Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks will
block you from her Twitter feed and the reasons
might never be clear.

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks is on Twitter, but she is hardly the most profound user of the social media tool. Most of her posts are merely links to activity from her Facebook page. But, apparently any mention of Brooks deemed hostile by the long-time council member will get you blocked from her feed. The practice could be illegal and more likely unethical.

The issue of public officials indiscriminately blocking users from their Twitter feed came to light last week when a blogger highlighted the pitfalls of elected officials ostensibly cutting off communication to some constituents while keeping the lines open for others. A public records request for frequency of some officials for blocking users found the practice is widespread.

A similar request for every member of the Oakland City Council and city auditor is not complete, but Brooks’ office reported they were unable to match any records to the request. The response led to a number of Oakland Twitter users to share their own experiences with being blocked by Brooks, a public official notorious for her bruising, in-your-face personality, not only in Oakland, but across the entire East Bay political landscape.

Count me as being blocked by Brooks. However, I have long been a critic of her acerbic style. I’m also not one of her constituents. But like other users blocked by Brooks, it’s not clear what precipitated the move. I’ve been critical of Brooks divisive rhetoric often, including the fear she has instilled in other officials from outside of Oakland.

Maybe she blocked me because I asserted her tactic to escape almost being censured two years ago amounted to self-serving and corrosive race-baiting. Maybe she didn’t like my reporting about her City Council opponent last year who surprisingly was out-trash-talking Brooks, the most famous trash-talker of all.

By the end of the campaign, though, Brooks seemed delightful when she drove me around East Oakland last September for a story I wrote for the East Bay Express on her re-election campaign. Somewhere down the line, she apparently broke up with me and, if recollection serves me, blocked me from her Twitter feed a second time.