At a press conference with Jean Quan on Wednesday, Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said that to his knowledge, no Oakland police officer had used rubber bullets, wooden dowels, or flash-bang grenades in the violent pre-dawn raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment on Tuesday and during a series of clashes with protesters later that night.
Jordan 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 arsental.
An Iraq War vet, Scott Olsen, sustained a skull fracture during a nighttime confrontation between police and protesters.
Fifteen other agencies participated in the initial raid, and Mayor Quan said a mutual aid agreement requires them to abide by Oakland rules.
Jordan addresses the use of force by Oakland police in the following statement, released today:
Message to the Community
I want to thank you for taking the time to share your feedback concerning events associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement occurring in Oakland. We have received a large amount of feedback in the form of phone calls and emails from concerned residents as well as individuals across the country and around the world. Your observations have been positive and negative and we recognize the importance in both, and understand your frustration and the seriousness of these issues. While the Oakland Police Department takes your comments and concerns very seriously, please understand that the volume of these correspondences far exceeds our ability to respond to each one individually.
Not unlike you, I am concerned about the injuries to protesters and officers alike; the decision to use any level of force is never taken lightly, and certainly was not in this situation. As a community, we must preserve our position that any act of assault against officers or each other in our community is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. Under the circumstances of this event our officers used what they believed to be the least amount of force possible to protect themselves and gain control of the situation.
During incidents of this magnitude, police training, tactics and policy is scrutinized, and as the Chief of Police I take full responsibility for the actions of my officers. With that, I want to ensure you that all allegations of misconduct and excessive uses of force are being thoroughly investigated by internal and external investigative sources. I am confident in our abilities to conduct thorough and fair investigations into the actions of police personnel during the Occupy events.
In addition to hearing the voice of the community I, along with other City staff, have taken steps to reach out to members of the Occupy Oakland group, business owners, and community members to discuss the issues surrounding public health, public safety, and freedom of speech. It is very important that we work together to establish a healthy and peaceful environment that cultivates the facilitation of free speech and peaceful demonstrations which is, and always has been our primary goal.
As Chief of the Oakland Police Department, I will continue to be open to the diverse opinions and points of view offered by the community at large, and I appreciate your willingness to be open and honest, as I will be open and honest with all of you. The City of Oakland Police Department will continue to place the highest value on policing in a manner that is both constitutional and ethical in its mission to provide a safe place to live, work, and play, free of crime and the fear of crime.”
Thank you and stay safe,
Chief Howard Jordan