The Occupy protester accused of throwing bricks into a crowd during a May Day demonstration said he's a "freedom fighter" who's "fighting for the freedom of everyone."
San Francisco police arrested Jesse Nesbitt last week after he allegedly hurled bricks off the roof of a vacant building at police and protesters below. Two demonstrators were hit, and Nesbitt now faces charges of felony assault, assault on a police officer and vandalism, KGO-TV reported.
In an interview published Tuesday with the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Nesbitt, 34, revealed he is a homeless Army veteran who suffers from schizophrenia. Diagnosed at 16, he joined the military two years later and was deployed to South Korea.
Since returning, Nesbitt said he's had a number of stints in prison, having done time for assault, theft, weapons possession and vandalism, and has been in and out of psychiatric wards. He became addicted to methamphetamine, and that's when a friend suggested he join Occupy.
"A friend of mine who was shooting heroin at the time said, let's go join the revolution. It will help clean you up. It helped pull me out of a drug addiction and keep me healthy," Nesbitt told the Bay Guardian.
"I've always had revolutionary beliefs," he said of the movement's appeal. He described friends who wouldn't let him go to the G20 protests in Pittsburgh in 2009 for fear he would be moved to violence. "I've been involved with anarchists for a long time. They pointed out documentaries I should watch, things I should read."
He said he recovered from his addiction at Occupy Berkeley, but continued to get into fights and have run-ins with the police. Finally, he ended up at the San Francisco May Day protests.
"I was getting an episode the day before it all happened," he said. "I was afraid to go by myself to sleep because I was hearing voices. Normally those voices tell me to hurt people. I try to keep around people I love and trust that wouldn't let me do anything."
He sees what he did as defending the Constitution, having sworn a military oath to protect the U.S. against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
"They're passing the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act], Patriot Act, and other bills I don't know about. They're intentionally taking away our constitutional rights. We're supposed to defend those rights, not lie down and take it," he said. "I think Abraham Lincoln said, if the government betrays us, we're supposed to take them out."
"I'm a freedom fighter," said Nesbitt. "I'm fighting for the freedom of everyone."
The brick-throwing was caught on camera during a live news report on KGO.
"So far it's been relatively peaceful," the reporter said. "There's a gentleman on the roof right now, I want you to see this, he's got a brick in each hand. And he's throwing it now into the crowd! He's throwing bricks into the crowd and trying to hit police with that."
Watch that report below, via KGO-TV: