Mayor Jean Quan and Interim Chief Howard Jordan held a press conference yesterday at which they addressed the use of force against Occupy Oakland protesters by Oakland police and other agencies. KTVU has raw video of a portion of the press conference.
At the briefing, Jordan said that to his knowledge, no Oakland police officer used rubber bullets, wooden dowels, or flash-bang grenades. He said the gas balls rolled at people’s feet to disperse them may have been mistaken for the grenades. When asked, Jordan said it was possible that other departments had used types of non-lethal force that OPD doesn’t have in its arsenal. Quan said a mutual aid agreement requires other agencies to abide by Oakland rules.
Quan, who was out of town on official business in Washington D.C. when the raid occurred, said she had asked the chief “to do just one thing…to conduct the raid when it was the safest for both the police and the demonstrators.” She said she was informed by City Administrator Deanna Santana when the raid was in progress and watched it on TV. She said “it seemed like the [morning raid] had met its goals. It seemed that was done as peacefully as possible…But I’m now hearing that maybe there was one or two incidents. But I don’t know. We’ve asked the police department to investigate, we’ve asked the Inspector General to do that. I’m very likely going to ask, when this is all over, the community policing review board to take this on as an issue…so we can learn from this and change any mistakes that were made.”
Yesterday news emerged that an Iraq War vet had sustained a skull fracture during a series of clashes between police and protesters Tuesday night. Scott Olsen is recuperating at Highland Hospital in Oakland after his condition was upgraded from critical to fair.
Quan is taking a huge hit — at least on her Facebook page. Nearly 11,000 comments have been posted so far — none of them, at first blush, expressing the sentiment “nice job.”
But disaffection with the mayor is also illustrated in a KPIX poll of 650 Oakland residents taken yesterday (pdf here). Just 20 percent approve of Quan’s job performance and 64% disapprove. Fifty-six percent also said the use of force against the protesters was too harsh, with 30 percent saying it was “just about right.”
Even before the Occupy affair, Quan’s approval rating had tanked. On Oct 12, a day after Anthony Batts resigned as police chief, a KPIX poll measured her approval at 28 percent and disapproval at 53 percent. That’s a huge turn-around from May, when the mayor enjoyed a 57 percent approval rating.
Quan is under attack from both those angry with the OPD’s use of force against the protesters, and also from those who think she’s soft on public safety. Gene Hazzard, who is a member of the Oakland Black Caucus but not acting on behalf of the organization, has filed 71 signatures with the city as a precursor to a recall campaign.
“The people of Oakland seek to recall Mayor Quan because she has willfully ignored the City’s most pressing issue: public safety,” reads the petition. “She ignored the call of Oakland residents to significantly increase the number of police officers and instead supported a regressive $11 million parcel tax.” Quan opponents have “160 days (from that filing) to collect almost 20,000 signatures from registered Oakland voters in support of a recall,” according to the Oakland Tribune.
And if all that weren’t bad enough for Quan, Keith Olbermann, an icon for many liberals, slammed her in this commentary, calling on her to fire Interim Chief Howard Jordan or resign.