In the first weeks of the New Year, Oaklanders have been met with a flurry of news reports highlighting the costs and consequences of Oakland Police Department conduct and policy in the past year. With two temporary injunctions in North Oakland and Fruitvale neighborhoods limping forward and still racking up costs, Stop the Injunctions Coalition is continuing its call for the City to abandon the controversial and failed policy.
Two weeks ago OPD officer John Hargraves was suspended for one month for purposefully obscuring his badge during an Occupy Oakland protest, and his commanding officer Lt. Clifford Wong was demoted for participating in Hargraves’ violation. The incident was caught on video and joined dozens of other videos depicting police violence in Oakland, especially around the internationally notorious OPD raid of the Occupy Oakland encampment on October 25th. Police actions that day alone have cost an estimated $3million and have been the subject of at least 200 citizen complaints.
The policing of Occupy Oakland has rightfully received international attention and condemnation, but if we want to fully understand how the OPD has comported itself in our city in the past year, we have to look at the Occupy scandals next to:
Indeed, until Occupy Oakland took center stage regarding police scandal, gang injunctions were a heated and controversial issues for most of 2011. Legal costs of the injunctions have ticked over one million dollars in payment through the Oakland City Attorney’s office and to outside private counsel Meyers Nave. While the OPD has not made public how many paid hours have been spent gathering initial data for the injunctions, testifying in court or meeting with attorneys to give statements, in November they reported that $133,089 have been spent to enforce the injunction and surveil those enjoined in North Oakland. The November 8 report also reveals that there has been a 43% increase in Part One crimes in North Oakland with the injunction in place, contradicting the same reports claims that the injunction “improve[s] public safety, thereby providing a safer environment for residents.”
One thing is certain: Oakland can take a basic step forward regarding policing. The City has the opportunity to reprioritize how it thinks about public safety, to address budget shortfall, and to curb destructive police policy. We can begin by deauthorizing Gang Injunctions as a failed, costly, and divisive policy.