OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) –At a rare weekend city council meeting in Oakland, no legislation was passed and there was no agenda. But there was a public forum that allowed residents, city officials, and police to talk about recent protests and tensions.
At the center of the conversation — the difficult relationship between some Oakland communities and the police department. Something the police chief acknowledged, but said the department has changed.
“The Oakland Police Department of 2015 is not the Oakland Police Department of the 1960′s, it’s not the Oakland Police Department that I joined over 20 years ago, and it’s not even the Oakland Police Department of Occupy Oakland,” said OPD Chief Sean Whent.
Oakland city council meetings often have unique moments. At Saturday’s meeting, there were two. The first centered around a group called the “Black Friday 14.” They chained themselves together in protest on a BART platform the day after Thanksgiving, stopping service for two hours, and are now facing charges.
Councilmember Desley Brooks tried to coerce BART board member Robert Raburn to sign a pledge asking that the charges be dropped.
“That the $70,000 in restitution not be asked for and that no community service or restorative justice be sought,” she said.
“At this time I cannot make that commitment,”
The second moment came as Karissa Lewis spoke. She is one of the 14 people who were arrested by BART police during that Black Friday protest. She also organized an early morning demonstration outside Mayor Libby Schaaf’s house this week.
“We weren’t able to meet with her when we came to city hall that Friday, so we chose to go wake her up,” said Lewis.
The mayor closed out that session.
“I want to appreciate that our Chief of Police acknowledged the wrongs, the harm, and the hurt that has been done to this community by bad police actions,” she said.
She had been in Washington DC this week and returned for the meeting in Oakland.