A federal judge has ordered Oakland’s police department to submit a plan to address numerous unresolved complaints regarding their handling of the Occupy Oakland protests, warning that failure to comply within a week could lead to sanctions.
District Judge Thelton Henderson’s mandate was issued a day after the release of a report by an outside monitor that concluded Oakland police used “an overwhelming military-type response” to Occupy’s demonstrations — the first official report to confirm Occupy Oakland’s struggles against police brutality.
The Oakland police department has received more than 1,000 misconduct complaints since the Occupy protests began, most have which have become backlogged. The department has been under court-ordered external monitoring and review since 2003, after four officers were accused of planting evidence, fabricating police reports and using excessive force. Henderson’s mandate sets strict deadlines for the department to clean up its act while continuing to comply with the reforms that stemmed from the 2003 case.
Said Henderson, "It would be problematic enough if, as seems inevitable, [Oakland police's] compliance levels were to backslide as a result of their failure to address the Occupy Oakland complaints in a timely fashion. Such failures would be further indication that, despite the changed leadership at the City of Oakland and its police department, [Oakland police] might still lack the will, capacity, or both to complete the reforms to which they so long ago agreed. The court will consider appropriate sanctions, including the imposition of daily or weekly monetary sanctions, until compliance is achieved."
The Oakland police force’s clashes with Occupy demonstrators have been well-documented. On October 25, police attempted to subdue protesters with heavy-handed tactics such as rubber bullets, flash grenades and smoke bombs — and ended up injuring Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen in the process. The Oakland police department later rejected an ACLU public records request to investigate the October events, and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s legal adviser resigned in outrage over the city’s treatment of the Occupy protesters.
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