Bratton controversy divides Oakland community as council approves contract 7-1

Adam Blueford, whose teenage son Alan Blueford was fatally shot by Oakland police, spoke at Tuesday's meeting.
Screen shot from video by Daniel Arauz

Following a highly attended and closely watched meeting on Tuesday, Oakland City Council voted 7-1 to approve a $250,000 contract to hire a team of police consultants which includes controversial stop-and-frisk advocate Bill Bratton. During an eight-hour meeting that went until 2 a.m., hundreds of residents crammed into the council chambers to weigh in, some voicing concerns about what Bratton would mean for Oakland and others offering support for bringing him on to advise the Oakland Police Department (OPD) on combating crime.

While several council members voiced reservations about Bratton’s association with the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, only District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks voted against the contract. Brooks stressed that any effort to fight crime in Oakland would require more than aggressive policing, and must address the root causes of criminal activity.

"A vote against this contract tonight is not about not being serious about crime,” she said. “It's about [how] we need to do the real work. The real work to address crime in this community."

Speaking to the SF Bay Guardian after the meeting, District 3 Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney echoed many of Brook’s concerns. “Of course we have deal with poverty and access to education,” she said. “But that isn’t going to stop the bleeding now.” But in the end, McElhaney deferred to Jordan. “It’s about supporting the police chief who says he needs new resources to get the job done,” she said.

African American clergymen Bishop Bob Jackson, Bishop Frank Pincard and Reverend Gregory Payton voiced support for the contract. Jackson, who leads the 7,500-member Acts Full of Gospel Church in East Oakland, lamented a wave of violent crime that claimed more than 130 lives in 2012. “It’s gotten way out of control,” he said. “If Bratton can help stop the bloodshed, then I am for Bratton.”

Yet opponents of the contract expressed concern that Bratton’s support for stop-and-frisk policing would further exacerbate tensions between OPD and the community. “Stop-and-frisk will blow up in our face,” said Adam Blueford, whose teenage son Alan Blueford was fatally shot by Oakland police last May.

This clip was originally posted to Vimeo by Daniel Arauz.

George Holland, president of the Oakland branch of the NAACP, echoed these concerns, saying the NAACP opposes stop-and-frisk because “it invariably leads to racial profiling.”

In a presentation outlining the details of the $250,000 contract, Jordan stated that despite Bratton’s support for stop-and-frisk, there were no plans to implement the controversial tactic in Oakland.  “I do not support stop-and-frisk, I will not condone it, and we will practice constitutional policing,” the police chief assured the crowd.

But the practice, which was deemed unconstitutional earlier this month by a federal court ruling on its use in the Bronx in New York, is central to Bratton’s philosophy on policing. In a recent interview, Bratton told CBS San Francisco, “For any city to say they don’t do ‘stop-and-frisk’…I’m sorry, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about … Any police department in America that tries to function without some form of ‘stop-and-frisk,’ or whatever terminology they use, is doomed to failure. It’s that simple.”


Actually ordinary citizens don't benefit. Traffic stops are a very useful tool to get criminals off the streets. When cops pull someone over they run the driver and sometimes the passengers for warrants. This was how a murder suspect from San Francisco was caught last week. He was pulled over in Vegas for a traffic ticket and the police found his warrant. I think this was also how one of the shooters in the murder of Hiram Lawrence was found.

They also conduct searches of cars for things like drugs and weapons. During CHP's increased enforcement, they were able to take a number of guns off the street.

And if people don't want tickets, they shouldn't commit traffic offenses. I thought you would be in favor of tickets because it penalizes bad drivers making the roads safer for other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. But if you refer to cops as "donut-eaters", then your bias is pretty clear.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 1:22 am

Ordinary citizens that is.

I don't know of any evidence that says criminals are worse drivers than other people. Hell, if I was a criminal with an outstanding warrant, I would be extra careful to drive *perfectly* so that I don't get stopped. Finding criminals through traffic stops is a highly inefficient way of solving crimes. Better to spend the time actually solving crimes.

Traffic stops for California rolls and doing 75 on the freeway don't make anybody safer. They're just revenue generating devices and disproportionately target people of color. Often the victim of one of these "routine" traffic stops is guilty of no offense at all, except driving while black.

If the cops really want to make our roads safer, they should stop and give tickets to each other, because from what I've seen, the most maniacal drivers out there are the cops themselves!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 8:46 am

I never said that traffic stops are efficient in solving crimes. I said it was a tool that ends up catching criminals.

If YOU were a criminal I don't doubt that you would be extra careful to drive perfectly. But you're not out shooting people because you got dissed or "thought" you recognized someone as a member of a rival gang. Or are robbing people for a gold chain. Most petty criminals (who are the ones doing most of the shootings and strong arm robberies) are not what you would call MENSA material. They tend to have low impulse control, which is pretty evident in not just their driving but their actions in general.

And patrol cops don't investigate crimes. They react and respond. Detectives and investigators "solve" crimes.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

Kenneth Harding was a criminal and he didn't do anything extra, he didn't even pay for MUNI.

The common white middle class privileged view on how the world works is so interesting.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

Yep - all these cops abuse the taxpayer. No SF newspapers even bother to report the percentage of SFPD that is on "disability" or limited duty. It's staggering. They're bandits - stealing from taxpaying residents.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

I probably should have clarified that statement. I think he meant on "any given day" 200 officers are not around. By "off" I meant days off or vacation. But probably at any time at least 10 percent of any given police force in the country is on limited duty or disability.

And I didn't get that info from an SF newspaper. I saw it on channel 2 during Jean Quan's news conference before she left to DC.

And if you want bandits on the taxpayer dime? How about MUNI overtime? How about the MUNI mechanic who clocked over $150k (over TWICE his salary) in OT?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 12:21 am

Walking while black can lead to cops on motorbikes trying to run you down and smashing your head onto the sewer. Young black males not welcome around here. Stay in Bayview/Hunters Point or better yet Oakland.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

Why don't you tell the WHOLE story?

The cops were telling him to stop because he had just gotten into a confrontation with another black male and the cops wanted to see what had happened. He told the cops to F-off and that he could do what he wanted. When they went to stop him, he kept struggling with them and kept telling them to let go of him.

I don't care if a person is white, black, Asian, whatever, if they pull that with a cop, the cops will take him down just as hard.

All he had to do was just say "yeah we got into an argument. Here's my ID." He might have gotten searched, but if he didn't have warrants or contraband he would've been on his way.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 1:31 am

How do you know about this dispute with another black male? Were you there? Are you one of the cops?

I read the comment by the videographer under the posted video who said that the police had just given the young black man some sort of citation and he reacted with strong words.

It is legal (perhaps impolite, depending on the circumstance) to swear at a police officer. In your police state world, the cops should respond to legal actions with brutality.

If someone swears at you, do you respond with violence? I would hope not. The police shouldn't either.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 8:08 am

So because I actually read and have more information than you, I'm "one of the cops"? According to the SF Bay View: "According to witnesses, he got into an argument with another cat his own age."

I didn't say they should have responded to his words with "brutality". He reacted with strong words AND started walking away from them. I said that if you are being questioned by a cop, the worst thing you can do is start walking away and if they physically stop you, start to resist. There is no way that is going to end well for you, Black, White, Brown, whatever... It might not be fun and you might be pissed off, but being cooperative is a hellova lot easier than the alternative.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 11:43 am

It still doesn't justify the brutality that the police used and that you excused in your earlier comment.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

search someone, or ask for ID (which we are still not required to carry) unless they have reasonable suspicion that the person has or is committing a crime.

Arguing with someone is not a crime. Unfortunately, the police get away with acting as if being a black or brown young male is reasonable suspicion.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

Where in my post did I say it was legal for them to detain him? I stated that they went over to him because he was arguing with another person which was the reason for the initial contact. What I also said was that he cursed at them and started walking away from them. If a person does that it doesn't matter what his skin color is, that person is then going to get physically stopped. If YOU were stopped by the cops (even if they did it illegally), would you try to walk away or try to pull away if they tried to put handcuffs on you?

If the cops try to put handcuffs on a person and the person resists then he's going to get taken to the ground, often very hard. Have you ever heard of an instance where physically resisting police ends up with the cops saying "Our bad. We were out of line and your fighting with us has caused us to rethink our whole position. Have a nice day."? No, it always ends up with the person in jail with a charge of resisting arrest, possibly having the crap kicked out of them (especially if they hit an officer), or dead (like Oscar Grant).

Whether the stop was legal is not the issue here. That is something that gets taken up later with a lawyer and would probably force any charges that they brought to get thrown out of court (and a possible lawsuit). The issue was him being smart enough to know that anytime a person gets stopped (legality notwithstanding), that person should try to cooperate and not get into a physical confrontation with police because they will ALWAYS lose.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

it still enables and apologizes for police misconduct.

Yeah, in a perfect world, cooperate with the police even if what they do is illegal and, presto chango, your (probably overworked PD) lawyer will get the charges dropped, get you damages for false arrest, and force the police department to change their policies to protect the civil rights of all residents.

In the real world, the police target certain groups regardless of activity, the DA takes the cop's word and files trumped up and inflated charges, suspects get probation if they are fortunate, jail if they are not, and a bogus criminal record. This youth is now probably facing felony resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer charges for arguing with someone else, swearing at a cop, and not deferring to the police's self-inflated authority by walking away.

This teen did not get into a physical confrontation with the police, he was walking away. The police attacked him. That much is clear from the video. Is there any wonder why so many people don't like or believe the police? Rewatch the video. This stuff happens all the time.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

was lying on the ground, and still the police killed him. Even your practical approach doesn't always work, and that's likely in the back of the mind of almost every Black or Latino person (especially male youth) in this country.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

"If the cops try to put handcuffs on a person and the person resists then he's going to get taken to the ground, often very hard."

Not supposed to punish people until they're convicted.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

Oscar Grant DIDN'T comply. In ALL of the videos he was struggling with one of his hands under his stomach. Notice NONE of his friends that was with him didn't get hit, tasered, punched, or shot. They sat down against the wall with their hands in plain view. They cursed at the officers and told them they were out of line but the all that happened to them was they were handcuffed and taken in. They all got payouts too.

When I was in my younger, I, and a lot people I associated with, had a number of contacts with the police (I'm not white). Some were justified, some not. But none of us were punched, put into a choke hold, or mistreated other than feeling that the cuffs were a little tight.

And yes, my way is practical. It might not change the policing, but it saved my ass and keeps me from having additional charges added on. Being polite and friendly has helped me out a lot more than cursing them out. It's no different than dealing with a rude waiter. You talk shit and you get your food fucked with. You're polite and talk with their manager you get your stuff comped.

You don't like police brutality and neither do I. But fighting with the cops screws you NOT them.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

than the one who reduces his tips to 11% because of the 4% Healthy SF surcharge.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

What does me being a different "Guest" have to do with my comment? You still didn't address the fact that none of Oscar Grant's friends was beaten up or tased and why that was. Or that you were wrong in saying that Oscar Grant was complying when he was shot.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

for various offences and was causing an affray, distrubing the peace and resisting arrest.

If that had been you or I on the train, we would have co-operate peacefully and would have had no problem. Somehow the perps that the cops kill are never sympathetic characters.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 9:07 am

hardly a capital offense.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 9:27 am

coincidence that when the cops do injure or kill someone, it is invariably a real villain, and usually acting stupid as well?

Now, if a cop shot a nun walking along the street, or a disabled grandmother, that would be shocking. But somehow that never happens.

The victims of police brutality are invariably baddun's, and everyone enjoyed watching the Death Wish movies.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 10:49 am

... but only if you are an American in the truest sense of the word.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 10:58 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 11:27 am

So your statement is meaningless.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

and they have historically been lenient in those cases where the "victim" was a vicious thug.

Most of us can understand why that is.

Posted by anonymous on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

let alone prosecuted. Alameda County prosecuted Mesherle only because of public outcry because of the video evidence.

You tried to turn the issue around and added charged language, but the fact remains no jury sentences victims of police killings and violence, and such acts are outside the rule of law.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 3:38 pm