Revolution #155, February 8, 2009

Scandals in the Oakland Police

In the wake of the protests against the BART police murder of Oscar Grant several scandals have broken out inside the Oakland Police Department. On January 28, Oakland Chief of Police Wayne Tucker announced that he was resigning from his position. While there is bourgeois infighting involved in these scandals, as well as a certain amount of damage control, these scandals also reveal some cold facts about how the system works.

Take this case which has just come to light: In April of 2000, police repeatedly kicked Andrew Amaro III, 36, after he was arrested on a drug charge. Amaro was taken to the hospital, released but continued to suffer chest pain. He died of pneumonia a few days later, which the coroner said was caused by “blunt trauma to chest.” The police commander on the scene, Ed Poulson, kicked Andrew Amaro in the chest and told his subordinates to lie about what happened. The Oakland Police Department did not charge Poulson with murder, with assault, not even with falsifying police reports. Instead he was given a slap-on-the-wrist two-week suspension and later promoted to captain and made head of internal affairs, the division in the police that is charged with investigating complaints against cops. CAN WE RELY ON A SYSTEM THAT REWARDS MURDERING COPS WITH PROMOTIONS?

It has also been revealed that at least eleven police officers routinely lied on sworn affidavits to obtain search warrants. The Oakland police knew about this but claimed that it amounted to “procedural errors.” The police chief said that the cops only needed to be retrained. Only on January 15, in the aftermath of the demonstrations following the shooting of Oscar Grant, were these cops fired from the police. CAN WE RELY ON A SYSTEM THAT THINKS IT’S NO BIG DEAL FOR COPS TO LIE ON SEARCH WARRANTS—AND IF THEY LIE ON SEARCH WARRANTS WHAT ELSE ARE THEY LYING ABOUT? 

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