Oakland has few defenses. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley charged eight people with misdemeanor counts and four with felony offenses relating to the Jan. 28 demonstration. In addition, her department has sought and won stay-away orders against 14 protesters believed to be responsible for "violent conduct or conduct that involved destruction," Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick explained.
Drenick says the district attorney's office is serious about winning prosecutions. That's great, but trials take a long time.
So on one side you have hundreds, at times thousands, of individuals who know they can trample Oaktown and provide cover for anarchists who throw things at police -- with little downside.
On the other side are a gaggle of flower-power appeasers, flanked by a hobbled police department with a checkered history and prosecutors who have to preface every statement about enforcing the law with an homage to free speech.
ACLU attorney Linda Lye told me that the suit is intended to enforce existing policies. And: "As a matter of constitutional law, there is a difference between engaging in illegal activity -- such as trespass, for which you can be arrested because of conduct -- and engaging in activity that presents a real risk of substantial harm, for which police can use some force on you." Which sounds like: Oakland PD is supposed to beg on bended knee until protesters taking over buildings turn themselves in.
The future of Oakland, then, will be Phil Tagami. On Nov. 2, as masked vandals ran through Oakland setting fires and vandalizing property, the developer and active Democrat stood with a shotgun to keep the rioters from breaking in to Oakland's iconic Rotunda building. At great personal risk, he saved the building.
Just weeks ago, Tagami reminded me, an armed robber tried to hold up taco truck owner Omar Casillas in the Fruitvale neighborhood. Casillas was armed. The two shot each other.
"I don't want to have a gun locker in my office," Tagami told me. But he has been threatened.
And unlike Oakland City Hall, Tagami is free to defend himself.
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