Nadel Says Violence Diminished In The Wake Of Operation Nutcracker Raids

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday September 12, 2008 - 04:16:00 PM

Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel says that she was “very concerned” about charges made by Nation of Islam Oakland Mosque Minister Keith Muhammad about problems with this summer’s Oakland police “Operation Nutcracker” raids of the Acorn Housing Project, but says that police officials have assured her that the raids were properly conducted and have had the desired result. 

“Violence has definitely diminished” in the vicinity of the West Oakland housing project, Nadel said by telephone this week. She said that there was a brief flare-up of violence in the area following the raids which she understood was caused by “some younger folks in the area who were paranoid about anyone new coming in” who they feared might be trying to take over the drug trade in the Acorn project area.  

“There was distrust of anyone showing up who wasn’t known,” Nadel said. She added that the violence resulting from that situation has since dissipated. “It’s very encouraging,” the councilmember added. “We hope it continues.” 

Nadel represents Oakland’s third City Council district where the Acorn Housing Project is located. 

More than 400 officers from the Oakland Police Department as well as several other local, state, and national police agencies participated in the June 17 Acorn project raids, which OPD says netted 34 arrests, several firearms, and large amounts of drugs. Another 20 individuals were arrested in the days prior to the June 17 raids, which Oakland police now say has “dismantled the infrastructure” of the Acorn gang, a group OPD says was responsible for much of West Oakland’s violence. Since that time, however, Muhammad has made public charges that the June 17 raids were “a heavy-handed use of force” that terrorized innocent residents of the Acorn projects, and that most of the 54 total arrests resulted in releases without charges. 

Nadel said she contacted Area One Captain Anthony Toribio to follow up on the charges made by Muhammad in his presentation at open forum at a July 15 City Council meeting. Muhammad had said that “concussion grenades” during the raids had burned carpets and caused danger to residents. Nadel said she was told by Toribio that police used what they called “flash-bang” grenades which cause “noise and bright lights and are meant to distract” while officers enter. “Captain Toribio informed me that officers are instructed that they have to visually see where the grenades are being tossed, and they cannot be tossed in the direction of people,” Nadel said, adding that she was told by Toribio that “no one was hurt” in the Acorn raids. 

Nadel said that according to Toribio, only two of the 54 persons arrested under Operation Nutcracker have not been charged with crimes. 

The Daily Planet has not yet been able to verify Toribio’s assertion on the numbers of individuals who have actually been charged. 

Nadel said that she passed on Toribio’s information to Muhammad earlier this summer. 

The Third District Councilmember also said that in response to neighbors’ concerns growing out of the raids, the City of Oakland and representatives of her office held several meetings with residents in the Acorn area during the summer.