Oakland Police Officers: ‘We, Too, Are The 99 Percent’

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By Zaid Jilani

In anticipation for tomorrow’s general strike in Oakland, the Oakland Police Officer’s Association has written an open letter to the city’s residents. The letter states that the police force, too, is composed of the 99 Percent who want “better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families.” But it also goes on to wonder why Mayor Jean Quan has both ordered the police force to clear protesters and then declare her support for the movement just a few days later. “It is all very confusing to us,” says the letter, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Read the full letter:

We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours. As your police officers, we are confused.

On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property. Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before. To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.

That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line? It is all very confusing to us.

Meanwhile, a message has been sent to all police officers: Everyone, including those who have the day off, must show up for work on Wednesday. This is also being paid for by Oakland taxpayers. Last week’s events alone cost Oakland taxpayers over $1 million. The Mayor and her Administration are beefing up police presence for Wednesday’s work strike they are encouraging and even “staffing,” spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for additional police presence – at a time when the Mayor is also asking Oakland residents to vote on an $80 parcel tax to bail out the City’s failing finances.

All of these mixed messages are confusing. We love Oakland and just want to do our jobs to protect Oakland residents. We respectfully ask the citizens of Oakland to join us in demanding that our City officials, including Mayor Quan, make sound decisions and take responsibility for these decisions. Oakland is struggling – we need real leaders NOW who will step up and lead – not send mixed messages. Thank you for listening.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Mark E. Smith Says:

    Confusing? One of you almost killed a U.S. Marine. Of course his superiors, those whose orders he was following, didn’t want to take responsibility for his actions, and therefore began to allow the Occupy Oakland activities they had ordered him to shut down. Maybe the officer hadn’t really wanted to harm an unarmed U.S. citizen peacefully exercising the rights he had fought for during his military service. Maybe the officer was confused and mistook an unarmed US citizen who was standing stock still for a dangerous criminal committing a crime. Maybe the officer mistook those unarmed citizens trying to help the person he’d shot for bank robbers like Wall Street executives?

    In a democratic form of government, the people are the leaders. You will have to decide for yourselves whether you are really part of the 99% and will stand with us, or if you will continue to protect the 1%, their stolen property, and their political puppets. The next confusing decision you may find your City officials making is likely to be lay-offs due to their own disastrous policies. The 99% will be surprised to see you join us after you lose your jobs and will forgive you for your previous brutality, because, after all, you were just doing your jobs and were too confused to understand what you were doing. But I hope that some of you will be too ashamed to show your faces, because I, for one, really don’t want to see you again. That may be politically incorrect of me, but I’m old and have witnessed too much police brutality in my life.

    Perhaps if you take time to think about it while you’re awaiting your new orders, you might begin to understand that you’ve been on the wrong side and decide to take a stand for justice rather than continuing to uphold unjust laws. We who’ve felt your batons and experienced your jails are not in the least confused. We know who you are and who your work for because you left us no confusion and no doubt. Perhaps it is time for you to also understand.

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