Tear Gas In ‘Occupy Oakland’ Clash May Have Violated Police Policy

OAKLAND (KCBS) – The use of tear gas against Occupy demonstrators Tuesday night may have violated Oakland Police Department crowd control policies drafted after the controversial use of non-lethal projectiles at an Iraq War protest, said Jim Chanin, the civil rights attorney who successfully sued the city to change how Oakland police manage crowds.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan have struggled to make amends for actions that resulted in injuries to several Occupy Oakland protesters, including an Iraq War veteran.

Quan has apologized for the outcome of the Tuesday night crackdown to remove the encampment, while Jordan expressed concern about the injuries both to police and protesters.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

The strict guidelines drafted after the city settled a 2003 lawsuit stemming from injuries sustained by anti-war protesters at the Port of Oakland allow for the use of tear gas only under very specific circumstances, Chanin said, “when all other means have failed.”

“From what I could, they hadn’t even tried marching forward,” he said, adding that his own review of footage from the Tuesday night crackdown was not complete.

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City officials have also said they would review video footage of the police response ahead of a special meeting of the Oakland City Council called for Nov. 3.

Chanin won a $2 million settlement for the injured anti-war demonstrators, and worked with the Police Department to craft the revised guidelines that today govern how Oakland police employ non-lethal force.

The current crowd control policy prohibits bean bag bullets and other non-lethal projectiles from being fired into a crowd, Chanin said. Instead they must be used to neutralize a specific threat.

Chanin pointed out that other cities with larger Occupy demonstrations have managed to avoid violent confrontations. He said it was regrettable that the revised guidelines from the settlement had not prevented a repeat of what happened at the Port in 2003.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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