Why Is the Oakland Police Department Hiding the Truth About Its Violent Crackdown on the Occupy Protests?
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That should come as little surprise. The OPD has been involved in a number of controversial shootings. The department has been under a federal consent decree since 2003, stemming from a 2003 case in which a band of “rogue” OPD officers were fired for beating and robbing suspects in West Oakland and then planting evidence on them. (Criminal charges against three of the officers ended in mistrials, but the city paid out $10 million to the plaintiffs and entered into the federal decree as a result of the civil suit.)
Just weeks before the recent clashes with Occupy Oakland protesters, Robert Warshaw, the federal monitor assigned to oversee the department, issued a report that found that in 28 percent of the instances in which OPD officers pointed their guns at someone, there was no indication that the officer or anyone else "faced imminent threat of harm." Warshaw called the instances “inappropriate” and “unnecesary.” Civil rights attorney Jim Chanin told the San Jose Mercury News , “if you are doing nothing and you have a gun pointed at you by a police officer, it leaves an indelible impression and can alienate someone from the police forever, particularly if they're a minority."
Another Crackdown Imminent?
There are signs that city officials are preparing to evict the Occupy Oakland encampment once again. On November 9, four members of the City Council joined the Oakland Chamber of Commerce for a press conference decrying the Occupation's purported impact on the local community and insisting that the protesters be removed as soon as it is practically feasable. The San Francisco Chronicle reported,
“Oakland police have canceled all training exercises for next week, which is a 'pretty good indication' that the cops are making plans once again to clear out the Occupy camp outside City Hall,” according to a police source.
The next step -- if there is one -- would be to cancel police leaves and put out the call for mutual aid from surrounding law enforcement agencies.
According to the source, police brass issued the no-training order just about the time Mayor Jean Quan handed out a warning Tuesday to the Occupy camp that "we cannot ignore violence, property destruction and health and safety issues in Frank Ogawa Plaza."
The occupiers, meanwhile, appear intent on remaining in the plaza. So it appears that the already tense situation is likely to end up in another night of violence on the streets of Oakland.
Video: Scott Olsen is wounded.
Scott Campbell is shot with a "less lethal" projectile.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.