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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Occupy Oakland Whacks Back at Police

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Eight Occupy Oakland protesters claim in a federal class action that Oakland and Alameda County falsely arrested them and subjected them to unconstitutional conditions in jail.

Lead plaintiff Steven Angell was one of about 409 people arrested by the Oakland Police and Alameda County Sheriffs offices during a march on Jan. 28, 2012.

Five hundred to 1,000 people gathered that day in Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. Soon after the march began, "officers began to attack the crowd, pushing from behind, rushing in swinging batons, discharging 'flash-bang' grenades and tear gas," the complaint states.

The class claims that police and sheriff's deputies surrounded 400 to 500 people, and arrested them for failure to disperse though police never ordered them to disperse.

"Class members corralled at the detainment area, without probable cause or lawful justification, were forced to stand or sit in the street for hours. Class members were not allowed to use toilet facilities, so the only place to relieve themselves was on the street or in their clothing. Some class members were placed on buses and held there for further long periods without access to toilet facilities, and some had medical conditions that required access to toilet facilities, and ended up soiling themselves and urinating on the bus," the complaint states.

The class claims its members denied access to phones and toilet facilities, and were held for 12 to 85 hours in various Alameda County jails without being charged.

One class member claims he is HIV-positive and was denied his medication for 2 days.

The class claims that Alameda County jailers and deputies encouraged other prisoners threaten, intimidate, and attack the Occupy Oakland people.

"When class members were transferred out of holding cells into the main housing units, ACSO staff and deputies maliciously informed other in-custody individuals that all deprivations and problems they experienced were the fault of class members, in an attempt to foment hostility and violence by regular incarcerated individuals against class members ACSO staff and deputies engaged in threats, taunts and other verbal abuse against class members," the complaint states.

Most class members were not charged with a crime but some received citations. All members now have arrest records and some suffered physical injuries, according to the complaint.

The class wants the defendants enjoined from violating the First Amendment, destruction of any biological samples taken from class members, sealing of their arrest records, and damages for injuries.

Their lead counsel is Yolanda Huang, of Berkeley.

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