Occupy Oakland Upset Over Proposed Shield Ban

Does this look threatening to you?
It seems that Oakland City Hall might have given Occupy Oakland a new reason to protest.

The Council's public safety committee is mulling an ordinance that, if passed, would ban protesters from carrying shields during any and all demonstrations. The ordinance, backed by City Attorney Barbara Parker and Councilwoman Pat Kernighan, says those shields that are commonly used in Occupy protests are "tools of violence" and protesters spotted carrying one can be arrested.

The cost of carrying these shields would amount to a misdemeanor charge, a $1,000 fine, and up to six months in jail. Along with shields, protesters wouldn't be able to carry hammers or paint balloons, which, as readers probably recall, Occupiers love to hurl at police during demonstrations.
But this ban could be a problem, considering how Occupiers are very fond of their shields; they can be seen regularly carrying them at demonstrations and they even brought one to the Tuesday night meeting, claiming they need them for protection against "violent police."

The Oakland Police Department has been hit with a slew of Occupy-related misconduct complaints, and saw a national backlash after video footage of police attacking Iraq veterans Scott Olsen and Kayvan Sabeghi went viral.

Parker argues that some demonstrators "have used protests in Oakland as 'cover' to commit acts of violence" and that the proposed ordinance might finally put a cap on this illegal activity. She and Kernighan hope that police will happily arrest anyone carrying the so-called "tools of violence" before the protesters actually have a chance to use them.

Although shields are typically considered a defensive tool, Kernighan says they appear more threatening, claiming "it looks like people are armed for battle."

"I don't think that's what a protest march should be about," she said.

Protesters, including Jessica Hollie used the public comment period during the meeting to tell the committee exactly how they felt about this potential ban. "I don't care if you think a protest should look like that or not." Hollie stated that the council should be ashamed for trying to pass legislation that she deemed "fear-mongering." She then announced her own plans to run for City Council -- just to piss them off.

"I don't really want to win because I don't have any faith in electoral politics," Hollie explained, "but if I do win, I promise I will ride your ass."

The good news for protesters is that this proposal, which is modeled on similar legislation in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, didn't even make it for a vote. The meeting ended because of the interruptions.

However, we have no doubt that we'll see this proposal back on the agenda for a vote sometime soon. And if it does make it to the full council for review, we're curious to see a debate on whether this City Council believes Occupiers or police are a greater threat to public safety.

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Tea Baggers get to Carry Guns to their rallys. They threaten 'Second Amendment remedies' and that is OK. Carrying shields to protect from unnecessary use of force by the Oakland PD is not OK. What is wrong with this picture?

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

It wasn't just shield, they also included "clubs," identified as "anything made of wood, plastic, or metal, of any length, if it is bigger than ¼” x 2” in diameter, or if cylindrical bigger than ¾."  So water bottles, tripods, strollers -- all potentially tools of violence.  The iconic picture of a chair for the Occupy living room being used as a shield on J28 (Move-In Day) saved that guy because police were shooting flash bangs, tear gas canisters, etc. right at protestors.  So protestors do need shields, and if they go away, there are bound to be countless new lawsuits against the OPD for their violence, and the city will continue to bleed itself dry because their police force is untrained, highly aggressive, violent, and they continue to break their own crowd control policies.

Marshall Getto
Marshall Getto

Can a thick banner be misconstrued as a shield? What about carrying a wooden plank with writing on it? This is ludicrous, in my opinion, because the definition of what constitutes a shield seems very vague. There are already anti-violence laws aplenty that can be used on anyone turning their "shields" into weapons. It saddens me that the powers that be are so incredibly at odds with the occupy movement in the bay. It would have never gotten to this point of ridiculousness if not for Oakland PD's enormous overreactions.

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