The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
(NLGSF) condemns Oakland Police (OPD) and Alameda County Sheriff’s
Office (ACSO) violence, mass arrests and abuses against Occupy
demonstrators at Saturday’s demonstration. Police violently attacked
activists with chemical weapons, so called Less-Lethal munitions, and
physical assaults. Hundreds were arrested unlawfully, without
opportunity to disperse, and then detained for many hours on the street
and then in buses, in stress positions, and without bathrooms, food or
water. Once in jail, protesters faced inhumanely crowded conditions,
abusive treatment and were denied access to legal counsel. Many remain
unaccounted for, though certainly arrested and awaiting booking two days after being detained.
“It is appalling that the OPD continues to violate the law and its
own policies,” said Carlos Villarreal, NLGSF Executive Director. “The
police instigated the confrontation by immediately attacking the march
with chemical agents, flashbang bombs, and a volley of rifle or
As of 11 a.m., Monday, January 30, the NLGSF can confirm that at
least 284 people were arrested on Saturday during Occupy Oakland’s Move
In Day. The NLGSF received many reports of assaults on protesters,
including an incident in which police knocked one person’s teeth out
with a baton strike to the face. Police reportedly threw others through a glass door, and down a flight of steps. A videographer was pushed to
the ground and clubbed.
“OPD has shown itself incapable of handling crowd control in a legal, much less professional manner,” said NLGSF Attorney Rachel Lederman.
“We would urge the appointed monitor to take action immediately to rein
in this abusive conduct, which is leading to ever increasing liability
for the City.”
Once in Alameda County custody, the arrestees have been held for a
prolonged period under horrendous conditions, often remaining overnight
in holding areas with no beds or blankets. Some arrestees were
apparently held in a shower room. NLGSF has received many reports of
injured persons being denied medical care and arrestees denied access to necessary medications. Women arrestees were forced to give urine
samples in front of male officers, ostensibly for pregnancy testing.
Critically, arrestees were denied access to counsel. On Sunday night
volunteer lawyers with the NLGSF were denied access to clients and told
to return in the morning.
“OPD and Alameda County Sheriffs Department Officers are responsible
for yesterday’s violence,” said NLGSF President Michael Flynn. “The NLG
supports the Occupy Movement and will continue to push back against the
violation of human rights by OPD and the misinformation from public
officials that follows.”
NLGSF is currently litigating two lawsuits against Oakland and
Alameda County based on similar abuses at a 2010 police brutality
demonstration and the October 25, and November 2, 2011, OPD enforcement
actions against Occupy.
The NLGSF is the Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) – a bar association founded in 1937. The NLG is providing legal support to activists from coast to coast and has dispatched hundreds of legal
observers to monitor law enforcement at the Occupy protests. More
information is available at www.nlgsf.org.