Tuesday, April 08, 2003

News about how Oakland Police reacted to protesters at the Port of Oakland hit national news this evening. Funny how I didn't hear about bean bags and wooden dowels when the "Raiders fans" were burning cars on 36th after the championship games. Frankly, I'm not surprised they used that much force.

The key difference it seems is that OPD was there to clear people from "private" property. Oh, there are many parts of the port that the public can go to, eg Jack London Square, Oakland International Airport, Ferry port, etc. is exclusively managed by the Port of Oakland, run by a city appointed board. yet the Port of Oakland is a self-sustaining entity almost in the similar way that the University of California property though created with public funding is technically private held land. In essence, what the OPD was responding to at the port would be considered tresspassing.

And this is where the money is involved.

Protesters can block whatever streets they want in downtown, sit in front of as many federal building entrances they want. why? Because business though slowed down is not cut off completely, business does happen. To cut off access to the Port would have killed commerce up and down the west coast, if not much of the nation. Police will allow for free speech (Sure, hang out in city center in front of city hall, no problem) but once the speech starts costing some serious cash, look out!

The Port, which many Oakland residents do not realize, is an extremely powerful force in the city. Probably even moreso than the City Council and the mayor themselves. Imagine, THEY control both the port AND the airport, key access points of commerce with a serious amount of cash.

Police wouldn't do this to the Raiders fans starting fire on 36th because well, that's a "public" street and 36th with it's dime and dollar stores and liquor stores isn't a crucial money pot for the City. So what if a flower store gets trashed, they can drive to a florist some place else. Many criticized police for not doing enough.

The amount of force used is not surprising, OPD is well practiced. This IS the department that groomed the "Riders," a group of 4 officers who terrorized residents and are now up for trial. They are not SFPD nor Berkeley PD who are used to parades and protests. This is OPD, who are used to starring on the TV show "Cops."

It took minutes for this news to hit the airwaves. It took years before most people even knew that the crooked cops known as the Riders were "getting away with it". It wasn't about peace or war or drugs or gangs. The difference was cash.

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