Criticism Mounts Over ‘Occupy Oakland’ Violence; Police Chief Defends Use Of Force
OAKLAND (CBS SF) - Oakland’s acting police chief defended the use of force this week during Occupy Oakland protests as national criticism mounted over his and Mayor Jean Quan’s actions in breaking up protester encampments.
In a statement Friday titled “Message to the Community,” Chief Howard Jordan said, “The decision to use any level of force is never taken lightly and certainly was not in this situation.”
“As a community, we must preserve our position that any act of assault against officers or each other in our community is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated,” said Jordan.
His statement Friday comes as the chief and Mayor Jean Quan face harsh criticism over their handling of Tuesday’s rally. Quan has become the target of national criticism, much of it from the political left, over the encampment raid and violence that followed Tuesday night.
“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart described the police action against the protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement as heavy-handed, while Current TV anchorman Keith Olbermann called on Quan to fire Chief Jordan or resign.
“Terrible, if she was a football coach on and NFL team she would be replaced,” former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown told Phil Matier Friday.
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore also joined the Occupy Oakland protests Friday afternoon, and encouraged them to continue taking to the streets.
“When the history of this movement is written - this week in Oakland, California will go down as a watershed moment,” Moore said. “People across America were disgusted by what they saw here… millions have watched it and millions were inspired by what they saw, because you didn’t go away.”
Liberal political action group MoveOn.org has also started airing an ad that calls for Quan to “Stop the police brutality.”
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
Chief Jordan’s statement added, “Under the circumstances of this event our officers used what they believed to be the least amount of force possible to protect themselves and gain control of the situation. During incidents of this magnitude, police training, tactics and policy is scrutinized, and as the chief of police I take full responsibility for the actions of my officers.
Jordan said all allegations of misconduct and excessive uses of force are being thoroughly investigated by internal and external investigative sources.
He said, “I am confident in our abilities to conduct thorough and fair investigations into the actions of police personnel during the ‘Occupy’ events.”
Several protesters were injured Tuesday night, including 24-year-old Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen from Daly City, who was critically hurt when he was hit in the head with a projectile fired by police.
Olsen was being treated at Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he was listed in fair condition as of Thursday.
Quan and Jordan said they have both visited him at the hospital and apologized that he was injured.
Oakland police officials said several officers suffered minor injuries when protesters assaulted them with bottles, rocks and hazardous materials.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
Jordan said he has received both positive and negative comments from around the country and world following the protest Tuesday night.
He said he is issuing a general message to the community because “the volume of these correspondences far exceeds our ability to respond to each one individually.”
Jordan said the Oakland Police Department “will continue to place the highest value on policing in a manner that is both constitutional and ethical in its mission to provide a safe place to live, work, and play, free of crime and the fear of crime.”
Quan said a full review of all the police tactics that were employed Tuesday night is under way and the results will be announced next week.
The mayor said she attempted to address protesters in the plaza Thursday night but they didn’t allow her to speak. Quan said she still wants to talk to protesters and “ask that we enter into a dialogue.”
Quan said she also would like the protesters to talk with merchants in downtown Oakland who are concerned that the demonstrations, which began on Oct. 10, are hurting their businesses.
She said people “are afraid to come downtown” to shop and some businesses are not renewing their leases.
Quan has had a difficult week because some people have criticized the way she has handled the Occupy Oakland protests and a group launched a petition to have her recalled from office.
But Quan said she has no plans to resign, saying, “I always said this is a tough job” and “I have a job to do.”
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