#oakmtg is trending on Twitter nationally, but why? #oakmtg is code for an Oakland City Council meeting held yesterday. The meeting, which was suppose to end at 5pm PST was still going on well past midnight and is still a popular topic on Twitter today.
But why are people taking time to watch streaming video of a city council meeting in a city they don’t live in and engaging in enough online chatter to kick #Serena Williams off US trending topics?
The answer is William Bratton and ‘Stop & Frisk’.
On Tuesday, Oakland City Council considered approving a $250,000 contract for an outside security consulting team, which could include controversial roving police chief and private security contractor William Bratton. The proposal to hire Bratton, the former head of the New York and Los Angeles police departments, as a consultant to OPD has generated a firestorm of controversy in Oakland.
Last year more than 500 people were shot and with Oakland facing a 23 percent rise in violent crime over the past year, the Council’s Public Safety Committee unanimously recommended at a January 15th meeting that the full Council approve a new round of funding for Boston-based police consultant Strategic Policy Partnership LLC. The firm intends to bring on Bratton as part of a new team of private policing experts to advise OPD.
Oakland activists crowded into the chamber on January 15th to express concerns over Bratton being brought into advise and execute ‘stop & frisk’ and whatever strategies he determines are needed to curb crime in the city. Bratton served as police chief in New York from 1994 to 1996 and Los Angeles from 2002 to 2009. During his stints both cities saw a dramatic reduction in crime. Bratton gets results, but how and at what cost? Last night during a public comment session of the city council meeting, the public attempted to answer that question for the city council.
The how of Bratton’s methods involves a mixed-bag of controversial tactics including ‘stop & frisk’. ‘Stop & frisk’ occurs when a police officer who is suspicious of an individual detains the person and runs his hands lightly over the suspect’s outer garments to determine if the person is carrying a concealed weapon. ‘Stop & frisk’ is controversial because it often leads to racial profiling and because it treads lightly on the 4th amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“When I found out the gender of my baby, I cried. I’m sad and scared to be having a black boy in Oakland,” sobbed Bella Eiko during public comment. She went on to describe standing outside of coffee shop and witnessing two black boys being made to lie on the ground, while gun-drawn cops searched them simply because of the color of their skin and the t-shirts they were wearing. “But where can I go? I can’t go to NY, Bill Bratton has already put ‘stop & frisk’ there. I can’t go to LA. It’s there too.”
“Bratton is the father of suppression policing,” Oakland resident Jay Donahue said. “He destroys black and brown communities.”
A study by the ACLU found that, from 2002 to 2011, about 90 percent of the people stopped by New York police officers were…