk, a local thug named Justin Paquette can be seen on video making a phone call on a cell phone. Moments later, his friend Michael Phillips walked over to me to inform me that the police were on their way. They had called the police on me because they believed I was breaking a law by recording. Of course, I wasn’t. Then they attacked me and my video cameras. When the police arrived, they found me standing there, surrounded by a camera and phone smashed in pieces. They asked for a statement from both sides, asked me to send them my video, and then they brought charges against the two individuals who assaulted me. Rafael is a victim of his own stupid friends.
Rafael, thank you for paying restitution. That, and politeness are all I ask. I hope we can have kind words one day when we pass each other on the street. Of course, I know that we’ll have to wait a year because of the no-contact order. I hope you can see that this is all a result of your friends’ stupidity, and I hope you reconsider the group that you hang with. You’ve made it up to me, but they better make it up to *you* for the situation they put you in.