FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Laura Magnani, Healing Justice Program Director
Another African American Man Taken Down by OPD
While Attempting to Talk to City Departments
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is outraged at the incident on Thursday, October 17, 2019, when former City Councilmember, Wilson Riles attempted to resolve a dispute with the Oakland Zoning Department about a permit for temporary structures on his property. Riles was justifiably frustrated by the Department after working for four years to reach an agreement with the Planning Department and the Oakland City Council to allow his family’s property to be used to model off-the-grid green space, and for community meetings and indigenous ceremonies. The Council voted unanimously to approve such use in July 2019. However, the Zoning Department is continuing to harass them by requiring a use permit for some of their structures, even though the code clearly states that no permits are required for temporary structures.
The City official Riles met with when he tried to settle this misunderstanding found Mr. Riles to be “hostile” and called 911. At no time did Mr. Riles touch, threaten or use foul language with the staff. Without announcing that he was being arrested, when Mr. Riles attempted to leave the office he was thrown to the ground by police, handcuffed, and carted off to Santa Rita Jail.
The AFSC has worked on police accountability issues since the Rodney King incident in 1992. Throughout that time, we have witnessed the constant killing of unarmed African American men and women, and many other people of color, by police officers around the country. While we have all become aware of cases like those of Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Freddie Gray, Eric Gardner, Sandra Bland, or Stephon Clark, there are hundreds more cases of people suffering from excessive use of force by the police.
In addition to independent investigations, a strengthened and truly independent Police Commission, and the end to OPD’s policy that allows them to “sweep” community members and throw them to the ground, AFSC calls for the following:
- Reimbursement of the $1400 Riles was required to pay for bail, since the charges were dropped.
- Immediate release of the full police report to his attorney, including body-camera footage, 911 tapes and police radio tapes.
- Release of any security camera footage of the incident at the zoning office.