Oakland Officers "Confused," Make Demands

Scathing letter takes direct aim at Mayor Jean Quan.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Police form a barricade to keep Occupy Wall Street protesters from entering 14th Street at Broadway in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush)

    The Oakland Police Officers' Association took direct aim at Oakland Mayor Jean Quan on Tuesday,

    In a letter they made public they said its officers are "confused" about what they say are a series of mixed messages coming from their city leaders.

    The open letter "to the citizens of Oakland" was emailed to news organizations. It demanded Quan start making "sound decisions and take responsibility" for her actions.

    "At some point we'd like to get back to doing our jobs," Sgt Dom Arotzarena said.

    Donelan called the current situation his fellow officers are facing on their daily jobs as a nightmare.

    The OPA criticizes a series of mixed messages surrounding the handling of Occupy Oakland campers who have pitched their tents at Frank Ogawa Plaza outside city hall.

    The letter goes through the events of the past week that began with the eviction of the campers, followed by the decision to allow them right back to the place where they started.

    "It is all very confusing to us," the letter states.

    "We are wasting a lot of resources for this," Arotzarnea said, adding even before the Occupy issue the police force was having trouble covering basic beats because of cut backs.

    To add to the confusion, he said, Quan's administration issued a  memo Friday giving all employees, except for police officers, permission  to take the day off during a general strike scheduled for tomorrow.

    "That's hundreds of city workers encouraged to  take off work to participate in the protest against 'the establishment.' But  aren't the mayor and her administration part of the establishment they are  paying city employees to protest?"

     Quan did not immediately comment on the letter.

    Last week she told reporters that the Occupy camp was a complex issue that she assesses day to day. 

    Here's a copy of the letter:

    An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland from the Oakland Police Officers’ Association

    We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland.  We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families.  We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.

    On Tuesday, October 25, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza.  We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property. 

    Then, on Wednesday, October 26, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.

    To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a  memo on Friday, October 28 to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off. 

    That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.”  But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest?  Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?

    It is all very confusing to us.

     Meanwhile, a message has been sent to all police officers:  Everyone, including those who have the day off, must show up for work on Wednesday.  This is also being paid for by Oakland taxpayers.  Last week’s events alone cost Oakland taxpayers over $1 million.

     The Mayor and her Administration are beefing up police presence for Wednesday’s work strike they are encouraging and even “staffing,” spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for additional police presence – at a time when the Mayor is also asking Oakland residents to vote on an $80 parcel tax to bail out the City’s failing finances.

     All of these mixed messages are confusing. 

     We love Oakland and just want to do our jobs to protect Oakland residents.   We respectfully ask the citizens of Oakland to join us in demanding that our City officials, including Mayor Quan, make sound decisions and take responsibility for these decisions.  Oakland is struggling – we need real leaders NOW who will step up and lead – not send mixed messages.   

    Thank you for listening.