Occupy Oakland: Police Brutality Tab Reaches Nearly $2.9M

Kayvan Sabeghi's beating by Frank Uu was captured on video.

The Oakland City Council has tentatively approved a $693,000 settlement for two of the Occupy protesters who say they were beaten and arrested by Oakland police during two separate Occupy demonstrations.

Roughly $645,000 of the payout will go to Afghanistan and Iraq war vet Kayvan Sabeghi, who claims he was beaten by Oakland police officer Frank Uu, who has since retired, on the evening of Nov. 2, 2011. The attack, which lacerated Sabeghi's spleen, was captured on video.

See also:

Crossing the Line: The Oakland Police Department Versus the Crowd

National Lawyers Guild Obtains $1M for Oscar Grant Protesters, Oakland Police Reforms

The remaining $48,500 will be paid to Robert Ovetz, a college instructor who says the cops beat and cuffed him during another protest on Jan. 28, 2012.

The City of Oakland recently settled two other lawsuits over the Oakland Police Department's alleged treatment of protesters during Occupy and Oscar Grant rallies, one for $1.17 million and the other for $1.025 million. However, Sabeghi's settlement will be the largest amount paid to an individual protester.

Still, the City of Oakland will likely spend more cash to legally bail out its police department, as several Occupy protesters' cases are wending their way through the courts. Scott Olsen, an Iraq war vet who sustained a skull fracture and brain damage at an Occupy protest on Oct. 25, 2011, filed a lawsuit against the city; his case is scheduled to go to trial in October 2014 -- if it is not settled before then. Another class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of 400-plus protesters who were arrested en masse on Jan. 28, 2012, and is still pending.

The Oakland Police Department, which has struggled with crowd control over the last decade, is currently attempting to improve the way it polices protests. The department, which is under a court order to negotiate changes to its crowd-control policy with the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild, updated its rules in light of the many settlements that cost them $1 million earlier this year. The new policy includes changes to the way batons can be used during protests, while adding oversight procedures for the department.

"We're happy with the settlement," Rachel Lederman, a National Lawyers Guild attorney who, along with Dennis Cunningham and Bobbie Stein, represents Sabeghi, told SF Weekly. "I think it was appropriate, given the injury Kayvan sustained. The thing that we're not happy with is that, even though we have an agreement and a federal court order around the crowd-control policy and the ability to enforce that, we're still seeing violations of the policy."

"Hopefully the settlement is a step in the right direction, but it's a conundrum how to change the culture and practices of OPD," Lederman added.

Sabeghi has another lawsuit against Alameda County and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, alleging mistreatment and medical neglect while he was in jail. That case is still underway.

The City Council is scheduled to finalize the settlement during its Jan. 7 meeting.

OPD Crowd Control Policy (4 Oct 13)

My Voice Nation Help
red.marcy.rand topcommenter

Occupy should be assessed ten of millions for the damage they did. Is the writer here any relation to the notorious former leftist Judge Julie Mendlow Conger ?


It's worth noting that on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, editor Charles Burress published an article at the El Cerrito Patch (Kayvan Sabeghi co-owned a business in El Cerrito) disputing the original reporting of this incident. Burress claimed a Highland Hospital spokesman denied Sabeghi underwent surgery as a result of injuries sustained during his arrest.

Moreover, U.S. Army spokesman Troy Roland told the El Cerrito Patch that the Army had no record of Kayvan Sabeghi being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, as an immaculate Sabeghi (every hair in place) boasted to the KTVU TV-2 news camera immediately after being subjected to allegedly "excessive force."

Finally, we must bear in mind that the video by art student Neil Rivas that captures Sabeghi's confrontation with Oakland police outside The Cathedral Building shows him taunting a moving OPD skirmish line, advancing south on Broadway. Sabeghi left the sidewalk to stand in the street and get in the cops' faces to provoke them, defying continual orders by uniformed officers to move out of their line of march. Blocking their advance, Sabeghi yields ground only grudgingly as the massed formation comes within inches of him.

And all this was happening, mind you, at the scene of a riot. Once Sabeghi is backed into the crosswalk, the video shows bonfires burning out of control in the background outside the former Travelers Aid site on 16th Street, a mere 250 feet away. These fires were set by Occupy Oakland's Black Bloc contingent following their heroic acts of vandalism around town earlier that day.

Having written about this in my 2012 book "Occupy Oakland: The Little Revolution That Couldn't," I hoped Sabeghi's lawsuit would resolve these lingering issues. Alas, those questions remain unanswered. This is just another instance of the pusillanimous City Council—in secret session—sweeping an all-around nasty episode under the rug of expedient monetary settlement. In other words, business as usual behind the closed doors of what passes for Oakland's municipal government.

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.