The Oakland Police Officer’s Association announced “we are confused” in an open letter to the city’s residents Tuesday. The letter blames Mayor Jean Quan for ordering the clearing of the Occupy Oakland encampment that resulted in a young Iraq War veteran’s brain injury and national attention.
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.
On Thursday, Quan released a statement taking responsibility for the violent confrontation, saying “I am deeply saddened about the outcome on Tuesday. It was not what anyone hoped for, ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened.”
As Reuters recalls, Oakland police officers have not always had the best relationship with the community. A 2003 anti-war protest turned violent when police opened fire with “crowd-control” ammunition such as wooden dowels, resulting in numerous injuries and $2 million in lawsuit settlements. In 2009, a BART police officer shot a young man in the back while he was in custody.
In their letter to the residents of the city they are tasked to protect, the police officers say “We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families.” With protesters calling for a general strike in Oakland on Wednesday, during which time they hope to shut down the city’s port, all eyes will be watching Oakland’s finest.
—Peter Z. Scheer
AP / Noah Berger
Greg Reft holds a photo of Scott Olsen during a candlelight vigil Thursday in Oakland, Calif. During an Occupy Oakland protest Oct. 25, a projectile apparently fired by police struck Olsen, an Iraq War veteran, leaving him initially in critical condition with a skull fracture.