First Occupy Oakland Lawsuit Settled for $1.17 Million.

Categories: Anti-Repression Committee, Front Page, Open Mic

You may never have heard of Suzi Spangenberg or Sukay Sow, and to tell you the truth, neither had I. But Suzi received $500,000 and Sukay $210,000 as part of a settlement agreement announced last night in a lawsuit, Campbell v City of Oakland that arose from Oakland police having tear-gassed, flash-bang grenaded, beaten, clubbed and shot Occupy Oakland protesters October 25th through November 3rd, 2011.

Suzi Spangenberg, a 52 year old seminarian, said, “I was in the middle of telling OPD I loved them when they threw explosives at me. The loud explosion caused permanent hearing loss and unrelenting ringing in my ears. As a result, I can only sleep 2 hours at a time which has had a serious impact on my life, including adversely impacting my graduate school studies, when I graduate, and when I will be ordained…

19 year old Sukay Sow went to the Oct. 25, 2011, Occupy demonstration with her mother, and was searching for her younger brother to go home when she too was struck with an explosive grenade. The chemical agent burned off the top of her foot and left her in agony.

You may have heard of Scott Campbell. It was his video, showing an Oakland Police officer shooting Scott with a rubber bullet just for the hell of it on November 2nd, that went mildly viral. We now have new footage of the incident, released just today, recorded on OPD officer lapel cameras. On it, after Campbell has been shot, officers are heard to say “Perfect!” and “Nice Shot!”

Scott Campbell received $150,000 in the settlement. Others will receive between $20,000 and $75,000 apiece. In total $1,170,000.

This settlement agreement goes hand in hand with another settlement – again, for more than a million dollars – announced a few weeks ago in the matter of the Oscar Grant murder protests in 2009. Both settlements demand that OPD adhere to its crowd control policy – flagrantly violated in both incidents – and give the courts power to enforce it. As stated in the press release by the National Lawyer’s Guild and as reported by IndyBay:

As part of both settlements, the City and OPD have agreed to abide by a negotiated crowd control policy which prohibits impact munitions and explosives from being used in the manner they were used during the Occupy events, and sets guidelines for constitutional policing of demonstrations and other crowd events; requires OPD to negotiate with the NLG and ACLU concerning any revisions to the crowd control policy; and provides that United States District Court Judge Thelton Henderson will have the power to enforce compliance with the settlement, including the crowd control policy, for up to seven years. In addition, records of arrests made in both cases will be sealed and destroyed.

“We brought both lawsuits in order to stop OPD’s dangerous and illegal repression of political protest and the City government’s tolerance of repeated, pervasive police misconduct,” explained lead attorney Rachel Lederman. “The same officers shot longshoremen and protesters with so-called less lethal munitions during a peaceful antiwar picket at the Port of Oakland in 2003. At that time, the City and Police also agreed to stop those practices and adopt a model policy for constitutional policing of demonstrations, but OPD chose to scrap all that and repeat the same mistakes as soon as they were faced with large protests over the killing of Oscar Grant and Occupy Oakland. As a result, many people who were lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights were arrested and/or injured.”

Responses to the settlement ranged from


I am happy that Suzi, Sukay, Scott and others got recompense. I am happy that OPD’s crowd control policy was at long last put under court enforcement as it should have been when it was agreed to eight years ago. I am happy that it may just be that this kind of thing

Campbell plaintiff Mara Randle photo campbell-plaintiff-beaten_zps7a902a27.jpg
Plaintiff Mara Randle being clubbed by OPD

may – may! – be less likely to happen in the future.

But the fact is, as Ergoat tweets, OPD and its masters effectively crushed a political movement with unprecedented violence. Yet the powers-that-be will end up being met with no consequences other than wailing crocodile tears about money shortfalls in Oakland’s current budget for Headstart and libraries, while the OPD officers and their supervisors who deliberately unleashed this reign of terror will continue to rake in more than $170,000 per year average in salary, overtime and benefits.

The one percent and their soldiers did their job very well. They terorized these plaintiffs and plenty more into being afraid to protest. I said neither you nor I had ever heard of Suzi or Sukay, and I meant it: in all my time with Occupy Oakland peeps since the events of October 25th and November 2nd I have never, to the best of my recollection, seen or met Suzi Spanenberg, Sukay Sow, or Mara Randle.

The score for the one percent?

Beating, clubbing and grenading protesters – $1,000,000.

Effects on future protests: Priceless.


Postscript: There are at least three other lawsuits that have arisen out of OPD’s actions against Occupy Oakland protesters. One by Scott Olsen, another by Keyvan Sebeghi, and a class action suit by those arrested en masse on January 28th, 2012.

I stood before the Oakland City Council last May ridiculing a proposal in which it was claimed that the Occupy Oakland protests had cost Oakland “tens of thousands of dollars.”

The City, its citizens and local businesses have incurred tens of thousands of dollars of damage from the demonstrations in Oakland during the past year and in other years.

I stated categorically that this was a blatant lie, that in fact the protests were sure to cost Oakland “millions of dollars” in lawsuit settlements that could have been prevented had OPD only followed its own policies and the City Council exercised its oversight responsibilities instead of letting OPD run amok.

Needless to say they were deaf to any such protestations. As it was then, so it is now. They continue to hear nothing, see nothing and take no action.

— JP Massar


One Response to “First Occupy Oakland Lawsuit Settled for $1.17 Million.”

  1. wiseoldsnail

    of course it’s great the folks who were included in this lawsuit will be compensated, but it’s true that this is a pittance compared to the destruction caused by opd and the city. this is one time i agree the city should pay up, because the deanna santana and the city ordered up the violence.

    now, what about the rest of us who were also beaten, abducted, terrorized, dragged into court for a year and a half … ? the attorneys did a good job on this case, but actively chose to not represent some of us who requested their assistance.

    what next? any attorneys out there who will still file on our behalf?