As gentrification places a firm grip on West Oakland, the city has been clearing public spaces of black faces by shutting down and fencing up parks once enjoyed by many. This has been achieved through heavy-handed policing resulting in increased displacement of West Oakland residents, ensuring space for new outsiders.
The Filbert St. park on San Pablo and 32nd is one of the last open spaces in West Oakland that remains opened and used. These parks are often cleared and replaced with “Community Gardens” which are traditionally organized and run by gentrifiers, or they are fenced up in the name of “beatification” only to be re-opened when the surrounding neighborhood has become inhabited by a community of a higher economic bracket.
The Filbert St. park was fenced up back in late 2014, only to be torn down a day later.
But today the park has a new friend. An Oakland Police Mobile Command Center sits across the street from the park surveilling everyone and anyone in the immediate area.
Big Brother Video
Where are these videos being stored?
Will images of people be used to further surveil and criminalize the poor and homeless population who have nowhere else to go?
Will images of people be disseminated to patrol officers, many new to the force, eager to rise through the ranks and willing to stop many to catch just a few?
An Officer on site explained that the purpose of the surveillance vehicle was to serve as a deterrent to crime, and to function as an fully operational intelligence gathering center. He also mentioned that the command center was put in place in response to a recent murder of a young man who resided just down the block.
WeCopwatch knew this young man, he was a sweet person, and his death came too soon.
But this kind of intelligence gathering/deterrent is disconnected, expensive, and is a poor solution.
It’s ironic that just two months prior, Oakland Police raided this young man’s residence likely with the intention of imprisoning him for a long time.
Their raid yielded nothing to speak of. Their armored vehicles and men with assault rifles and flash bangs were outrageous, unnecessary, expensive, and a poor solution.
Imagine if the thousands spent in that raid, and these intelligence operations had been applied toward building people
up, not breaking them down.
we might be living in a different world. . .
One thing is clear, the overt surveillance being conducted is awkward, it is being conducted on longtime local residents, and is a sign that more police activity around the Filbert St. park is to follow.