Tag Archives: Oakland Police Department

My Rant: #OPD needs to do better.

Howard Jordan and the Police Department may be trying..but they are losing the PR game.

I like to think of myself as an open-minded person. Every person and/0r entity deserves a chance to redeem themselves, even if I harbor a healthy dose of internal skepticism.

This was essentially my attitude towards the Oakland Police Department. Wednesday, OPD tested even my generous patience.

(You might say..really? As a black woman you should question everything the police does. I will get to that later..).

Giving the Oakland Police Department a chance..

Earlier this month OPD tried to establish a positive relationship with Oakland by hosting an Open House on May 4th. I not only attended, I was a little excited! My activist friends openly laughed at me, questioned my sanity and probably wondered about my motives behind my back.

I didn’t care. I had attended various town hall meetings featuring the police and the Mayor’s office in regards to public safety and the 100 Block program.  OPD is short of staff, yet committed towards reducing crime.  Along with the  Mayor’s office, they have implemented new technology, pulling resources and  coordinating with city agencies (like Parks and Rec) in an effort to help keep the city safe. I want them to be successful. I want Oakland to thrive and not be plagued by a reputation for being a dangerous city. (OPD gave me props on my twitter coverage of one of the meetings..which freaked me out a little).

So, I went to the Open House. I figured this was the closest (hopefully) I would ever to get to a jail cell and I was curious.  I actually had a good time. I got to tour the facilities, a cop car,  and witness a cop standing up on his motorcycle while it was moving. The Chief admired my “I Hella Heart Oakland” t-shirt. Good times and feelings was shared by all who attended.

Children get their finger prints at OPD Open House May 15th

When things go down hill for me..

1.  Then Alan Blueford was shot and killed during the early hours of May 6th. ( The very next night! #smh). I had not paid close attention to the case until I read the statement from the family expressing anger over what they were told about their son’s death. Then I attended the city council meeting, May 15th where the family expressed further outrage over how they were treated at the police station while waiting for information on what happened to their son.

This affected me emotionally.  The mom works in a hospital, the cousins are graduates of college, one a lawyer another with a Master’s degree in social services. They are home owners, tax payers, supporters of the police and the City Council. Yet, they were treated horribly by the police, having to wait several hours before anyone would talk to them about what happened to their son.

That hurt me. As a law abiding Oakland resident, a black woman and human being.

Alan Blueford’s family testifies at May 15th City Council meeting.

2. Community Meeting goes wrong..

In response the city council declared they wanted an investigation into how the police treats families of shooting victims and, Chief Jordan met with the family and apologized,  which according to everyone is unprecedented. In my opinion, it’s the very least he could have done. That should never have happened.

Sensing that public wasn’t too happy with them, the Police Department and the Mayor decided to have a meeting in East Oakland to explain how the investigation into Alan Blueford would progress at Acts Full Gospel Church. I made every effort to attend expecting a nuanced discussion on the case, a chance to get answers and a show of good faith by the Mayor and the police department.

What took place instead? An unnecessary waste of time that ended up pissing people off. The police trotted out various officers to explain the process of the investigation. I missed the first 10 minutes coming from work in Concord, but was able to catch a representative from Internal Affairs explain the chain of command in the investigation: (in case you can’t read the handy chart pictured below) first the Sergeant makes a report, then the Lieutenant reviews the report (it goes back and forth between them until it’s approved) then the Captain reviews it, Assistant Deputy, then Chief..then God knows who else.

An officer describes the chain of command in Internal Affairs investigation using a ‘chart’.

I know..who cares right? We want to know what’s going on with the Alan Blueford case. AND WHY WOULD YOU COME TO A MEETING WITH A DRAWING? Really? Every meeting I have been to with the police they came prepared with fancy power point slides, facts, figures, technology.. the whole she-bang. What happened here?

After hearing from a representative of the Community Police Review Board explain who they are ( a group of independent citizens appointed by City Council and sworn in by the Mayor that conducts independent investigations) and tell us that their hands are essentially tied until the police shares information with them from their report.. we are finally able to ask questions….

Chief Jordan took questions from people who wrote them down on cards. The answers were ones we have heard before:

  • No Alan Blueford wasn’t left on the street for 4 hours. He got CPR and within minutes was taken to the hospital. How many minutes? When did he get CPR? Exact times..they didn’t know.
  • Did Alan point a gun at police? Yes.
  • Why did the officer shoot himself? We are looking into it.
  • [The police] do not know how false information got out about Alan shooting the officer. A reporter did ask witnesses and it came out that Alan took a shot..but there is no evidence Alan shot at the police.
  • Has there ever been a police shooting that is not justified homicide? Yes.
  • Why hasn’t the officer not been identified and what is his complaint history? We will release his name at the appropriate time. He is now on administrative leave. We can’t release his complaint history by law.
  • When will results of the fingerprints identifying who owned the gun that was found be released? They will share the information with the family as soon as it is available.
  • Why was it necessary to chase Alan Blueford? The officers were investigating a drug and weapons violation.
  • How many times has the CPRB recommended that an officer be removed? Chief Jordan said “..in my tenure there has been at least 1.”
  • Who saw Alan Blueford with a gun? The officer and three independent witnesses.
  • Why do officers always shoot to kill when the suspect is black? Officers are trained to incapacitate when their lives are in danger.
  • How is it possible that the officer could not distinguish between drugs and a gun? We are currently doing an investigation and we can not answer that at this time.

As he continued to give rote answers, the audience became more agitated and started asking questions that weren’t on cards: Why is it that black men are getting shot in the back? Is the officer hiding in Las Vegas like Mesherle was? Why aren’t we able to ask our own questions?

Participants at community meeting at Acts Full Gospel turn their backs on Chief Jordan as he answers questions.

The Chief did make a brief complaint that folks in audience weren’t being respectful by yelling out questions. He said folks came to get answers and they weren’t getting any because some were being disrespectful. He answers a few more questions (which I already reported on). And then concluded the meeting… at 6:30 pm!!!

Local Hip Hop icon Davey D wrote a blog post and recorded an awesome video of the red hot mess that was the community meeting. It also talks about the arrest of an Occupy Oakland Member shortly after for an alleged assault after the meeting.  Please read it.

Yes, it was a red hot mess. It was disrespectful in the extreme and if I was the Pastor of that church I would be MAD. Acts Full Gospel is a highly respected church with a large and vibrant membership within the Oakland Community. For OPD to come in and pretend to be reaching out to the community, come with drawings and end the meeting within 30 minutes..is a slap in the face.

Oh and the Mayor? She wasn’t there. -___-

What took me so long??

I’ve only lived in the Bay Area 17 years..and in Oakland for 14 of those years. During this time I focused on cultivating a good life for myself.  I went to school, found a decent job,  a church home, made great friends, I voted, paid taxes, volunteered in the community for various causes… I basically just, lived. I don’t have a lot of experience with crime. My mother  also raised me to have a healthy respect for authority ( I even find men in uniform attractive. Firefighters…mmmm….). Interactions with the police is not something I am accustomed to.

I am not a trouble maker. I am not confrontational. I hate it when people rudely yell, curse or interrupt a peaceful meeting. I don’t think provoking police is a good idea. I’m a liberal..but moderately so. (I probably wouldn’t even call myself progressive). I wouldn’t classify myself as an Angry Black Woman.  I’m about Peace, Love and Hair Grease.

I also recognize that there are criminals in the world and that they deserve to go to jail..and yeah some of them are black.

However, when I witness something that is unfair or wrong I will take notice..and everything about this case and how the police are treating minority citizens in Oakland in general stinks.

Yes, Occupy Oakland has seemingly become pointless, with no organization and/or goals..but the noise and ruckus they are making about what is going on with the police department and city government in general is not WRONG. Yes..Black People can be loud and angry..but given the behavior of the people that we pay to protect us and keep our community safe we have every right to be!

“We fear for our lives. We fear the police because they don’t have no consideration for people, for humanity,” Raymond Arnold said. “Autopsy reveals ODP shot Jones in the front” ABC News, Nov. 2010

OPD has a long history of abuses towards the community. But lets look recently, like the past 10 years. Alan Blueford is not the only questionable officer involved shooting of black men in Oakland.. “jpmassar” of the Daily Kos lists other deaths and lawsuits that Oakland is facing as a result:

  • Gary King – August 2007
  • Jody Woodfox – July 2008
  • Derrick Jones – November 2010
  • Raheim Brown – January 2011
  • John Sloan and Antoine Jackson – May 2011
  • Tony Jones (cousin of Oscar Grant) – February 2012

I don’t want to argue the merits of each case (including Alan Blueford’s) or who was ultimately right and/or wrong. But this list is too long for it to be a coincidence..and it’s costing our city too much money to settle. Money we do not have.

Chief Jordan: you  need to take a hard look at how the police is interacting with the community and make changes. Especially if you are looking for city residents to pay more money in taxes for more police. Especially if you are trying to make sure the Oakland department doesn’t come under federal receivership.

Chief Jordan, if you want to reach out the community and be sincere..be real. Don’t half step it. Answer questions that may be uncomfortable. Listen to people when they are talking to you. Stop prevaricating, reading speeches, giving rote answers, hiding behind ‘the law’ and  just tell the truth. Negotiate and compromise.  Stop waiting for bad things to happen and then responding. Be preemptive.  I understand that you need to protect your sworn brother’s but you are paid to protect the residents of Oakland. Make rules and enforce them. Hold your officer’s accountable for their behavior. End the corruption. Face what you and your department are doing wrong and make every effort to change it.

It may seem unfair, given that you haven’t been Chief for very long. Folks are loud and rude and confrontational. But you just are going to have to take one for team. You are the leader and you represent your organization. People are understandably upset, but if you want them to believe you are sincere and care, you have take them seriously and respect their feelings. It’s your job.

This just doesn’t go for the Chief. The Mayor, City Manager, Community Police Review Board, City Council, anyone who works for the city, represents the city and says they want to see OAKLAND be better..they need to actually BE better.

6 Comments

Filed under Advocacy, Oakland

Which side am I on? #OccupyOakland’s

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere! Hella #OccupyOakland." Posted on Oakland's City Hall Wednesday evening, October 26th.

Over the past couple of weeks Oakland has become famous for something other than it’s murder rate!

#OccupyOakland has highlighted it’s rich history with civil protest and our city has once again become national news. The actions of the local police department and the city government has  given Oakland’s arm of #OccupyWallStreet new energy and support from all over the world including myself.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Barbara Lee/Elihu Harris Lecture series featuring Dr. Dorothy Cotton and Reverend C.T. Vivian. The Lee/Harris lecture series features activists from the Civil Rights era who share words of wisdom to inspire youth. Vivian and Cotton, who both worked with Martin Luther King Junior as part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spoke to a roomful of young students and Oakland residents about the need for continued advocacy and activism during our current economic crisis and for the upcoming 2012 election.

A student at Merritt College opened the discussion with a question: In the struggle of justice, peace and a stronger democracy..which side are you on? I have listened to opinions pro and con about the Occupy movement and decided that is very important for me to give Occupy Oakland my full support.

Why? Because I am one of the 99 percent! 

That seems too easy right? It is..but it’s still true. I am a young African – American female, subject to the systematic racism and prejudice that plagues this country today. I am what some might call middle class, yet I’m living check to check. As an independent consultant I am what you would call a small business..something that our government often encourages more of. Yet, I am the portion of the middle class that suffers from the inequitable tax system having to pay a higher percentage of my income than those that make way more money than I do.

I have to give Vice Presidential candidate Herman Cain a small measure of credit. The fact that I am not rich is my own fault. I chose not to become a doctor or work for a corporation that would give me more money.  I chose to live in a city where home-ownership is nearly impossible for a single person.

However, I also chose to be dedicated towards helping the community, making advocacy not only part of my work but part of my life. I feel good about that choice.

Given that..choosing to support Occupy Oakland is a natural fit for me and should surprise no one.

(Some of my friends weren’t surprised at all..they fully expected to me to be one of the arrested on Tuesday night..lol!)

The Occupy Movement has no purpose..

I disagree. The occupy movement gives voice to struggle of peace, stronger democracy and justice. Many complain that there isn’t a specific goal or plan and that there are too many issues to address.  True. The occupy movement is not merely about banks taking our money to line their own pockets, or about lack of jobs. It’s about issues with race, class, prejudice. Who are most affected by the lack of jobs? African-Americans. Who is negatively affected by our horrible tax system? Middle and lower class. Who is being targeted by unfair police actions? Young minority males. Who are affected when public schools are closed? All of our children!

The eviction of occupy protestors and aggressive action by the City of Oakland/OPD against Occupy Oakland last Tuesday  has clearly demonstrated the continued struggle for peace, democracy and justice.

We can’t solve these problems with one single law, or action. That’s impossible. Yet, what can happen is that our voices can be heard and for the ‘powerful’ to realize that they can not continue with business as usual. We have the power to put our money where our mouths are. We can boycott, sit-in, march, vote, shout, dance .. but most importantly..BE HEARD!

But what does supporting Occupy Oakland accomplish?

It has encouraged people of all races, gender and economic status (within the 99% and even the 1% (Micheal Moore..Danny Glover?) to come together and speak out about equity and it has visibly shifted the political discourse.

It has made Mayor Jean Quan and the Oakland Police Department reconsider their actions against peaceful protest and prompted the City Council to hold a special meeting to evaluate Oakland’s response to future protests in the city. (Thursday, 5:30 pm, City Hall)

Bank of America is dropping their $5 fee for debit cards! Can we attribute that to Occupy?  Maybe ..maybe not. But many unhappy customers made their voices heard and a change was accomplished.

Imagine what else can be possible by continuing to speak out.

The success of the Occupy Movement can mean different things (as outlined by this blog post on CNN). However what really resonates with me is that thousands of people are willing to do  SOMETHING.

There is nothing more irritating than a complainer that does nothing. (IMO)

You have to camp out and live in a tent in order to support Occupy.

No you don’t. You can stay in your comfy bed and you can go still go to work. However, there are other things you can do to show your support

  • You can attend #Occupy general assembly meetings which usually happen early evening. You can participate in rally’s that happen over the weekend or in evenings.
  • You can attend city council meetings. (Thursday, 5 pm City Hall to discuss Occupy Oakland eviction)
  • You can share your opinions with your peers. Have discussions that generate concrete ideas and ways we can make change happen within our own sphere of influence.
  • Patronize small business.
  • You can encourage your friends to stay safe and peaceful when they participate in protests.
  • Retweet an informative tweet.  Like a facebook post.
  • You can write a letter to “The Editor” of a newspaper.
  • You can call your congressman and ask them to support bills that help the 99%.
  • You can donate to the presidential campaign that best supports your ideals.
  • You can sign petitions. Make phone calls.
  • Send in your ballot on Nov. 15th.
  • You can donate food and supplies to the tent community in downtown Oakland.
  • You can educate youth about peaceful protest.

Participation can mean many things.  The whole point of occupy is to show that the 99% are not silent doormats waiting to be stepped on.

General Strike, November 2nd

The general strike, Wednesday Nov. 2nd, is one day where we as a city can collectively raise our voices. I encourage those that can to participate. You don’t have to take a whole day off.  You can participate in three rally’s that will occur throughout the day as outlined in the poster below.

So Oakland..are you going to participate in the General Strike?

or.. General Public

Do you agree or disagree with the occupy movement?

Have thoughts about the city’s response to Occupy Oakland?

Share! Hopefully I will see you tomorrow. I will participate at 5 pm and share pics/tweets. 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Advocacy, Oakland, Politics