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Get war gear off Oakland streets

Urge Police Commission to approve military equipment ordinance and ban its use on unarmed people

We’ve seen how police in Oakland and across the country respond to protests against police violence with militarized weaponry and equipment. In the last 10 days in Oakland, Oakland PD and other police that OPD invited into the city have shot rubber bullets, CS gas, and grenades at peaceful protesters and journalists, and deployed tank-like vehicles and riot gear.  Police who fired more than 40 bullets on June 6, killing Erik Salgado in East Oakland, used AR-15  assault rifles, which typically fire more rapidly and fatally.  In Oakland, we have laid the groundwork to defund the weapons of war used by police and have community say over what types of equipment the City obtains and uses, including other police forces that come into Oakland. The Proposed Military Equipment Ordinance would give the Oakland Police Commission and City Council, after community input, the power to prohibit tank-like vehicles, assault weapons, tear gas launchers, flash bang grenades, sound cannons, and other weapons of war that have been used against communities of color and peaceful protests in Oakland. This is one urgent component of defunding the police. Oakland would be the first city in the country to adopt an ordinance like this. The Police Commission on Thursday June 25 is considering a recommendation from its own committee to immediately endorse the proposed ordinance and forward it to City Council for immediate adoption.  Here are three ways you can act to get police with war gear off of Oakland streets:

  • Speak to the Police Commission at its meeting on Thursday at 6:30 pm when it considers the Military Equipment Ordinance. Community members presented this proposal to the Police Commission more than six months ago. The Commission needs to act on it. The attachment includes the Commission agenda, complete Military Equipment Ordinance language, and Commissioner Gage’s letter urging the Commission immediately endorse the proposed ordinance. Public comment starts at 6:30 pm. (You can also speak later in the evening, when the proposal is on the agenda.) To attend the meeting via Zoom, join here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88652793270   When the time for Public Comment comes up, click the “Raise Hand” button in Zoom. 
  • Write to the Oakland City Council to urge approval and passage into law of the proposed Military Equipment Ordinance, once the Police Commission acts on it. It is important that the ordinance include stronger provisions for other police departments that act in Oakland - like the CHP officers who killed Erik Salgado, the sheriff deputies who deployed military gear to evict Moms 4 Housing, and the police from nearby cities who rioted against peaceful protesters in the last two weeks. The attached letter signed by more than 40 Oakland community groups gives talking points. Write to City Council President Rebecca Kaplan: rkaplan@oaklandca.gov. Find your own District City Council Member here.

 Some talking points for emails and public comments (make more of your own!): When many cities are taking dramatic steps to reduce the funding and negative impacts of police actions, the least Oakland can do is to create the tools to control and prohibit if necessary war-like weaponry and equipment.    The ordinance should include strong provisions for other police departments that act in Oakland - like the CHP officers who killed Erik Salgado, the sheriff deputies who deployed military gear to evict Moms 4 Housing in January, and the police from nearby cities who rioted against peaceful protesters in the last two weeks.   The acquisition and use of military-grade equipment by civilian law enforcement agencies contribute to substantial fear in the community and a warrior mentality among officers. Several studies conclude that police departments that acquire military-grade equipment are more likely to use violence.  There is almost no publicly-available information about what military-grade equipment OPD possesses or how it is used. OPD has stonewalled for nine months on a public records request for when it has deployed assault rifles, and has not been transparent about CS gas used against peaceful protests this month. This ordinance will remedy that.   Oakland has an equivalent ordinance for surveillance equipment that functions well. When militarized equipment is used so often and destructively, there is no reason Oakland shouldn’t an ordinace for that equpment, too.

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