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Monday, June 24, 2013

Oakland, Alameda County To Pay $1 Million To Oscar Grant Protesters Arrested Nov. 2010

Just two weeks away from the opening of Fruitvale Station, the highly-acclaimed feature film about the last days of Hayward-resident Oscar Grant and the city of Oakland and Alameda County can't help but unwittingly promoting the film.

On Monday morning, the East Bay Express reported protesters arrested during one of the Grant protest Nov. 5, 2010 will be paid $1.025 million in damages and legal fees. One hundred fifty-two people were arrested that night, reports the Express, but none were ever charged with a crime related to the protest. The mass arrests occurred following a decision by a judge to reduce the sentence of former BART cop Johannes Mehserle. From the Express:
The settlement found that OPD's conduct on November 5, 2010 violated the court-ordered crowd-control policy, which was established after a violent police response to a 2003 antiwar demonstration at the Port of Oakland. “The overall idea of the policy is for the police to use the minimum level of force as opposed to the maximum,” said Rachel Lederman, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild. Characterizing mass arrests and lengthy detention of peaceful demonstrators as “pre-emptive, precharging punishments by the police,” Lederman claimed that the November 5, 2010 mass arrest had “a really chilling effect on free speech in Oakland.”
In addition, the National Lawyers Guild contends the plan to arrest protesters was predetermined by OPD hierarchy.
The National Lawyers Guild believes the arrest plan was preconceived by Breshears, then-Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan, and then-Police Chief Anthony Batts. At his deposition, Downing testified that he was prepared to give an unlawful assembly announcement and provide an opportunity for dispersal, and did not know why Breshears deviated from standard procedure. Alameda County Sheriff's Office buses arrived at the scene to transport the 152 arrestees to jail. Because of the sheer volume of people, sheriff’s deputies at North County Jail in Oakland kept many of the detainees on buses for up to six hours while handcuffed. As a result, numerous people urinated on themselves while waiting to be processed. Female detainees were also required to give urine samples for mandatory pregnancy tests.
The film Fruitvale Station opens July 12.

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