NLG Demands OPD End Harassment of Occupy Oakland Protesters
January 5, 2012
In the midst of increasingly repressive police actions against Occupy Oakland, the SF Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild has issued a statement demanding an end to OPD harassment of protesters.
Last night dozens of OPD officers swept in to Ogawa-Grant Plaza and singled out individuals for arrest without warning or charges, in violation of their own Crowd Control Policy, and confiscated all belongings and possessions (story and video here, and update).
Over the past three weeks, OPD has repeatedly raided the lawful protest vigil at Oscar Grant Plaza, using selective and bizarre interpretations of city and state ordinances to justify aggressively arresting and jailing the demonstrators. Again and again, the police have charged into crowds of peaceful protesters and grabbed individuals protesters who were doing nothing wrong and posed no threat.
As one occupier reported on KPFA, OPD has also taken to raiding on Fridays, so that detainees face the choice of either being held in confinement through the weekend or posting bail, for charges that in most cases end up being dropped. It’s a strategy used to deplete the financial resources of the protesters, ultimately without legitimate reason for detention.
“We have already had to sue the Oakland Police twice in the past year for violating their own Crowd Control Policy, but the violations continue,” explained attorney Mike Flynn, president of NLGSF. “We have ongoing litigation in federal court to stop the unconstitutional arrests, violence against, and illegal prolonged detention of demonstrators in the Alameda County Jails. Yet, OPD has continued to assault Occupy Oakland protesters, confiscate their food and belongings, and hold them under cruel conditions in jail for days at a time, only to release most with no charges or with only very minor violations.”
Police here (and in New York, for example) have taken to arresting the first protester to speak, without warning or explanation of charges. And despite attempts by the media to spin the Occupy movement as that of only white people, we’re seeing a pattern of singling out and brutally targeting of people of color, and in particular, African Americans (e.g. in SF, NY, Oakland).
At the moment, people have been gathering for several hours outside of Oakland city hall to try to speak to the mayor, where OPD is blocking entrances and, based on the latest tweets, making more violent arrests (Support needed now.) The mayor is not available to meet with them, because she is in crisis mode as she scrambles to respond to the federal consent decree for OPD’s history of police misconduct, as reported by attorney Walter Reilly on KPFA’s Flashpoints this evening (www.flashpoints.net)
Keep in mind that this repressive use of police on the part of Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana comes in the wake of recent closure of five elementary schools in order to save city money. And yet the estimated cost of the repressive policing of Occupy has already exceeded the two million dollars that the city refused to invest in those elementary schools.
As reported by KTVU, Oakland, a city of 400,000, is outstanding for having paid out $57 million in the past ten years for police misconduct lawsuits and settlements. That’s nearly triple the annual budget the would have been required to keep those elementary schools open for the next ten years.
OPD’s rampant ongoing violations of its own policies is only going to make matters worse for both citizens and the city itself.
Where are Oakland’s priorities?
Mayor Jean Quan: (510) 238-3141
City Administrator Deanna Santana: (510) 238-3301