Protesters to be awarded $1 million settlement in mass arrest lawsuit

A scene from the Nov. 5, 2010 protest where OPD mass arrested 150 protesters in a residential neighborhood

A federal judge has granted preliminary approval for a settlement of more than $1 million to a group of 150 activists who were mass arrested in Oakland three years ago. The National Lawyers Guild filed the federal class action civil-rights suit on behalf of the protesters, who in some cases were held for more than 24 hours despite never facing formal charges.

The mass arrest took place on Nov. 5, 2010, when activists marched in opposition to the light sentence handed down to Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer who was tried for murder after he shot and killed unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant.

After winding through the streets in downtown Oakland, protesters took a turn toward Fruitvale Station, where Grant was fatally shot. But instead, police in riot gear forced them into a residential neighborhood where they were kettled in and mass-arrested for unlawful assembly.

There’s a process for making mass arrests that is clearly laid out in OPD’s crowd control policy, “to comply with California law and the U.S. constitution. That would involve giving a warning, and then allowing people to disperse,” Rachel Lederman of the NLG points out. “This was a perfectly legal demonstration,” and with the exception of one or two individuals who vandalized bus windows during the march, the vast majority of protesters did not engage in illegal activity.

Instead of being cited and released, or simply allowed to disperse once police declared the march to be "unlawful," the 150 demonstrators who were penned in by police were sent through a long and uncomfortable booking process, Lederman said. They were left sitting on the street, then loaded onto buses and vans where they were made to wait, still handcuffed, for up to 6 hours in some cases. (Note: This reporter was kettled in along with protesters initially but then allowed to leave when police created an exit for members of the media. From there, all reporters were sent to an area cordoned off by police tape, where it was difficult to observe the arrests. So reporters were essentially given the choice between being sent to jail, which would have made it difficult to file a timely story, or being roped off in an area far from where police activity could be observed. But that's a different story.)

The Alameda County Sheriff's Department then sent demonstrators through a lengthy jail booking process, even though in similar circumstances, arrestees have typically been cited and released. They were placed in overcrowded, temporary holding cells with no beds and no chairs. “People needed medical attention that they didn’t get,” Lederman said. “No food was provided for more than twelve hours after our initial detention,” noted plaintiff Katie Loncke. “There was no room to lie down. I sat up against a wall for the entire night."

Lederman said she expects protesters who were part of the class action suit to receive somewhere around $4,500 each in settlement payments. In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement agreement reaffirms and reincorporates OPD's crowd control policy for up to seven years.

That policy dates back to 2004, when the NLG and the American Civil Liberties Union jointly drafted the regulations in the wake of an anti-war demonstration where police fired rubber bullets into the crowd, resulting in serious injuries and intense scrutiny on the police department's practices.

While OPD complied with the crowd control policy in the first years after it was implemented, Lederman said, there were relatively few mass mobilizations in the streets of Oakland until those mounted in response to the Oscar Grant shooting. Those street demonstrations were followed by 2011 mass marches organized in conjunction with the Occupy movement.

“Our primary goal, and our clients’ primary goal, was to stop” unlawful police practices that violated OPD's crowd control policy, Lederman said, “so that people can be freer to organize on the streets.”


there really is no other way to police a lawless place like Oakland.

Do the job, and pay off the lawsuits AKA the WalMart approach.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

The only way to police Oakland is without the hindrance of the US Constitution.

Posted by anon on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

That well known phrase seems apt here.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 5:56 am

That's why I said that. If someone in a position of authority makes a determination that it's better for public safety to do away with the constitution, then it should be thrown in the garbage. The constitution was never intended to inconvenience law enforcement authorities. Even Ben Franklin said that "he who would sacrifice a little bit of security for ones liberty, deserves neither."

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 7:02 am

"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 8:53 am

Most analyses of the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth amendments don't really agree with you.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 8:55 am
Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 9:27 am

I thought we were talking about police brutality in Oakland.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 10:43 am

when and why it is appropriate to have limits on constitutional freedoms when national security is the issue.

Oscar Grant was only a threat to those immediately around him. I suspect had he fully co-operated with the cops, he'd still be alive today.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:01 am

The Constitution was supposed to be a suicide pact for tyranny.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 7:48 am

It seems to be working.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 9:26 am

OBL was retaliating against the US for its previous attacks on the region, he sought no territorial claims, hence not a tyrant.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:13 am

with that assessment?

Not one elected official anywhere, I'm fairly sure.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:29 am

The Bali nightclub bombing was a retaliation against Australia for supporting Timorese independence (after surviving a near-genocide orchestrated by the Indonesians, with US weaponry). Al Quaida claimed it for the caliphate, never mind that the Timorese are Christian and speak Portugese.

Al Quaida's first and foremost claims are territorial. Please do some reading before you comment.


Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

OBL sought no territorial claims in East Timor.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

The Indonesian killings of 1965–1966 were an anti-communist purge following a failed coup of the 30 September Movement in Indonesia. The most widely accepted estimates are that more than 500,000 people were killed. The purge was a pivotal event in the transition to the "New Order"; the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was eliminated as a political force, and the upheavals led to the downfall of president Sukarno and the commencement of Suharto's thirty-year presidency.

The 1953 Iranian coup d'état (known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup) was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran, and its head of government Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United Kingdom (under the name 'Operation Boot') and the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project). The coup saw the formation of a military government under Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, who progressed from a constitutional monarch to an authoritarian one who relied heavily on United States support to hold on to power until his own overthrow in February 1979.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

The U.S. Constitution is the highest law of the land, and soldiers have died defending our freedoms and the Constitutions. Politicians must swear to uphold it, but you'd throw it out the window when inconvenient. Traitor.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 10:34 am
Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 10:48 am

Including on that guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, yes?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 10:59 am

the 2nd.

One can reasonably argue that the history of American government is really a history of rolling back the Constitution.

I'd have no problem going back 150 years. No income tax, no federal reserve, no unfunded welfare entitlements . .

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:16 am

People dying in the streets of poverty and no medical care, no security in old age, no rights unless you're a straight white male, no environmental protections...yeah, sounds just peachy.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:29 am

I simply said that many of the Amendments to the Constitution haven't worked out too well.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:35 am

Which would you repeal?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:52 am

probably repeal everything back to the 14th, to restore States' rights, in the manner envisaged by the founding fathers.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

You spit on the graves of hundreds of thousands of heroes who died in the Civil War. Johnson should have conducted the 30,000 executions that Sherman suggested would have been sufficient to decisively consolidate the gains of that war.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

I refer you to the oft-cited letter from Lincoln to Horace Greeley, where Abe said that if he could preserve the union without freeing a single slave, he would do so. It was ultimately about States' rights and the erosion thereof.

Since then, we have essentially rolled back the founding fathers' idea of a loose federation of sovereign States, and instead now have a vast European-like centralized government in DC. When we see things like the alleged NSA abuse of your privacy, that stems directly from the civil war - merely the first step in destroying the great idea of America as a federation.

In that context, the slavery thing is irrelevant. It would have gone away anyway, just like it did everywhere else.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

There was only one state's right the southern states seceded over, and it was slavery. No slavery, no secession, no Civil War.

Also, you might want to consider how your casual dismissal of "the slavery thing" is deeply offensive.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

I said it would have gone away anyway, which it did in every other western nation that did not have a civil war.

I'm sorry but I do not buy into this collective white guilt thing about slavery. I haven't enslaved anyone and do not see why I should have cards played over it hundreds of years later.

If that's politically incorrect, then so be it.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

Because you benefit from it, that's why, like being in possession of stolen property even if you did not steal it yourself or even paid for it.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

My ancestors came to the US after slavery was repealed.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

Your position lost that war. Matters decided in war are not subject for being revisited by civilian politics as that will just start another war. Don't start another war.

Unaccountable, inflexible authority is the common problem, that is as manifest locally as it is at the state level as it is federally.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

winner was morally right - that's just a Hollywood notion.

Slavery was wrong but would have gone away anyway. The legacy of that war lives on in our over-centralized federal government and the erosion of local rights of self-determination.

You don't have to agree, of course, but you also won't convince me otherwise, so save your breath.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

The best way to have saved you (and others) the breath would have been via noose and scaffold to dispense with that problem as General Sherman recommended.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:28 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

What is it that is so sacred about an 18th century vision for governing a mostly agrarian country that's applicable to a mostly urban and suburban, technologically advanced, 21st century one? Why do you want things frozen in amber?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

the planet, and therefore deserves respect.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

The 'greatest nation on the planet' is reduced to seeing Feinstein, Schumer and Kerry punching their fists through their straw hats, shaking their fists in the air while shouting "dag, nammit!" as Foggy Mountain Breakdown plays and Russia and China help Snowden flee to safety.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

He will always be looking over his shoulder, and will have little freedom to travel.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

By what measure is the U.S. the greatest nation on Earth? Sure, we have some good points, but many other countries beat us all hollow by all kinds of measure.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

even while many bitch about the place.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

There are many reasons to stay in a place other than it being the best place.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 10:32 am
Posted by Guest on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 10:43 am

I never said America is crap. Acknowledging that it has deep flaws that don't necessarily make it, in some general sense, the Best Nation in History, doesn't mean it doesn't have many fine points. It does. Furthermore, I'm committed to its betterment--that's what being progressive is all about. Sound like a good deal for me, and a good deal for America.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 10:53 am

"A well-ordered militia, being necessary..."

To me, a strict reading of that means that one must be a member of a well-ordered militia in order to keep and bear arms.

The point is, the 2nd is so vaguely worded and oddly punctuated that there is no way to give it one strict reading on which everyone can agree.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:32 am

own a firearm unless you are a member of a "militia" and, realistically, we don't have a viable concept of a peoples' militia anyway.

Even SF, with the most insane gun control laws in the nation, cannot stop me having a small armory in my home. They can make it more difficult for me to buy guns and practice using them, but they cannot touch my weapons unless I hand them an opportunity.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:45 am

...the one who says all provisions of the Constitution should be subject to limitation if public safety is at stake? Considering the number of gun deaths in this country, limiting the 2nd to reduce that danger to our safety seems pretty reasonable to me.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:59 am

not the standard that we apply when assessing laws.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

Just a characterization that you intend to be a slam. I thought we were having a conversation about the circumstances of limiting rights granted in the Constitution.

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

have won the day, since we have gun control laws in most places, and quite strict ones in SF and NYC.

The real irony, however, is how liberals whine about limits on, say, the 4th, but have no issue with limits on the 2nd. A double standard, surely?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

Funny how conservatives whine about limitations on the 2nd amendment but don't seem to care about the 4th, the 5th, the 8th, the 14th...

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 1:01 pm