Berkeley Copwatch points out the Penal Code to officers at Occupy Oakland, and raises some questions:
Refuse to Be Abused
Berkeley Copwatch points out the Penal Code to officers at Occupy Oakland, and raises some questions:
News on last Wednesday’s Police Review Commission meeting, where Berkeley Copwatch members, including Andrea and Russ, spoke to issues of concern.
From Ali Winston at The Informant
Ali Winston for The Informant
March 23, 2011
“Yesterday’s clash at Pacific steel is the most recent of several crowd control incidents over the past year where Berkeley Police officers have used nonlethal force on protesters. Most of these incidents have stemmed from demonstrations or occupations at UC-Berkeley, where students have been fighting against budget cuts and redundancies. BPD have been repeatedly sent to campus on mutual aid to help University of California Police contain protests.”
The student protests of March 3rd 2011 in support of education were inspiring
and absolutely necessary. However, as UCB alum and long time residents of
Berkeley,we are troubled by the massive and disproportionate police
mobilization that we saw in front of Wheeler Hall that evening. We want this
action to be reviewed for a number of reasons.
While it is true that eight students had stepped onto a balcony and chained
their arms together, it is also true that they posed NO RISK to anyone. In
fact, there was no disruption to campus life, other than that caused by the
police. We were shocked to see officers from so many different police forces
gathered as if some disaster had happened. Sadly, many of our Berkeley Police
officers were lined up on the steps of Wheeler Hall, contributing to the
fiction that some great threat to the campus was being addressed by these armed
We object to having our scarce city resources squandered on exaggerated
responses to minor campus displays of protest and dissent. We want to see an
evaluation of our city’s mutual aid pact with the UC and whether we should
have to spend city money on unnecessary police aid. Perhaps this exaggerated
response is part of the current trend of officers assigning themselves and
other officers to duties whose main purpose is to net officers additional
We are also concerned by the following:
• BPD officers are PROHIBITED from using pepper spray in crowd situations.
Who sprayed six UC students with this dangerous chemical?
• Why were BPD officers carrying munitions when they were less than two feet
from peaceful protesters?
• Why were BPD officers intentionally provoking the crowd by moving forward
with their clubs into the crowd that was listening to speeches? Were they
trying to start an altercation of some sort?
Ask the important questions! Don’t let UCB use city cops to fight their
battles for them. If UCB wants to parade their police force, don’t make the
city pay. Save the money for education- not police overtime!
Speakout at the Police Review Commission
Wed. March 23rd 7pm
South Berkeley Senior Center
2939 Ellis Street (Near Ashby and below MLK)
Despite declaration of unlawful assembly by UCPD, protesters hold position and demand negotiations with university administration during protests and demonstrations that continued into the evening Thursday.
The overwhelming police force summoned by Oakland and its mutual aid pacts was not able to stop property damage and looting. Despite police from Fremont, Vallejo, Berkeley, San Francisco and perhaps even hundreds of California HIghway patrol, protests lasted until after 11pm when Russel and I stopped our shift.
The protest at 14th and Broadway was shut down soon after the 8pm end time of the authorized speakout. The intersection was closed to traffic but was completely surrounded by thick lines of cops at each cross street. When the mic shut down, some people tried to march. Cops even began advancing on the crowd at one point only moments after the end of the program.
There were probably over 1000 people in attendence. Some left after the speakout but others came. What was clear was that the incredible cost of paying so many cops did not yield the desired result: I saw stores that had windows smashed and a couple were looted (jewelry store, Foot Locker, few others). Many windows broken, mostly corporate. Lots of graffiti and some small fires. So far about 50 arrests.
It strikes me that the overwhelming force was used to disrupt and prevent a march. However, the strategy of using so many cops to close streets and chase people meant that the crowd was in small clumps, each equally capable of taking a side street and doing what they wanted. It was also noted that stores that were damaged were left COMPLETELY unsecured by police even though they had hundreds at their disposal. Even a few cops in those places could have helped the small businesses they had earlier claimed to want to protect.
The Afghanistan approach, or massive military style DID NOT achieve its objective! Try winning hearts and minds next time!
The following are links to helpful sites if you are trying to follow the coverage from Oakland. We’ll try to have updates from the ground as soon as they start to arrive.
Video from DN!
In solidarity with the community, Copwatch awaits the verdict in the Mehserle trial in Los Angeles. We grieve and rage at the injustice of Oscar Grant’s killing and we condemn excessive and undue force from police and all law enforcement. As a group of citizens concerned about police misconduct, we have followed this case together with the many other cases of police brutality locally and nationally. We respect and stand with the community organizing that has been ongoing in response to this violence. And we commend the courage and dedication of those witnesses who recorded the violent and illegal BART police response on the platform and who came forward with their recordings.
We are preparing for the day of the verdict, in conversation as a group, and with other organizations and community members. We will be in the streets and will respond to witness reports as best we can to serve and support the community at this time. In the long run, we will continue to foster community-based efforts to monitor and observe police behavior. After the verdict is announced, no matter what it is, and after the crowds and politicians go home, we will still need to address the question of how to protect communities from police murders and attacks.
Copwatch has been monitoring police activity in the East Bay for over 20 years, and draws on a powerful legacy of community-based recording and resistance to police brutality and discriminatory policies that has roots in the Black Panther Party. We draw on this history to recognize the importance and need for civilian oversight of law enforcement personnel and agencies. Struggle existed before the verdict in the Mehserle trial. And this struggle will continue. This means we must continue to organize.
However, we must organize outside of this system that murders young Black men in Oakland and across the United States on a regular basis. We cannot hope to succeed if we continue to send a mixed message to our communities. We cannot claim to understand that there is corruption, racism and bias built into the structure of this society and then continue to press for justice from this very same, unjust system.
We need to work together to find solutions beyond police in our communities. Historically, increased police presence is not a solution that helps poor communities. Police and law enforcement cannot solve the problems of poverty and unemployment that are at the core of crime in these neighborhoods.
We imagine that a culture of responsibility and accountability means each of us asking about our own long-term commitments to stopping police brutality. How can we work together to hold agents of the state accountable? How can we remember Oscar Grant by continuing with the momentum of organized resistance that his life and murder further catalyzed? We must continue this momentum and fight the gang injunctions together. We must learn to stop calling the police into our homes and lives and develop alternatives to police. We must continue to report the abuse that we see.
There are many ways to continue the work of gaining justice for Oscar Grant and all the other victims and survivors of police violence. Join a group, go to a Know Your Rights training, learn the law, challenge increasing police power, demand that your city give money for education and not a dime for specialized weapons for police.
Come to a Copwatch meeting!
2022 Blake Street
Berkeley CA 94705
COMMUNITY BASED POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
FREE CLASS STARTING SEPTEMBER 1st
6pm on Mondays
Study the history of police, civilian review, gang injunctions, community control, immigration and the law, prison-industrial complex and much more! This course is offered for credit through the DeCal program at UC Berkeley. Members of the public are welcome to attend!
510-548-0425 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A verdict is expected SOON in the case of the Police Officer who
murdered Oscar Grant on a Friutvale BART platform 18 months ago! If you are in the Bay Area:
WHEN THE VERDICT COMES, GATHER AT 6PM AT 14th AND BROADWAY
**WHY SHOULD YOU COME?**
1. Because WE WILL NOT BE DIVIDED. Massive street protests were the only thing that forced Mehserle’s arrest. Lets remind ourselves that the streets are where people are strong together, where real change is won.
2. Because WE WILL NOT BE PACIFIED. Our anger is justified. It does not need to be “vented” or “cooled-down”. If anything, we need more resistance, more action, more mobilization.
3. Because WE ARE THE VICTIMS OF POLICE VIOLENCE, not the cause of it. Police are the only “outside agitators” in Oakland, and their violent behavior is what concerns us. We all know that police will blame the victim to try and justify their violence, by calling us violent. We won’t be manipulated.
4. Because THIS FIGHT IS NOT OVER. Whatever the verdict, our struggle continues. There is a long way to go to get justice for Oscar Grant, and for all victims of police violence. We need to stay united and active, to end police violence in our communities.
**HELP US MAINTAIN A SAFE SPACE!**
While the gathering does not have an official “permit”, organizers still intend to maintain a safe space for everyone, and need your help to respect the tone of this rally. The rally will be in the intersection of 14th and Broadway. Organizers are also not planning a march and want to avoid arrests or police activity within this space. Please do not invite police to enter this space or provoke the police from anywhere within or close by to this space. Please do tell everyone you know about this gathering – the best safety is in numbers.
**HOW TO PREPARE!**
1. Text “follow justiceforoscar” to 40404. You’ll get a text when the verdict comes down and updates about what happens at the protest.
2. Write the legal hotline number (415-285-1011 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 415-285-1011 end_of_the_skype_highlighting) on your arm or body. Call this number to report arrests or to get legal support if you are arrested..
3. Bring earplugs for you (and some to share). OPD has recently purchased a LRAD sonic “crowd control” device.
**DON’T BE FOOLED!**
The downtown gathering 14th and Broadway is being put on by legit community organizers who have been working for Justice for Oscar Grant for the last 18 months. Sadly, in recent days there has been a concerted effort by the mayor of Oakland, the OPD, and certain non-profits to disrupt our rally and keep people from gathering together. Please inform yourself and others! Many of those counter-organizing against our 14th and Broadway gathering have done nothing to fight for justice for Oscar Grant, and are more concerned with preventing property damage (helping the police) than they are with getting justice for Oscar Grant.
This is not over! There is much new information that has become available during the trial, including the fact that Oscar Grant’s autopsy showed that Officer Tony Pirone’s beating caused head injuries to Oscar Grant before he was shot by Johannes Mehserle. Our organizing is not over, not even close! Look for information about actions demanding charges for Tony Pirone and Marisol Domenici, the firing of all the other police on the platform, charging the BART police with federal civil rights violations, and the disbanding of the BART police department.
From the Chronicle:
“A judge has ruled that the University of California police illegally searched the camera of a photojournalist covering a protest outside the chancellor’s campus home, attorneys said Monday.
Alameda County Superior Judge Yolanda Northridge on Friday invalidated the search warrant used by UC Berkeley police to review photographs taken by David Morse at the Dec. 11 demonstration, according to the Oakland-based First Amendment Project, which represented him.”
This is great news! Copwatchers were present for much of that night, but we bailed for fear of just this kind of repressive police response. May have been the wrong thing to do…? Anyway, it’s good to see that they won’t be able to use the photos for any further investigation — although who knows what kind of info they’ve already gleaned from them.