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Indybay Feature
Sat Nov 13 2004 (Updated 11/16/11)
Oakland Prohibits Less Lethal Weapons For Crowd Control
Sat Nov 13 2004 (Updated 11/16/11)
New 21-Page Crowd Control Policy to Replace "Anything Goes"
On Nov. 5, 2004, the Oakland Police Department agreed to enact a crowd control policy, which will establish, for the first time, a uniform protocol for the OPD to use in handling crowds. The policy will apply equally to protests or spontaneous celebrations.

Michael Haddad, a civil rights lawyer who helped implement the guidelines, says the new protections for the right to assemble are important because prior to this, the OPD "had no policy. Their policy was anything goes."

The ACLU, the National Lawyer's Guild, civil rights lawyers, city officials, and Oakland Police Chief Richard Word developed the new crowd control policy, which prohibits the indiscriminate use of wooden bullets, rubber bullets, tasers, bean bags, pepper spray and police motorcycles to control or disperse crowds or demonstrations.

Efforts to implement this policy were inspired by the incident on April 7, 2003, when police fired wooden bullets, sting ball grenades and shot-filled bean bags at hundreds of peaceful anti-war activists during an organized demonstration at the Port of Oakland. The new policy does not resolve claims for monetary damages by those who were injured as a result of the police action. Federal District Court Judge Thelton Henderson has scheduled those claims for trial in January, 2006.

Willow Rosenthal of Oakland was hit in the back of her calf with a wooden bullet. She required several surgeries, including skin grafts due to internal bleeding. At a press conference on Nov. 9, 2004 announcing the new crowd control policy, Rosenthal said that she is still not able to attend protests because she does not trust what the cops may do. "They can never take away what they did to me and what they did to us." Full story | ACLU/NLG news release | PDF
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