In the wee hours of January 24, Oakland’s city council voted to approve a $250,000 contract with consultant William Bratton, the man who brought “stop & frisk” to New York and Los Angeles. The hearing was packed, with community members filling two overflow rooms as well as the city council chamber, and the vast majority of speakers opposed the contract.
Oakland’s police department is already under federal oversight resulting from a multiplaintiff civil rights lawsuit filed in the late 1990s. The federal monitor has threatened to place the department in receivership because of noncompliance with the requirements of reporting and investigating misconduct.
Author Kitty Kelly Epstein wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, that “Community organizations have approached the city administrator and offered to convene meetings in the most marginalized and crime-affected communities to seek their ideas in a nonpoliticized and nonpunitive environment. And they have offered to do this for free.”
Critical Resistance, an Oakland-based grassroots organization promoting community solutions to mass incarceration, has put out an excellent fact sheet on Bratton’s “toxic policies.”