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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Oakland PD Is "Confused"

Nov 2nd, 2011

Oakland PD Chief Anthony Batts via
The Oakland Police Officer's Association has released what they are calling an "Open Letter" to that city's citizens.

It is actually a very remarkable read. Although it sidesteps issues of police responsibility for the more extreme acts of violence last week, it does raise some very legitimate questions about Mayor Jean Quan:

"We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.

As your police officers, we are confused."

I am not sure of any other police organization in this country which has, at this time, publicly declared itself to be part of "the 99%."

This is a radical development.

"On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.

Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.

To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.

That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?

It is all very confusing to us.

Meanwhile, a message has been sent to all police officers: Everyone, including those who have the day off, must show up for work on Wednesday. This is also being paid for by Oakland taxpayers. Last week’s events alone cost Oakland taxpayers over $1 million.

The Mayor and her Administration are beefing up police presence for Wednesday’s work strike they are encouraging and even “staffing,” spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for additional police presence – at a time when the Mayor is also asking Oakland residents to vote on an $80 parcel tax to bail out the City’s failing finances.

All of these mixed messages are confusing.

We love Oakland and just want to do our jobs to protect Oakland residents. We respectfully ask the citizens of Oakland to join us in demanding that our City officials, including Mayor Quan, make sound decisions and take responsibility for these decisions. Oakland is struggling – we need real leaders NOW who will step up and lead – not send mixed messages. Thank you for listening."

You have to admit, they have a point. Regardless of the severe violence by some officers and the now infamous injury of two tour Iraq veteran Scott Olsen, this police force was ordered to respond militarily by Mayor Quan. In desperation, she now seeks to distance herself from her own role in the horrific events which followed.

What's more, Mayor Quan has now pitted the police force against the rest of the city's servants. Her order regarding today's general strike essentially forbids them from showing solidarity with the Occupy Movement. More to the point, this serves to prohibit their rank and file from any public acts of contrition.

I hope we witness a substantial outbreak of Blue Flu in Oakland today. Mayor Quan has certainly created the right conditions.

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