Oakland Police play exploitive politics on eve of General Strike

2 11 2011

By their own admission, Oakland Police are very confused.

From the Oakland Police Officers Association’s public statement attacking Mayor Jean Quan, it’s clear that they support the mayoral recall effort that was filed only two days before their inappropriate escalation of violence.

Aerial view of teargas in Oakland

OPOA President Dom Arotzarena: "We're just doing our job."

The audacity that the same police force that turned non-violent protest into a virtual war zone and stood idle while Scott Olsen lay critically wounded would a week later try to pass the buck and claim solidarity with the 99% is hard to fathom.

As OPOA President Dom Arotzarena explains it:

We wanted to point out, we’re just taking orders. We don’t want to be treated like the bad guys. We’re just doing our job.

To try to exploit a tragic situation of their own doing for political ends at a time when international attention is focused on the OPD’s threat to public safety seems terribly misguided.

And confused.

It makes us want to believe Mayor Quan’s previously incredible admission that she wasn’t that involved with the police action.

Because let’s face it, while the mayor does have a lot to answer for, she did not order police to violate their own crowd control policies, nor is she behind the record of police abuse and corruption that has put OPD under federal consent decree for the past eight years.

Woman in wheelchair

"We're just taking orders." The OPD is facing potential federal receivership, and it’s not because the mayor ordered them to shoot tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

The reason for OPOA’s attack on the mayor may well have to do with the fact that she favors community development over gang injunctions—and not without good reason, given OPD’s history of abuse.

Police crackdown on Ray Chavez

"We don’t want to be treated like the bad guys." Click to learn what happened next. Photo: Karl Mondon, Oakland Tribune

On the eve of the General Strike, this is what one Oakland Police officer is thinking:

When this first started, it was protesters versus Wall Street. Now it’s suddenly protesters versus cops.

No, actually, it’s not.

And the cops could indeed stand in solidarity with and serve the needs of the 99%, if only in their confusion they didn’t insist on seeing themselves as adversaries, while disavowing responsibility for their own actions.

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