For those who don’t know, Oakland Police used what they called a containment strategy. This is where they had large numbers of police on all 4 sides of a street which prevented folks who came to speak out from leaving. So what this meant was the heavily publicized speak out which was sanctioned and supported by the city of Oakland had lots of folks come to 14th and Broadway and City Hall. At 8’clock the police shut it down as planned.
The police then announced it was an unlawful assembly and people would be subject to arrest if they did not leave. This included everyone from elected officials to lawyers to press who didn’t have the special green cards that the police had issued to corporate outlets embedded with them..
When people went to leave they walked down Broadway toward the city center where they were met by a line of police who pushed the crowd and started marching in the opposite direction..
As the crowd moved hastily back past 14th street to 16th they were met by another line of riot police who told them they could not go past… This meant the crowd of two hundred or so folks turned to go up 14th only to find another wall of police who were advancing forward. This left one way to go which was toward City hall which had its backstage area and other exit points blocked off or into the BART station.
Police closed the BART. So folks were contained in this human box set up by the police who were advancing forward in full riot gear. People got angry and that’s when the Footlocker on broadway got ransacked. What was not shown on the news was the police in full riot gear were standing right there. Seems to me they could’ve easily moved in, but opted not to, while at the same time preventing peaceful protestors from leaving. Some of the aggressive behavior is captured in the footage below..
OPD, Law Enforcement Used Excessive Force At Oscar Grant Protests: NLG Decries Police Tactics, Assaults on Peaceful Protesters
Yesterday at 8:31pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Conference Wednesday, July 14, 12 Noon, 14th and Broadway in Oakland
Oakland—Despite claims by Oakland Police (OPD) and city officials that law enforcement used restraint during last Thursday’s protests following the Johannes Mehserle verdict, details emerging paint a very different picture. Police used excessive force against a largely peaceful protest, violently attacking a number of people. Police arrested many demonstrators who had done nothing wrong, and then held them in jail through the night and in some cases through the weekend and beyond.
Among those arrested were NLGSF member, and prominent Oakland attorney, Walter Riley. “Thursday’s law enforcement conduct must be investigated. The police were provocative and seemed determined to instigate violence, which of course, served their police contract negotiations with Oakland at a time when they are facing layoffs of 80 officers,” said Riley. “In the organized rally where protesters, including me, were helping to ensure peaceful protest, the police helped to perpetuate a narrative of violence by allowing a small number of people to vandalize businesses when they could have stopped it.”
Also arrested were Oakland School Board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, 69-year-old former school principal Susan Harman, journalists and legal observers. Many of the arrestees were seriously injured by the police, including a handful who were taken to the hospital from the scene and at least one individual who was denied medication, causing a potentially life threatening situation to an elderly member of the community.
“Last Thursday a court in Los Angeles sent a disgraceful message about police violence, and that message was reinforced by the conduct of Oakland Police and other law enforcement Thursday evening,” said Carlos Villarreal, NLGSF Executive Director. “OPD and outside agencies brought in as reinforcement used overwhelming force on a largely nonviolent assembly, sweeping up lawyers, legal observers, journalists and community members, and seriously injuring a number of individuals.”
Several years ago the National Lawyers Guild and ACLU obtained a $2 million settlement in a lawsuit over OPD brutality toward demonstrators, and at that time OPD adopted new crowd control policies designed to safeguard freedom of speech in just this sort of volatile situation.
“If OPD had followed its own crowd control policies, the injuries would have been avoided,” explained NLGSF attorney Rachel Lederman. “The aggressive use of police formations, baton beatings and indiscriminate arrests were unnecessary and violated people’s constitutional right to protest. To make things even worse, OPD violated state law by jailing people for long periods of time who had been arrested for very minor offenses.”
The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) condemns the police abuse by OPD and other law enforcement on the scene and is investigating possible legal action. The NLGSF is a human rights bar association founded in 1937 with hundreds of members throughout the Bay Area. Find out more at http://www.nlgsf.org.
National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter