Alameda County sheriff is shocked

|
(115)

Sarah Jane Holcombe, a graduate student in public health at UC Berkeley (and a neighbor of mine), was disturbed to see Alameda County deputy sheriffs using unnecessary force against peaceful student demonstrators. She's not alone -- a lot of people on campus have been upset about police conduct during the demonstrations. But Holcombe did more than grumble -- she wrote to Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern to complain. And she got back a remarkable message that says a lot about what the elected sheriff thinks about the protesters.

Here's Holcombe's letter:

Dear Mr Gregory Ahern,

I find myself just stunned and appalled at the behavior of your police in Sproul Plaza, and as a Berkeley student, have lost respect and confidence in the Alameda County Police Force.

Who are these Officers?  Where were they trained?

Perhaps more to the point is, why are you authorizing such blatantly violent and anti-democratic behavior?  This shows such bad judgement that I wonder why you are the head of the Alameda County Police Force.

Finally, what are you doing to address the gross problems and violations evident in Alameda County Police Officers' behavior?

My confidence and trust in you and your force is now very low.

I look forward to your response.

Ahern's letter back, sent within two hours:

I am shocked too.  I am shocked educated individuals who violate laws do not expect to be arrested. I am shocked that people who speak of peace in our society attempt to do harm to law enforcement personnel. I am shocked that some protesters throw rocks, cement, bottles and paint at law enforcement. I am shocked that protesters throw urine and feces at police officers.

I am shocked at the vulgar language used at my staff.

I am shocked that people like you make judgements about law enforcement without knowing all the facts and without asking questions prior to making judgements and assigning guilt on those prior to any investigation.

When the protesters follow the laws of our society and our lawful commands we have no issues.  Many of the protesters speak to us and provide us with their legal intentions to march and we assist them.

Let me tell you something.....my staff has done nothing wrong. They have assisted this community in allowing their free speech and right to assemble. We have provided protection to thousands of individuals and allowed them to practice their rights while some of those same individuals insult us. We have provided traffic blocks so people could march safely. We have protected buildings and provided escorts to frightened citizens in the area of the protest. We have escorted special need individuals and eldery from areas of the protest. We have assisted handicapped people to safety.

In each use of force that my staff has used has been in direct response to direct actions of individuals. We have not and do not and will not just use indiscriminate force. Each use of force is documented, reviewed and subject to further review of command staff. Indiscriminate force is not tolerated. Do not judge my people from news reports or YouTube videos.

I beg you to come to our training.  I will provide you full access, I will answer any of your questions.  I will prove we do our job correctly and according to national standards.  Let me know when you can show up at our training.

It was signed Gregory Ahern. I called his press spokesman and he confirmed that this was Ahern's message and represents his position.

Actually, Sheriff, I didn't see many reports of protesters at Cal doing anything to harm police officers. And to simply say "my staff has done nothing wrong" without listing to an evaluating any complaints that might be filed seems, well, a rush to judgment.

And honestly, were there "frightened citizens" at Berkeley who needed to be escorted from buildings? Was beating up a poet appropriate use of force?

Sheriff Ahern has made his decision. Already.

 

Comments

The terror tactics of 'law enforcement' agencies should come as no surprise to anyone, they are implemented daily, especially in 'communities of color', but most people don't give a damn.

"First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me"
Martin Niemoller.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our
friends"
Martin Luther King.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all.
Occupy Our World.
Remember Alcatraz 1969-1971.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 22, 2011 @ 9:00 am

You're probably one of those people that's comparing these campus incidents to the Holoclaust.

Remember the Riders? That was a group of seriously bad cops, commiting serious crimes, and then hiding behind their badges like cowards.

These are a bunch of "educated" young adults, who got pepper sprayed for breaking the Law, and then resisting arrest. I've been pepper sprayed, it's nothing a little wind and a shower can't take care of.

When I was growing up, if we broke the Law, then disobeyed the Cops, we expected to get our asses kicked. Sometimes we did, but we didn't cry about it afterwards. It's called common sense, as an RN, I'd expect you to have some.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 7:33 am

Remember the riders were not found guilty on two separate trials by members of this community!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

Actually, there were two mistrials, and ringleader Frank Vasquez is a fugitive in Mexico, on the FBI 'Most Wanted' list, but whatever.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

Ditto!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 7:36 am

Anarchy is Alive and Well

I am shocked that the media plays to the whims of anarchists like occupy. Maybe I should get 500 of my best friends to come to your home and pitch tents on your lawn, lock arms across your walk way and drive way and urinate on your porch and dare you to call the Sheriff.

I'm just sayin' y'all,

A Concerned Citizen that wants my neighborhood and schools back

Posted by Guest on Nov. 22, 2011 @ 2:03 pm
Posted by anonymous on Nov. 22, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

That's what I am talkin bout.

Posted by Guest: on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 11:20 am

I find it interesting that the Alameda Sheriff is perfectly OK with punishing indiscriminately the protesters (and local residents, press and observers) who had nothing to do with any violence, feces/urine/rock throwing, verbal abuse or anything that any reasonable person would consider violent or warranting the brutal responses by the Alameda Sheriff, Oakland and Berkeley Police Depts. He demands the public take his word at face value that the police did nothing wrong (despite the ample video evidence of police using indiscriminate and excessive force) and then makes blanket statements accusing every protesters of being guilty for the crimes committed by maybe .5% of the protesters. But hey...why should the Sheriff give the protesters the same benefit of the doubt and PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE that he demands for his own sheriffs...Welcome to the Police State where cops can't ever do anything wrong.

Posted by Guest no name on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

Ur a moron

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

I completely agree. This author is a complete moron. The Sheriff's response was timely, well written, precise, and totally appropriate.

I guess the author left out the part where he took the Sheriff up on his invitation to attend the department's training... What a joke. Get a life.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 29, 2011 @ 11:41 am

...soooo...it's ok for you to indiscriminately make blanket assumptions about the sheriff's office, or really ALL law enforcement (despite the fact that each agency has its own training, personnel, tactics, etc.), even when most law enforcement officials cringe at the sight of the uc davis incident, & despite the fact that footage of cops warning individuals to leave the premises (lest they be arrested) is practically nonexistent (cell phone cameras only seem to start working AFTER the warnings...there must be an app for that) but we need to recognize the "maybe .5% of protesters" making the rest look bad....because they're the problem, right??... JUST that small percentage, right??...so you're saying they don't represent ALL the protesters, right??...good thing we've got you to set us straight...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2011 @ 1:46 am

Once a lawful order to dispurse is given...all present are violating the law. Take responsibilty for your actions. If you remain and passively resists...its still resisting. Don't whine about being treated like a criminal....when you are. If you're present with that .05% you refer to as causing the problem and you area too ignorant to leave or understand the police are going to respond accordingly when they do act up...stick to signing petions at strip malls to exercise you rights.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

Which has been clearly cited a couple of times now and proves that you are completely full of shit.

You mean -that- law?

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

well so much for a democratic debate... You can sit and occupy it but you can't take it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 7:43 am

then just finish your holier than thou education and move to some country where someone will actually care about your whining...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 7:40 am

I think everyone is forgetting the main thing here...PROTEST....that means to take space and stand for what you believe in. Nothing was done wrong in the protesters defense. If the so called sherriffs I myself call them terriorist white colarist. They have a lic to beat, molest, set up, and kill people. Well let me say this PEOPLE this happens everyday to people all around alameda county. You just dont hear about it cause people are harrassed to oblivion if they choose to fight bk. If people like the students at berkley dont stand up for OUR rights we wont have any left. Thank you to the people that had to deal with that horrific event. Those are the people I respect. When people realize they are next in the line of fire of the sherriffs it will then be to late. Personally I will be grinning cause "I TOLD YOU SO". Wake up people before its your turn. When that happens I hope they sock it to you good you deserve it. IDOTS...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 1:15 am

The Sheriff is 100% correct and he will continue to have my support and vote. How dare these law violators break laws and expect to not get arrested. How dare they desecrate public grounds with tents, waste and garbage. If they want to protest, then do so, don't camp, don't crap, don't break the law. They demand justice but are the first to break laws and use force. They need to clean up their own actts first.

Posted by Guest Big Dave on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

Last time I checked, police violence is not necessary when arresting nonviolent protesters.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

Lets see they set fires to garbage cans, spray paited buildings, vandalized property, threw stuff at the cops and this is a nonviolent protest-

OH OKAY!!!!!!!!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 11:10 am

Property damage is not violence. Were any people hurt?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 11:23 am

property damage is not violence?! What is violence?? Would it be violence if someone had indirectly been hurt by a trash fire? would it be violence if the taxpayers of these communities, NOT students, had to pay any extra couple dollars to replace these non-violent trash cans. I work as a fireman would it be violence if one of us had to put that fire out and got burned, or better yet it ANYONE got burned?!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

You can't possibly use the same word to refer to damage to living beings as damage to property, as that would suggest that you value inanimate objects at the same level as life.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 25, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

And pepper spray is violent how?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 5:58 am

you are a complete fucking idiot if you think anyone is going to take you up on such a brainless statement

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

It seems silly for the author to make broad statements and unsubstantiated generic claims of abuse, then belittle the response because it did not address specific accusations that were not cited in the original letter.

The fact is, police officers at the occupy protests have come under repeated attack, being struck with explosives, claw hammers, bricks, rocks, hubcaps, human waste and pretty much anything the protesters can get their hands on. Protesters have admitted to encircling police and attempting to cut them off from exit or reinforcements.

There is no need for this type of violence in this protest.. yet, it is happening, whether the protesters want to admit it or not. There is a large contingent of anarchists in their midst that are hurting your cause.

Posted by In the know on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 6:30 am

Your claim is absolutely bogus.

Post links to any proof you have of widespread or frequent physical attacks on cops.

And I am not talking about rare rogue individual acts.

You will not be able to show any proof whatsoever of systemic violence against police, that would justify a violent response.

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

another Occupier. And the rampant drug and alcohol abuse. And the piublic health hazard. And . . .

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

Post links to any proof you have of widespread or frequent physical attacks on cops.

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

who were simply trying to enforce the law.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

Post links to any proof you have of **widespread or frequent** physical attacks on cops.

**And I am not talking about rare rogue individual acts.**

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

POST LINKS TO ANY PROOF YOU HAVE TO OCCUPY PEEPS NON PHYSICAL ATACK ON POLICE.

LOOK FOLKS IT A SIMPLE THING. YOUR GIVEN A LAWFUL ORDER TO LEAVE THE AREA OR BE SUBJECT TO ARREST. YOU SAY HELL NO I WILL NOT GO. YOUR UNDER ARREST. SO NOW YOU SAY IM GOING TO JUST SIT HERE AND LET THEM ARREST ME. WELL THEY SAY STAND UP YOUR UNDER ARREST PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK. NOW YOU SAY NO AND SIT DOWN. THANK YOU YOU HAVE GIVEN THE POLICE REASON TO ESCULATE FORCE ON THE USE OF FORCE SCALE. PLEASE NOTE THAT A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER CAN USE ANY FORCE NESSASSARY TO MAKE AN ARREST UP TO AND ENCLUDING DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE. WELL OCCUPY THAT. ITS THE LAW OF THIS LAND. THOUGH I MAY AGREE WITH SOME OF THE TOPICS THE OCCUPY HAVE BEEN SAYING, I DO NOT AND WILL NOT AGREE WITH ANYONE DISOBAYING A LAWFUL ORDER. OUR COUNTRY IS DEFINED BY LAWS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE PEOPLE. THIS NOT ONLY INCLUDES THE 99% BUT THE 1% ALSO.

NOW LETS GET BACK TO THE RESIST ARREST. A PERSON CAN NOT RESIST ARREST EVEN IF THEY NO THAT ARREST TO BE FALSE. WELL WHAT A LAW THAT IS. IN OTHER WORDS FOLKS YOUR GOING TO JAIL. BEAT THE RAP DONT BEAT THE RIDE. SO THE WHOLE POINT IS IF YOU DO NOT DO WHAT THE POLICE COMMAND YOU TO DO THEN YOU DO WHAT EVER TO YOURSELF. TEARGAS PEPPER SPRAY ARREST STITCHES WHAT EVER GROW UP EXCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS. SORRY I CANT TYPE VERY GOOD A ND SPELLING SOMETIMES DONT GO WELL WITH MY TYPING SKILLS. THANKS BE SAFE.

Posted by Guest MDB on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

Here is the link to the relevant 2001 case law which established the precedent against the use of pepper spray on peaceful protesters; precedent which was later upheld in a 2005 jury trial.

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F3/240/1185/564832/

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 27, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

Of course there will be few links proving cops right, you think protesters are going to post those to youtube?? Of course not, they're going to post the videos showing police "attacking them." But if you were watching the news during the occupy crap, you would have seen the items that were thrown at cops and you would have heard about the cops that were slashed in the face, bitten, and had blue and red paint all over their uniforms, you jackass. You would have also seen the kid who threw a brick at the CHP car, the assholes who were caught on news setting garbage cans on fire, etc...so shut the hell up and go back to your tree or camp, or wherever you crawled out of, you unemployed activist!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 7:27 am

are you saying that if it is not 'linked' to or on the internet that the offenses do not exist?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2011 @ 1:01 am

Last I checked, property damage was a crime...um, that's where the arrest part of it comes into play

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 7:21 am

They sat peacefully on the grass at Davis, and on the flagstones of Sproul Plaza.

And you therefore have not answered the question.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 11:42 am

Those who got pepper sprayed at Davis were not sitting on the grass. They were blocking some kind of sidewalk or roadway.
Oh wait - the "narrative" of the protesters is more important to you than facts or truth.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

Why does it make any difference what the protesters were peacefully sitting on when they were attacked?

You, are a moron.

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

I can,t understand how they can complain about more fee hikes when the University has to pay the County back for all of this overtime now putting it further in the red. They are just hurting themselves by getting all the cops out there all the time.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

Right on, well said.

Posted by Guest: on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 11:22 am

YOU ARE A BIG DUMP TRUCK...go pull your head and nose out of their butts...get real...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 1:16 am

You protestors did do something wrong: you failed to disperse when the peace officers gave you a lawful order to do so. A peace officer is entitled to use whatever force is necessary to affect an arrest...or in the case of Cal and occu-crap, prevent them from pitching tents and camping out. Get over it and get a life! Next time follow directions!

Posted by Guest jsherrif1 on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

How was the level of violence used by the Berkeley and Davis cops necessary to effect those arrests?

Simple question.

What is your answer?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

Were you there? Then you have no idea what force the officers needed to use. You Tube videos only catch part of tve problem. If you werent there then dont cast judgement.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

give me a fucking break

those students were sitting totally motionless and silent

and the jackbooted thug was spraying pepper spray directly in their faces

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

That is exactly the problem. They were sitting motionless after they had been given a lawful order to move. It is against the law to block a public walkway. If they had simply moved off the walkway they could have sit there as long as they wanted. They chose to break the law and knowingly did so as an act of protest. You have the right to protest and the police will protect your right to do so. However, you do not have the right to break the law as an act of your protest. If you chose to do so, you force the hand of the police to take action.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2011 @ 12:03 am

because you know you don't have an answer to it.

What about the student's lawbreaking of sitting peacefully on grass, and on a sidewalk, justified the use of police violence in the arrest?

Again. Simple question.

Do you have an answer? Or are you just going to incessantly continue to try to bullshit your way out of a debate you know you cannot win?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 25, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

Cops are not allowed to use whatever force they see fit to effect an arrest.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

Just wondering if she will actually take up his offer to go see their training. Probably not, since then she would realize that she is just whining and has no intention of trying to see it from the law enforcement side. This response from the Sheriff is awesome and it's about time someone told them how it is and how the majority of the so called "99 %" really feel about this STUPID movement.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2011 @ 5:50 am