OAKLAND (CBS) — Protesters have chained themselves to the doors of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association offices Wednesday afternoon to call for the city to divest significantly from the Police Department, organizers said.
Multiple people are locked to the front doors of the building at 555 Fifth St. in downtown Oakland as of about 2:30 p.m. and intend to remain there for 24 hours, according to the activists.
The protest is organized by Black Lives Matter, the Anti-Police Terror Project, the Black Youth Project 100 and other organizations.
Protesters are demanding that the city divest at least 50 percent of the police department funding into community programs and the creation of a civilian-controlled police commission. They also are demanding the ouster of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
A small crowd gathered around the chained protesters, who used bicycle locks and heavy chains to lock themselves to the glass doors. Some protesters have also locked themselves to the doors of a San Francisco Police Credit Union branch located in the same building.
The protest comes a day after a lengthy discussion about a proposed police commission in Oakland in light of recent scandals involving the possible sexual exploitation of an underage girl by Oakland police officers as well as other revelations of police misconduct that a court-appointed monitor said has led to “perhaps the most trying time in OPD’s history.”
The City Council is slated to vote next week whether to place a measure before voters for the independent commission, which would be comprised of seven members and have the power to fire the chief.
In a letter to the City Council, Police Officers Association president Barry Donelan said any measure approved by voters would not be legally binding if it interfered with the terms of the officers’ contract.
While he called the sexual exploitation scandal an “embarrassment,” Donelan said police officers are “outstanding citizens” and blamed the departure of three chiefs in a week on a lack of leadership by the mayor and City Council.
“I know that it will be the inclination of some serving on the Council to point the finger and blame our police officers should this specific proposal move forward, but creating another expensive bureaucratic layer of government for the sake of political expediency, rather than providing true leadership to address crime and police-community relations will solve nothing,” Donelan wrote.