Police brutality exposed at forum

Yousuf Fahimuddin,

A forum focused on police brutality drew citizens who shared testimonies of their personal experiences at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oakland on Feb 11.

The Coalition for Police Accountability hosted the forum to invite the community to speak on their experiences with police brutality at the hands of the Oakland Police Department.

Amongst those that shared their experiences was Ana Biocini, sister of Hernan Jaramillo. Jaramillo, 51, was killed by Oakland Police after they suffocated him to death while detaining him in July 2013, on East 21st Street, Biocini said.

An Oakland city official, who asked to remain anonymous, tearfully said she had received death threats recently on her phone. When she reported the incident to the OPD, she said they laughed.

Bobby Cephus, Oscar Grant’s uncle, as well as members from the Alan Blueford Commission spoke at the event. Grant was killed by BART police in 2009, which led to widespread protests and condemnation of police violence. Alan Blueford was shot to death in a one-sided shooting, where the only person who fired was, Oakland police officer Miguel Masso in 2012.

“In the 40s and the 50s the Oakland police department went down south to Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, those places to recruit these racist police officers to continue this Jim Crow attitude that they had back there,” alleged Cephus. “This adversarial relationship that is here was established by the Oakland police department and has not left their culture.”

The community forum was held because federal monitors reviewing the Oakland Police Department were interested in hearing the community’s experiences with the police.

OPD has been under review by a federal monitor team since 2003 as part of the negotiated settlement in the case of Allen v. City of Oakland, which required the department to make several key reforms to ensure stronger accountability and “required major changes in how the Department reports and investigates use of force.” The case came after police officers known as “The Riders” were caught planting evidence on suspects, using excessive force and fabricating police reports.

The monitor recommended the police department expand the scope of its own internal review on officer involved shootings last July. As of 2015, the department is still not in full compliance with the federal requirement, however the number of officer involved shootings has declined significantly in the last 3 years, according to the SF Chronicle. On average there were 8 officer involved shootings per year from 2000 to 2012, however in 2015 there were 6.

The OPD reported there have been 53 officer involved shootings on behalf of its officers between 2000 and July 2015, according to a public records request released to The Pioneer.