Reuters’ Dan Levine has an exclusive interview with Judge Thelton Henderson, who, at least in the criminal justice world, has had an incredible historical impact on California. Henderson oversaw the Pelican Bay Prison conditions case, the case that’s placed the Oakland Police Department under court monitoring, and the case that has the state completely overhauling its prison system in the wake of massive overcrowding.
Oakland Police Department
Last night, members of Occupy Oakland gathered at the Grand Lake Theater to discuss the Oakland Police Department’s crowd control policies and their use of force in response to Occupy demonstrations. The meeting was held in place of a similar event that was to be hosted by the Citizen’s Police Review Board, an independent volunteer body comprised of residents of the City of Oakland. Originally scheduled to be held at City Hall, the CPRB event was postponed somewhat last minute.
By Nicole Jones
Howard Jordan was named permanent police chief of Oakland Wednesday. He’d been serving as interim since October after former police Chief Anthony Batts suddenly resigned, citing reasons such as mounting pressure and “limited control, but full accountability” in his job.
From working on patrol to the SWAT team, Jordan has a two-decade history with the Oakland Police Department. Mayor Jean Quan said she has high expectations for Jordan’s leadership and his plans for reforms especially now when all eyes are on the department.
This piece comes to us from City Limits, an independent, non-profit, investigative magazine based in New York City.
Around 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8, Maria Teresa Ramirez was pushing a red plastic car with her 3-year-old son Carlos Fernandez Nava along International Boulevard in East Oakland, Calif. As Ramirez and her son drew close to a group of men standing outside a pizzeria near International and 64th Avenue, gunfire erupted from a passing car, striking Nava and two men on the corner. While the older men, the intended targets of the shooting, lived, Nava was fatally wounded by a bullet that passed through his neck. The murder, the 67th of 2011, sparked outrage. In a city where only a quarter of all murders are solved, police received a flood of tips and within a week arrested two men now charged with Nava’s death.
An 18-year-old Oakland man has been charged with the assault and rape of a 56-year old woman that took place last winter. On February 8th, the woman was walking home from work in the area of 8th and Jackson Streets when she was grabbed from behind, forced into her basement, beaten and sexually assaulted.
Although no witnesses were present, surveillance video OPD later released to the public showed a man walking away from the area. While releasing the video did not yield any leads, a trace on evidence taken from the sexual assault examination of the victim yielded a match on October 27th from a national DNA database for convicted offenders.
Derrick Parks, an 18-year-old man who was already in custody for a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, was identified by the DNA profile as the 56-year-old woman’s attacker.
On November 17, Parks was charged with multiple accounts of rape, forcible sodomy and charging enhancements by the Alameda County District Attorney. He is facing anywhere from 15 years to four life sentences in prison.
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg denied a request by the ACLU of Northern California and the National Lawyers’ Guild for a temporary restraining order preventing excessive use of force by the Oakland Police Department during crowd control situations.
The request for a restraining order stems from the joint ACLU-NLG lawsuit filed earlier this week alleging violations of OPD’s crowd control policies on October 25th and the evening of November 2-3 during clashes between police and Occupy Oakland protesters.
In denying the requested restraining order, Judge Seeborg says the Oakland Police Department’s peaceful clearing of the Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza demonstrated no urgent need for restrictions on OPD’s crowd control response. Continue reading
Occupy Oakland made a a peaceful return to Frank Ogawa Plaza last night following a march by several hundred from the Public Library on 14th and Madison to City Hall. Despite holding a packed General Assembly in the amphitheater, dozens of Oakland Police positioned throughout the plaza and the surrounding streets deterred any attempts to set up tents or permanently retake the plaza.
Dealing with Occupy Oakland over the past month and a half has been a costly affair for OPD. Aside from the $2.4 million in police overtime and mutual aid payments, the hundreds of excessive force complaints following the use of tear gas and less-lethal projectiles against demonstrators on October 25th and a lawsuit alleging violations of crowd control policy, the protests are draining manpower from street patrols. And Oakland’s violent year shows no sign of letting up. Continue reading
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the National Lawyers’ Guild filed a federal civil rights suit against the Oakland Police Department today alleging repeated violations of OPD’s own crowd control policies and asking for an emergency temporary restraining order against Oakland Police.
District Court Judge Richard Seeborg has issued an order requiring the city of Oakland to respond to the lawsuit by 5 PM tomorrow.
The suit was filed on behalf of five plaintiffs, including Scott Campbell, a videographer who was shot with a less-lethal projectile while filming a police line during civil disturbances following the November 2nd general strike.
“I was filming police activity at Occupy Oakland because police should be accountable,” said Campbell. “Now I’m worried about my safety from police violence and about retaliation because I’ve been outspoken.”
The lawsuit, which can be viewed after the jump, alleges that OPD and agencies under their control during mutual aid callouts used indiscriminate and excessive force by targeting demonstrators with flash bang grenades, tear gas and less lethal projectiles on the nights of October 25th and November 2nd. It also charges OPD with intentionally targeting videographers like Campbell with less-lethal projectiles. Continue reading