- This Week
Public records show monitoring, use of force
03.13.12 - 4:35 pm | Yael Chanoff |
Recently sunshined public documents confirm the OPD sends plainclothes officers to Occupy meetings.
Use of force
Oakland Police have been under fire from critics and targeted with lawsuits by the National Lawyers Guild and ACLU for excessive use of force. The OPD's self-reported Incident Statistics, as well as complaints from protesters and Oakland residents, help quantify the problem.
The OPD reports 176 uses of police force at Occupy Oakland events, which include Oct. 25, Nov. 2-3, Nov. 14, Nov. 19, Jan. 7, Jan. 14, and Feb. 11. For Jan. 28, a day on which OPD made 408 arrests at an Occupy Oakland protest, UOF statistics are still "to be determined."
The document describes several types of UOF. On Oct. 25, these included baton (26 uses), chemical agent (21 total uses), non-striking use of baton (19 times), control hold (five), four uses of "weaponless defense technique" and five uses of "weaponless defense technique to vulnerable area." In four reported instances, police "attempted impact weapon strike but missed."
On Nov. 2-3, police report 49 total uses of force. These include 15 baton uses, two chemical agent deployments, six uses of "weaponless defense control hold" and eight uses of "weaponless defense technique" with one falling into the category of "to vulnerable area." OPD also reports one "Intentional strike to head with impact weapon," and one "strike to head—other than an intentional strike to head with impact weapon."
On Nov. 14, the second clearing out of the encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza that resulted in 33 arrests, the OPD reported that force was used against only one subject. The subject in question was treated with one "takedown-leg sweep" and three uses of "weaponless defense technique applied to a vulnerable area."
On Nov. 19, Occupy Oakland engaged in a one-night occupation of a park at 19th and Telegraph, with no arrests for illegal activities but six baton strikes against protesters.
The documents also show that, since Oct. 25, the OPD has received 1,053 complaints for its Occupy crackdowns. These relate to 76 separate cases, some of which received a great deal of complaints. For example, there are 554 registered complaints about the Oct. 25 raid for "various issues, i.e. use of force, tear gas, rubber bullets, and first amendment rights violations."
Some of the documents describing complaints have been censored; a complaint made by 113 people concerning Oct. 25 has been blacked out, likely due to "ongoing investigation." Most of the complaints concern police violence, with residents alleging that they were struck with batons, kneed, and knocked to the ground.
Some were brutal. A complaint from Oct. 25 alleges that "Officers found a person alone, beat him, and broke his knee." Another complainant "alleged that he was not resisting when he was arrested and OPD officers 'pool cued' him in the ribs ten times with a baton, kneeled on his back and head, and used 'joint locks' on him."
A complaint from a Jan. 7 march states that "alleged OPD officer pulled a female from her bike causing her to fall and hit her head on the ground." Another Jan. 7 complaint: "alleged OPD officer kneed [complainant] in the back causing his spine to break."
There are 88 complaints alleging officer misconduct from the infamous Jan. 28 "move-in day" protest. On that day, several complainants were allegedly struck in the head and face with batons.
The Guardian will continue to analyze OPD documents as they become available to us.
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