Petition To the Oakland City Council:
Oakland Police should not use the tools of war in our neighborhoods, whenever and wherever they choose. Like its other uses of force, OPD’s military equipment is used especially against people of color, and at nonviolent protests and sporting events. The use of these weapons creates trauma. The proposed military equipment ordinance gives us the oversight tools the Council and the Police Commission need. Please move forward this crucial measure.
Terror. That is what it feels like when a Bear Cat tank drives up your block, or when camo-clad men with assault weapons knock down your front door with explosives in the middle of the night. Police departments, including Oakland's, which has been under federal monitoring for long-standing racial profiling, have been acquiring military equipment for years. Police use these armored vehicles, sonic cannons, assault weapons, battering rams and grenade launchers as force multipliers.
In his 2014 book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, Radley Balko chronicled the spread of this equipment and the blurring of the distinction between peace officers and soldiers, and military war zones and our homes.
Although a 2018 Princeton study concluded that the rampant use of military equipment erodes public trust in police and targets Black and Brown communities without reducing crime or improving public safety, departments like Oakland's keep using it,. In raids searching for drugs, to break up protests against war or income inequality, and to surround and shoot a sleeping homeless man., Many in East Oakland's Black community recoiled when and OPD sent its BearCat armored tank to last year's Juneteenth street festival, an event marking the anniversary of the end of slavery.
Trauma and fear, sometimes life-long for young people who find themselves in the crosshairs of police violence, takes a huge toll on Oakland's communities. There is little information about how, when and why this frightening equipment is used - and no rules.
But we can change that. After the community rose up and said no to an Oakland Police plan to acquire a second Bear Cat armored vehicle, a broad coalition of community groups led by the American Friends Service Committee decided to take action.
A proposed new law would end the era of no rules and make every use of war gear by the Oakland Police Department subject to community-driven policies and annual audits. The citizen Police Commission created by Oakland voters would set the rules, ratified by the City Council.
Our neighborhoods know what keeps us safe. Tell the Oakland City Council that we've had it with unnecessary trauma and terror and we demand the right to decide when it is okay to use the tools of war in Oakland - and when it is not.
There's a reason you separate the military from the police.One fights the enemies of the state, one serves and protects the people.When the military becomes both, the enemies of the state becomes the people.
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We'll let you know when the regulation of military equipment in Oakland is on the council agenda and we hope you'll come and speak up.