Below is the full text. And because you just can’t be too sure these days, I called them up to verify that the letter is genuine. The conversation went something like this:

“Hi I’m calling up to verify something you posted on your web si- ”

“It’s real.”

“Are you getting a lot of calls ask-”

“You don’t know how many times I’ve said that in the last few minutes.”

Here’s the letter:

We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.

As your police officers, we are confused.

On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.

Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.

To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.

That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?

It is all very confusing to us.

Meanwhile, a message has been sent to all police officers: Everyone, including those who have the day off, must show up for work on Wednesday. This is also being paid for by Oakland taxpayers. Last week’s events alone cost Oakland taxpayers over $1 million.

The Mayor and her Administration are beefing up police presence for Wednesday’s work strike they are encouraging and even “staffing,” spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for additional police presence – at a time when the Mayor is also asking Oakland residents to vote on an $80 parcel tax to bail out the City’s failing finances.

All of these mixed messages are confusing.

We love Oakland and just want to do our jobs to protect Oakland residents. We respectfully ask the citizens of Oakland to join us in demanding that our City officials, including Mayor Quan, make sound decisions and take responsibility for these decisions. Oakland is struggling – we need real leaders NOW who will step up and lead – not send mixed messages. Thank you for listening.

Update 4:20 p.m. KQED’s Mina Kim interviewed Sgt. Dom Arotzarena of the Oakland Police Officer’s Association about the letter the organization sent out today. Edited transcript:

What is the point of releasing this letter?

That we’re not far from the 99% of the people of the Occupy Wall Street movement. We want to support their cause and allow them to peacefully protest. It seems like we’ve been placed in a position that maybe we’re part of the system or part of the problem and that’s not the case.

I want people to know that on Oct 25, police officers were following orders. We’ve been placed in a bad spot by our own city by allowing city employees to participate in the strike against Oakland tomorrow and at the same time telling police officers they have to cancel their days off and come into work that day.

How does this put you in a difficult position?

You’re telling part of your employees to join in the protest and you’re telling the other part not to. We’re getting an unfair shake being looked on as oppressors. We’re being unfairly made scapegoats for a lot of stuff that’s happening.

What are you hoping your open letter will do?

We want support from our citizens. You hear from a small percentage of people who constantly criticize us. We want to hear from the citizens who support us. We know there’s a lot of support for us here in town.

We feel there’s confusing orders that have been given from the mayor’s office. We want the city to get on track and make decisions and take responsibility for the decision they make. There has been some responsibility taken at the mayor’s level; at the same time there’s confusing messages. We’re being told to clear out a park and then three days later, it’s like we were never there, we’re back to where we were.

We’re part of this community, we’re part of the 99%, we want support form the community we serve. This letter was for them.

I know the business community is struggling in the city hall area. The protest is not hurting Wall Street, it’s hurting our city.

Click here for more on Occupy Oakland’s call for a general strike tomorrow.

Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland From the Oakland Police Officers Association; Interview w/ Union 18 November,2011Jon Brooks

  • Karen

    I am confused too. Nowhere did I see that you were ordered to become violent and hurt protesters. Particularly disturbing was the part where you shot a vet in the head with a tear cannister and then had a merry little target-shoot at those who were trying to help a downed man. You are cowardly and apparently fairly witless to boot.

    • DavidP

      It is widely believed to have been a LAPD which committed those crimes. While OKPD is certainly responsible for what happened in their jurisdiction, this becomes irrelevant when we consider that if we do not support an organization which changes their course for justice we will never be able to support any change we bring upon our governance.

      • Jon

        Note the sardonic quotes around “the establishment.”

  • Hahahaha. This is silly on so many levels. I’ll not comment on the ones the OPD clearly stated, but the one they did not state at all which, namely, is that they are not going to strike along with the rest of the city workers.

    If you truly are of the 99% and empathetic with its values, why not let the city fend for itself and really fight for your Police Department?

    Just wondering…..

    • DanP

      If you’re truly a good officer, you do your duty by protecting the citizens.

      As a citizen, I’d appreciate thier unions getting behind us, letters like this one, and any off duty officer to come show their support.

    • DavidP

      It is a federal crime for police to strike. The last police strike resulted in 1000’s of deaths and millions in damage and theft and resulted in martial law. In essence, in order to protect the liberties and freedom of their jurisdiction police must maintain diligence to their duties despite political affiliations.

      • Meagan

        Cite your source. I just looked up police strike and found nothing of the sort. Is this propaganda you speak?

  • Loren Drebin

    I don’t live in Oakland, so it’s not for me to opine on issues specific to Oakland, but there are broader questions here, and I’d like to respond to one in particular. The letter asks about protests against “the establishment”, and suggests that city workers are part of that. Alot of different issues have been raised by individual participants in Occupy Wall Street demontrations around the country, but in the aggregate, it is most certainly not about the inherent evil of government at any level, as with the Teaparty. It is about the inordinate and growing influence of wealth on our government, and the ways by which the wealthy are skewing the playing field to empower themselves and disempower the “99%”. There is nothing inherently contradictory about government workers, even city officials, participating in this. Many good people get into government because they want to make it work for the people, as it is supposed to in our society. OWS is about removing the corrupting influences on government, not removing government itself.

    • Tim Tayshun

      Hi Loren, in order to achieve “OWS cause of removing the corrupting influences on government (bankster & corporate lobbying/ special interests, etc.),” you MUST in fact sweep out some of the government officials themselves. They have been very willing recipients, historically! In doing so, their office must be replaced with fresh elected members who will not condone, allow or accept the proverbial and long-standing “greasing-of-the-palms.” You simply can’t have one without the other – at least not until such precedence becomes transparently established. It would be like owning several dogs and mowing your grass every week without ever picking up the poop. A nice lawn (and mower!) this does not make! You gotta clean it all up! Maybe in this way we can open some dialogue with the tea-partiers. We might actually learn some things, like where their disregard for The (not-so) Federal Reserve comes from, and why its authority must be restored to Congress, as intentioned in the Constitution.

  • DanP

    I completely agree. Thank you for the letter. Its nice to see there is some thoughtfulness going on over at the Police that we, the citizens, weren’t previously aware of.

    Thank you

    • cidu

      Here is an idea…. how about they quit freaking out like a rabid pit bull every time people exercise the rights they are entrusted to protect? I get it, i understand there is a maximum allowable IQ for police officers in most of the country, but still, some of them have to have enough there to know right from wrong… they’ve chosen their side, this is just an attempt to move back in the line of those going up against the wall… But, just to give them the benefit of the doubt, wait until the coming days to see whose side they are on, the minority of the oligarchs, or the 99%…see if there is anything more than empty words in that letter….

  • Greg

    I’m with the police on this one. Occupy movement is making a mockery of my city and they have no real or clear cause.

    The city government is another mess, whose brilliant idea was it to use a tiered voting system where 2nd and 3rd choices are taken into account if there is no majority? In any vote, when there are more than 2 candidates, there is not likely to be a “majority” but why does that mean 2nd place votes count. Quan is unfit to run this city.

    • hairlessOrphan

      Wait, you don’t understand the point of instant runoff voting?

    • Hugh Caley

      Actually, I think you have missed the point of the letter, which was not to complain about OWS so much as to complain about the city administration being inconsistent in its response.

      So, your first point is irrelevant to the content of the letter, your second point (another mess … voting system … ) may or may not be true, but is also irrelevant to the letter, and your third point (Quan is unfit …) is irrelevant to both the letter and your earlier points.

      • cidu

        Seemed more like an “Uh ohh! We might not get the unfettered support of the state on this one, we better make sure that these citizens dont string us up before northcom gets here” to me…

    • True American Patriot

      @Greg: It seems to me you are ill-informed as to the cause that OWS is fighting for. This is not their problem, it’s yours, as they have published on the internet, for all to read, their manifesto. I imagine it’s an evolving piece of written intentions, but for you to claim they “have no cause” is false. Avail yourself of what everyone else seems to have discovered with little effort in the searching.

      @DavidP: For you to blame what happened on “what is widely believed to have been” an LAPD officer is really pathetic. OaklandPD needs to remember that whatever happens on its watch is ITS responsibility to adequately address & remedy, should it become necessary. You’re simply passing the buck, and rather inartfully at that.

      Ultimately, what is OWS about? TAKING RESPONSIBILITY. I’ve been waiting for decades for the Sleeping Giant that is the American electorate & general citizenry to wake up and smell the dog poop. You finally did. Things have gotten worse than anyone (even those of you Californians who shuddered when Reagan was elected not once, but twice!) could have imagined.

      The 1% have over-played their hands and have become willfully ignorant to the concerns of the 99% to the point of being abusive with their money which buys power & ultimately corrupts. They have conspired against the People of the United States to bring about a “perfect storm” of circumstances which necessitated these kinds of actions by OWS.

      Amazingly, instead of comprehending that they have sewn these seeds of massive discontent & should instead adopt measures rectifying the wrongs they have committed against the society below them, they sit in their ivory towers & plot, plowing ahead with their hidden agendas which manifest everyday on our streets & hallowed halls of state & federal govts which have become so corrupt with big money & influence, We, The People, have lost their ear & more importantly, their advocacy. In return, The People no longer trust the “establishment”.

      Making inflammatory or otherwise derogatory comments about police is counter-productive. They are human, too, and make mistakes. Unless you have worked as a police officer, you have no idea what drives them to make it a career -and it’s not always because they love beating on people.

      We need police. They are the only ones standing between us and lawlessness. America has evolved from what was once a vast, lawless land, to one of many states & many laws.

      Having said that, Police everywhere have a duty to follow orders. Sometimes those orders are at odds with the Will of the People. Just remember that when we allow our conversations to degenerate into name-calling, we accomplish nothing -except doing exactly what the 1% want, which is to spiral into chaos & civil war. We don’t want civil war. We should avoid it at all costs.

      Remember empathy, sympathy, compassion, understanding, logic, reason, and above all -humanity. Keep the lines of communication open with law enforcement. It is to everyone’s benefit to do so.

  • John Doe

    Police ARE in the 99%
    All you have to do to participate is to NOT beat protesters and arrest those who are being non violent. Instead, smile, interact, share anecdotes and explain why you need to do something like block off a street. Be a human being, one we can understand and relate to. Be humble and gracious. We’ll work together and you can leave the “less than lethal” toys at home.
    But don’t act all confused. Closing the camps was a mistake. The Mayor realized it after the fact, but you couldn’t even realize it while you were enacting it? Letting the protesters return was the right thing, how are you confused?
    It is a good thing that the Mayor has left the option for city employees to protest — or not, up to the employees. And I’m sorry she isn’t giving you the day off to protest too, but you CAN be a positive part of the protests by simply letting the protests happen.
    Where is the confusion in this?? I’m confused?!

    • JD123

      Brilliant post. So true. I love the idea that all they have to do to participate is to NOT be violent! Thanks for that. I hope this can be communicated nation-wide.

    • LJ

      Exactly John. Keep it simple and real.

  • Kevin

    The protest is against Wall Street, not the Oakland police or the city. They are not protesting the Mayor or any in her government. They are protesting the unelected 1% who own the system. The police, the mayor and the protesters are all on the same side of this.

  • Sparky

    I believe you are mistaken; most riots in Oakland (when not celebrating a loss or win by the Raiders) are caused my intervention of the OPD of lawful Constitutionally protected freedom of speech. Do you remember the most famous time someone claimed “I was only following orders.”? It was at the Nuremberg Trials when we were prosecuting WWII criminals. You’re either with us or against us.

    • JD123

      “Do you remember the most famous time someone claimed “I was only following orders.”? It was at the Nuremberg Trials when we were prosecuting WWII criminals.”

      I knew I heard that from somewhere before! LAME excuse!

  • Jon

    The occupation is not against “the establishment.” Placing that in the letter with sardonic quotes was inartful.

    The occupation is a demonstration against corruption.

  • pchas

    Jean Quan is a good example of why ranked choice voting is a mistake. The Don would never have let this happen. RECALL JEAN QUAN!!!!

    • jon asmerom

      ‘the Don’ isn’t calling shots around here anymore, because the people didn’t want him to. and he’s doing a real disservice to this city (and his reputation) with his orchestrating the recall petition.

  • Joe


    If you’re not voting, then start now. It’s the most basic action the 99 percent can take to fight cronyism, greed and corruption which run deep in our political systems. We cannot expect a 180 degree change in how the free market and governments have operated over the last several decades because of these populist protests. We have the capacity to catalyze long-term, fundamental change by making informed decisions about who will represent us. The Occupy Wall Street movement will be nothing more than a fad unless the 99 percent takes up its civic responsibility.

    Voting is dull, boring and inconvenient. But it will work. OaklandNorth reported that last year’s voter turnout in Alameda county was the lowest in a decade. Let’s not make this a habit – only when we vote will we will truly begin to Occupy Wall Street.

    • JD123

      Who do you vote for when all candidates in most races are bought? Progressives don’t take corporate cash, so their campaigns don’t exist in the eyes of most Americans. They lose big. Ads cost $$$. OWS serves as much to educate people as to inspire change. Maybe as a result of this movement people will start to look for candidates who don’t take corporate money, but that’s not a mainstream message. People need to know who the enemy is before they can make good voting decisions.

    • Peter King

      Yes, everyone should vote. But the elections too are manipulated, and by a great degree by black box voting systems ( manufactured by Premier Elections Systems (formerly Diebold, name changed to protect guilty corporation?), Sequia Voting Systems ( and others. It appears that overzealous individuals have also pulled some strings:

  • Mike

    It would be easier to believe you are the 99% if you would strike! The rich would shit if there protectors woke up,
    and realized they were screwed just like the rest of us. You are the 99 % so STRIKE! today and 11/11/11 and 11/11/ 17. Being free in a democracy is worth more then any amount of $

  • “I know the business community is struggling in the city hall area. The protest is not hurting Wall Street, it’s hurting our city.”

    The final sentence of this letter makes it very clear to me where OPD stands in regards to the occupation. No confusion indeed. Keep following your orders, sir. But please do not act confused when the citizens of your city stop following yours.

  • Wahed Rejol

    The real revolution will begin when YOU stand with the 99%. Stop being a bunch of pussies! Tell your superiors to go fuck themselves when they tell you clear out the square. Strike with us!

  • Jim Strathmeyer

    Passing the blame. Dirty cops, everywhere. Support the Occupy Wall Street Patriots.

  • Leland

    you want to hear from those who support you assaulting people? Try in your own police force or maybe the other people who also wear police uniforms and blame their atrocious actions on the uniform and “following orders” Ya damn , Nazi stormtrooper. your own statement labels you the same as war criminals who claimed the they were ” following orders” YOU are responsible for YOUR actions.

  • Charles Banner

    I truly believe that many of the police in every city, and the firefighters, and the sanitation workers, and the school teachers… are all with the 99% and the true beliefs of the Occupy movements: fairness and opportunity for all, and accountability for those that have committed crimes at the top and gotten away with it and our money. However, Sgt. Dom Arotzarena — why do you not address the unnecessary tactics that were used? Just because you were provoked, and just because the mayor ordered you to clear the protesters out of the park, doesn’t mean you had the right and the duty to hurt people and put Scot Owen into intensive care. That’s your job. If you can’t handle it, become a firefigther, or a sanitation worker or a teacher. Don’t just act confused…

  • Lesaforthe99%

    I want to show the OPD how real police, who know that they are to protect the public, not brutalize and terrorize them. Rather than making the sadly lacking in honor statement of “we were only following orders” [to brutalize?], take a lesson in honor and duty to your country by emulating these officers who acted with the heart of the 99% you claim to be part of:

    When do you meet peace with violence, when you enjoy violence for the sake of violence in the name of feeling powerful, foregoing your oath as officers “to serve and to protect” [in case you need to be reminded], you become terrorists. It is as simple as that

    You do not have to act against your conscience – ever. Shame! Shame! Shame!

    Your open letter says nothing except, “we don’t want to be the bad guys here” well you all can point your fingers at one another but we all know you were in it with Quinn and the ghoul Santana. If you want to get brutal, go after the woman who stole your pay raises, and was the woman playing you to take a fall. You are the 99%, thanks to your loss, Santana is part of the 1%. If city workers don’t want to take the day off to protest this, I don’t know what is going to get them out there.

    “While Oakland’s rank-and-file city workers are taking pay cuts to keep their jobs, Mayor Jean Quan and the City Council handed the new city administrator a salary that’s $9,000 over top scale – then tossed in what could be a $15,000-plus bonus.

    Under the deal, Deanna Santana, the former deputy city manager in San Jose, will get $273,000 a year in base pay with three weeks’ vacation, plus a one-time bonus of four weeks of paid “executive development” time off.

    Santana can cash in as much as three weeks of unused bonus weeks at the end of the year for about $15,750.

    Put it all together, and Santana’s first-year pay could total more than $288,000.

    She also gets $10,000 in moving expenses.”

  • George Lewro

    The mayor’s orders to “take out the encampment” and her subsequent reversal are only “confusing” if you neglect the elephant in the living room. Namely, when OPD moved in to take out the camp, you severly injured a war veteran who wasn’t doing anything, and then threw a flash grenade into the group of people trying to save his life!

    So, let’s be honest about this. Issue a formal apology, donate some money to the guy’s medical care, and press charges against the “officer” who threw the flash grenade. That’s the bare minimum you can do at this point. A major mistake was made, and it needs to be rectified if at all possible.

    Next, join hands with the NON-VIOLENT MOVEMENT in downtown anytown. With your assistance and expertise, we can truly transform this sick society and get some justice for the downtrodden. It may take some time to heal the wounds, but I have a feeling that many people will welcome you, if you’re willing to struggle with us.

  • Darren

    I received this email from the Office of Mayor Jean Quan in reply to my complaint about police violence:

    News from: The Office of Mayor Jean Quan

    November 1, 2011

    Mayor Jean Quan’s Statement Concerning

    Day of Action on November 2, 2011

    It is my expectation that tomorrow’s general strike is peaceful and places the issues of the 99% front and center. I am working with the police chief to

    make sure that the pro-99% activists – whose cause I support – will have the freedom to get their message across without the conflict that marred

    last week’s events. Although getting the balance right is never an easy task, in Oakland we are committed to honoring free speech and protecting

    public safety.

    The protestors are raising important issues that we must confront. Oakland is a city struggling with high levels of unemployment,

    underemployment, foreclosure, and budget cuts. We all have to work together to solve these problems.

    Tomorrow morning, Chief Jordan and Administrator Santana and I will open the Emergency Operations Center early in the morning and work together to monitor the situation and maintain peace. I call on everyone to lift up important issues and to lift up peace.

    In the short term, I want to encourage everyone to support our small businesses, especially those in the downtown core who have experienced

    declining patronage. They are a part of the 99%, and they are essential to our local economy.

  • aurl eve

    look asshole, if your looking for any goddamned sympathy from me your not going to f_____g get any here! You MFKer’s throw bombs on people trying to help a marine down and then say this s__t. You can all go to hell! Most of you bastards are young with too much testosterone in your thick necks, and you’ve been raised to look for a f_____g fight well you’re in one now you bastards! Enjoy it, its what you’ve always wanted right ? Oh yea one more thing —–KISS MY ASS!

  • BigDaddy

    Just following orders? To shoot tear gas canisters and flash grenades directly at unarmed protesters causing them bodily harm? I don’t think so. Until there is some admission on their part that some of the cops were abusive and dangerous, this means almost nothing. Also, at the end they are talking about how the protests only affect local business? Wrong again, officers.

  • Diell Louis

    Police, like everyone else, have good people, bad people, lazy people and bullies among them. The true life story of Serpico is not an aberration. Even though there are some good cops, they all stand together when it comes to cops who do bad things. Unfortunately I have been a victim of a bully cop and have the injuries and hospital reports to prove it. I also have their report of the incident, which leaves out all the important details of the bully cop beating me. Worst of all I was innocent, but the judge and the system forced me to plead guilty to at least one misdemeanor charge to get out of more jail time. Bottom line, the cops and the justice system are not your friends if you stand against the majority or support an unpopular movement. And they can be your worst enemies.

  • Kim M

    It wasn’t Mayor Quan who fired the round that hit United States War Veteran Scott Olson in the head causing a skull fracture.

    That was a violent, gun-ho Pig who couldn’t wait to unleash on Oakland/American citizens.

    I don’t feel one bit sorry for these corrupt violent wanna be Nazi’s. These cops need to stop whining and strike like the rest of the city.

    If Quan told some to go and others that they couldn’t that would be a “discrimination in the work place” case.

    As a law enforcement officers pull up your big boy panties and protest, or carry your gun, either the way the choice is yours and yes we’re paying attention!

    The moment an officer who’s not originally scheduled to work today and shows up for a shift against peaceful protestors is making a conscious decision to go against the 99%

    You have got to pick your side and stand for it!

  • nick

    How are politicians and the top 1% not just going public and having a live broadcast discussion breaking down why things are the way they are in an open panel??? bump!!

  • nick

    How come politicians and the top 1% and the establishment doesnt discuss why things are the way they are live broadcast with open panel questions from the public?

  • An Oakland Resident

    As a long time resident of Oakland, who has been victim of and witness to the ever growing crime situation that two Mayors have failed to address AND a supporter of the OWS movement, I have to give OPD support. What happened at the clearing of the encampment was an unfortunate mistake, and that individual should be absolutely held accountable. However, I have also seen OWS participants harassing, belittling, and pushing police when, as they point out, they are part of the 99%. Not everyone can afford to just stop doing their job, when they have families to support (in an impossible economy) and a life, in one of the most expensive areas of the US, to provide for. I have met and spoken with many OPD officers and they aren’t getting paid shit, they work thankless hours, under ridiculous conditions and crime. If you don’t live here, you have no clue.

    Jean Quan has failed Oakland. She collected money from us for Measure Y and failed to increase police training and hiring in lieu of her special interest community projects. Now, she is pitting the city against itself in the worst act of cowardice I have ever witnessed. Thank you to the OPD for speaking out and telling the obvious. Jean Quan needs to go. Immediately. There needs to be another election and a candidate who can heal this city needs to take her place. This is the worst I have ever seen the city that I love.

    Thank you OPD. You are understaffed and underpaid but your community loves and appreciates you. The letter is well written and conveys the sentiments I appreciate in your service most. No on H, I and J. No more blank checks out of our pockets for Jean.

  • An Oakland Resident

    And for those of you who are condemning the police, if you read the letter, sounds to me they’re saying they support OWS and WANT to be standing beside you not across from you. When an olive branch is offered, accept peace. Isn’t that what we all really want? Equality? Isn’t it equality for all and accountability for individual wrong-doers? Punish the cop who did wrong, but don’t damn the entire dept when they are ON YOUR SIDE!!!!

  • Consumer

    well well well….. seems pretty simple. The Oakland cops feel like complete dicks because they were caught YET AGAIN using brutality against the kids protesting and f#cked up an Iraq vet in the process… as we saw in new york, cops are subservient to Iraq vets. so…. they feel sorry for themselves. Understandably so. But this letter is more than feeling sorry for themselves, this letter is basically blaming the mayor for everything. True. F#ck the mayor too!

  • Consumer

    there’s NO MISTAKE in throwing a flash bomb at a group of kids trying to help an Iraq war vet that was shot point blank in the face by a tear gas cannister. Hey COPS. You work for ALL OF THE PEOPLE not just your richie rich bosses in the business district.

  • An Oakland Resident

    Holding the entire PD responsible for the evil actions of one individual is no different than holding all protestors responsible for the bad behavior of a single individual. Don’t become the hate you claim to denounce.

  • I think the fact that the police are so “confused” significantly demonstrates the problem. Police are flunkees who don’t understand how to navigate through the complexities of Public Policy. If they’re told to keep the protestors in line, they have no clue how to deal with a gray area and keep the peace.

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