Police Agencies Used Agreement Based On Disaster Response To Quell Occupy Oakland

Nov. 7, 2011 | How did the Oakland Police Department attract and mount such a large multi-city force against Occupy Oakland protesters over the past two weeks?

The legal backbone for the assault, at least, among Alameda County cities, comes from a 2005 agreement crafted primarily to quickly amass law enforcement power in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, not to disperse largely peaceful assembly.

The Alameda County Operational Area Emergency Management Organization knits together various law enforcement entities and local government agencies, including the County Board of Supervisors.

Police officers from nearly every Alameda County city and neighboring counties participated in nighttime conflicts with Occupy Oakland protesters Oct. 25 and Nov. 2. The police action featured numerous rounds of tear gas, flashbang grenades and discharge of rubber bullets and bean bags at protesters. Two Iraq War veterans were seriously injured in the raids.

Nowhere in the document does it reference using the agreement for maintaining public peace in the event of a spirited protest.

“The potential for a major catastrophe due to natural and manmade disaster requires all government entities within Alameda County to be prepared to share resources and information among themselves…in order to protect public welfare…” reads the document.

The agreement also holds individual cities liable for the salary, employment and benefits of each of its members participating in any coordinated action.

For its part, Oakland city leaders said a partial tally of the cost of combating Occupy Oakland protesters is just over $1 million. Other participating cities, including San Leandro, will begin monetizing the cost of mutual aid in coming days.