After a week of being vilified for the October 25 raid on Occupy Oakland that ended in tear gas, flashbang grenades, rubber bullets and a Iraq War veteran hospitalized with a fractured skull and possible brain damage, the Oakland Police Department has pushed back against their critics.
We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.
As your police officers, we are confused.
On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.
Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.
It’s important to take note that the open letter is not disputing any allegations of brutality but merely pointing out that they were following orders. Normally this would be a statement worthy of intense criticism. However, Mayor Quan has distanced herself, both literally and figuratively, from the events of that night and has attempted to push all the blame onto the police. The Oakland police do have a reputation for excessive use of force but they were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear the park. This obviously does not excuse their behavior but the blatant reversal of the Mayor and her refusal to take responsibility for her error in judgement must rankle the OPD to no end.
The upside of this is that Mayor Quan, wary of further public backlash, will let Occupy Oakland have its head as long as it stays peaceful. Accordingly, the police, also wary of public backlash as well as being used as a scapegoat, will tread lightly around the protests.