Three developments in these last few days have given pause to those who believe the Oakland Police will remain, as they have for so many decades, untouchable.
The Oakland Police Department has a sordid history going back at least to the 1960′s when unremitting police brutality spurred on the formation of the Black Panther Party, one of whose principal goals was the protection of African-American neighborhoods from the police.
For decades officers have ruled the streets of Oakland much as an occupying army (1), willfully ignorant of the Bill of Rights, impervious to the political attacks on their power that wax and wane as City administrations come and go, and able to shrug off multiple assaults by civil rights attorneys — which end up costing the taxpayers, but not Oakland’s Police Department, millions of dollars a year in civil rights settlements.
Even when forced to sign onto agreements (‘negotiated settlements’) in 2003 and then 2005 which promised drastic reforms in their policies and procedures, they have been able to effectively ignore those court-approved and monitored settlements through into the current decade. The latest but certainly not the only manifestation of this was their handling of Occupy Oakland, in direct violation of both settlement agreements.
What has suddenly happened?
Photo is of Federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who is presiding over the case that might finally take OPD down.