A Brief Overview of OPD’s Recent History
1996 – 2000: The Rough Riders, a gang of police officers embedded within OPD, routinely beat down and plant drugs on Oakland residents as well as falsify incident reports with impunity.
2002 – 2003: Three of the Riders are acquitted of eight felonies and the remaining 25 felonies are declared mistrials. The fourth alleged leader of the Riders flees the country. The city of Oakland pays out $11 million dollars in a negotiated settlement to 119 victims. A federal judge mandates a long list of reforms within OPD to clean up the legacy of the Riders and other kinds of corruption within the force.
April 7, 2003: After protestors ignore a dispersal order at an anti-war demonstration at the Port of Oakland, OPD open fire with various projectiles, flashbang grenades and tear gas at point blank range, injuring both longshore workers and protesters. A lawsuit is won against OPD, requiring them to pay over $2 million and follow new crowd control procedures that they violate to this day.
June 17, 2008: Operation Nutcracker: 400 officers including the OPD, FBI, DEA and 14 other law enforcement agencies conduct a military style door-to-door sweep of the Acorn Housing project in West Oakland, as well as other houses throughout the East Bay, in a drug sting aimed at the Acorn street gang. Community outrage follows with witness reports of indiscriminate brutality and racism in the homes of the alleged. Meanwhile Attorney General Jerry Brown tries to justify the raids by calling gang members “urban terrorists.”
October 1, 2008: Twelve more Oakland Police officers connected with the Riders are charged with falsifying evidence. Case is ongoing.
January 27, 2009: Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker resigns in the wake of the January Oscar Grant riots under pressure from City Council.
March 21, 2009: After a routine stop, two OPD officers are shot to death by 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon. Mixon flees to his sisters house nearby from where he defends himself from the SWAT team, killing two more officers and shooting a third before he is killed. OPD’s response to the killing of police officers is much heavier than that of any other gun violence which plagues the town on a regular basis. Reports surface that the SWAT team commander did not follow protocol and that the death of the two SWAT officers could have been avoided if the force wasn’t acting vengefully and impulsively.
March 27, 2009: A $10 million funeral is held for the “fallen heroes” in the Oracle sports arena. The media hypes the attendance of over 20,000 people, the vast majority of which are police from as far away as Canada, not actual people. Anthony Batts, the chief of police in Long Beach who has just been caught abusing his wife attends the funeral and is so moved, he agrees to be the next Oakland chief of police.
June 2, 2010: The North Oakland Gang Injunction is sanctioned, naming 15 young Black men, defining a 100 block safety zone criminalizing such activities as appearing in public (with the exception of attending school, work, or church), wearing colors that police associate with the target street gang, and being outside between the hours of 10pm-5am. These injunctions give impunity to cops that practice racial profiling by sanctioning the practice of random search and seizures by OPD officers. A second injunction against young Latino men in the Fruitvale district is implemented before a strong grassroots opposition to the special policing powers brings the city’s plans for expanding the program to a standstill.
August 4, 2011: The white chief of Oakland Schools Police abruptly resigns after being outed for using racial slurs. His temporary replacement is the officer who shot dead Raheim Brown Jr, an unarmed student just 7 months prior. He is removed from the posting after community members decry his promotion.
October 11, 2011: In anticipation of an upcoming Federal review of mandated department reforms stemming from the Riders case, Police Chief Batts resigns a day after the Occupy Oakland encampment begins.
Fall 2011: In their campaign of repression against Occupy Oakland, police arrest hundreds and unleash a wave of brutality against demonstrators nearly killing two veterans including the highly publicized incident with Scott Olson.
January 2012: A federal judge begins the process of moving OPD into federal receivership in response to the inability of the department to implement the reforms mandated a decade earlier in response to the Riders case. The total legal costs for police misconduct in 2011 alone is $13.1 million.