WASHINGTON -- The Oakland Police Officers' Association sent an open letter to city Mayor Jean Quan, criticizing the mayor's response to Occupy Oakland protests. Officers also expressed some degree of solidarity with the protesters, declaring, "We, too, are the 99 percent fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families."
In the letter, OPOA members purport to be "confused" about the political repercussions from police actions on October 25. During the evacuation of the plaza on that night, a police projectile cracked the skull of Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen. Widely publicized videos of police bombarding protesters with tear gas and flash grenades fueled international outrage, prompting Egyptian protesters to march from Tahrir Square in solidarity with Oakland Occupiers. With widespread public anger directed at Quan for the violence, the mayor has sought to mollify protesters by granting them permission to resume occupying Frank Ogawa Plaza.
The letter from Oakland officers mentions no specifics about the violence, but expresses frustration at the mayor for reversing course on the protests. From the letter:
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.
Oakland police officers also bemoaned Quan's decision to allow city employees to take the day off on Wednesday, Nov. 3, as part of a general strike being organized by the city's Occupy movement. Police officers, however, are being encouraged to show up for work. From the letter:
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.
The letter goes on to criticize Quan's leadership.
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.
The Oakland Citizens' Police Review Board has launched a formal investigation into the police's involvement with the injuries to Olsen.