NLGSF Demands Action From The Monitor On Police Misconduct
The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) condemns Oakland Police (OPD) and Alameda County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) violence, mass arrests and abuses against Occupy demonstrators at Saturday's demonstration. Police violently attacked activists with chemical weapons, so called Less-Lethal munitions, and physical assaults. Hundreds were arrested unlawfully, without opportunity to disperse, and then detained for many hours on the street and then in buses, in stress positions, and without bathrooms, food or water. Once in jail, protesters faced inhumanely crowded conditions, abusive treatment and were denied access to legal counsel. Many remain unaccounted for, though certainly arrested and awaiting booking two days after being detained.
"It is appalling that the OPD continues to violate the law and its own policies," said Carlos Villarreal, NLGSF Executive Director. "The police instigated the confrontation by immediately attacking the march with chemical agents, flashbang bombs, and a volley of rifle or shotgun-fired projectiles."
As of 11 a.m., Monday, January 30, the NLGSF can confirm that at least 284 people were arrested on Saturday during Occupy Oakland's Move In Day. The NLGSF received many reports of assaults on protesters, including an incident in which police knocked one person's teeth out with a baton strike to the face. Police reportedly threw others through a glass door, and down a flight of steps. A videographer was pushed to the ground and clubbed.
"OPD has shown itself incapable of handling crowd control in a legal, much less professional manner," said NLGSF Attorney Rachel Lederman. "We would urge the appointed monitor to take action immediately to rein in this abusive conduct, which is leading to ever increasing liability for the City."
Once in Alameda County custody, the arrestees have been held for a prolonged period under horrendous conditions, often remaining overnight in holding areas with no beds or blankets. Some arrestees were apparently held in a shower room. NLGSF has received many reports of injured persons being denied medical care and arrestees denied access to necessary medications. Women arrestees were forced to give urine samples in front of male officers, ostensibly for pregnancy testing.
Critically, arrestees were denied access to counsel. On Sunday night volunteer lawyers with the NLGSF were denied access to clients and told to return in the morning.
"OPD and Alameda County Sheriffs Department Officers are responsible for yesterday's violence," said NLGSF President Michael Flynn. "The NLG supports the Occupy Movement and will continue to push back against the violation of human rights by OPD and the misinformation from public officials that follows."
NLGSF is currently litigating two lawsuits against Oakland and Alameda County based on similar abuses at a 2010 police brutality demonstration and the October 25, and November 2, 2011, OPD enforcement actions against Occupy.
The NLGSF is the Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) – a bar association founded in 1937. The NLG is providing legal support to activists from coast to coast and has dispatched hundreds of legal observers to monitor law enforcement at the Occupy protests. More information is available at www.nlgsf.org.