Open Letter To The Oakland Police Department

Dear OPD and your Handlers,

2012 is upon us and Oakland seems to be at a crossroads.  Make no mistakes, Oakland is on the frontline of a social movement that could very well transform the world (for the health, safety and rights of all humanity).  I write this letter to you today because I believe that you have already demonstrated behavior that requires an independent perspective, unbiased by red-tape or legalese.  At some point you must decide who is in the right – the protestors or your economic and property managers.

Whether you like it or not, you have been appointed de facto guardians of the status quo and all the institutions that civilization has erected.  And yet you are part of the 99%.  In many cases even your handlers are part of the 99%.  But our civilized institutions are failing us.  An economic crisis is many things, but first and foremost it is a crisis of trust.  By your continued use of force and aggression, you are breaking that trust even further.  If you haven’t noticed already, every time a police crackdown occurs, the occupy movement grows in response to police oppression.

Now, I understand that you are simply following your orders.  But you should be reminded of the Nuremberg trials where all the Nazi war criminals used the defense of “just following orders.”  It didn’t fly then, and it flies even less these days.  Perhaps you think the Nazi comparison goes to far, but a cursory understanding of history will show you otherwise.  We live in a country dominated by corporatism which is essentially another word for fascism.  So I would urge you to forget your orders if they include further violence and repression.  I would urge you to embrace the values of freedom, equality, and nonviolence.

Oakland can be a bright, shining example to the world of how nonviolent revolution can happen.  But for that to be the case, we need the police to be acting with us and not against us.

I write this letter as a concerned citizen and my perspective is not necessarily representative of Occupy Oakland as a whole.  In fact there are many people that would love nothing more than to use a diversity of tactics and completely disable the OPD’s ability to act.  Quite frankly, they have a point.  Anarchy is preferable to living in an abusive police state.  But I think we should all be able to take the high road together.  There is no need for further violence.  Support the occupiers in their endeavors.  Open and protect vacant buildings for them.  Aid them in planting gardens in open areas.  Provide them with escorts for marches and mass demonstrations.  If you don’t begin cultivating trust with the community soon then I fear the worst for Oakland.   The best way to cultivate trust is to reject the basic premises of capitalism and begin opening your hearts and minds to compassion and wisdom.

You would probably agree that the ideal society is one where everyone is their own “self-police.”  This society is possible with the appropriate infrastructure and proper education.  But we can’t accomplish a rebuild of our infrastructure and re-education of our populace if the police department is always disrupting and agitating.  Please make the right decision.  Follow the example of Philadelphia Police Capt Ray Lewis.      Follow the example of Madison, WI police:    And I certainly hope you’ve been looking to recent struggles in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Greece.

Stand down and stand with us.


Pete Feltman

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