SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Occupy Oakland protesters failed to convince a federal judge that they need a temporary restraining order to overcome allegedly ongoing police brutality.
The lawsuit filed Monday recounted several alleged examples of excessive force, claiming that officers fractured the skull of a U.S. Marine and tossed flash-bang grenades at a protester in a wheelchair.
But Interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said officers acted in “strict accordance” with announcements made under the department’s crowd-control policy.
U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said the evidence failed to support demands for a temporary restraining order.
“Oakland’s crowd control and crowd management policy is generally designed to ‘uphold constitutional rights of free speech and assembly while relying on the minimum use of force and authority needed to address a crowd management or crowd control issue,'” he wrote Wednesday.
The policy notes that certain forceful techniques and dispersal tactics that may be appropriate in certain circumstances, for instance, when an assembly is declared unlawful, according to then nine-page decision.
There are limits to the extent that officers can use chemical agents, “flash bang” grenades, and “less lethal” munitions, Seeborg wrote, noting that police must adequately warn demonstrators and give them an opportunity to disperse before resorting to the tactics.
“Sporadic or isolated violations of individual protesters’ rights are insufficient to support broad injunctive relief against an entire agency,” he found. “Although plaintiffs have attempted to couch their allegations in systemic terms, in doing so they ignore the undisputed fact that the Occupy Oakland protests have continued, at times, for days on end without any alleged unconstitutional interference from local authorities. By plaintiffs’ account, actionable conduct has occurred on no more than two to three occasions, spanning a number of hours, in over a month of almost continual demonstrations taking place across Oakland. Thus, plaintiffs’ request must fail on its own terms.”
By the protesters’ own admission, most demonstrations have been peaceful, according to the court. And police say they resorted to more forceful dispersal tactics after they were pelted with bottles and rocks, and after they made the appropriate announcements and followed guidelines before resorting to more forceful dispersal tactics.
“Defendants insist that the police acted in accordance with the Crowd Control Policy and their constitutional duties, and that any departures will be subject to internal investigations as well as potential civil liability,” Seeborg wrote. “They also characterize any alleged deviations as the exception, rather than the rule. As a result, at this very early stage, plaintiffs have not carried their heavy burden by clearly showing likely success on their claims that defendants’ alleged ongoing constitutional violations are so widespread, and systematic in nature, as to warrant the extraordinarily broad relief requested.”
“To arrive at the conclusion that irreparable injury is imminent, plaintiffs must assume that confrontations between police and protestors will escalate in the future, and that Oakland will persist in allegedly violating its own policies and the law,” he added. “Because the Occupy Oakland protests have continued for over a month with relatively limited confrontations, plaintiffs’ own averments fall short of establishing a likelihood of immediate, irreparable harm.”