Tuesday, April 08, 2003
( 12:18 AM ) Jackie
Another National First in Oakland
"Oakland police fired rubber bullets to disperse about 750 anti-war demonstrators on Monday in what was believed to be the first use of such force against U.S. protesters since the war on Iraq began," says Reuters.
The television news shows police shooting at protesters who are running away from them. Photos of one injured protestor shows a welt on low let hip. In back. Other footage shows motorcycle cops running into fleeing protestors.
The San Francisco Chronicle quotes Chief Richard Word as saying that the police "had no choice but to fire on the crowd when protesters failed to leave." According to the Chronicle, "Word said police feared many more could have gathered during the day." He did not appear to have explained the need to shoot people in the back with rubber bullets and wooden dowels. Nor did he explain how the "fear" that more protesters would gather -- as indeed was planned -- could possible justify the vicious behavior of the OPD.
I'm glad to say that several of our Councilmemebers -- Jane Brunner and Nancy Nadel -- have called for an investigation of Monday's police riot and that hearings are to begin immediately.
The Mayor has, without troubling himself with anything so petty as an investigation, publicly "backed the police response. " That's what passes for leadership in our city administration! Pretty dismal stuff.
The protest was a peaceful one featuring legal picketing at three separate gates to the APL shipping lines, which have contracts to ship war goods to the U.S. military.
I picketed at two of the three gates and can speak to the peaceful nature of the event, even when one trucker drove his cab through the picket line. When that happened, we simply continued the picket line, tightening things up a little, and continuing a chant. Eventually, the police surrounded the cab and convinced the driver to move on out.
Deliveries were stopped for several hours at all gates, and there was considerable support from truckers. One even drove into the open area, parked his blue semi, and placed an anti-war sign on his truck.
Thinking of arrest possibilities, I didn't bring my camera. Good old Indy Media comes through with some excellent documentation though.
In related Oakland news, tomorrow night the City Council is scheduled to vote on the selection of a monitoring team set up as part of the settlement in the civil suits coming out of the Riders Oakland police corruption and misconduct scandal. Looks like they'll be very busy. The settlement by the way will cost our cash-strapped city about $20 million in payouts to the victims of four Oakland Police officers and in costs of the monitoring. The costs of the CRIMINAL case against these officers have not, to my knowledge, yet been determined.
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