Police breaking their own rules in declaring unlawful assembly against Occupy Oakland
Last Tuesday, the Oakland Police declared Occupy Oakland to be an unlawful assembly. After that, they moved in with tear gas, concussion grenades (aka flashbangs), and rubber bullets. There were arrests and injuries, including Marine veteran Scott Olson, who ended up in hospital with a concussion.
There’s just one problem: They violated their own rules. They should never have declared that gathering an unlawful assembly in the first place.
Thanks to Volgyi2000 on Reddit for posting the Oakland Police Department’s Crowd Control and Management Policy. The following is copied directly from Page 11 of that policy, which was drafted for them as part of a consent agreement with the Justice Department.
- The definition of an unlawful assembly has been set forth in Penal Code Section 407 and interpreted by court decisions. The terms, “boisterous” and “tumultuous,” as written in Penal Code Section 407, have been interpreted as “conduct that poses a clear and present danger of imminent violence” or when the demonstration or crowd event is for the purpose of committing a criminal act. The police may not disperse a demonstration or crowd event before demonstrators have acted illegally or before the demonstrators pose a clear and present danger of imminent violence.
- The mere failure to obtain a permit, such as a parade permit or sound permit, is not a sufficient basis to declare an unlawful assembly. There must be criminal activity or a clear and present danger of imminent violence.
- The fact that some of the demonstrators or organizing groups have engaged in violent or unlawful acts on prior occasions or demonstrations is not grounds for declaring an assembly unlawful.
- Unless emergency or dangerous circumstances prevent negotiation, crowd dispersal techniques shall not be initiated until after attempts have been made through contacts with the police liaisons and demonstration or crowd event leaders to negotiate a resolution of the situation so that the unlawful activity will cease and the First Amendment activity can continue.
- If after a crowd disperses pursuant to a declaration of unlawful assembly and subsequently participants assemble at a different geographic location where the participants are engaged in non-violent and lawful First Amendment activity, such an assembly cannot be dispersed unless it has been determined that it is an unlawful assembly and the required official declaration has been adequately given.
As Volgyi2000 notes (again at Reddit), “This policy was drafted by the National Lawyers Guild and OPD’s adherence to it was part of the resolution of a large class action lawsuit brought forth by the NLG after the OPD injured 80 people during riots that occurred in 2003.” Can we expect the Justice Department to get involved? If not, you better believe there will be a lot of civil lawsuits.
BusinessInsider.com (which has been doing some stellar coverage of the Occupy Movement) has already pointed out that the OPD was in violation on several other levels, including use of Specialty Impact Less-Lethal Munitions (SIM), which are supposed to be restricted.
Disturbing enough on its own, the Oakland PD then denied using SIM force on protesters at all and claimed that in fact, no one had been injured . Worse yet, after protesters were hit with an exploding device while attempting to come to the aid of Olsen, they had to carry him through the crowd, begging for medical aid even though dozens of Oakland Police looked on from the other side of their barrier.
Needless to say, not giving medical treatment to the injured is also a gross violation of policy.
It’s been reported that Tuesday night’s actions may have cost the city $1 million. Expect that figure to rise substantially once the lawsuits are concluded.
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More on Occupy Oakland:
- Occupiers shut down Port of Oakland, stage successful General Strike
- Busted! Occupy Oakland police infiltrators exposed on video.
- Black bloc radicals tried to derail Occupy Oakland’s General Strike
- Crowd control techniques used by Oakland cops violated army rules of engagement for war zones
- Occupy Oakland marches to police HQ to protest brutality. Police meet them with riot gear.
- Occupy Oakland: Police fracture marine veteran’s skull, then attack those who try to help him
- Keith Olbermann calls on Oakland Mayor to either fire Police Chief who ordered attack or resign
More on Occupy Wall Street:
- Will winter weather stop Occupy Wall Street?
- One small victory – Judge says Occupy Nashville can stay
- Reporter videos his own arrest at Occupy Nashville
- Cops ask Google to remove videos of police brutality from YouTube. Google declines.
- Bill Maher skewers right-wing idiots who hate Occupy Wall Street
- Calvin and Hobbes explain OWS
- Disruptive Citibank protester was undercover cop
- Why are they lying about OWS – and why are they getting away with it?
- Why we occupy: The Story of Citizens United – Why Democracy Only Works When People Are In Charge
- Find your local occupation at Occupy Together – now planned for more than 1,000 cities! | Twitter |Facebook
- Atlanta: website | Twitter | Livestream |Facebook
- Boston: website | twitter | yfrog | Livestream |Facebook
- Dallas: website | Twitter | Livestream |Facebook
- Los Angeles: Website | Twitter | Livestream |Facebook | Youtube
- New York: website | Twitter | Livestream |Facebook
- Portland: Website | Twitter |Livestream |Facebook
- San Francisco: Website | Twitter |Livestream |Facebook
- Seattle: Livestream (Video) | website | Twitter |Facebook
- formation about making donations can be found here: nycga.cc/donate
Also coming up in the next week:
- November 5: Bank transfer day. Vote with your cash! Close your account at one of the too-big-to-fail banks and move your money to a credit union or small, local bank. (Background here)
- November 6: Keystone pipeline protest . Climate activists Bill McKibben and 350.org harness the Occupy Wall Street energy to circle the White House, sending the message to President Obama that he shouldn’t approve a new pipeline to carry polluting tar sands oil through America’s heartland. (Background here, here, and here)
- November 12, the City of London holds an annual Lord Mayor’s Show, basically a celebration of the banking industry. There will be protests at that… as George Monbiot says, “Expect fireworks – and not just those laid on by the Lord Mayor.”