Despite what Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss has said publicly, on the morning of the raid of Occupy Oakland, Berkeley police were equipped with less-lethal munitions and did assist in suppressing free speech in Oakland. They were not simply doing “traffic control.”
At approximately 5am, at least one BPD officer was videotaped by Copwatchers while holding a munitions device on Broadway near 16th Street. Although he was carrying a crowd control device, the actual encampment of about 200 people was 2-3 blocks away and Broadway itself was almost deserted. This officer was also without benefit of a visible badge number or name plate on his uniform. After being asked to identify himself, the officer said his number was 25 and he told the observers to move further down the street.
Broadway and 16th was not a crime scene. Even still, this officer, BPD Officer Link and finally BPD Sgt. Reece demanded that the two copwatchers leave the area. Although the copwatchers stepped back several times, Sgt. Reece forcibly pushed the videographer down the street for at least an entire city block over her objections. Witnesses to police activity were forcibly prevented from observing on October 25, 2011.
Copwatch wants to know what BPD Chief Meehan intends to do about officers who:
1) Cover badges and have no # on helmut (in violation of PC section 830.10)
2) Use crowd control devices for patrol purposes
3) Violate the department’s policy on the rights of civilians to observe police activity
In addition, we protest the use of our scarce city resources for political purposes by outside agencies. We recommend the establishment of more precise criteria for the granting of mutual aid that requires:
a) That our police will only respond where a credible/demonstrable threat to the health or safety of the people of that area exists and the resources of the host city are inadequate to manage it. Mutual aid in times of natural or other types of disasters would qualify for such assistance.
b) That Berkeley officers must abide by the policies of our department and be accountable to the policies of BPD OVER those policies of the host city. Whatever is not permitted by Berkeley policies will not be required or permitted by our officers in a host city.
The City of Berkeley has the opportunity to send an important message to Oakland Police and any other departments that seek to mass overwhelming force to intimidate protestors. We can include these provisions in our mutual aid agreements and refuse to participate in mass violations of first amendment activity.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact Berkeley Copwatch @ 510-548-0425 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Video evidence of BPD at Occupy Oakland is available on youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIk-PIU4CHM
Disclaimer: Although this video does not represent the de-escalation techniques that generally characterize experienced copwatchers the person taking this video had been up all night and had just witnessed the encirclement and tear gassing of the Occupy Oakland encampment while all media was denied access to the area. It was an emotional time. Generally, copwatchers are trained to de-escalate situations while asserting their rights.