Claire White, attorney for Sean Thompson, who allegedly hit Mayor Kevin Johnson with a pie in the face Wednesday night, speaks on his behalf following his appearance in Sacramento Superior Court at the county jail on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in Sacr Randy Pench The Sacramento Bee
Claire White, attorney for Sean Thompson, who allegedly hit Mayor Kevin Johnson with a pie in the face Wednesday night, speaks on his behalf following his appearance in Sacramento Superior Court at the county jail on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in Sacr Randy Pench The Sacramento Bee

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Pie-pushing activist appears in court after scuffle with mayor

By Brad Branan

bbranan@sacbee.com

September 23, 2016 03:15 PM

The arraignment of a 32-year-old Sacramento man charged with felony assault for shoving a pie into the face of Mayor Kevin Johnson was delayed until Tuesday so attorneys can have a hearing over his $100,000 bail.

Attorney Claire White of the National Lawyers Guild said outside the courtroom that the bail amount is too high, and defendant Sean Thompson does not represent a threat to the public.

“$100,000 seems pretty excessive for some whipped cream to the face,” White said.

She said she was disappointed that Thompson’s bail amount was not reviewed Friday. White said she’s known Thompson “for a little while.”

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The National Lawyers Guild this year has advocated on behalf of homeless people camped outside Sacramento City Hall and took up the cause of two black men shot by Sacramento police officers this year.

Thompson, a former Occupy protester, acknowledged to reporters Thursday that he went into a charity dinner Wednesday outside Sacramento Charter High School and pushed a coconut cream pie into Johnson’s face as a political statement.

The mayor, he said, has focused too much on the city’s new basketball arena and not enough on helping its homeless population.

After the surprise pie attack, Johnson took Thompson to the ground and hit him in the face at least once, according to witnesses and photos provided to The Sacramento Bee. Thompson was hospitalized before he was taken to jail and said Thursday that he had nine stitches around his left eye.

White said she didn’t know how Johnson responded to Thompson. “Hopefully there will be some video of the incident, and we can all see for ourselves what happened,” she said.

Danny Garza, a former student at McGeorge School of Law and a friend of Thompson, said he contacted the National Lawyers Guild about representing him.

“He simply wanted to make a statement,” he said of Thompson.

Outside the jail, where the hearing occurred, a young woman held an orange sign saying “Free Sean Thompson!” and complained that he was being unfairly prosecuted.

Johnson’s chief of staff, Crystal Strait, said Wednesday’s incident was about more than a pie in the face.

“We have to remember that the mayor was at a charity event with his family. He was attacked from behind,” she said. “He acted in self-defense.”

Thompson was served with a protective order Friday barring contact with Johnson. A deputy district attorney asked for the order to be served on Thompson.

He was a arrested on a felony charge of assaulting a public official and a misdemeanor charge of battery on school property.

Judge Jaime Román set Tuesday’s hearing for 8:30 a.m.