Chris Moreland was probably upset last Wednesday. You might have been too, coming at some point to the realization that you were more likely to die in the near future from a confrontation with police than in an automobile accident (1) -- then seeing the very thing you've contemplated happen to 18-year old Alan Blueford. (In fact, as a prominent protester and Occupy Oaklander, Chris may have realized he suffers even worse odds of being attacked and killed by the Oakland Police than did someone like Alan.)
And so, when Oakland's Chief of Police Howard Jordan came to a townhall meeting at the Blueford family's church in East Oakland on Wednesday, May 23rd, to "explain" to the community what had happened the night Alan was killed by a police officer, but ended up spouting bullshit answers to pre-written questions in monotone without so much as eye contact with the audience, nobody was very happy, including Chris.
The Wednesday night presentation from police officials - which included an oh-so-unnecessary police primer on the investigative process - lasted only 35 minutes before Jordan pulled the plug... The police-speak only made an already suspicious crowd even more suspicious.As the Chief was escorted outside to his car, Chris took to his bullhorn, shouting
Justice For Alan Blueford!
joined by many in the crowd. According to every eyewitness there, Chris did nothing to antagonize the police or their Chief beyond shouting out truth to power, and in fact no officer moved against him.
Until, that is, some time later as Chris and his comrades, heading home, approached the BART station. Two police
vans cars (2) full of officers pulled up, got out, surrounded and arrested him. For assaulting a police officer. With a deadly weapon. I was not there but it has been described many times by those present as a "WTF?" moment.
This Is How a Police State Operates. It's not WTF, it's business as usual. Chris was charged with multiple counts of felony assault and battery on a police officer. His bail was set at $105,000, an amount that his attorney, Kate Hallinan, would later describe as completely ludicrous.
Chris Morland of Occupy Oakland's Tactical Action Committee has been repeatedly targeted by police for his outspokenness on issues of economic injustices. He has helped to organize numerous actions around foreclosures and homelessness in Oakland.We know what a police state looks like.
This Is How a Police State Operates. There can be no doubt that on this day Chris was targeted by the police. He was arrested on ridiculous charges and taken away to a jail twenty miles away from his family and friends, held on what was for all intents and purposes impossible to meet bail. Not only was Chris targeted. His family were also victims of this police intimidation. Can you imagine the phone call his mother likely received, telling her her son had been arrested by the police on multiple accounts of assault on a police officer. Can you imagine? The police, I'm sure, could. Which is why they arrested him.
How do we know it was all made up bullshit?
Because two days later as he was to be arraigned in Alameda County Court, his lawyer was given the information that his charges had been reduced ... to misdemeanor Disturbing the Peace.
Got that? Multiple felony charges of assault and battery on a police officer suddenly reduced to a "disturbing the peace" charge. Uh huh.
Watch and listen to his attorney, Kate Hallinan, explain what this action by the District Attorney meant:
If it's not embedding please go here and page down to the video labelled Interview with Kate Hallinan. It's a zinger. Here's a partial transcript.
Reporter: "That's a big change from the $100,000+ bail."I can only imagine the conversation between the DA and the arresting officers.
Hallinan: "Well, the $100,000 bail was based on charges that the police arrested him on. No DA or Court had actually reviewed those charges. And, frankly, they were ludicrous. They were not based on anything that actually happened, as numerous, numerous witnesses have attested to.
"So the very fact that the DA's office did not bring those charges is evidence of the fact that they have absolutely no proof that he did anything ((garbled)). To go from assault with a deadly weapon to disturbing the peace shows that the whole case was based on essentially fabricated evidence."
Reporter: "So essentially it's an abuse of the system in that they can hold him in jail with a bail so high that it's hard to post the bond."
Hallinan: "Without question. And it was definitely a targeted effort against Chris in particular. The Oakland Police Department and the court system is focused very much on Chris, and this was very much of an attempt to get him off the streets.
"So what did he do?"This Is How a Police State Operates. Regardless, the police and their masters had achieved their goal. The damage had already been done. Newspaper accounts of yet another young black man arrested for assaulting a police officer. Another black family and their friends horrified as they heard that their son has been snatched, terrified of what might have happened to him. The issue of Alan Blueford's killing and the Chief of Police's theatre-of-the-absurd performance at the town hall adroitly deflected, turned around to focus on Chris Moreland and Occupy Oakland. Yet another record of arrest that will follow Chris throughout his life (as Hallinan lays out in the video).
"He was yelling."
"That Alan Blueford had been killed?"
"Did he hit any of you?"
"Uh, sort of, maybe. The spittle from his bullhorn might have touched me."
"You say there were lots of people around."
"And they're all going to testify that Moreland never touched you?"
"And all he had was a bullhorn?"
"And he never attacked anyone with it?"
"Well, it was kinda loud..."
"You morons! I just had to dismiss the charges against the Ice Cream 3 because of your incompetence; you made me look ridiculous. That's not going to happen again.
"See here, I want to fuck these Occupiers over as much as you do, but you got to give me something better than this.
"Get him alone. No witnesses to contradict your story of assault. No First Amendment crap some liberal judge is going to be sympathetic to. That was the most moronic arrest I've ever seen!"
Note: This is not a real conversation. I made it up. But if something similar to this didn't go down I'd be surprised.
This Is How a Police State Operates. Chris Moreland was "taken out" for three days, and had he not had the good fortune to have a civil rights lawyer due to previous free speech issues with the Oakland Police, he could have been in jail awaiting trial for months. These tactics may be a bit more subtle than in some places around the globe, but the goals are the same: take out the leaders; send a clear message to the community -- we will not tolerate dissent.
Stand up. Fight back. Chris Moreland, having been released from Santa Rita at 7:00 AM Saturday morning after his comrades waited all night for him to walk out of the jailhouse doors, isn't listening. He was back Sunday at Occupy Oakland's General Assembly, standing as tall as ever.
(1) Eight young black men had been killed by the Oakland Police in the last two years, four per year. There are something like 35,000 black males in Oakland between the ages of 18 and 45. There are about 32000 traffic fatalities in the US each year, or about 1 per 10,000 people, which is slightly less than the 4 per 35,000 death rate of young black males at the hands of the Oakland Police.
(2) An eyewitness corrected me. I thought I had read that two vans had pulled up, but this person told me they were police cars.
10:59 PM PT: .
Tue May 29, 2012 at 11:27 AM PT: This is what a police state looks like.