Thank you for joining us to again say #ThanksButNoTanks to OPD’s Bearcat on Thu Mar 25 6:30pm at the Oakland Police Commission
Update from Thursday March 25
The Police Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee has a proposal to retire the BearCat in 2-3+ years - despite the Oakland Reimagining Public Safety Taskforce’s recommendation of an 8 month retirement!
Please join us at 6:30pm this Thursday March 25 to tell the Police Commission that you’d like the BearCat retired in 2021 and to amend their proposal to follow the timeline recommended by the Taskforce.
Update from Friday February 12
Thank you for joining us in the fight against OPD’s militarization! Well over 300 of you signed the petition as individuals, and over two dozen organizations signed as well. About 40 of you lifted your voices in public comment at the Police Commission #oakmtg on Thursday February 11.
Thanks to you, the Police Commission has instructed its Ad Hoc committee on Militarized Equipment to explore giving guidance to retire the Bearcat.
You can read the exact motions and see which commissioners voted which way on the draft minutes under Item XI. The minutes are non-exhaustive and are available from the Police Commission’s meetings page).
This could not have happened without your help!!
From the bottoms of our hearts, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Update from Friday February 11
Did you know Oakland has a small tank, called a BearCat?
Did you know Oakland Police used it as a shooting platform to murder a sleeping man?
The ensuing federal oversight included requiring a policy governing its (and other armored vehicles’) use.
On January 11, the (all-volunteer) Police Commission’s Ad Hoc committee held a public forum, where they heard unanimously from the public that no one wanted the OPD to have a BearCat at all. Some public speakers shared very personal experiences, including one teenager whose family experienced a raid featuring the BearCat (the raid was over supposed weed).
Despite the unanimous outpouring from all across the city calling for a decommission of OPD’s tank, the Ad Hoc committee will be recommending at Thursday evening’s Police Commission meeting to adopt a policy that allows broad continued use of the BearCat.
Public comment will begin shortly after 6:30pm and signup to speak often cuts off just before the first speaker begins: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88596700643
Commenting is the most important thing you can do to help! Hearing from people who care enough to show up to a meeting can really change minds. Also, it can be fun! We will be on Twitter chatting on the #oakmtg and #ThanksButNoTanks hashtags before and during the meeting to share talking points and give advice on how to make your public comment count. Join us!
There’s a closed session immediately before the public meeting, and it is possible that the closed session will run long. If you’re signed in to this Zoom link with your hand raised by 6:30 pm, you should be able to comment for one minute: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88596700643
Here are some tips for making a public comment:
And that’s it! Congrats on making your first public comment!
At the #OakMtg (Appreciation) Club, we’re mainly focused on transparency and accountability in local government, and we don’t always take a specific stand on an issue besides advocating for better formal processes. We never want to tell you exactly what to say, but if you’re looking for some points to highlight while making your comment or writing to the Police Commissioners, here is what’s top of mind for us:
We’re mad because the Police Commission, who is supposed to represent the public while conducting police oversight, ignored the public. The Ad Hoc committee for this policy held a town hall where the public overwhelmingly asked them to draft a policy that would retire or restrict use of the BearCat. This policy ignores those voices and treats the BearCat and Armored Suburban (another armored vehicle that’s much less intimidating) as interchangeable.
We’re mad because the Police Commission is treating this policy as a “rough draft” when really it’s life or death. The Police Commissioners on the Ad Hoc committee for this police have written a letter (you can read it in the agenda on page 10) explaining that this policy was written to meet a deadline set by Judge Orrick, the judge who oversees the federal Negotiated Settlement Agreement. The Commissioners argue that if the City Council passes the Controlled Equipment Ordinance–a completely separate piece of legislation–they will automatically have to revisit the BearCat policy. We think this is a bad argument because:
We’re mad because while this policy is an improvement, it still makes it possible for the BearCat to be involved in another incident like the one that killed Joshua Pawlik. Expect Police Commissioners to reassure the public that the policy is a marked improvement over past policies. In this case, better is not a big enough ask. We need a policy that will make it impossible to duplicate that tragic and fatal mistake.
We’re mad because the Police Commission had better options. OPD has two armored vehicles, and they use them interchangeably. The Armored Suburban can handle most incidents, and one option the Commission had was to restrict use of the BearCat unless there was credible intelligence of 50 caliber ammunition (that’s very big and very rare!). While we want the BearCat gone entirely, we think this is what a good compromise would look like.
We’re mad because OPD doesn’t need the BearCat. They currently have two armored vehicles, but they didn’t have any until 2008. Policing in Oakland without the BearCat is more than possible; it was the norm!
We’re mad because the BearCat leads to lazy policing, and lazy policing is dangerous policing. OPD loves the BearCat because it makes them feel safe. In truth, though, it’s an unreliable and complicated piece of equipment that’s constantly in the shop. We think relying on military-grade equipment without military-style discipline creates liabilities and leads to the type of adrenaline-fueled decision making that led to OPD killing Joshua Pawlik.
We’re mad because the BearCat is terrifying, and OPD already used it as a shooting platform to kill someone. We don’t think the Police Commission should be involved in authorizing its use when the Armored Suburban is a perfectly suitable alternative.
Those are the reasons why we’re mad, but we know there are more reasons; you’ve probably thought of several of your own while reading! Please feel free to use these and others when making your public comment around 6:30PM on Thursday, February 11.