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Federal Lawsuit Filed Against City of Oakland for Police Violence During Recent Protests




At the tail-end of a 15,000-strong youth-led protests Monday June 1st, a few hundred protesters flee after Oakland Police Department released tear gas and flashbang grenades without warning. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.

Representatives of social justice organizations and individuals announced a civil rights class-action lawsuit Thursday against the City of Oakland in the wake of police violence during protests May 29 and June 3.

During the protests, Oakland police and other law enforcement agencies used tear gas, rubber bullets, flashbang grenades and other “nonlethal” weapons against students who marched into the downtown area and people protesting near police department headquarters.

“Despite almost 20 years of federal court oversight and several settlement agreements, the Oakland police continue to violate the rights of peaceful protestors, particularly African Americans and other people of color,” said civil rights attorney Walter Riley.

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) members Riley and Dan Siegel of Siegel, Yee, Brunner & Mehta are lead counsel in the case, filed in federal court.

Scheduled speakers at the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Thursday morning press conference were Siegel and Riley; Sara Kershnar, NLG chapter executive director; James Burch, NLG chapter president; Cat Brooks, Anti-Police Terror Project; and Akil Riley, youth organizer.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to ban the use of tear gas, flash-bang grenades, wooden and rubber bullets, and other dangerous tactics against protesters.

It also seeks damages for persons injured by the police on May 29 and June 3.

“We are seeking relief in the courts, but we demand that the mayor and City Council finally take the steps necessary to create a police department whose leaders and officers are held strictly accountable for violations of people’s rights,” said Riley.