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Police State in Oakland? One Reporter's Arrest Contradicts Official Story

Oakland has spent more than $1 million on Occupy policing, but nearly all of that overwhelming force has been used against innocent people.

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After transfer, we were subjected to another round of searches, this time more invasive than the last. While standing single file in a hallway with male inmates leering and licking the windows in their cell doors, we were told to hold out our bras and shake our breasts. "Come on, ladies, shimmy," said one sheriff. "Get into it.  Shimmy."

Journalists have no special protections in Occupy demonstrations, especially journalists representing national media organizations. Local police rules give privilege to local media with locally dispensed "official" press passes, resulting in a local media who are more or less embedded with the government. This system actively discourages prying outside eyes.

But my experience counterintuitively revealed the opposite. At a time of such intense public scrutiny, the Oakland Police Department made the mistake of arresting a journalist, and sending her into the heart of an ugly process with which not only demonstrators but many other Oakland residents have long been familiar. They gave me an unmatched, visceral opportunity to understand what makes Oakland residents so angry with the police. 

And then they threatened me upon release not to return to the plaza, because if I am arrested on the same misdemeanor charge before my December 5 arraignment date, I will be charged with a felony. 

Chief Jordan said that police Wednesday night and Thursday morning were attacked with rocks, bottles and spit by many demonstrators. But of 101 protestors, 93 were charged with a PC 409 misdemeanor, "failure to leave scene of riot, etc." These are Jordan's "generally anarchists and provocateurs," the ones used to justify the force he called in -- reporters, National Lawyer's Guild observers, medics, dozens of peaceful demonstrators, and even bystanders on their way home from BART and downtown bars. 

Before Wednesday night's actions and arrests, the city of Oakland had spent upwards of $1 million so far on Occupy operations. It will be several days until official figures are released on this latest show of force. Unfortunately not just for the occupation but for the entire city of Oakland, more than 90% of that force was deployed against innocent people. 

Susie Cagle writes and draws true stories. She is usually for hire. Susie is also the founder of the Graphic Journos collective.

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