Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dinosaurs in Oakland City Hall beat out the forward thinkers

If the Oakland gang injunction case has anything to teach us, it is as a fairly predictable case study on the design, intentions, and impacts of police suppression tactics. Gang injunctions are part of a long history of racialized and violent policing that regularly claims the lives of poor people and people of color in Oakland. In the face of this daily reality, the City Attorney’s office mounted an aggressive public relations campaign claiming that Oakland’s gang injunction is somehow different from the rest and that gang injunctions do not lead to racial profiling. We know from our own experiences that this is a clear and dangerous lie. Despite the fact that the City Attorney claims that the power to determine who is enjoined or not rests in the hands of the courts, enforcement of these gang injunctions (stopping, detaining and arresting individuals) relies on the police visually identifying young men of color. This guarantees, and provides legal justification for, a dramatic increase in police harassment of young men of color in the so-called “safety zones.”
-Stop the Injunctions in Oakland

On Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council reaffirmed its commitment to the police state in two of its hottest real estate markets.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland officials have agreed to continue supporting the city's gang injunctions.
In a 4-3 vote on Tuesday, the City Council decided not to end funding for a gang injunction currently in place in North Oakland. The council also agreed to continue funding the pursuit of another gang injunction in the city's Fruitvale district.
An Alameda County judge has yet to decide on that injunction.
-Oakland Tribune

Gang injunctions don't prevent violence, but they do destroy families, and in turn, communities. They are good for big business too. City Attorney John Russo, who just so happens to be leaving Oakland to go develop the former Navy Base for the neighboring city of Alameda, certainly thought it was a good investment of public money. And despite a $58 million budget shortfall, the City Council has now agreed to continue this escalation of the war on the poor.
With all due respect to the many cops who uphold the law, the OPD has too many rogue cops like “the Riders,” who have not yet been held accountable for their actions. This is why the Oakland Police Department is currently under threat of federal receivership by a U.S. District Court judge.
Consequently, Oakland cannot be trusted with unfettered police power, which is what gang injunctions allow – named defendants are guilty until proven innocent. The issue that must be addressed if positive change is to be realized is increased opportunities for youth, legal scholars say.
-SF Bay View

Interestingly enough, the Oakland Tribune reported today that not only did Oakland police shoot and kill two men just a few blocks outside of the Fruitvale injunction zone last night, but the City has also agreed to pay $630,000 to cover medical bills for a man whose back was broken when oakland police smashed into his car in 2006. The man, Daniel Pena-Marquez, was not a suspect in any crime, and was not being pursued by cops, he was just an innocent driver who was in the wrong place at the wrong time (The City has already paid out $211,000 in workers comp claims to Officers Jacqueline Shaw and Tyman Small who were in the patrol car that broke Pena-Marquez' back).
In addition to the fact that Oakland Police are untrustworthy and incompetent, Incarceration nation isn't sustainable. Yes, it's been good for business, but prisons are huge wastes of energy. In many ways. As we continue to plunge down the post-peak slope of Hubbert's curve, we will be forced, one way or another, to start accepting new ways (or to some us, the correct ways) of thinking.
As reported in “Betraying the Model City: How Gang Injunctions Fail Oakland,” the substantial social and financial costs of gang injunctions “divert a tremendous amount of resources from vital programs that could build strong, stable and healthy communities.” While the costs of gang injunctions are devastating to Oakland neighborhoods, community groups throughout the city continue to provide programming that offers more than quick fix solutions at a fraction of the cost.
-SF Bay View

The sustainable way involves communities working together to get along. The locusts' way (John Russo's way) involves racist and classist violence that serves only the interests of rich rapists (like DSK) and adulterers (like The Schwarzenator) who care little about the people of Oakland.
Fortunately, the City Council also agreed to not expand the injuctions to other areas of the city. Kudos to Councilmembers Desley Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Nadel for being forward thinkers who care about the future of today's Oaklanders.