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Police Watchdogs Call for Firing of Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

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Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

The Coalition for Police Accountability (CPA) is calling on Federal Compliance Director Robert Warsaw to fire Oakland’s Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. Their call comes about a year after four officers from the Oakland Police Department (OPD) killed 31-year-old homeless resident Joshua Pawlik on March 11, 2018.

OPD’s video shows Sgt. Francisco Negrete and officers William Berger, Brandon Hraiz, and Craig Tanaka shooting Pawlick approximately 46 seconds after screaming their first commands as they huddled behind a bullet proof police vehicle.

Pawlick was armed and laying between two homes. He appeared to be asleep or unconscious as the officers screamed their first commands. As he seemed to be awakening, they shot him.

For a year, Kirkpatrick chose not to discipline any of the officers involved with the shooting claiming lethal force was legal as Pawlick posed “an immediate threat.” However, federally-appointed Compliance Director Warsaw has recently criticized the internal investigation that cleared the officers.

In a four-page report, Warsaw disapproved of OPD’s decision not to utilize the available video of the events to check contradictory statements that the officers made and/or to refer to the video during questioning of the officers.

Warsaw also disagreed with OPD’s finding that Pawlick posed an immediate threat to the officers. He said the shooting victim’s movements “were consistent with someone who was waking up and attempting to orient himself” and that a reasonable officer should not have perceived a threat.

On March 12, 2018, acting under the authority of the federal court, Warsaw ordered the four officers who shot Pawlik removed from the force. In response OPD has placed Officers Berger, Hraiz, and Tanaka on administrative leave. Sgt. Negrete is on stress leave.

Administrative leave is often a first step in the procedure of terminating officers. The officers are still getting paid, and Kirkpatrick has yet to explicitly say she is firing them.

The CPA argues that the four officers involved in the shooting should have been removed a long time ago, and Kirkpatrick should be held accountable for failing to discipline them.

CPA member Pam Drake raises other concerns about Chief Kirkpatrick’s leadership. Drake remembers OPD officer Nicole Rhodes killed Demouria Hogg in a similar way as Pawlik, shortly after he was woken up by other OPD officers smashing open his car window on June 6, 2015.

“I’ll never forget it, and they got away with it,” she said.

Drake criticized Kirkpatrick for not looking to Oakland’s Police Commission to make better policy in dealing with use of lethal force when waking suspects. She says that Kirkpatrick has been absent from Police Commission meetings, the organization that is supposed to oversee OPD’s policy.

Kirkpatrick was appointed by Mayor Libby Schaaf in January 2017 in the wake of a sex trafficking scandal involving OPD officers and an underage girl.

CPA says Kirkpatrick promoted several officers implicated in that scandal. The chief was also involved an ICE raid that went against the city’s sanctuary city policy, which prohibits cooperating with ICE. Though Schaaf warned the public of the raid, she never admonished Kirkpatrick for her decision to collaborate with ICE.

CPA leaders say Warsaw has the responsibility to fire Kirkpatrick. They say that under Kirkpatrick’s tenure, the department has moved further away from compliance with federal court oversight through the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, now in its 16th year.

“The compliance director has the authority to do what is needed,” said CPA leader Rashidah Grinage. “It’s in his job description to remove impediments to compliance.”

At the time of publication, OPD and the Mayor’s office had not responded to the Oakland Post’s request for comment.

Activism

Sen. Steven Bradford Brings Strength and Reason to Police Reform Fight

SB 2 would strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act. Enacted in 1987, that legislation prevents law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations.

California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), admits that he will meet challenges along the way as he fights for police reform in California. 

     Last week, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing he defended a bill he introduced in the Legislature that, if passed, would decertify cops for inappropriate behavior. During that appearance, Bradford made a persuasive case for police reform that was, at turns, forceful and thoughtful, bringing a cool head but passionate voice to a topic that has created a bitter divide in the California electorate, pitting advocates of police reform violently against people who support law enforcement. 

      “This is a tough issue but it’s a righteous issue,” Bradford told his colleagues. 

      “And we want to be intentional about what we are doing here in California when it comes to police reform,” he continued during his passionate closing argument for police reform on April 27. “That’s what this bill does. It’s intentional in what we are trying to achieve. This is a fair measure and far better than any that exist today.”

     Co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), Senate Bill (SB) 2 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 7-2 vote that same day. Also known as the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021, the legislation aims to increase accountability for law enforcement officers that commit serious misconduct and illegally violate a person’s civil rights.

     SB 2 will create a statewide process to revoke the certification of a peace officer following the conviction of serious crimes or termination from employment due to misconduct.

      Bradford praised the judiciary committee’s majority vote, describing it as progress that would put California on the “right side of history.”

     Atkins agrees. 

     “The passage of SB 2 (April 27) is another step toward the goal of achieving much-needed accountability in policing, and I thank Senator Bradford for his steadfast commitment to achieving critical and necessary reforms,” said Atkins. “As with anything this big, there is a lot of work ahead, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues to get this bill in the position to cross the finish line.”

     The California Peace Officer Association (CPOA) believes that Bradford’s bill would turn the California Committee on Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) into an investigative agency. A sticking point for the group is that the people who would be given the authority to probe police misconduct would primarily be non-peace officers. 

     “We, of course, know that not all reform is a good reform, and CPOA among others is open to ‘reimagining public safety in California,” Shaun Rundle, CPOA’s deputy director said in a written statement about several police reform and public safety bills scheduled for hearings. “What we didn’t imagine, however, was the continued attacks against a noble profession who have proven to improve and drive down crime in this state year after year.”

     With the passage of SB 2 out of committee, the legislation will move on to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. If it advances out of that committee, SB 2 could head to a Senate floor vote. 

    During the Judiciary Committee hearing, which lasted for nearly three hours, a few senators expressed their support but asked Bradford to modify language pertaining to the Bane Act. 

     SB 2 would strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act. Enacted in 1987, that legislation prevents law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations. Authored by California State Assemblymember Tom Bane, the legislation was created to allow victims to seek compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and civil penalties.

    Supporters of police reform in California say the Bane Act has been undercut by bad court decisions over the years. They argue that it was once an effective law intended to protect the civil rights of people in the state but has since been weakened as an effective check against police excessive use of force. 

     The California State Sheriffs’ Association views SB 2 as problematic, in terms of hiring, recruiting, and maintaining employees. 

    “We are concerned that the language removing employee immunity from state civil liability will result in individual peace officers hesitating or failing to act out of fear that actions they believe to be lawful may result in litigation and damages. In so doing, SB 2 will very likely jeopardize public safety and diminish our ability to recruit, hire, and retain qualified individuals,” the California State Sheriffs’ Association said in a written statement.

 

    But Bradford says his bill essentially addresses rogue policing and hinders the ability of fired officers to find employment at other agencies even when they have a record of misconduct that got them terminated. 

    Among states that do not have a process to decertify cops for criminal behavior are Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. 

    “We lead in technology, we lead in the environment, we lead in all those things that are important except for criminal justice reform,” Bradford said, referring to California’s reputation as a political trailblazer on several fronts. 

     People of color live in the communities where the majority of police misconduct incidents take place, Bradford said, adding that SB 2 will save Black and Brown lives. 

     “How many more people, regardless of color need to lose their lives because of the callous acts of law enforcement?” Bradford asked his colleagues. “There are two systems of justice in this country. But you’ll never know, and really understand. Its far different than anything any of you guys have encountered or will encounter.”

 

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Art

City Council Approves $480,000 in Arts Grants

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

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The Oakland City Council approved $480,000 in grants to 17 Oakland-based non-profit organizations and 20 individual artists through the city’s Cultural Funding Program, Neighborhood Voices.

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

The grant program seeks to bring Oaklanders together to create and support a sense of belonging within a community, to foster social connections that lift people’s spirits, to encourage community well-being and offer visions for a collective future, according to the announcement.

The following individual artists each won $7,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Frederick Alvarado; Karla Brundage; Cristina Carpio; Darren Lee Colston; Maria De La Rosa; Elizabeth D. Foggie; Rachel-Anne Palacios; Laurie Polster; Hasain Rasheed; Kweku Kumi Rauf; Carmen Roman; Michael Roosevelt; Fernando Santos; Teofanny Octavia Saragi; Kimberly Sims-Battiste; Cleavon Smith; Lena Sok; Babette Thomas; Ja Ronn Thompson; Joseph Warner.

Each of the following organizations received $20,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Asian Health Services for Banteay Srei;

Beats Rhymes and Life;

Chapter 510 INK;

Dancers Group for dNaga GIRL Project;

Dancers Group for Dohee Lee Puri Arts;

Dancers Group for Grown Women Dance Collective;

East Oakland Youth Development Center;

Higher Gliffs for Endangered Ideas;

Hip Hop for Change;

Junior Center of Art and Science;

Mycelium Youth Network;

Oakland Education Fund for Youth Beat;

Oakland Theater Project, Inc.;

Sarah Webster Fabio Center for Social Justice;

The Intersection for Alphabet Rockers;

Women’s Audio Mission;

Youth Radio/YR Media.

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Community

Fourteenth Street Market Gives Community Healthy Alternatives in Oakland

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Photo credit: Auintard Henderson

Owner Oscar Edwards stands in front of his “14 Street Market” located at 416 14th St. in Oakland which opened on March 6.  Edwards says he “. . . built his grocery store to give access to his community and provide healthy alternatives and still have things they know as well.”  He adds that “Black press for him is the voice that helps to bring my ideas and expressions full circle to the people.”

“14 Street Market” is open 7 days a week, 10am – 8pm Monday through Saturday and 11am to 7pm on Sunday.  It’s your neighbor market with groceries, snacks, drinks and more.  

Follow them on IG:  https://instagram.com/fourteenthstreetmarket  

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