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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Government & Elections | Police State and Prisons
National Lawyers Guild Confronts Oakland Police Brutality During Early Anti-Trump Protests (audio)
Within hours of the announcement that Trump would be the next president of the United States, protests erupted in Oakland and cities across the country. The first wave of demonstrations in Oakland occurred daily for nearly a week. During that time, Oakland police reverted to historical bad practices in their attempts to quell the protests. The San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) held a press conference on November 21 to publicly address the dangerous actions and physical injuries caused by OPD during the demonstrations. (full audio below)
(The NLG's Carey Lamprecht, Cat Brooks, and Jonathan Sidney speak out in front of Oakland City Hall.)
The NLG and their legal observers who were present in the streets report that two people had teeth chipped during rough arrests, one of whom suffered a fractured skull. On the first night of major protests, despite the fact that there had been no major incidents up to that point, police declared an unlawful assembly and lobbed tear gas into the crowd without warning. Police regularly discharged CS flash bang grenades into crowds with children, elderly and disabled persons. Motorcycles dangerously charged up onto sidewalks in an effort to scare marchers, although not quite "BUMPing" protesters. An Oakland Police Officer pointed a Specialty Impact Munition launcher at a marked NLG legal observer and a cop watcher who were documenting an arrest. Police were seen pushing protesters toward the back of the march.
Speaking as the interim executive director of the of the NLG San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Cat Brooks described the repression and brutality deployed by Oakland police as the worst since Occupy Oakland, which resulted in millions of dollars in legal settlements to those injured and abused.
Assistant Police Chief David Downing in particular was called out for his leading role in some of OPD's worst crowd control incidents over the last decade, from the justice for Oscar Grant movement to now.
Downing was a named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit over the illegal kettle and mass arrest at an Oscar Grant march on November 10, 2010, the case of Spalding vs The City of Oakland later settling for a million dollars.
Downing was involved with enforcing Mayor Schaaf's failed (and unconstitutional) ban on nighttime protests, first sprung on a Say Her Name women's march without advanced notice.
Downing was roundly criticized earlier this year when it was revealed that he had suggested using water cannons on Oakland protesters, oblivious to the racial overtones.
Carey Lamprecht speaks to the inconsistencies between OPD's crowd control policies and their actions at these early Trump protests. She says there was a definite uptick in brutality and the NLG is concerned, knowing that with Trump as President there will continue to be tensions in the streets.
Legal observer Jonathan Sidney spoke to the events of Thursday, November 10. He reports that after three hours of protests without incident, Oakland police provoked confrontations by making baseless arrests, with riot clad officers looking for a fight. Throughout the rest of night, police made violent arrests and deployed tear gas without warning.
Police treated legal observers violently, in a manner Jonathan felt was intended to discourage legal observers from documenting police abuses. At one point, a legal observer overheard a police commander issue an order, "Guild's out, shields out."
At one point, a female officer charged at Jonathan and pointed her weapon at his head. Jonathan says Oakland police actions were "entirely unacceptable." Cat notes the irony of protesters speaking against potential upcoming state repression under Trump facing violent police repression across the country in the first few days after the election.
The National Lawyers Guild has video recordings of a number of the incidents, but is not making them public while legal cases for arrestees continue to work their way through the court.
NLG Calls Out Oakland Police Department for Brutal Treatment of Protesters
Indybay Feature: With Election of Trump as Next US President, Cities Across the Country Rise Up in Protest