OPD spies on and beats protesters

Public records show monitoring, use of force

Recently sunshined public documents confirm the OPD sends plainclothes officers to Occupy meetings.


This article has been updated

Oakland Police Department's internal communications about the Occupy Oakland movement — which the Guardian obtained through the California Public Records Act — confirm what many protesters already know: plainclothes officers frequent meetings, police monitor Occupy Oakland's online communications, anarchists are feared, and police use of force that injures protesters, often brutally, is common practice.

The documents include meeting notes and activity logs from Oct. 25, when officers from Oakland and nearby cities infamously tried to dismantle the tents in front of City Hall. In a confrontation lasting more than 24 hours, officers deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, flash bang grenades and pepper bombs, injuring dozens, including Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old veteran who had served two tours in Iraq.

Logs from Nov. 2-3 — during Oakland's general strike, first port shutdown, and occupation of the Travelers Aid Society building — also detail the use of tear gas and other "less than lethal" weaponry and injuries. In total, the reports on arrests and use of force, as well as complaints filed with the OPD, spanning from Oct. 25, 2011 to Feb. 11, 2012, paint the picture of an agency engaged in something akin to urban warfare against a feared enemy.

"Surveillance teams will consist of undercover officers supervised by a sergeant. They will operate from elevated positions or walk within the crowd and report threat information to the MFF commander via the surveillance team leader," read an Oct. 24 operations memo. Throughout the day on Oct. 25, officers make note of constantly checking Occupy Oakland's website, Facebook, Twitter, and Livestream to anticipate protesters actions.

On Nov. 3, officers discuss changing the radio frequency that they were using for communication after protesters discovered it and began livestreaming the channel.

Officers also seem wary of the power of social networking to influence their strategies. Deputy Chief Eric Breshears suggests that the "port is isolated" so police should simply "surround [protesters] and start negotiating." But the strategy is rejected with this response: "None are truly isolated. Twitter."

OPD has come under fire in the past for the actions of undercover cops. In 2006, documents released to the ACLU revealed that undercover officers had spied on an and potentially infultrated an anti-war march during a Port blockade protest (police claimed that they had led the protest march, but activists maintain that the march was certainly not led by uncdercover police.) At that protest, police ended up blasting the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets, as well as attacking with wooden pallets and motorcycles; 50 were injured.

Officers sometimes make judgments based on class or political beliefs. In an Oct. 24 briefing, a plainclothes officer, having strolled through the encampment, reports that "the group is diverse, made up of persons including self-proclaimed anarchists, labor unions, long term homeless individuals, special cause supporters and others."

Oakland police also noted the presence of Occupy SF protesters and groups including California Nurses United.

"We just got info that the San Francisco group is coming here in support of the Oakland folks," Deputy Chief Jeff Israel reported on Oct. 25. On Nov. 3, he recorded protesters "at Wells Fargo in SF now, 150-300 people. Recruiting Occupy Oakland and Occupy SF." At another meeting three hours later, Israel reports to a meeting that "Occupy SF is sending support. Might be here already."

But Oakland cops were less impressed by their San Francisco counterparts. OPD Chief Howard Johnson reportedly said: "SFPD is mad. They wanted to come play with us. Had 19 people. Had them protect our PAB [Police Administration Building]. Problem is, they don't have gas masks. Couldn't get close to the action."


I was injured in Oakland on Move-In-Day as well. I spent a couple hours in the hospital day and I am still suffering from some pain, and trauma. I frequently awaken in the night from nightmares and I am consistantly haunted by flashbacks of the brutality I witnessed that day. I am suffering kidney damage and and a couple broken ribs total after that day. I am getting ready to return to San Francisco after a month-long retreat to Oregon for recovery time. With my Leukemia and the fact that my kidneys were already having probems when I was injured, the officer who struck me very well could have killed me. I am collecting evidence to support a full lawsuit and thought you should know. I am thankfull to the Guardian for exposing Oakland Police Department for their disgusting UOF and lack of human connection. I am heartbroken over it. These were children once and now they have no connection with the humanity in the people they are hurting. It is sad and disgusting and I will Fuck The Police every week until they get it that we are not enemies, we are trying to save them from a dying world and a murderous system. I was 14 when this system decided the welfare of the banks was more important than my life. Diagnosed with Leukemia I fell ill and was never treated. Now I am frequently too ill to get out of bed and if I get up anyways it is more pain than I care to recount. I am still going strong, fighting with my every breath to end this killer system and bring about a new world where I can rest in peace knowing that what happened to me, will most assuredly NEVER happen again.

Posted by Miran Istina on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 9:45 am

absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing! stay strong and keep spreading your hopeful message

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

She does not have cancer and her name is not Miran Istina. Her name is Mandy Chappel aka Mandy Tewalt. By allowing her to continue to publish these fantasies you are colluding in her delusions. She's sick all right - but not with cancer.

Occupy is a noble movement but people like Miran aka Mandy are using it for their own ends and through their lies - damaging it deeply.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

Yes, she is full of fantasy. You can find more of her drama on facebook at her fake name of Miran Rose Istina

Posted by susan on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 12:02 am

You write, "In 2003, undercover officers admitted to leading an anti-war march during a Port blockade protest."
This was from ACLU's The State of Surveillance Government Monitoring of Political Activity in Northern and Central California in 2006, referring to a 2003 protest at the Oakland docks at shich OPD attacked nonviolent protesters injuring 60. I talked with Mark Schlosberg from ACLU about this at the time and he acknowledges that they did not check with anyone and based their report solely on the testimony of the cop. The Oakland cop's statement simply does not make any sense or show any knowledge of how we in Direct Action to Stop the War organized; we did not elect anyone to anything, the obvious route (BART to Docks) was chosen in a general meeting and our tactical team was chosen from well known folks in affinity groups. While anyone could show up at our public meetings, the idea that two plainclothes cops can walk in and take over an action is both not possible, did not happen and makes us look ridiculous. In this case, the Oakland Police simply bragged--and lied.

Posted by Guest pre-occupation on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 1:03 pm


nice blog initally :)

as i couldn't find any creative commons licenses on your blog, and in the past had some troubles with hysterical bloggers, believing me to be content- stealing from their sites (even whough referring to author, date and original link of the post), I am aksing, if it was eligable to share your contents by copying and linking it on one other's personal blog?
Please note that author and original link will be provided, if I reblog.

I am asking for content like this one http://www.sfbg.com/2012/03/13/opd-spies-and-beats-protesters?utm_campai...

Thanks for answert


Posted by Sunny Romy on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 10:19 am

After the police raid I went over in support of the initial re-encampment March on the same day they were kicked out. That's when the 2 Iraq veterans were injured on the night of October 25th to 26th. The outcry and public support across the nation in response were massive and welcome.

Speaking helps but fighting in the courts takes so long that there are lags in filing and fighting in court. Obtaining reports from both the lawyers and the people who need to file( it can't be done by your supporters) will be another wave of the appeals to justice for the people who believe in responsibility and adjudication. Even if the current justice system fails to hear us, then we show that the legal steps were taken to redress our grievances against the police suppression.

Protest is another form of redress to our grievances to the people. I hope we continue to grow in community building across the Occupy sites.


Posted by Hardcase on Mar. 24, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

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