Ironically, this report comes at the same time that the former Chief of the Oakland Police, Anthony Batts, ripped into Howard Jordan, his replacement, and Oakland's government, for how they handled Occupy Oakland.
The encampment was undoubtedly an eyesore, Batts said, "But the reality, all you had was people sleeping on grass. And you can replace grass. ... That's no reason to move quickly. You take your time. You use diplomacy. You talk to people."
And that, ultimately, is why Occupiers will never forgive Oakland's government and Mayor Quan. She allowed her own citizens to be tear-gassed, beaten and shot in the head by a gang of thugs because they had pitched some tents.
Batts attacked the Oakland government's relationship to its police department, and suggested that there was more to the problem that might at first meet the eye:
Discussing other topics, Batts said the police department was seen as a pariah within the city administration...
Batts also questioned the value of continued federal monitoring of the department to ensure compliance with a 2003 agreement that settled the Riders police misconduct case.
"The easy answer is always pointing to the police department, saying that it is failing to get its job done," he said of the department's continued struggle to comply with the settlement. "But if you've had four different chiefs of police and you've had 10 years of process, something else has to be going on there, and nobody's asking those tough questions what that is."
Former Chief Batts is both right and wrong. Wrong because in fact there is something very malevolent within the Oakland Police: An Overwhelmingly Military-Style Response
gives us a good clue as to what that might be. Right because there is also something very wrong with a city government that allows its police to run amok, wrack up several tens of millions of dollars in police liability suits, consistently violate Federal consent decrees and treats most of its citizens as baton fodder, without giving so much as a Clark Gable.
It doesn't stop there. The New York Times today also had an article about the newly issued report, no less unflattering and not a bit surprising.
Use-of-force reports obtained by The Bay Citizen reveal that police officers from Oakland... repeatedly used weapons that were illegal under Oakland's policy.
The Oakland police violated its own policy when tango team officers deployed "flash-bang" grenades into the crowds.
Astonishing only in the fact that a police officer would write such an incriminating document, the article also notes a Palo Alto policeman's use-of-force report for that evening, the 25th of October.
One Palo Alto police officer said he shot at protesters even though he could not see through the tear gas.
"Due to the diminished visibility because of darkness and clouds of gas in the air, and the rapidly evolving and confusing nature of the event, I would not be able to identify any of the individuals I fired at, nor can I say with certainty the number of pepperballs I impacted them with or where on their body I had hit them."
And with that, I bid you goodnight and a very happy May Day!
(1) Occupy Oakland never vowed to take over the Golden Gate Bridge. This is an example of the Big Lie, one that will never die. Occupy Oakland vowed to stand with the unions of the Golden Gate Bridge Coalition if they set up pickets to stop bridge traffic. They (the unions) decided against doing so; further, there will be no bridge action of any kind that I am aware by anyone; if Occupy Oakland manages to "take over" the Golden Gate bridge on May Day given those contraints it will come as one of the most amazing actions ever...