You might remember OaklandElle, Street Medic and activist, from some of my earlier diaries. There's WTF? Berkeley Police Arrest Occupy Oakland Medic Standing Peacefully. And my favorite Occupdoggy. A Christmas Tail. Or perhaps Occupy Oakland Declares Love on Oakland.
OaklandElle, left, & partner
Friday evening OaklandElle engaged in a Twitter conversation with people across the country, calling out the problems she sees with the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and providing rationales for her -- any many others -- attitude towards said organization. It turned into a very interesting 'Twitter event' over the course of a half hour or so -- an amazing essay sent forth into the ether in 140 character bites.
I reproduce the essay below, interespersed with semi-quotes taken from a diary I published some time ago, Another Young Black Man Gunned Down by Police on the Streets of Oakland.
All the non-blockquoted text below the squiggle consists of OaklandElle tweets. Each line is a separate message.
An Annotated Twitter Essay by OaklandElle
Let me break it down for people who don't live in Oakland and don't see the day-to-day effects of OPD on our community.
To start with, OPD starting salary is ~$74k/year, not including OT, which is more than even city council members make. (More on them later)
Now, UNLIKE City Council members, OPD officers are not required to live in Oakland. What that means is their salaries LEAVE our community.
ie: because ((the vast majority of)) OPD does not live in our city, their salaries, which are paid by our taxes, do not get recycled back into the community.
Not only that, but because OPD does not live in this community, they neither understand it, nor are they accountable to it.
Because of the lack of understanding and accountability, OPD officers frequently act completely inappropriately.
Oakland Police Officer Hector Jimenez shot 27-year-old Jody Woodfox in the back on July 25, 2008...When an OPD officer gets out of line, an investigation into his or her actions is made, costing the taxpayers money.
The taxpayers of this city also pay for the legal defense of the department in the event of officer misconduct...
Then, on top of that, the taxpayers of the city foot the bill for the inevitable settlement that comes from police misconduct.
Gary King Jr. was fatally shot by police Sgt. Pat Gonzales during an altercation Sept. 20, 2007... The City Council approved a $1.5 million settlement...
Oakland taxpayers bear the entire burden of paying the officers, paying the investigators, paying lawyers, and paying the victims...
While officers literally face no consequences of their own actions, doubly so because they are not even taxpayers in our city.
City Council voted to pay more than $832,000 in legal fees to attorneys for two men who successfully sued the city for having their pants pulled down in public by police... The judge ordered the city to pay $105,000 in compensatory damages... City Council voted Tuesday to pay $40,000 in punitive damages that a judge had ordered a former Oakland police officer to pay for making two men pull down their pants in public.So, to summarize: OPD do not pay taxes here, but their salaries, misconduct investigations, legal defense, and settlements cost taxpayers $.
I have no intention of orienting to the cops. I'm breaking it down for the "I watch livestreams, I know about Oakland!" crowd.
Next, let's talk about how Oakland has a "reputation" around the Bay, and how this affects policing in our community!
Many of you don't realize this (or maybe you do) but the Bay Area in general has a tendency to condition people to fear Oakland.
This becomes especially problematic when people grow up NEAR Oakland but not IN Oakland and then become cops here.
Because people are raised to believe that Oakland is scary and everyone who lives here is a criminal, cops automatically have that mindset.
((Raheim)) Brown was in a car with a friend, Tamisha Stewart, when he was shot to death ((by the OUPD, Oakland's School Police)). He was shot in the head and chest. Stewart, the only civilian witness, was beaten and jailed for a week.They come into our city assuming that everyone is armed and dangerous, and that if people aren't breaking the law, they may at any moment.
The family of an unarmed barber, Derrick Jones, who was shot to death by Oakland police, is suing the City of Oakland.As a result, OPD stomps around the Town, treating it like an open-air prison, and many of its residents as inmates waiting to happen.
Tony Jones, 24, was shot once in the back by an Oakland officer on the 2000 block of 62nd Avenue in East Oakland... after he ran from a van that police had stopped...How can anyone who believes this city is populated entirely by criminals have the mentality needed to engage the community?
Almost none of OPD lives in Oakland. I've heard 7%, but am hoping that's inaccurate.
And, if these officers aren't making an effort to engage in the community, how are they supposed to learn the truth about Oakland?
Now, I'm white & relatively new to Oakland, but can you imagine how bitter you might be if you were a person of color who had grown up here?
18 year old Alan Blueford was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer on May 6, 2012... Instead of being rushed to the hospital, his lifeless body was left in the street for four hours.Let's go ahead and add to the bitterness the fact that this community sees more and more money poured into police, while schools close.
The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is closing 5 schools reportedly due to budget cuts. Parents, teachers, and community members are in an uproar as access to public education dwindles -- particularly in poor communities of color.If people who have lived their whole lives under the thumb of OPD are bitter and hate police, it's justified. OPD does nothing to change it.
There is a lot of lip service paid to "engaging the community," & "building community trust" but a bunch of outsiders aren't going to do it.
"engaging the community", October 25th, 2011
Basically, the people who live in Oakland aren't going to stop saying "Fuck the police" until the police stop fucking us.
--- end tweets
It would take the entire twitterverse to recount all the problems with OPD.
There's the legal findings against it for planting evidence. There's OPD's propensity to attack and nearly kill peaceful protesters going back to at least 2003 and probably much further, continuing through the Oscar Grant protests and Occupy Oakland. There's what is almost certainly a deliberate unstated policy on their part to evade and disobey the federal consent decree they entered into in 2005 regarding their crowd control policy. And there are problems with the way they treat crimes against the LGBT community.
Just to mention some of the more obvious problems that OaklandElle did not get into.
The OPD both reign and rule in Oakland. The sad thing is this situation will likely continue on until the apocalypse, because there is no poltical power capable of and willing to changing it. And the killings will continue.