As protests and actions continue daily across the bay, police continue to implement new tactics to quell mass mobilizations. As many may know, undercover police officers brandished guns on demonstrators in Oakland last night.
Photo by Noah Berger
While much is still unclear, reports have been coming in that these officers were agitating the public, one drew his firearm when questioned as another jumped on a seemingly uninvolved person.
Photo by WeCopwatch
Minutes following this ordeal a Copwatch and Bay Area Intifada contributor was arrested at gunpoint while questioning the identity of two masked individuals walking down an alley.
At this point, it can be assumed that the use of plainclothes officers at Oakland demos is transcending traditional surveillance. This month alone there has been multiple accounts of officers making their identity more overt, and even making physical contact with people.
Seconds after an Oakland Police Officer shattered Scott Olsen’s skull with a lead-filled munition, Officer Robert Roche threw an explosive teargas grenade at persons who were attempting to come to Olsen’s aid as he lay critically injured on the ground in clear view of the police. Roche was fired, but on July 30, an arbitrator overturned the termination and reinstated him with full back pay.
Officer Roche is known as a three time killer who has cost the Oakland taxpayers almost $6 million in civil settlements to date. Roche’s helmet number is visible in TV news video of this incident, and there is no dispute that he threw the CS Blast that scattered the good samaritans and burned Olsen’s shoulder. Olsen, unconscious and bleeding from the head, was clearly visible by Roche and numerous other nearby officers before concerned people rushed to his aid and were bombed.
Sadly, the arbitrator’s decision is not unexpected. In twelve out of the last fifteen personnel arbitrations in which OPD officers challenged their terminations, the officers were successful in getting their jobs back. It is meaningless for Oakland officials to profess support for reform of OPD if the City Attorney is unable to make personnel discipline stick – even in an egregious case like this one, where the officer’s wanton act of violence was captured on video and shared around the world.
The problem goes beyond particular rank and file officers. The arbitrator’s decision was apparently based in part on the fact that Roche had been ordered to deploy gas by then-Captain Paul Figueroa. At the same time, Figueroa authorized the use of “beanbag” impact munitions, on persons who might attempt to throw the teargas devices back at the police. It was inevitable that Scott Olsen and others would be seriously injured or killed, yet Figueroa was not disciplined and has since been promoted to Assistant Chief. This is one reason that attempts at police discipline consistently fail in Oakland: commanders are never made to take responsibility.
Now Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa
The OPD’s Crowd Control Policy, adopted as part of a federal court order in settlement of earlier litigation, prohibits officers from deploying the CS Blast grenades or the impact munitions into a crowd. Yet, that is exactly what was done on October 25, 2011, and that is still OPD’s practice, despite the serious brain injury to Scott Olsen which led to a $4.5 million settlement. Scott Olsen, his attorneys, and the National Lawyers Guild and ACLU are demanding that Chief Whent comply with the Crowd Control Policy and ban these weapons for crowd control.
For those who don’t know. The murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was a defining moment in history. An 17 year old adolescent was murdered on his way home from the store by a self proclaimed “Neighborhood Watch” volunteer.
1. George Zimmerman called the police about a “suspicious person” and called Trayvon a “Coon” while speaking to the 911 dispatch who ordered him not to follow Trayvon.
2. Any self proclaimed “Neighborhood Watch” volunteer would know their neighbors. However this piece of trash didn’t.
3. George Zimmerman cited the “Stand Your Ground” law in his defense which allows people to use maximum force when defending themselves from hostile aggressors. The only problem was, the child that he murdered was the only person who could have cited that law as a justification for force. Zimmerman attacked Trayvon, even after being ordered by the police to not follow him.
4. A grown man attacks an unarmed child and shoots him. It is clear who the threat was in this instance and it’s clear who should have had the sense to stand down.
This murder divided the country. Racists and bigots on one side calling Trayvon a “thug”. While the rest of humanity viewed this as the type of murder most often perpetrated by law enforcement personnel.
Enter the Trayvon 2.
Oakland California is a city where police murder and violence is rampant, but it is also a city where people fight back.
It is in that context that we have the Trayvon 2, Hannibal Shakur and Tanzeen Doha, who are both muslims, both organizers, and are the only two people the state has isolated for prosecution.
Aside from these two being innocent, the court has not even been able to fabricate evidence against them. Officers testimonies have contradicted each other, and not one video has been submitted to substantiate OPD’s allegations. For those that don’t know, Oakland Police have been in the longest decent decree in American history. They are that brutal and corrupt that they were nearly taken over the by feds last year. Oakland Police are mandated to wear body cameras, and are required to activate them when they engage with members of the public, yet only one of the arresting officers had a camera activated.
Like the George Zimmerman trial, the Oakland Trayvon 2 case has been muddled with racism and bigotry from the beginning, and tomorrow is the first day of Trial.
If you are in the bay, come support them, and if you are further away, be aware of this case as it is yet another tragic assault on black and brown people who are taking a stand for those who lives have been cut short by Police and Vigilantes. . .
1) The Trayvon 2, Hannibal Shakur (Lamar Caldwell) and Tanzeen Doha are two local activists being prosecuted for protests last July against the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict in the murder of Trayvon Martin. According to the San Jose Mercury News, they are the only two people being prosecuted in relation to the July protests.
2) They are being railroaded through the judicial system on false charges of felony vandalism of a window. Why? Because they are Muslim and they speak out against racist injustice, and because of their past activism against racism and imperialism. Tanzeen worked actively on questions of race, religion, and colonialism at UC Davis and other universities like San Francisco State and San Jose State. Hannibal was active in the protests around Oscar Grant’s 2009 murder by BART police.
3) The case against them is full of irregularities already and they are still just in the pre-trial phase. Hannibal and Tanzeen were initially charged separately, Tanzeen only with a misdemeanor. Oddly, they were made co-defendants well after the arrest. They were arrested on the spurious charge of felony vandalism.
4) The state has been dragging its feet since August on these totally false charges, maximizing the impact of this lengthy prosecution on the lives of Tanzeen (who is a husband and father) and Hannibal (who is battling cancer). One week, the prosecution even forgot the court date!
5) The state is acting like it has something to hide. And at the last court date, they asked for another continuance because the arresting officer has not responded to repeated subpoena attempts. Then, something really unusual happened: The judge had to issue a warrant for the arresting officer.
These young men are entitled to a speedy trial and they should not be prosecuted on such flimsy evidence. Why is the state dragging this out? Why is the state avoiding presenting its evidence? Why won’t the officer answer the subpoenas? The police and prosecutor are trying to stretch this out to maximize the level of inconvenience and the problems these two men face.
The Trayvon 2 are being charged with felony vandalism of a window, an outrageous charge designed to arrest activists found anywhere near a broken window. Clearly, the DA is using the threat of non-existent evidence to force these young activists to admit to something they did not do.
We’ve seen the state targeting activists in this way before. The only reason the state and its white supremacist allies have failed is because the resolve of oppressed people has been stronger than the resolve of the oppressive state.
Plaintiff(s): Elliott Flowers Date filed: 2004-08-24 Settlement paid by the city: $17,500.00 Plaintiff attorney: Hunter Pyle OPB ID: SE00319 Oakland City Attorney file number: 23665 US District Court case number: 04-cv-3521 Officers named: Jaime F Majarucon, Victor Garcia Case Summary
Excess force used during an arrest
On Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, Oakland Police began a vehicle pursuit in East Oakland of a car containing three occupants.
The chase would last about ten minutes and would end with a person being shot and killed as he allegedly fled police.
Thanks Kate Conger for the great writeup! Posted at SfWeekly.com
Today, the National Lawyers Guild announced that it has procured a $1.025 million settlement for approximately 150 demonstrators who were unlawfully arrested by the Oakland Police Department as they protested the “light sentencing” of Johannes Mesherle, the BART police officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant.
Rachel Lederman, lead attorney for the National Lawyers Guild, stated the following:
We brought the lawsuit in order to protect the constitutional right to dissent in Oakland, and enforce the OPD Crowd Control Policy. It is a model policy that gives the police many tools to respond to demonstrations without immediately resorting to mass arrests, weapons, or force. Yet, OPD chose to scrap this policy in dealing with the Oscar Grant demonstrations. The policy, and the law, are clear that before police can stop First Amendment activity and make mass arrests, they must have a basis to believe that the individuals being arrested have broken the law. In most situations, that means they must give demonstrators notice and opportunity to disperse, and there must be a constitutionally valid reason to do so. None of that occurred in this case. The 150 arrests were illegal, and the City has acknowledged that.
The arrests occurred on the evening of November 5, 2010. Earlier that day, Mesherle had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Grant’s death and sentenced to two years in prison. That night, a group of Grant supporters attempted to march from downtown Oakland to the Fruitvale BART station where Grant was shot to death, in protest of Mesherle’s minimal sentence. Mesherle was originally charged with murder, but the charge was later lessened to involuntary manslaughter. A judge also overruled a gun- enhancement charge that would have carried a longer sentence for Mesherle.
However, in a police dispatch audio obtained by the NLG (and compiled by WeCopwatch, an organization that works for police accountability, in the video below), officers can be heard discussing how to contain the march and arrest the protesters — a direct violation of their crowd control policy, which requires that OPD declare unlawful assembly to the crowd, offer several exit routes for those who wish to disperse, and give adequate time for dispersal.
Instead, the dispatch makes it quite clear OPD never intended to follow their policy that night, but rather planned to arrest the entire crowd. “We’ve got the first opportunity we can to set up to surround and arrest, we’d like to employ that,” an officer says, just minutes after the march sets out. Another officer adds, “We could have them right here.”
The crowd of demonstrators was quickly surrounded by police lines, then held at Sixth Avenue and 17th Street for more than an hour, according to protesters.
The dispatch then calls for announcements of unlawful assembly, as required by the crowd control policy: “On Sixth Avenue here we’ll start to slowly make arrests. I’ll need announcements. Do we want to make announcements for unlawful assembly, or are they just already under arrest?”
An officer on the scene responds, “Confirmed, based on the activity over here, the fights that occurred and the vandalism that’s occurred, affirm it’s unlawful assembly. We want to arrest everyone within that circle.” At this point, no announcement of unlawful assembly had been made, despite the requests for one transmitted via dispatch.
The first announcement to the crowd came an hour after the march had been surrounded — and rather than declaring unlawful assembly, the announcement merely asked media to leave the area or risk arrest.
The final announcement was even more baffling: “This has been declared a crime scene, and you’re all under arrest.”
What crime was committed? Despite the fights and vandalism mentioned on the dispatch, none of the roughly 150 people arrested were charged with a crime. All were detained overnight.
Dan Spalding, one of the arrestees and a plaintiff in the case, recalls, “We were never given a warning or a chance to leave.” He continues, “We were handcuffed and left sitting on the street and then in buses for a total of about eight hours without access to a bathroom. People urinated in their pants as we sat in the hot crowded bus. It was 3 a.m. before I was taken inside the jail and put in a cell with 27 other people. There was no place to sleep. I did not get out until 6:30 p.m. that next evening.”
However, initial reports on the protest claimed that a serious crime had, in fact, taken place during the march. The night of the arrests, the Oakland Tribune reported: “One officer had his gun ripped from his gunbelt and pointed at him in a backyard in the area. Other officers intervened and made an arrest.”
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote the following morning, “The situation turned dangerous when a protester ripped the holster and gun from a police officer’s belt, [former] Police Chief Anthony Batts said at a news conference. The protester was swarmed by other officers and arrested.”
However, officer incident reports from the night of November 5 show that no gun-snatching ever occurred, despite the fact that it was used to justify the mass arrest.
In his incident report, filed at 10:22 p.m. the night of the arrests, Officer Keith Geiger wrote:
I saw several rioters had began [sic] to jump fences into the backyards… I followed Officer R. Roche as he moved to the paved area…connected to the parking area. [A woman, later identified as Rose Mouton] suddenly jumped over the fence and onto the paved area where we were standing.
Due to Mouton trespassing on the property, her participation with the protest group, and because we did not want her to run back out behind the officers that were setting up a skirmish line, I elected to detain her.
Geiger goes on to describe tackling Mouton, then writes, “I then felt a quick tug on the right side of my duty belt. I then heard a snapping noise. I reached to the right side of my belt where my handgun is located and found that the holster had broken.” He continues, “I looked to my right and saw a garbage can had fallen down. I saw my holster with my handgun inside near the garbage can. Officer Roche grabbed and secured my handgun.”
From Geiger’s firsthand account, it is clear that his gun was never snatched by a protester, but simply fell off when he tackled Mouton. She received no charges related to the gun incident, but was merely cited for resisting arrest and released that evening.
It is unclear why, when Geiger filed his incident report the very same night clearly explaining what occurred, that the Oakland Police Department perpetuated the story that a gun had been taken from an officer. A report on the arrests written November 8 again mentions the false gun-snatching story: “We were advised that officers were fighting with a suspect in the backyard of a house. Apparently during the fight, the officer’s firearm was taken. The firearm was eventually recovered and the suspect was taken into custody.”
More than two years later, those illegally arrested are finally receiving justice. In addition to the $1.025 million payment to the arrestees, the settlement agreement includes court enforcement of the Oakland Police Department’s crowd control policy for the next seven years.
The settlement was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who has also overseen the Oakland Police Department’s decade-long journey toward federal receivership. Last summer, a whistleblower within the department reported that photos of Judge Henderson, “defaced in a manner that [Internal Affairs] found to be racist, insulting, and inappropriate,” were hanging in a patrol line-up room.
“This settlement is an important victory for democracy,” said NLG attorney Bobbie Stein. “Oakland and Alameda County made a smart decision to settle this case and to agree to uphold the First Amendment in policing future demonstrations, rather than continuing to abuse people and subject the taxpayers to this type of liability. We are hopeful that, with this settlement and the new Compliance Director and new leadership in the Police Department, we may finally see some real change.”
For the third time in just over a month, Federal agencies have assisted Oakland Police in failed raids across the acorn projects.
At 7AM this morning around 120 Oakland Police and Federal Agents from the Secret Service, ATF, DEA, and US Marshals raided several residences in the Acorn Projects. At this point there have been no arrests.
On Aril 24th, about 150 Federal Agents and about as many Oakland Police Officers conducted 16 raids in multiple cities with their primary focus, the Acorn Projects. They netted 5 arrests, a few guns and some drugs, but from all angles, it was a law enforcement failure.
The Feds Are in Town
Then on May a more downsized unit of 40 FBI Agents, and 30 Oakland Police Officers conducted several more raids in West Oakland, yielding 3 arrests, a few guns, and some drugs.
With this much effort put into one location, one could argue that the large sums of money being spent on law enforcement operations could have greater impact if it was simply given to the residents living in the Acorn Projects.
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