Public Comment

Press Release: NLG Condemns Excessive Force Used by Oakland Police Against Occupy Demonstrators

From Rachel Lederman, Bobbie Stein, Michael Flynn
Wednesday October 26, 2011 - 12:14:00 PM

The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) condemns Oakland Police excessive force against Occupy demonstrators and violations of OPD Crowd Control Policy. 

The Oakland Police Department’s violent response to last night’s peaceful march was unjustified and their actions violated OPD’s own Crowd Management / Crowd Control Policy. That Policy, developed in collaboration with NLG and ACLU attorneys, was adopted by the City of Oakland as part of a federal court settlement, arising from the OPD’s 2003 violent clashes with longshoremen and anti-war demonstrators at the Port of Oakland. 

“The police violated just about every provision of their own Crowd Control Policy last night,” said Bobbie Stein, a NLGSF attorney. “Tear gas canisters and flash bang grenades were thrown directly at protesters. A man’s skull was fractured when he was hit by one of these objects. Demonstrators were shot with rubber bullets and shot-filled ‘bean bags’. All of this is prohibited under the Policy that we helped write and under which all OPD officers and commanders are required to be trained." 

The violent police action began at 4:30am yesterday when hundreds of officers moved in on sleeping demonstrators. They tore down the Occupy Oakland encampment and made 115 arrests. 

“The NLG is committed to defending the demonstrators until all are released from custody and cleared of all charges,” said NLGSF Executive Director Carlos Villarreal. 

"The City of Oakland is currently defending a federal civil rights suit filed by Guild attorneys due to their civil rights violations against Oscar Grant demonstrators last year. That litigation asks the court to enforce the Crowd Control Policy, which prohibits OPD from making unlawful mass arrests, from unwarranted use of chemical agents, and from shooting munitions into a crowd, all of which they did yesterday,” explained Rachel Lederman, another Guild attorney. “We are prepared to file additional lawsuits to force OPD to follow the Policy and to respect the people of Oakland’s right to dissent.” 

Occupy encampments are going on all across the country. In Los Angeles for example, demonstrators have had tents set up in front of City Hall for weeks, free of police interference. 

The NLGSF calls on Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland city government to end the police violence against protestors and to uphold free speech in Oakland. 

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. More information on the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter can be found at 558 Capp Street | San Francisco, CA 94110 US