On June 7th, 2013, WeCopwatch hit the streets of Downtown Oakland to observe police interactions with the public.
While it was a fairly mild evening it is usual for Oakland Police to shut down 1rst Friday in sections. As police attempted to move people from the West Grand and Telegraph area, one officer became aware of that he was being videotaped and shined a spot light into a WeCopwatch camera. But then he stopped, likely realizing that the interaction would probably make it to youtube by the next morning.
People have the right to observe police conduct. There are no reasons to shine a light in someone’s camera in a lit area except to obstruct their ability to document.
This past May Day, autonomous/anarchist people of color held a contingent of about 75 people within the Sin Fronteras’ Immigrant Solidarity march. Although the contingent had a clear non-reformist and unapologetic stance about immigration, they spent the day in solidarity with those struggling against unjust labor and immigration policies.
The mood of the march was joyous and celebratory. During the march, two Muslim anarchists spotted large men who seemed out of place and were paying too much attention to the group. One cop was snapping photos of the Muslims within the contingent.
Demonstrating proper Addab (Islamic etiquette), the Muslim anarchists confronted the men who were clearly undercover police, stopped them from taking photos, and with the support of the rest of the autonomous/anarchist contingent sent them on their way with chants of “Pigs Out!” and “Pigs are Haraam!” Embarrassed and exposed, the two undercover officers slipped away through the crowds watching the spectacle.
In recent years, Oakland has seen an accelerated gentrification process occurring. City Hall and law enforcement operations are both engaged in the dirty work that comes along with these processes. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen collaboration between the police and the FBI. We’ve seen 300 officers and 200 Feds zooming up and down the streets like an occupying army. They only came up with five arrests and a few guns. Another FBI-OPD raid occurred on First Friday. If one takes a deeper look, it doesn’t take long to see that the neighborhoods with the fastest rates of gentrification are the same as those that fall within the borders of Oakland’s gang injunctions. There are zero degrees of separation between the mayor’s office, city council, policing policies and the Business Improvement Districts of gentrification. Written by Mohammed Harun Arsalai
On May Day 2012, demonstrators from across the bay area converged in Downtown Oakland to participate in the annual May Day General Strike.
While the day began with spirited marches that snaked throughout downtown, Oakland Police would inevitably intervene by toppling over a female bicycle rider and arresting her. From there Oakland Police would pull multiple people from out of the crowd, taking them to the ground and arresting them.
Video Shot by Jacob Crawford
In the midst of the chaos, members of Oakland Police’s TANGO unit (a group designated to shoot projectiles and use gas against demonstrators) would throw flash bang grenades into groups of people and Tased at least one person (see post)
One thing that is important to note is that responsibility for the deployment of gas falls not only on the officers in control of the weapons, but their supervisors.
Note in this video shot by Simon Sedillo you can see LT Hamilton instructing TANGO Officer Mike Beaver where to throw a flash bang grenade.
Video by Simon Sedillo
In another incident of poor top down instructions, In 2011, Captain Ersie Joyner was reassigned after being accused of giving poor instructions to Victor Garcia regarding when to shoot protesters during the November 2nd General Strike. A young man by the name of Scott Campbell would be one of many people shot and gassed that evening due to poor decision making on Oakland Police’s part.
Video of Scott Campbell getting shot. Taken by Scott Campbell
(Interview by Ann Garrison) WeCopwatch checks in with KPFA on recent FBI/OPD Raids on the Acorn Projects. While many people have chimed in that this type of Martial Law is what we can come to expect in the future, these type of raids occur in Oakland all the time.
On April 24th, 2013, scores of Federal Agents alongside the Oakland Police, California Highway Patrol, and other law enforcement agencies descended upon the Acorn Projects in West Oakland, executing multiple simultaneous raids. According to ABC 7, residents along with main stream media outlets were given no immediate explanation for the raids. At 1:am OPD released a press release stating that they had participated in hi risk weapons and narcotics warrants search warrants.
Officer Frankel insinuated today that medical reports would conclude Berkeley police were not responsible for the death of Kayla Moore, a transgendered person who died in police custody on February 12, 2013. Since her death, Berkeley police have released a single statement that was both brief and vague.
On April 5th, 2013, Oakland police were notified of an alleged burglary in progress in West Oakland, California.
While information about the incident is still emerging, OPD has stated that one of the suspects was carrying a fake gun and did not know police were setting up a perimeter around the house. He was subsequently shot in the shoulder by an officer as he attempted to leave the area.
This is the 2nd OPD officer-involved shooting this week. On the evening of April 3rd, an Oakland officer shot an innocent teenager in the face while investigating an armed robbery in downtown Oakland. The teenager’s jaw and cheek were grazed, but his injuries are not considered life-threatening. OPD has since stated that the minor and his friends were not involved in a crime. Click here to see more about the April 3rd shooting
Police officers have the right to defend themselves, just like anybody else. However, it will be interesting to see if the suspect shot today posed any threat to the officers. If he didn’t aim the gun at anyone, OPD’s standard procedure is to order the person to drop the weapon and to submit to arresting officers.
Fortunately, video of the incident will ultimately reveal what, if any, threat the suspect posed. All Oakland police are required to wear and activate their PDRD video cameras during police stops. If the officers involved in today’s shooting were following PDRD procedure, their cameras should have been rolling.
One thing that should raise alarm is the fact that OPD were advised to keep any mention of the shooting off the radio. (Watch the final moments of the featured video.)
This silence may be because the Oakland Police Department, like the Berkeley Police Department and countless others, controls the message after they shoot someone.