Feds Troubled By Oakland Police Response to Occupy

As part of a regular review of police activity to ensure accountability and openness, federal monitors found themselves “thoroughly dismayed” by Oakland Police Department actions during Occupy events last year.

“Use of force” is just one of several areas that raised a red flag for federal monitors. Credit: Oakland Local

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As part of their overall quarterly report on compliance with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, federal monitors took a hard look at Oakland police actions during the early days of Occupy Oakland and they didn’t like what they saw.

The latest update from federal monitors on the progress of the Oakland Police Department to comply in the settlement agreement was released Monday afternoon. Monitors said they were troubled by a number of police actions during the Occupy Oakland events that shut down the Port of Oakland and, for a time, brought the downtown area to a standstill.

In an appendix to their quarterly report, monitors indicated that police actions during Occupy Oakland will have a profound affect on whether or not OPD will be taken over by federal monitors.

Monitors or representatives from the monitoring team were in the city during Occupy Oakland activities from October through December 2011 — which included the port shutdown.

In many cases, the monitors said they were, “thoroughly dismayed” by police actions during Occupy Oakland events.

“I cannot overstate our concern that although progress on NSA compliance has been slow, even those advancements may have been put in doubt in the face of these events,” the report states.

Specifically, the use of force is just one of several areas that raised a red flag for the monitors. Monitors said police response on Oct. 25, 2011, “The recordings of this incident involved an overwhelming military-type response to Occupy Oakland demonstrators.”

In one specific incident, monitors noted that a citizen that was standing far away from officers during a Nov. 3 action, a police officer, “raised a weapon and fired, striking him in the upper thigh with a non-deadly projectile.

“The video shows a flash and a bang is heard; the citizen collapses while yelling,” the report continues. “No police warning is audible before the shot is heard. This is a violation of the Department’s use of force and crowd control policies, which require officers to issue a warning before firing beanbags on protesters.”

The monitors said in the report that OPD’s lack of ability to timely investigate all of the complaints from Occupy Oakland is also troubling development.

“It does not appear that IAD will meet its rapidly approaching investigation deadlines (180 days following a complaint) required by both the NSA and Departmental policy,” the report states. “If these internal and external investigations are not completed by the required deadlines, it will threaten OPD’s compliance with Task 2, which relates to investigation timeliness.

The full quarterly report from federal monitors had an overall somber, frustrated tone.

“We concluded our last report by noting that the Department’s slow progress toward compliance had left the path forward unclear. It is certainly true that in the years since the Parties agreed to the terms of the Tasks that we review, progress has been slow — at best.”

Monitors were also less than pleased that the city of Oakland outsourced the investigation of Occupy Oakland actions to outside investigators, The Frazier Group.

“The fact that the leadership of both the City and the Department have found it necessary to outsource the investigations of Occupy Oakland complaints should be an alarming development in this process.”

The federal monitors indicated they will continue to observe and report on Occupy Oakland findings.

“These efforts will continue through future reporting periods, as the majority of Occupy-related misconduct investigations and use of force reports have not yet been completed.”

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Tags: governanceopen govoaklandprotests

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