Police budget jeopardizes West Oakland Youth Center

from our coalition allies, Critical Resistance- Oakland:

In the news…
In Friday’s headlines, Oakland residents witnessed one more time how the City of Oakland’s twisted priorities could put its youth in jeopardy.  News broke that the West Oakland Youth Center—a project five years in the making and developed by youth and grassroots organizers—may not open due to lack of funding to operate the center and staff its programs.  The Mayor’s budget proposal assumes that Oakland cannot absorb these operating costs, amounting to roughly $340,000, while the city has had no problem throwing good money after bad in support of policing consultants and policies that continue to fail Oakland.  According to Councilperson Desley Brooks, “We’re talking about $340,000 for both programs combined out of a $1 billion budget. You can’t tell me that we can’t find $340,000 for our kids.”

Even as investments in policing continue to increase (totaling more than half of general fund expenditures), Oakland can’t seem to find less than one third of one percent of its budget to invest in safe spaces and quality programming for its youth.  According the KPIX news reporting on the issue, the Mayor’s budget “sacrifices costs for both youth programs [slated for the West Oakland Youth Center] in favor of putting more cops on the streets.”  These trade-offs should not surprise us.

In January, for instance, no belt tightening or shortfalls were predicted when the City Council agreed to extend Strategic Policy Partnership’s contract with the OPD to the tune of $250,000.  The City pursued the contract despite overwhelming opposition to the inclusion of William Bratton in the contract and insufficient support to suggest that any additional consultants to the OPD were even necessary, especially given the fact that Oakland is already paying the Frazier Group and independent monitors to stem the devastating harm that OPD cops continue to do to Oakland communities (Frazier was also just named OPD compliance director with a salary of $270,000).

To add insult to injury, after repeated assurances that Bratton would only play a minor role in the consultancy and minimal public presence, the Council and OPD have begun to refer to the contract as “The Bratton Contract,” and “the Bratton Group” indicating their complete lack of commitment to their word or respect for their own constituents.

So where do we go from here?
Policing fails Oakland.  Oakland continues to pay the social and economic costs of the legacy of the Riders, and feel the antagonism generated between community members and cops through policing projects such as gang injunctions, sweeps, raids, and stop and search. The impacts of investing in quick fix policing approaches rather than in the kinds of programs and services that have been proven to stabilize communities in the long term, such as community centers, illustrates a stubborn, blind dedication to misguided solutions.

Councilperson Libby Schaaf, for instance, continues to cling desperately to outmoded, police-heavy approaches despite clear, consistent messages from a wide range of Oakland residents about what they want instead.  In an email blast to her district residents on May 31, Schaaf herself reminds Oakland that when it comes to policing in our city “there are a plethora of dusty plans sitting on shelves” but then goes on to implore us to “stick to the plan”.

Although it’s been said over and over, it obviously bears repeating—Oakland cannot police its way out of poverty. No revolving cast of police chiefs, or board rooms full of consultants, or shelves full of policing plans will prevent policing from failing Oakland.  It’s high time that Oakland invests in its future by investing in its youth, its families, and its neighborhoods rather than continuing to invest in policies and practices that destabilize and separate our city.  As West Oakland Councilperson Lynette McElhaney stated, “Make no mistake about it we are going to spend money on these kids. We will either spend it in a proactive way, through youth centers and positive programming, or we will spend the money on arresting them, incarcerating them, putting them in juvenile hall or God forbid to treat them in emergency rooms because they’ve fallen victim to violence.”

Building community…from the ground up
Yet while the City makes desperate moves that destabilize and separate our city, every day we see the hard and true work of community members using all the resources they have available to build a better, healthier city.  The West Oakland Youth Center is not yet a dream deferred, it is a possibility.  All of us continue to build.  We’re coming off the heels of an amazing Malcolm X Jazz Festival, in its 13th year of bringing thousands of Oakland residents together in celebration, art, politics and education.  Next weekend, on June 8, the Stop the Injunctions Coalition will be having a Saturday workday in the thriving Community Garden at 28th and Foothill.  We look forward to planting possibilities together in what seems like an impossible time, continuing to grow into our vision of what Oakland can be.

Supercop’s Powers Weakened: Media coverage reflects the changing conversation about Bratton coming to town

Our large anti-Bratton mobilizations to City Hall have dramatically shifted the conversation around the Bratton and Wasserman contract in Oakland. The broad slew of media coverage below show a changing conversation where politicians have distanced themselves from Bratton’s notorious zero-tolerance policing policies and are now even going to lengths to hide him from the public.  While the contract was approved by the City Council, we succeeded in shifting the terms of the debate.  Bratton will be coming in much more feeble and under the watch of a strong popular front that stands united against his suppression policing tactics:

“But that plan changed after it became clear that Bratton’s support for aggressive police tactics made him a lightning rod for protesters who filled the council’s chamber two weeks in a row. Instead, Bratton’s consulting duties in Oakland will be limited to behind-the-scenes work surveying crime reduction efforts, setting forth a crime reduction strategy and interviewing city leaders.”

http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_22436811/bratton-will-come-oakland-but-low-profile

Media Round Up City Council Vote on Bratton 1.22.12

http://oaklandlocal.com/article/oakland-city-council-approves-bratton-7-1-sheriff-deputies-civilian-opd-positions-well

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_22428183/big-crowds-expected-oaklands-vote-william-bratton

http://sfbayview.com/2013/was-oakland-police-consultant-william-bratton-involved-in-the-failed-venezuela-coup-and-if-he-was-should-oaklanders-be-concerned/

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Meeting-on-Oakland-police-packed-civil-4215491.php

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/01/oakland-approves-crime-fighting-steps-after-stormy-meeting.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323854904578260293973711874.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

http://www.ktvu.com/videos/news/oakland-heated-debate-over-proposed-crime-fighting/vn3tx/

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Oakland-Approves-Bratton-After-9-Hour-Meeting-188047201.html

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/east_bay&id=8964721

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/east_bay&id=8964535

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/01/23/oakland-hires-william-bratton-as-police-consultant/

http://univision14.univision.com/videos/video/2013-01-15/declaran-guerra-violencia-oakland-medidas-estrategia-consultor?ftloc=prd%3Adigitalsmith%3Aupnext

http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2013/01/23/oakland-city-council-votes-to-hire-william-bratton-as-police-consultant/

http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201301230900

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/video/#!/news/local/Oakland-Hiring-Bill-Bratton-Puts-Police–Mayor-on-Defense/188138341

http://www.kron4.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=5427

http://www.new.kron4.com/#!news/c66t

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/01/23/oakland-hires-william-bratton-as-police-consultant/

http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/crime-law/oakland-crime-plan/nT4pR/

http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_22436811/bratton-will-come-oakland-but-low-profile

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_22435488/top-10-takeaways-oaklands-bratton-contract-oakmtg

http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/88291

TONIGHT! MOBILIZE: The People vs. Bratton, Round Two

beware_bratton.mast

Last week Oakland residents filled City Hall, and nearly 100 public speakers debunked the myth that the notorious William Bratton would be welcome in Oakland. Public Safety Committee members went so far as to ask if Bratton was too “toxic” for Oakland.

MOBILIZE TONIGHT!
WE NEED YOU, YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, CO-WORKERS, and NEIGHBORS TO HELP KEEP BRATTON and HIS ZERO TOLERANCE POLICING OUT OF OUR CITY!
TONIGHT! TUESDAY JANUARY 22, 5:30 pm
Oakland City Hall
Sign up here and fill out a speaker card if you want to voice your opinion at the meeting (agenda item 23).  We’ll provide talking points to support you, if you need.
(it might be a long meeting, so come through when you can!)

WE DEMAND: Remove William Bratton from the Wasserman contract or reject the contract altogether.  Bratton is too toxic for Oakland!

WHY SHOULD WE REJECT BRATTON?
William Bratton is notorious for his implementation of suppression-style policing—stop and frisk, curfews, gang injunctions, aggressive ticketing and harassment— in cities across the country and the world.  Targeting people of color, poor people, and young people, his policing methods have led to the displacement and imprisonment of thousands of people, and have left a wake on instability in countless neighborhoods. Bratton is NO GOOD for Oakland.

The City wants to waste $250,000 of its scarce resources on Bratton’s consulting even though the City Administrator’s report states, “The Chief of Police has firmly and unequivocally stated that racial profiling is wholly unacceptable and clearly prohibited by Department training, policies, and law. The Department is committed to police practices that build community relationships and trust.” If the City has a commitment to rejecting these policies, why bring in the guy responsible for popularizing them as an advisor?

Including Bratton in this contract defies common sense.  He is slated to work on 3 of 19 activities outlined in the contract, one of which is consulting on a crime reduction strategy.  If Chief Jordan and the Council say that they reject racial profiling, stop and frisk and similar zero-tolerance policing practices, why would they spend 60% of the contract’s resources on a subcontractor doing 15% of the work to advise them to use policies they have already rejected? It makes no sense.

Last week Oaklanders spoke clearly and tonight we will again.  William Bratton and his zero tolerance approaches have no place in our city.  Join us tonight to stand in solidarity against zero tolerance policing and send a clear message to the City Council that Oakland rejects William Bratton.

All out to full City Council! TUESDAY JAN 22, NO TO THE SUPERCOP!‏

MOBILIZE TO CITY HALL TUESDAY!  URGE THE FULL COUNCIL TO REJECT SUPERCOP WILLIAM BRATTON!

Last week we succeeded in debunking the myth that Bratton could work in Oakland. 

JOIN US TO KEEP HIM OUT OF OUR CITY!

TUESDAY JANUARY 22, 5:30 pm (roll through anytime you can!  7pm is not too late to arrive.)

Oakland City Hall

OUR DEMANDS: Remove Supercop William Bratton from the Wasserman contract or reject the contract altogether.  Bratton is too toxic for Oakland!

Sign up here and fill out a speaker card if you want to voice your opinion at the meeting.  We will provide talking points to support you.

In the wake of Tuesday night’s  Oakland City Council Pubic Safety Committee meeting, during which nearly a hundred residents spoke against the a proposed contract with controversial police consultant William Bratton, STIC and other community organizations continue to debunk the myth surrounding the so-called supercop. With members of the Council wondering if his reputation is too toxic for Oakland, scrutiny has focused on Bratton’s zero tolerance police policies—including gang injunctions, stop and frisk, curfews, and quality of life ordinances—causing Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordon to publicly distance himself from those measures. Speaking earlier this week on consulting the OPD, Bratton himself defended stop and frisk saying, “I’m sorry, but any police department in America that tries to function without some form of ‘stop-and-frisk,’ or whatever terminology they use, is doomed to failure. It’s that simple.”  

Resolute in their opposition to Bratton consulting with the OPD, community organizations and concerned residents vow to return to City Hall for the full City Council meeting on Tuesday, when the controversial contract will be back for a vote.

The fierce opposition to Bratton expressed at the Public Safety Committee suggests that Bratton is a greater liability than an asset, as he may be unable to garner enough community support to fulfill the work indicated in the Wasserman contract.  If Jordon says hey won’t pursue zero tolerance policing, then he shouldn’t pursue Bratton.  The two come hand in hand.

While Robert Wasserman of Strategic Policy Partnership insists that Bratton’s strengths lie in his ability to work well with communities, Bratton’s track record tells another story.  Through his implementation of the Secure Communities Initiative in Los Angeles, rather than securing community buy-in, Bratton unleashed the full force of zero-tolerance policing, displacing residents, driving up complaints of harassment and brutality, and alienating residents from the police force.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Bratton stated, “Is there some displacement? But what’s wrong with that in some respects? …If there is displacement, all well and good.” (Sounds like former City Attorney John Russo, the original stalwart for Oakland’s gang injunctions, right?!)  Additionally, reports indicate that while aggressive policing and substantial resources for policing strategies were applied to the community under the Safer Cities Initiative, the social services promised through the Initiative never really came.  Similar tensions were generated among immigrant communities when the LAPD brutalized protestors during a May First protest in MacArthur Park in 2007.
Furthermore, if Jordon want to put his money where his mouth is on zero-tolerance, then he needs to recommend to the Council and the City Attorney that Oakland abandon its two temporary gang injunctions, reject the advice of zero tolerance proponents, and invest in community-based solutions.

Bratton Too Toxic for Oakland: Amidst Community Outcry, Council Divided on Police Consultant Contract

At a fiery Public Safety Committee meeting, Stop the Injunctions Coalition mobilized last night with 200 other Oakland residents, strongly voicing opposition to a proposed $250,000 contract with controversial police consultant William Bratton. Bratton’s name has become synonymous with contentious zero tolerance police policies such as gang injunctions, stop and frisk, curfews, and quality of life policing; all policies that our communities have rejected time and time again. 

From 6pm to 9:30pm, Oaklanders spoke out loud and clear: a contract with William Bratton would be unacceptable, given his violent legacy.   Speakers noted that Bratton’s seeminglyimpressive statistics have begun to wither under scrutiny, with reports of manipulation of data and last week’s Supreme Court decision finding the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk a violation of residents’ civil rights. 

Newly-elected councilperson Lynette Gibson McElhaney (District 3) wondered if Bratton’s reputation was, “so toxic that he can’t be effective here.”  McElhaney continued, “He may be the best, but is he bringing so much baggage to your team, Mr. Wasserman, that he cannot hold town hall meetings?”

With Council members Kalb and McElhaney refusing to endorse a “short-term crime fighting strategy” contract that included Bratton, Councilmember Schaaf amended the proposal to include a recommendation that an alternative contractor be explored.  The item will now move to a full council meeting.  The dubious outcomes of Bratton-style policy and Bratton’s very reputation will be in question when the issue reaches the full Council for a vote next week.   Though the Council may decide to implement a version of the contract, last night’s strong showing demonstrated that Bratton is more of a liability than an asset in dealing with an engaged community that is fed up with policing scandals.

The public spoke loudly and clearly: Oakland residents don’t want Bratton in our city. For those of us working day in and day out to make our city a safer and stronger place, we understand that every dollar wasted on failed, quick-fix schemes is a dollar taken away from supporting effective, sustainable, and community-based solutions.

Read more:

Beware of Bratton, fact sheet from Critical Resistance (also included in email as attachment. Download! distribute! post!)

Oakland is wasting money on BrattonSFGate

 

Oakland Council: Dissent Not Welcome, Press Release

For Immediate Release—May 16, 2012
Oakland Council Sends a Message to City Volunteers: Dissent Not Welcome 

In a meeting going to nearly midnight last night, the Oakland City Council voted to not reappoint Michael Siegel to his volunteer position on the city’s Civil Service Board.  Siegel, an outspoken supporter of the Occupy movement and one of a handful of lawyers who worked to defend Oakland residents against controversial gang injunctions in East Oakland, had served on the board since 2009.  Established in part to combat cronyism, nepotism, and corruption in City employment, the Civil Service Board was ineffective for decades, with insufficient participation to even conduct meetings at some points.  Siegel, appointed by former mayor, Ron Dellums, has been part of a new group of board members that provided a consistent presence, heard worker appeals, reviewed City policies, and provided oversight. The staff of the Board unanimously supported all the members up for reappointment last night.

Community members that spoke on behalf of Siegel’s reappointment at last night’s meeting consistently questioned whether resistance to his reappointment was retaliation for his political views and activism. Councilmember Libby Schaaf spearheaded the opposition to Siegel’s reappointment, although refused to state any reasons for her opposition.  Councilmember Pat Kernighan joined Schaaf in blocking the reappointment but offered only vague reasoning for doing so, citing “one incident” that caused her to question Siegel’s judgment, without elaborating.  Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Jane Brunner strongly condemned Schaaf and Kernighan and joined members of the public in questioning their motivations. 

“I can’t help but feel that this vote was ‘pay-back’ for all the great work of the Stop the Injunctions Coalition over the last two years.  We, as a coalition, won various battles with the Council — putting pressure on the policy in general, preventing new injunctions, raising awareness about the waste of public funds and the ongoing, intractable problem of police abuse — I guess some of these folks felt the need to make an example of me,” said Siegel of the Council’s decision.  “Never mind the work of the CSB or the need for volunteer Board members to hear worker appeals.  Schaaf,et al. were out for some sort of vengeance, perhaps wanting to teach a lesson to other folks who might challenge the status quo.”

“Oakland is sending louder and louder messages to its residents that political dissent is not welcome in our city,” noted Rachel Herzing of Stop the Injunctions Coalition. “Flying directly in the face of the struggles for free speech and self-determination that have made Oakland what it is today, a chill is being placed on activists and advocates through injunctions, stay away orders, increased police presence and violence during demonstrations, and creation of barriers to civic participation. While each incident taken separately may be easily explained away, taken together, a true pattern of silencing dissent is emerging.”

### 

Isaac Ontiveros
Communications Director

Critical Resistance
Office: 510.444.0484
Cell:  510.517.6612

 

City cuts social services and community jobs, while policing funds remained untouched and police actions unaccountable

How are recent Oakland financial news and city spending trade-offs connected to policing and injunctions?  When the City talks about solutions, it repeatedly puts the money behind policing, gang injunctions and other ineffective policies, while only paying lip service to real social spending and community-based services.

This month our City is making some major financial decisions that hard-hit Oakland residents, employees and communities.  Last week the mayor’s office announced that anywhere from 160 to 400 workers would be laid-off January 31st and that more than 2,500 have received pink slips. The extraordinary financial burden that OPD demands from the city, however, remained untouched: the City is still funding gang injunctions in North and East Oakland and is launching the 100-block public safety plan, ostensibly designed to target areas in the city with the highest rates of violent crime.

According to Police Chief Howard Jordan, the 100-block plan does not rely soley on increased patrols or added officers, but also shifts some of the burden to other city agencies.   The City says it also prioritizes the blocks for street repair projects, nuisance abatements and social programs. However, the city hasn’t named what those social programs are or how they are being received by the communities living in the 100-block area.  It appears that the City is only willing to put money behind policing when it talks about “solutions.”

Oaklandofficials have said that the 100-block plan, which was introduced on October 15, combines police suppression and increased collaboration with other law enforcement agencies such as the Alameda County Sheriff’s office.  STIC is deeply troubled by this: suppression tactics, which include gang injunctions and curfews, are part of a long history of racialized and violent policing that have claimed the lives of poor people and people of color living inOakland.  Further, suppression policing tactics have proved incredibly expensive for the city financially; Oakland has spent well over one million dollars (as of last October) litigating the temporary North Oakland and Fruitvale gang injunctions and, over the last ten years, has paid out more than $57 million dollars for claims, settlements and lawsuits related to Oakland Police Department actions and abuse.  Most recently in October 2011, Oakland made a $1.7million settlement payment to the family of Jerry Amaro after he was fatally beaten by the OPD.

Stop the Injunctions Coalition continues to voice loud and clear that the City must prioritize resources for things that actually bring safety to our communities, like jobs and community services, not policing.

These cuts are another example of politicians saying that the City will address public safety with a more diversified approach than policing, yet cutting funding to the diverse structure that it takes to create a healthy city. Parks and Recreation and Public Works amongst other Community and Economic Development departments will be the most heavily effected by the loss of Redevelopment money.  The Mayor and the City Council are ignoring the obvious connections between increased social services, including better access to job training and employment for those who are on probation and parole, and public safety.  Everytime there’s another shooting, members of the Council invariably bring up more parole beats, injunctions and curfews when its clear that this is notOaklandresidents want nor what will help stem the violence in our communities.

The Council and the Mayor have been repeatedly called upon by the Stop the Injunctions Coalition and other community-based organizations to take a pro-active step to a healthier city budget by de-funding gang injunctions inOaklandand to shift those resources instead to both social services and violence prevention programs. Despite the lack of political will to push injunctions forward on the part of the City Council, the City Attorney’s Office continues to use city money in the ongoing litigation of the Fruitvale injunction, which could stretch on for months.  The movement continues to build however, as we talk with each other about what real solutions look like, enact them everyday and become more connected to continue the struggle.

Visit us at the North Oakland Phat Beets market on Saturdays to talk about building the movement, connecting with ally organizations and neighbors who want to push the City to end the ineffective and costly injunctions once and for all.

STIC at Phat Beets

Sat Jan 28 11am-2pm

Sat Feb 11 12pm-2pm

Sat Feb 25 10-2pm.