January 29, 2011 – Oakland, CA – Yesterday, the Oakland Police deployed hundreds of officers in riot gear so as to prevent Occupy Oakland from putting a building, vacant for 6 years with no plans for use, from being occupied and “re-purposed” as a community center. The Occupy Oakland GA passed a proposal calling for the space to be turned into a social center, convergence center and headquarters of the Occupy Oakland movement.
The police actions tonight cost the city of Oakland hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they repeatedly violated their own crowd control guidelines and protesters civil rights.
With all the problems in our city, should preventing activists from putting a vacant building to better use be their highest priority? Was it worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent?
The OPD is facing receivership based on actions by police in the past, and they have apparently learned nothing since October. On October 25, Occupiers rushed to the aid of Scott Olsen who was shot in the head by police, and the good Samaritans who rushed to his had had a grenade thrown at them by police. At 3:30pm this afternoon, OO medics yet again ran to the aid of injured protesters lying on the ground. Other occupiers ran forward and used shields to protect the medic and injured man. The police then repeatedly fired less lethal rounds at these people trying to protect and help an injured man.
Around the same time, officers #419, #327, and others were swinging batons at protesters in a violation of OPD crowd control policy, which allows for pushing of jabbing with batons, but not the swinging of them.
In the evening, police illegally kettled and arrested hundreds of protesters. Police can give notices to disperse, if a group is engaged in illegal activity. However, if the group disperses and reassembles somewhere else, they are required to give another notice to disperse. Tonight, they kettled a march in progress, and arrested hundreds for refusing to disperse. Contrary to their own policy, the OPD gave no option of leaving or instruction on how to depart. These arrests are completely illegal, and this will probably result in another class action lawsuit against the OPD who have already cost Oakland $58 million in lawsuits over the past 10 years.
OPD Crowd Control Policy: “If after a crowd disperses pursuant to a declaration of unlawful assembly and subsequently participants assemble at a different geographic location where the participants are engaged in non-violent and lawful First Amendment activity, such an assembly cannot be dispersed unless it has been determined that it is an unlawful assembly and the required official declaration has been adequately given.”
“The announcements shall also specify adequate egress or escape routes. Whenever possible, a minimum of two escape/egress routes shall be identified and announced.”
“When the only violation present is unlawful assembly, the crowd should be given an opportunity to disperse rather than face arrest.”
At least 3 journalists were arrested in this kettling. They included Susie Cagle, Kristen Hanes who were arrested and then released, and Gavin Aronsen who was taken to jail.
One woman was in terrible pain from the cuffs. Dozens of fellow arrestees shouted at the OPD to check her cuffs. But, contrary to their own policy, the OPD refused and simply threw her in a paddy wagon.
OPD Crowd Control Policy: “Officers should be cognizant that flex-cuffs may tighten when arrestees’ hands swell or move … When arrestees complain of pain from overly tight flex cuffs, members shall examine the cuffs to ensure proper fit”
Numerous protesters were injured: some shot with “less lethal” rounds, some affected by tear gas, and some beaten by police batons. There are no totals yet for the numbers of protesters injured. One 19 year old woman was taken to the hospital with internal bleeding after she was beaten by Officer #119.
Cathy Jones, an attorney with the NLG gave the following statement to Occupy Oakland’s media team: “Through everything that has happened since September, from Occupy to the acceleration of “Bills” — NDAA, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA — never have I felt so helpless and enraged as I do tonight. These kids are heroes, and the rest of the country needs to open its collective eyes and grab what remains of its civil rights, because they are evaporating, quickly. Do you want to know what a police state looks like? Well, you sure as hell still do not unless you were watching our citizen journalists.”
Today, Occupy Oakland events continue all day with a festival in Oscar Grant (Frank Ogawa) Plaza:
Occupy Oakland is an emerging social movement without leaders or spokespersons. It is in solidarity with occupations currently occurring around the world in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Oakland Media is a committee of Occupy Oakland, established by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly.
Occupy Oakland Media Committee
featured photos by: Glenn Halog