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article imageOakland report: 'Overwhelming military-type response' criticized

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By Anne Sewell     May 3, 2012 in World
Oakland - A federal judge has issued an ultimatum to the city of Oakland, CA. Find a way to handle all the complaints against the police or start being sanctioned.
Many accusations of unnecessary brutal force have been filed against the police in Oakland, California, particularly in regard to the Occupy movement.
Now District Judge Thelton Henderson is demanding that police officials in the city must determine this week how to deal with the flood of accusations being filed with Oakland authorities. The judge specifically refers to the flood of complaints on how law enforcement handle themselves during raids on the local Occupy Wall Street protests.
This week's decision states that the Oakland Police Department must submit a proposal stating how they can handle all the accusations against them, or else be sanctioned by federal authorities.
Referring to the police department's documented mishandling of OWS protesters, Judge Henderson states that police have time and time again resorted to "an overwhelming military-type response" in handling crowd control in recent months.
This has become commonplace since the Occupy movement began last year.
In October last year Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull after being hit by a "non-lethal" projectile fired into the crowd by Oakland police. This incident sparked outrage across the country among both protesters and non-demonstrators alike. Additionally other vets said that they felt degraded by the same country they took an oath to protect.
Marine Jay C. Gentile explained after hearing of Olsen's injuries: “I knew that I wasn’t the only person that felt that way. There are just honestly no words to express the bond that Marines feel for each other. This goes across the service, but it’s very specific for the Marines.”
The report issued by Judge Henderson marks the first time that an official has deemed Olsen's injury to be caused directly from a law enforcement weapon.
Mere weeks after the Olsen incident, a fellow U.S. vet, 32-year-old Kayvan Sabehgi had to be admitted into intensive care for a lacerated spleen injury which occurred at the hands of the Oakland Police Department.
He told the Guardian a day after his arrest, "Then they lined up in front of me. I was talking to one of them, saying 'Why are you doing this?' when one moved forward and hit me in my arm and legs and back with his baton. Then three or four cops tackled me and arrested me.”
However, Oakland experienced violent encounters involving the police force before the Occupy Movement took hold. An incident occurred in 2009 in which an unarmed subway patron was executed, causing huge protests waged against both the police department and also Oakland's elected officials dealing with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.
The following video shows the BART police officer tackling and then shooting unarmed Oscar Grant:
Three years after Grant was shot and killed in cold blood, Judge Henderson states that the city has to take serious steps to avoid federal intervention:
"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.”
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More about Oakland, occupy, Police, Police brutality, California
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