Entries Tagged 'Oakland PD' ↓
March 17th, 2013 — Events, Oakland PD
Berkeley Copwatch Democratic Education Series
March 18, 2013: Federalization of Police: Update on the Battle to Control OPD
Oakland based civil rights attorney James Chanin will discuss the federalization of Oakland police and the recent movement to hire William Bratton, the champion of “Stop and Frisk” policing. With over 40 years in the struggle for police accountability, from the establishment of the Berkeley Police Review Commission to the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA) that guides Oakland’s police, James Chanin is a leading voice in the fight to stop police abuse.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
March 18 at 6pm
2022 Blake Street (in Berkeley)
December 5th, 2012 — Oakland PD
OPD, scheduled for a hearing at the Federal Building in San Francisco next week, has escaped federal oversight for now thanks to a settlement reached today between city officials, Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins, and approved by District Judge Thelton Henderson. The responsibility for bringing the department into compliance will fall to a ” powerful point person” paid by the city of Oakland, and reporting to Judge Henderson. For more on this breaking development, see Demian Bulwa’s SF Gate article:
May 11th, 2012 — In Memoriam, Oakland PD, Police Violence and Killings, Racism
For more information about the killing and the vigil, please see:
May 7th, 2012 — Excessive Force, Oakland PD, Racism, Rights
According to The Oakland Tribune, the 19 year old ran when police approached him, and they suspected he had a gun. This part of the story is interesting as well:
“The officer was also shot in the confrontation, but officials said they could not confirm Sunday whether he had been shot by the suspect or if he had accidentally shot himself as he drew his gun.”
For the full story, see:
May 7th, 2012 — Excessive Force, Militarization, Mutual Aid, Oakland PD, Occupy, Police State, Tasers
We had some good numbers out in the streets from May Day morning to May Day night–and saw broad daylight police Tasering of protestors, to the forewarned “surgical arrests”, to the Alameda County sheriff’s department lined up with their assault rifles, to the sickeningly brutal front line police charges on Broadway that rushed and tackled protestors and nabbed at least one of us while filming and hauled us off to jail. We had new copwatchers in the streets that showed solid bravery, endurance, and camera savvy, as well as veteran copwatchers refusing to be bullied by the numerous agencies (Union City Police? What were you doing rushing down the Oakland sidewalks in full riot gear?)
We could have used more numbers with cameras–as actions in San Francisco were left unwitnessed by our team, and at least one team was broken up with members left isolated following the 9:30pm arrests on Broadway. But overall, we ran a strong, responsible, and fluid monitoring patrol that covered lots of ground throughout the day, supported by an excellent dispatcher. Great job copwatchers and solidarity to Occupy and all May Day protestors!
Come by our weekly meeting tomorrow at 7pm at the Grassroots House and compare notes on positions and what we saw, and plan for the next actions and sign up for neighborhood shifts. See you there.
And, from Dave Id, check out his piece on crowd control violations this May Day, including footage of OPD’s motorcycle “BUMPing” ….Judge Thelton Henderson, we’re counting on you to be watching:
Also, if you haven’t seen the massive Alameda County sheriff’s armored vehicle “Grizzly”, see Anonymous’ photo at: http://twitter.com/#!/YourAnonNews/status/197459134013120512 )
April 30th, 2012 — Militarization, Oakland PD, Occupy, Oscar Grant
Excellent video and commentary posted by Copwatcher on IndyBay. Have any of the targets for surgical arrests already been identified? From the Oscar Grant protest cordons, to the Moving Day chemical deployments, does this rush-and-snatch policy indicate a more individualizing approach to crowd control from OPD Chief Howard Jordan?
April 25th, 2012 — Excessive Force, Oakland PD, Police Violence and Killings, Uncategorized
This is a reminder that Berkeley Copwatch will be hosting an event this coming Sunday, April at the Grassroots House. This is the second part in our Civilians’ Investigation Series:
Conducting Reliable Investigations: Workshop with Ali Winston.
12 noon to 2pm.
What are some ways that civilians can research police? When we witness brutality or misconduct involving law enforcement, are there empowering and credible ways to follow up on these incidents? What are effective methods and practices for gathering information and learning about relevant laws and policies? Can we initiate civilian investigations into police department practices? Can we access information or records on individual officers? What are the legal boundaries that need to be acknowledged when doing this kind of research? In this workshop, journalist Ali Winston will discuss the current climate that allows departments and individual officers to act under a cloak of legal and procedural protections. He will go over effective investigation strategies towards collecting evidence and following up on police misconduct. This will lead into a discussion about these issues, and next steps forward.
The Berkeley Copwatch Civilian Investigations workshop series is collectively imagined with numerous activists and stakeholders. We hope these conversations will generate new ideas and strategies for holding police accountable, and to build civilian power to address policing issues in all of our communities.
Ali Winston is journalist who has reported extensively on law enforcement in the Bay Area. His work addresses misconduct, corruption, brutality, racism, surveillance, gang injunctions, federalization, use of force, the Occupy movement, and other policing issues, both spectacular and every day. His work in Oakland draws important connections between the police, city hall, and business owners, and he also addresses the role of federal law enforcement in local policing issues. Ali currently writes for the East Bay Bay Express, and his work has appeared across many papers and sites. For a serious stretch of cutting edge reporting for The Informant, he wrote almost exclusively on local policing issues, creating an archive of policing practices that included original raw documents–policies, memos, reports and other documents directly from the departments that use force against us. This work has had a significant impact on public awareness, understanding, and action in the Bay Area, and we are delighted Ali will be joining us this Sunday.
Hope to see you there.
Grassroots House is located at 2022 Blake Street, 10 minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART
See Ali’s work in Colorlines:
February 12th, 2012 — Oakland PD, Occupy, Surveillance
More on Cognitech from the SF Chronicle:
February 6, 2012
A Pasadena forensic video enhancement software company has donated its technology to Oakland police to help in capturing the goings-on at Occupy Oakland demonstrations, the company announced in a statement.
At the request of Oakland law enforcement, Cognitech, Inc. officials said they bequeathed the Oakland Police Department the company’s Tri-Suite 11 software system. The software will help enhance and “deblur” the hours of footage police have of demonstrations, double video storage and capture accurate biometric measurements from video to provide police with any possible wrong-doer’s height and weight.
“It is our sincere hope that in donating our forensic video Tri-Suite software to the Oakland Police Department, we are helping to assist the entire community,” CEO Lenny Rudin said in a statement. “Pictures tell the truth and when enhancing these videos and photos forensically, unlawful acts will be seen and analyzed clearly and scientifically, no matter who committed them.”
Occupy Oakland protester Shon Kay, 30, said he thinks such technology won’t deter the movement at all — many protesters assumed that police were employing some form of forensic software already.
However, Kay said he thinks that knowing the police have such technology will just spread more fear and distrust.
“This kind of thing aids their attempt to portray the movement as criminal, by being able to single out the actions of certain individuals and use that as a way to frame everyone that was there,” he said.
“I wish that some private video analytics firm would give us that equipment so that we could analyze what the OPD is doing,” Kay continued. “I think we’d find a lot of criminal activity there.”
February 12th, 2012 — Excessive Force, Oakland PD, Raids
Jeremy Miller/Education Not Incarceration
Posted January 27, 2012 Poor Magazine
THE STORIES (as reported in corporate media and “po”lice reports)
On January 29, 2011, at about 8:55AM, Oakland Police Officers responded to the 5500 block of Taft Street to a report of an individual armed with weapons harassing a resident on the block. Responding Officers saw a man later identified as Matthew Cicelski in front of the residence and Cicelski fled on foot. Officers surrounded the block to contain Cicelski.Cicelski forced entry into the home of the individual that called the police armed with what they thought was an Assault Rifle. The residents ran out of the house and advised Officers Cicelski was inside armed. Cicelski appeared on the front porch armed with a replica Assault Weapon pointing it at the Officers. The Officers opened fire on Cicelskiand he was fatally wounded.
A man who was shot and killed by Oakland police officers after he allegedly pointed a replica assault rifle at them in the Rockridge neighborhood was identified Sunday as 39-year-old Matthew Cicelski, an unemployed father of a young son.
Cicelski was shot Saturday after 9:35 a.m. by three officers outside a home at 5552 Taft Ave. between College Avenue and Broadway, police officials said.
They said Cicelski, clad in camouflage clothing, had been acting erratically outside the home, where his ex-girlfriend lives. Two residents of the home called police to report that he was armed with a knife and gun while walking up and down Taft Avenue as if he were “patrolling” the street, said Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan.
Arriving officers reported that the suspect, later identified as Oakland resident Matthew Cicelski, appeared to be armed with an assault rifle when he ran from police and forced his way into a home, Joshi said.
Occupants of the home managed to get out and told police that Cicelski was carrying a gun, Joshi said.
Cicelski subsequently came out of the home and stood on the front porch with what was later determined to be a replica assault rifle aimed at officers outside.
Police opened fire and Cicelski was killed, Joshi said.
Seems pretty basic right? Crazy man allegedly armed and patrolling the streets gunned down by police. Pretty good PR piece for a police department that is under fire for the shooting deaths of Raheim Brown Jr., and Martin “Marty” Flenaugh a week and three days earlier respectively. The phrase ‘too good to be true’ comes to mind. Further investigation (actual investigative journalism) paints a much more disturbing picture.
To begin with, according to witnesses, there was never any fleeing on foot. Cicelski was killed after walking through the front door of 5552 Taft Ave. Secondly no occupant ever reported that he was armed with a knife or that he was a threat to anyone other than himself. Though it is possible that Mr. Cicelski was briefly wandering through the neighborhood prior to entering the residence at 5552 Taft Ave., once there he never left the residence until stepping through the front door which resulted in his death. This is important because it shows a blatant police fabrication. Police were notified originally by neighbors who were concerned about Mathew’s antics outside of the house but arrived after Mathew was already in the house. By then his ex-girlfriend was already on the phone with a 9-11 dispatcher accurately describing the actual state of affairs. No information that they were given corroborates the ‘patrolling’ the street account. The only tie-in there was that part of said 9-11 call was to provide context for neighbors’ anxieties. Likewise no-one ran out of the house. Cicelski’s ex-girlfriend’s housemate walked out of a house that police had staked out, had a gun pulled on her by police, and was ‘escorted outside. Later Cicelski’s ex-girlfriend emerged and upon seeing the tacteam ran inside!
THE TRUTH (as told by the witness and victims):
Mathew Cicelski was formerly a successful businessman and Gulf War veteran. Returning from the marines he had exhibited signs of PTSD but by and large was able to effectively manage his mental health and social interactions. All that changed a few years before his assassination. It began with the death of his best friend. This had a severe emotional impact on Mathew. A short while later the car accident occurred.
On July 20th of 2008 Mathew was the victim of an as yet unsolved felony hit-and-run accident. He was admitted to Sutter Hospital but due to their inability to verify his medical insurance he was released without treatment to the same ex-girlfriend whose house he would be killed at just two and a half year later. She was given a bottle of morphine, instructions, told he might die, and advised to call if he began vomiting up blood but otherwise to make an appointment at Highland for the following Monday (three days later). Mathew did miraculously survive this abject violation of the Hippocratic oath and was eventually admitted into surgery. The injuries were so severe that, among other procedures, a titanium plate was put over his eyebrow to keep his face from falling off his skull. It was immediately obvious that due to the accident Mathew had sustained severe neurological damage. Yet after successful facial reconstruction surgery, of the sort that movie stars receive, Mathew appeared better than ever. Those who were intimate with him got a different picture. Mathew began experiencing temporary spells of extreme mental crisis with sharp mood swings, disassociative thought, and wild behavior. He began to feel profoundly lonely with his condition and relied heavily on his ex-girlfriend for support during these spells. This support was rendered and for awhile Mathew was able to maintain relations and a job. Eventually Mathew’s mental health condition began to deteriorate. He was unable to keep his job which put him in conditions of severe financial strain and the public options for mental health treatment (in particular medication) were of the sort that seemed untenable. They were either too expensive or required documentation that boded to make it very difficult for Mathew ever to resume his career. Mathew did self-medicate a bit but was unable to achieve a regiment that kept him balanced. The spells would occur with increasing severity to the point where his ex-girlfriend had to establish new boundaries. She never, however, stopped helping Mathew or felt that he was an immediate threat to her. Mathew continued to rely on her for comfort to the point of seeming to want to be around her while he was going through a spell for purposes of validation. He was very insecure of his mental health condition and among other things had severe yet apparently prophetic anxiety that police would kill him during an episode. The 29th of January, 2011 was no different.
THE MURDEROUS OPD
While it is true that Mathew Cicelski entered the house at 5552 Taft Ave. without permission from the residents there was no malice in his approach. He did not break in to hurt any of the residents. There was no intended robbery or assault and none in fact ever occurred. This is not to say that Mathew was OK at the time. Mathew was in severe mental crisis when he arrived that morning at the house. He went to his ex-girlfriend who was alarmed at his presence and extremely erratic behavior. He was speaking irrationally but was clearly suicidal. The clarity of this presented itself in the bottles of pills that Mathew had lined up on the front porch and begun consuming. This was what instigated her 9-11 call which joined in the chorus of neighborhood emergency calls that would eventually result in Mathew’s death. Her call was intended as a 51-50. Mathew’s ex-girlfriend clearly perceived his suicidal plans and did not feel capable of addressing his situation without assistance. This was no 2 minute 9-11 call. Cicelski’s ex-girlfriend was on the telephone with the 9-11 dispatcher for roughly 45 minutes. During this call a few very important messages were relayed. For one it was made incredibly clear to the dispatcher that Mathew needed mental health assistance. It was also clearly established that the gun he was carrying was a toy and not to shoot. This was reiterated multiple times! It was established that he was present at the house despite a statement relayed to the caller approximately half an hour into the conversation that police were in the neighborhood looking for Mathew!
Eventually the police took position with roughly a dozen officers, guns drawn, outside the front of the residence. Mathew was at the time in the backyard playing with the dog. Around 9:30 in the morning one of the residents of the house (Cicelski’s ex-girlfriend’s housemate) went outside and was immediately and violently detained by the police. Cicelski’s ex was the next to attempt to go through the front door. Mathew was behind her. She opened the door saw the police and immediately ran inside screaming “Don’t Shoot!” She tried to keep Mathew from going outside but fell while she was running from police. Mathew went outside with his toy gun and was immediately shot by two or three officers. Cicelski’s ex-girlfriend was also in the line of fire. Despite the fact that the police claim Mathew was approaching in a threatening manner there is as yet no explanation of the bullets in his back. Upon discerning that they had just shot and killed an unarmed man, police proceeded into the home, injuring Cicelski’s ex-girlfriend in the process, and searched the place top to bottom. Obviously they were looking for anything that could provide them an excuse for their murderous behavior. Apparently their search was fruitless. That day when confronted with the fact that they had previously been informed that the gun was a toy they claimed they did not believe this account. Later their story changed to say that dispatch had not informed them about the toy gun. Only cut and altered versions of the 9-11 tapes have been made available for review thus complicating the process of exposing this police cover-up.
The struggle continues. Though Cicelski’s family is pursuing litigation, they have yet to receive any justice for his death. Beyond this, Cicelski’sex-girlfriend has had her life completely transformed by his assassination. Her childhood home was riddled with bullets and left covered with Mathew’s blood and brains which the police and the city of Oakland neglected to clean up. She has endured retaliatory abuse and threats. Hurled by circumstance into the nightmare world of having to maintain her own mental and physical health while at the same time dealing with Oakland politricks, she has spent the last year trying to piece together her life with very little support.
As the one year anniversary of this police assassination approaches we must resist the heavily media fortified urge to write Mathew Cicelski’s death off as just another Officer-Involved-Shooting. We must call this what it is…a crime against humanity perpetrated by a state sanctioned murderous group known as the OPD. Above all we must demand justice for the victims deceased and living. Justice for Mathew Cicelski! End Po’Lice Terror Now!
 Fugitive Watch (www.fugitive.com/2011/01/30/matthew-cicelski-shot-by-oakland-police-after-pointing-replica-assault-rifle/)
 SFGATE (http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-01-31/bay-area/27092221_1_officer-shot-police-id-man-man-with-fake-gun)
 NBC (www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Fatally-Shot-Man-Had-Fake-Gun-114903794.html)
February 12th, 2012 — Oakland PD, Occupy
FUCK THE POLICE
Posted on 30 January 2012 by Cami Graves
OPD’s unwarranted reaction to #J28
The streets of Oakland became a war zone Saturday as, once again, the police showed excessive force in their response to Occupy Oakland demonstrations. Over 400 protesters were arrested, and many more, including the elderly, children, and some unwitting passersby, were teargassed and injured during the course of the first day of Occupy Oakland’s Move-In Weekend and Rise Up Festival.
The day began with a march from Oscar Grant Plaza to the location chosen to become Occupy Oakland’s new community center and home, the Kaiser Convention Center, a 215,000 square foot multifunction building that has been empty for nearly six years. The Kaiser Convention Center is publicly-owned, meaning that it should not be unreasonable for its use to be determined by members of the public. Occupy Oakland intended to repurpose the abandoned building for the good of the local community, serving as a place for general assemblies, housing, offices, events, meetings, classes, workshops, and the like.
Things did not go as planned as the police surrounded the building, preventing protesters from coming near. As the march continued, police began using teargas to make the crowd disperse, rushing into the crowd with batons and making numerous arrests. This was only the first in a series of conflicts that lasted until midnight.
Click here for a more detailed account of the day, during which the police repeatedly violated the very laws they are supposed to uphold.
What we learned from the events of Saturday is more of what we already knew–that the resources and institutions that are meant to work for the people are truly inaccessible, even becoming entities to be used against the people. A supposedly publicly-owned space can really be shut down indefinitely and made unavailable to the public pending a 1% government’s unfulfilled desire to sell it to a private interest during a brief real estate boom six years ago. The mayor and city council of the city of Oakland can really lie, cheat, and steal from us without accountability, and even give orders to brutalize us. And the police are not hired to protect and serve the citizenry but to distract us, beat us, and stifle our discontent.
Following this, somehow yet again, unprecedented show of force by the Oakland Police Department,Occupy locations across the country organized events and marches to stand in solidarity, showing that with every show of force, Occupy will only become stronger–because with every show of force, the authorities only expose themselves further. They, like the emperor who has no clothes, are bent on keeping power and exerting control by squashing the truth.
The weekend’s events came on the heels of another action and hotbed topic, the weekly Anti-Repression/ Fuck the Police March organized by the Occupy Oakland Tactical Action Committee. Some don’t agree with the ideology, others don’t agree with the semantics, and yet others don’t agree with some of the strategies advocated by marchers. Let’s take a look at the larger issues.
The Tactical Action Committee has made it clear that the Anti-Repression/ Fuck the Police march is a direct response to OPD abuses of Occupy Oakland–continued harassment, snatch-and-grabs, and use of excessive force, to name a few–but the Oakland Police Department has a long history of misconduct, not to mention that it is not exempt from the many ethical problems haunting the practice of American law enforcement nationwide.
Read the city’s latest press release regarding Saturday’s turmoil.
Mayor Quan and OPD’s response to the past weekend’s events should be an eye-opener for those who don’t understand what the phrase “FUCK THE POLICE” really means in the city of Oakland. It is not a trendy slogan thrown around for shock-value. It indicates a much deeper problem, one that is endemic to Oakland and has its roots at the core of American authoritarianism and exceptionalism.
Consider the Oakland Police Department’s numerous violations against the people of Oakland, spanning back long before Occupy Oakland ever pitched a tent in Oscar Grant Plaza. These violations are what caused OPD to come under scrutiny by the Department of Justice–who have placed constant watchdog Robert Warshaw as overseer of every decision made by the department–and what now potentially put OPD only weeks away from a federal receivership: a complete takeover by the federal government, which will just be a more thorough way to weed out loose cannons and cover up police gaffes.
The long, dark history of a troubled police department
Back in 2000, rookie Oakland police officer Keith Batt caused a stir when he blew the whistle on three of his fellow officers, Jude Siapno, Matthew Hornung, Francisco “Frank” Vazquez, and Clarence “Chuck” Mabanag, under whom Batt was training. Batt accused the four, who were later given the infamous name the Oakland “Riders,” of kidnapping, making false arrests, beating arrestees, falsifying police reports, and forcing Batt to help them cover up their crimes.
At the time, the Riders were the most popular and respected officers on the force, believed to have made a substantial number of drug busts. The reality is that their success was the result of a lot of violence, corruption, and conspiracy.
Three of the officers were charged with multiple felonies. Besides Batt, eight witnesses, all African American men who had been arrested by the four, testified against the Riders. They all claimed to have been beaten and some to having drugs planted on them during their arrests. During the trial,Batt corroborated their stories, describing how one man was pepper-sprayed and beaten before being driven under an overpass, pulled out of the cop cruiser, and beaten further by two of the officers. Batt also described how another man, who had called the cops for assistance, ended up being choked by one of the officers. Finally, Batt described how he was pressured to lie about everything.
Somehow, a (suburban, mostly white with no blacks) jury failed to convict the officers, who maintained their innocence throughout. Were they innocent? Considering the volume of witnesses, one a fellow cop, willing to testify, the ensuing federal investigation of the entire department, and the flight of the “ringleader” of the group, Vazquez, out of the country when the allegations were first made (he is still a fugitive): you tell us.
In the end, all four of the Riders walked free, and two of them asked for their jobs back.
One of the cases made by the defense was that Keith Batt was a “naive rookie with little understanding of the ways of an urban police department fighting a deadly drug war.” In the words of one of the Rider’s defense attorney, Michael Rains, “You don’t send choirboys out to West Oakland to get rid of drug dealers.” No, of course not. You send thugs.
Envision what it would be like if police like Keith Batt refused to play malicious games with peoples’ lives and came forward to report their corrupt peers. What would we find?
Unfortunately, stories of police misconduct and brutality–especially in the troubled communities of Oakland–often receive little to no attention. Or, somehow, we forget them. Numbers of how many of the innocent have been killed by Oakland police may be impossible to know, let alone true numbers of those beaten and unlawfully arrested. This doesn’t mean those stories don’t exist.
But even when we know these stories, how often are complaints sustained, charges filed, and violators indicted and convicted?
With the federal government’s ongoing investigations of OPD, it’s probably safe to assume that Internal Affairs cannot be trusted. We might also want to keep in mind that the 2009 head of OPD Internal Affairs, Capt. Edward I. Poulson, became subject to an FBI probe after information resurfaced that he had badly beaten a man, Jerry Amaro, nine years before. The injuries sustained by Amaro were enough to cause his death a month later. Not only did Poulson lie about the incident, but he ordered his subordinates to lie. When his subterfuge was discovered by Internal Affairs at the time, he was suspended for two months. We might not want to know what OPD Internal Affairs is up to in 2012.
That leaves us with the Oakland Citizens’ Police Review Board. Sadly, the CPRB’s reports don’t provide enough insight into the truth of Oakland police behavior except that most complaints filed with the board against the police come from African American and Hispanic men and most often include excessive use of force and unlawful arrest. (It’s important to note that the CPRB doesn’t have the staff or the resources to properly address Oakland police department problems.) Their recommendations for how to deal with police behavior have obviously gone unheeded, while the Oakland Police Department continues to rampage. We do know a few more stories of OPD’s crimes:
In a high-profile 2007 incident, Oakland Post editor-in-chief Chauncey Bailey was assassinated in downtown Oakland by an employee of Your Black Muslim Bakery, which was operated at the time by Yusuf Bey IV. Bey’s father was at the center of a small Muslim black empowerment movement, as well as a ring of crime. The older Bey rubbed shoulders with local politicians, and his bakery was so popular that a power struggle for its control ensued upon his death. Chauncey Bailey’s attempts to uncover that struggle led to his assassination, which the younger Bey had ordered, and for which he was convicted in 2011.
Following Bailey’s death, allegations arose that homicide detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire, who was close friends with Bey, had mishandled the investigation and had either attempted to or made an agreement to protect Bey. Longmire allowed Bey and Bailey’s murderer, Devaughdre Broussard, to speak together alone and unrecorded, as well as failed to note GPS tracking and phone logs as evidence. Despite his clear conflict of interest and confusing handling of the case, Longmire is still with the Oakland Police Department, possibly because firing him would mean bringing attention to some mistakes of their own.
In another incident in 2007, the city of Oakland was forced to pay $6 million in damages to Torry Smith after a jury found two police guilty of planting a rifle in Smith’s back yard and then arresting him for having it. The city later complained as though Oakland officers were incapable of such a plot, with the defense’s attorney saying, “To reach this decision, the jury had to believe that two highly respected officers, in uniform, in a community where they are well known, in broad daylight, carried a 2 1/2-foot assault rifle from their car and planted it in the backyard of a man they had never even heard of before that day.” Coincidentally, the prosecuting attorney had also represented some of the plaintiffs in a civil suit against the Riders a few years before, which the city settled by awarding the plaintiffs $10.5 million.
A comprehensive and perceptive report by Ali Winston for Colorlines.com details the 2003 “Copley ruling,” a decision made by the California Supreme Court that limited public access to police records and had a profound impact on police transparency. Winston’s report includes discussion of the ruling’s impact on Oakland specifically. He talks especially about the recklessness and misconduct of one notorious officer, Sgt. Patrick Gonzales, whose actions may have caused the deaths of two of his fellow officers in a March 2009 raid, as well as some disturbing statistics on trigger-happy Oakland cops.
Gonzales, who Winston alleges is one of sixteen officers responsible for the 85 police shootings that occurred in Oakland between 2000 and 2010, is behind a multitude of violations. These include not only the raid in 2009, which left Lovelle Mixom and a total of four officers dead, but also the fatal 2002 shooting of Joshua Russell, the 2006 shooting of Amir Rollins that left Rollins a quadriplegic (Rollins says he had already put down his weapon when Gonzales shot him), and the fatal 2007 shooting of Gary King, Jr., an innocent man who was running away from Gonzales after being arbitrarily stopped and assaulted by him, calling for help.
In a little over the past year alone, at least four instances of OPD slayings of innocent people have made a small dent in the press:
In November 2010, police shot and killed Derrick Jones, who was unarmed, as many as eight times. Jones had been in earlier altercations with his girlfriend, but a friend said he didn’t call the cops because he “was afraid something like this would happen.”
In January 2011, Matthew Cicelski, a Gulf War veteran suffering from PTSD and a more recent head injury, was gunned down by police in front of his ex-girlfriend’s home for carrying a toy gun around his neighborhood. The police had been informed that Cicelski needed mental health assistance, that the gun was not real, and that they should not shoot.
Also in January 2011, the Oakland School Police Department, who are close partners with the Oakland Police Department, shot and killed 20-year-old Raheim Brown. Their reason for pulling the trigger was that he was holding a screwdriver and, according to them, trying to stab a cop. Brown was shot five times, twice in the head.
In September 2011, witnesses, one an eleven-year-old boy, reported that cops fatally shot a suspect four times in the back after he had raised his hands in surrender. This story received little to no follow-up.
So remind us again whom the perpetrators are in Oakland…
To be sure, these are only a small portion of OPD’s crimes and are probably nothing compared to what we might discover were we to explore every police department in America. Yet Mayor Jean Quan continues to use this disgraced police department against Occupy Oakland, a police department that needs to be babysat and is under investigation for murder, abuse, conspiracy, and fraud.
Just last Wednesday, Judge Thelton Henderson warned Quan that after ten years of waiting for OPD to shape up, he was appalled by the city’s failure to comply with orders for long-expected reform. This warning came in the wake of overseer Warshaw’s criticism of the city’s handling of Occupy protests.
But Quan claims that Occupy Oakland are the ones antagonizing the city. We are costing the city millions (how many millions has Oakland paid to the victims of its police force, again? How many millions more would it have to pay if we only knew everything they’ve done?). We are diverting important attention away from the neighborhoods who need it, as though Occupy Oakland has really disrupted OPD’s long history of defending and guarding the innocent of this city.
Actually, it seems more like Quan is more concerned with strangling protest than she is with policing, or, heaven forbid, providing effective services and aid, to the parts of Oakland that have already been long neglected.
How OPD is treating protesters is shameful, but in light of how we’ve seen them operate and continually get away with it, we should realize that we can hardly fathom the frightful grip OPD has on the Oakland residents it most often targets.
While we can see that the police force’s behavior toward Occupy Oakland is certainly not the first or most brutal of its many offenses, it is an extension of every other offense: of the failure to protect and serve those in society who are most in need of protection and service; of the commitment to perpetuate a bigoted and marginalizing status quo by suppressing only certain members of society while others are allowed to get away with psychological and economic crimes against the entire population; and, perhaps most of all, of the astonishing refusal to take responsibility for the terrifying trail of death and destruction it has left in its wake.
Quan also wants the public to believe that Occupy Oakland is made up of outsiders, and there are few Oakland natives and people of color in the movement. This is definitively not true, and many of our most impassioned members, those organizing marches and occupations, are native Oaklanders who know all about the Oakland police’s tactics. Occupy Oakland says “FUCK THE POLICE” because OPD has for too long been allowed to brutalize Oakland’s communities, and now they are being used to stamp out our right to protest against the complex systems that allow, even encourage, that brutalization.
If you are out there and you think OPD is looking out for the people, protecting Oakland from us oppressive, complaining Occupiers, you are dead wrong. You are dead, dead wrong. If you think the city’s handling of Occupy Oakland by using this murderous police force means that the city is doing its best for Oakland, you are dead wrong. In fact, if you think that any militaristic force within or outside of the United States is here to look after you, the ordinary citizen: think of Oakland. OPD’s inevitable movement toward receivership is just one instance in which the police’s reign of terror against citizens has been–at least partially–exposed. But this isn’t enough.
Imagine what else your government is hiding from you and trying to make you forget while they pretend to be working for you. We have yet to make people really see the crooked intentions of those who order the police around and cover for them. Remember that if you, the ordinary citizen, don’t police the police, you have no reason to hope that your government will.