Thursday, November 30, 2017

Parent Company of Oakland's Police Body Camera Vendor Supplies Weapons and Gear to the Border Patrol and ICE

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 10:40 AM

click image Border Patrol agents on a boat. A Safariland brand company supplied boat armor to the agency.
  • Border Patrol agents on a boat. A Safariland brand company supplied boat armor to the agency.

In reaction to the Trump administration's anti-immigration policies, the Oakland City Council voted Tuesday night to ban companies that bid on construction contracts for Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border from also doing business with the city.

But during the same meeting, the council also approved a five-year, $1.27 million contract with a company that is owned by another corporation that supplies the U.S. Border Patrol with weapons, body armor, and other supplies used to track, arrest, and deport migrants.

The contradiction illustrates how difficult it is for cities to purchase police equipment while also pursuing sanctuary policies that buck federal immigration enforcement.

City officials selected Vievu to outfit the Oakland police with 800 body cameras that will be used by officers to gather evidence of crimes and ensure cops are following department policy. Body cameras, which all Oakland patrol officers currently wear, have been linked to a reduction in reported use of force and are used to detect racial bias in traffic stops. OPD commanders say they're crucial tools for modern policing.

Vievu, maker of police body cameras, is owned by the Safariland Group.
  • Vievu, maker of police body cameras, is owned by the Safariland Group.
But since 2015, Vievu has been owned by the Safariland Group, a conglomerate based in Jacksonville, Fla. Safariland's other brand companies supply weapons, armor, and equipment to federal agencies charged with arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants.

For example, the Border Patrol has purchased ammunition from the Defense Technology Corporation, a Safariland subsidiary that specializes in less-lethal weapons like rubber bullets, ball grenades, and CS gas. This includes 40mm round less-lethal bullets, chemical irritant sprays, batons, and leather belts purchased directly from Safariland and its various brand companies, according to federal contract records.

In fact, Safariland even makes a "Border Patrol Belt" especially designed for the agency.

The Border Patrol has also purchased armor for boats and vehicles used to patrol rivers and roads along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as personal body armor from another Safariland brand called Protech Armored Systems.

Protech also manufactures guard booths and advertises them as being appropriate for installation at border crossings. Much of the company's business is with prisons, nuclear power plants, and other high-security sites.

Safariland even sponsors a shooting team that competes in firearms marksmanship competitions. Past members of the team include Border Patrol agents.

Another Safariland company, Tactical Command Industries, sells radio communications and electronic surveillance equipment to the Border Patrol, according to federal contract records.

The contract with Vievu doesn't appear to run afoul of Oakland's newly enacted ban on contracting with companies that also work on the border wall, however, because neither Vievu nor any other Safariland brand company has bid on that specific project.

But had Oakland officials avoided Vievu because of it's parent company's relationship to the border patrol, they would have had few other options for purchasing police body cameras.

That's because Taser International, the other company that bid on the Oakland body camera contract and reached the final round, directly sells electronic stun guns to the border patrol, according to federal contract records.

Alameda Health Systems Removes License Plate Reader Surveillance Camera from Highland Hospital in Oakland

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 10:29 AM

PHOTO BY DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Photo by Darwin BondGraham
A controversial automated license plate reader camera that was installed at the driveway entrance of Oakland's Highland Hospital in 2014 has been removed by the hospital.

Director of Government and Community Relations for the Alameda Health System Terry Lightfoot said today that the process by which the surveillance tool was installed "warranted more vetting."

As the Express reported last week, the camera was quietly set up three years ago as part of a larger construction project. Privacy advocate and researcher Mike Katz-Lacabe discovered the camera's existence through a California Public Records Act request.

For several years, the plate reader has scanned about 25,000 plates each month and sent this data to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center where it can be accessed by numerous local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Law enforcement officials say it's a useful investigative tool when trying to track down witnesses of shootings and other violence crimes. Hundreds of people wounded by gunfire and stabbings are dropped off at Highland Hospital each year.

But hospital officials are concerned that privacy and healthcare concerns weren't adequately addressed.

"We believe how these tools are implemented, not just at our facility, but anywhere, needs a certain degree of public discussion," said Lightfoot. "That didn’t occur."

He added that the hospital has no plans to reinstall the camera. He also said that the Alameda Health System intends to take part in the county's surveillance technology working group, which was established by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors earlier this year to consider policies that will balance civil liberties and public safety as new, powerful surveillance technologies come into use.

"I’m happy to see the camera removed," said Katz-Lacabe. "I’m even happier they’re indicating they will take actions to prevent things like this from happening in the future. Any time this kind of technology is deployed there needs to be an effective privacy assessment."

Thursday’s Briefing: GOP Pushes Forward With Big Tax Cuts for Rich; UC Grad Students Protest Republican Tax Hikes on Low-Income Students

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 10:18 AM

John McCain.
  • John McCain.

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Nov. 30, 2017:

1. The Republican-controlled Senate is moving quickly to adopt a sweeping plan that would cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, while raising taxes on tens of millions of middle-class families and low-income people, The New York Times$ reports. The GOP plan also appears to have just enough votes to pass the Senate after John McCain, R-Ariz., announced today that he would vote for it. The legislation would hit middle-class Californians especially hard, and the proposal would allow churches to engage in political activism and confer a new legal right for fetuses.

2. Hundreds of UC Berkeley grad students protested the GOP tax bill yesterday, because it includes a huge tax hike on low-income graduate students nationwide, reports Natalie Orenstein of Berkeleyside. The legislation would require Cal grad students to pay an extra $1,200 to $1,800 a year in taxes. “The proposed tax ‘threatens to return universities to a time when they were the exclusive purview of the leisured class,’ said Wendy Brown, professor of political science, at the rally.”

3. The GOP-controlled House is moving forward with legislation that would require California and other states with gun control restrictions to allow non-state residents to carry concealed weapons, reports Carolyn Lochhead of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Republicans contend that allowing more people to carry guns will dissuade mass shootings. Law enforcement groups called the idea grossly misguided.

4. An Oakland city employee union — SEIU Local 1021 — has sued the city, alleging that it is violating its own charter by over relying on part-time workers, reports Steven Tavares of the East Bay Citizen. “‘Just like the fast food industry and WalMart, the city of Oakland, is splitting full-time jobs into part-time gigs,’ said Felipe Cuevas, president of SEIU Local 1021, Oakland chapter. ‘This means these employees get no benefits and no vacation, and have few rights if they are victims of retaliation or other management abuses.’”

5. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, called on Congressman John Conyers, D-Michigan, to resign because of the numerous allegations of sexual assault against him, The New York Times$ reports. ‘“The allegations against Mr. Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible,’ Pelosi told reporters. ‘It is very sad. The brave women who came forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign.’”

6. And Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, resigned today amid rape allegations, the LA Times$ reports. Yesterday, Matt Lauer, co-host of the Today show, and longtime radio host Garrison Keillor, were fired for sexual misconduct.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Oakland City Council: Tenant Relocation Assistance Delayed, But Moratorium on Rent Control Loophole Passes

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 12:09 PM

Oakland City Hall. - BERT JOHNSON/FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson/File photo
  • Oakland City Hall.
Extra assistance for renters who are displaced through no-fault evictions failed to pass a second reading at the Oakland City Council last night after Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington had the legislation pulled from the agenda's consent portion of the calendar and scheduled for a future council meeting's non-consent portion, where it will likely be debated and amended.

The tenant assistance bill, authored by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, would extend cash payments — between $6,500 and $9,875, depending on the size of the rental unit — to renters displaced through no-fault owner move-in evictions and condominium conversions. Renters with children, or those who are elderly, disabled, or low-income would be eligible for additional assistance.

Currently, only tenants who are displaced through Ellis Act evictions and code compliance issues are eligible for relocation assistance. Kaplan's proposal would apply to all rental units in the city, including single-family homes.

The proposal sailed through an October committee hearing, and while over a dozen tenants and advocates spoke in its favor, no landlords showed up in opposition.

But on Monday, the Oakland-Berkeley Association of Realtors sent a letter to the council objecting to the ordinance, which the group described as "overly aggressive." The association asked that it be amended to require that tenants reside in a property for a minimum of three years before becoming eligible for relocation payments.

Campbell Washington said in an interview that it isn't her intention to delay the relocation assistance bill, which she thinks includes important changes to the city's rental laws. She said, however, that the council should fully consider all the consequences of the relocation payments. Some small landlords might have trouble making the payments, and could therefore choose to not rent out homes.

"My intention is to bring a reasonable amendment forward when we hear it at the next meeting on Dec. 12," said Campbell Washington, adding that she'd like to see the relocation payments increase by steps depending on the length of time a renter has lived in a unit.

"I do think there are compelling arguments there that we need to think about as policymakers," she said about the realtors association letter.

But Campbell Washington's move angered tenants activists.

James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union called the councilmember a "snake" for having the item rescheduled at the last minute.

"Why are you doing this?" Vann asked during the council meeting. "Get out of the way!"

Vann said the rescheduling meant that the new assistance wouldn't become law until January, or later, because an amended ordinance will require two readings at separate council meetings. He and other tenant advocates worry that between now and then many more renters could be displaced without financial assistance that could help them stay in Oakland.

"It's just devastating that some members of the council would, after tenants testified multiple times, postpone passing a desperately needed tenant protection after one letter from the wealthiest lobby in California," said Leah Simon-Weisberg, an attorney with Centro Legal de la Raza who represents low-income clients.

However, renter advocates cheered a separate new law that the council passed last night.

In response to complaints from tenants that landlords are using a provision of Oakland's rental housing laws known as substantial rehabilitation to improperly exempt buildings from rent control, the council implemented a 180 day moratorium on new petitions seeking to take advantage of the rule.

For a full explanation of the substantial rehabilitation law, and why tenants object to it, see our previous coverage.

Councilmember Dan Kalb, one of the authors of the moratorium, said he intends to work toward a permanent revision between now and when the moratorium expires.

"While I'm disappointed that it doesn't cover the pending hearings, going forward it does at least stop the loss of needed housing that Oaklanders can afford," said Simon-Weisberg, who is currently representing multiple tenants who are objecting to petitions filed by landlords seeking exemption from rent control through the substantial rehabilitation rule.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Alameda County Superior Court Reverses License Suspensions for Nearly 54,000 Drivers Who Couldn't Afford to Pay Traffic Fines

by Jessica Lynn
Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 5:11 PM

traffic_neoporcupine_flickr_cc_.jpg
Nearly 54,000 East Bay drivers can legally get back on the road after Alameda County Superior Court announced Monday that it will reverse holds on driver’s licenses that were suspended due to inability to pay a traffic ticket.

California ended failure-to-pay suspensions on driver’s licenses in June 2017, with the passage of Assembly Bill 103. But Alameda County Superior Court is one of the first courts in the state that has directed the DMV to lift old failure-to-pay suspensions in addition to not issuing new ones.

Advocates from the legal advocacy coalition Back on the Road, California see the decision as a move in the right direction. Brittany Stonesifer, a member of the coalition and a staff attorney for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, explained that failure-to-pay suspensions disproportionately affect low-income people who have no option but to not pay a traffic ticket.

Stonesifer said a majority of the people who lose their licenses also lose their jobs as a result. A failure-to-pay suspension can also interfere with family obligations and negatively affect people’s custody arrangements if they’re required to pick their kids up from school or other activities.

“It can trap someone in this cycle where they can’t afford to pay, and they’re being punished by the courts for that,” Stonesifer said.

Richmond resident Kao Phan is just one of many East Bay residents who fell into this cycle.

After not being able to afford a traffic ticket he received about five years ago, he was penalized with a failure-to-pay suspension. Still, needing to go to his former job in San Leandro, however, he continued to drive and ended up with more tickets for driving without a license.

He ended up with a total of four holds on his license –– two in Alameda County and two in Contra Costa County. He estimated that he owed between $5,000 and $6,000 and also found himself out of work.

“It was just hard on me because I couldn’t get a job” Phan said. “Any job that you apply to they ask for they ask for a driver’s license.”

When he entered construction trade school, he was offered a job on the condition that he could get his license back. With Phan still unable to pay the fines that he owed for the tickets, his school put him in touch with the East Bay Community Law Center, a Berkeley-based legal group that offers clinics to help people with suspended licenses.

Phan worked with staff attorney Theresa Zhen for months before he was finally able to get his license back, after the passage of AB 103.

“When I got my license, I was so happy,” Phan said. “I got my life back.”

With Alameda County Superior Court now paving the way for even more people to get their license suspensions reversed, Zhen said she hopes that people will advocate for more courts across the California to take similar action.

“None of these things happen in a vacuum,” Zhen said. “It takes a movement of lawyers, community groups, and people who are brave enough to tell their story.”

Peralta Faculty and Laney Students Vote to Oppose New A's Stadium Plan

The votes cannot derail the stadium project on their own, but they put pro-stadium board members in a pickle.

by Matt St. John
Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 10:54 AM

GOOGLE EARTH
  • Google Earth

After being courted by the Oakland A's, the main teachers' union for the Peralta Community College District voted to oppose the team's plans to build a ballpark next to Laney College. The Peralta Federation of Teachers represents more than 1,000 teachers and faculty at all four of the district's community colleges.

The colleges are Laney, Berkeley City College, Merritt College, and the College of Alameda.

The site of the proposed ballpark, 5th Avenue and East 8th street, is a short walk from Laney. It is owned by the Peralta district and is being used as its district headquarters.

The vote cannot derail the stadium project on its own, but it puts pro-stadium board members in a pickle. In order to begin negotiations, the A's need to gain the approval of the district's board of trustees, who now risk alienating the district's faculty.

In addition, the Associated Students of Laney College, the student governing body at Laney, and the Laney College Faculty Senate also voted to oppose the Athletics' plans.

While a poll released in early November by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce suggested the ballpark had the support of city voters, the A's have not had the same reception from the community colleges. Since the A’s expressed interest in the site, many school groups have come out against the stadium.

“Laney won’t survive with a ballpark next to it,” said Keith Welch, president of the Associated Students of Laney College. “It simply won’t.” Welch, like many of the opposition leaders, sited traffic, noise, construction, and gentrification as concerns for placing a stadium next to Laney.

The union’s vote is a loss for A’s President Dave Kaval, who has been courting Peralta students and faculty. Prior to the vote, which happened on November 16, Kaval participated in faculty forums at each of the districts community colleges, taking questions from teachers and students and advocating for the benefits of partnering with the A’s.

Kaval touted student work connections and additional revenue sources as reasons the stadium would benefit Peralta, as well as Laney.

The union’s decision to oppose the ballpark was based on a survey of its teachers and faculty, according to Jennifer Shanoski, president of Peralta Federation of Teachers Local 1603. Shanoski said that the union, “would be advocating against the stadium,” by appealing to board members and attempting to sway them from supporting any future votes for the stadium.

“The majority of faculty were against the stadium and it was not isolated to Laney College,” said Shanoski.  “It was across all four colleges.”

The Peralta Board of Trustees will meet next on Dec. 12, though it is unclear whether any vote for the stadium will take place on that day.

Oakland School Board Members Apologize for Mid-Year Budget Cuts at Packed Board Meeting

Many blame the school board for not holding former Superintendent Antwan Wilson accountable for overspending on administrative salaries and outside consultants.

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 10:36 AM

OUSD Board President James Harris and Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell at last night's school board meeting.
  • OUSD Board President James Harris and Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell at last night's school board meeting.

Students, parents, teachers, and employees of Oakland's public schools crowded into the La Escuelita Elementary School Auditorium last night to vent their frustrations about impending multimillion-dollar budget cuts.

"We had to have a cleaning supply drive this year," Darcie Luce, the parent of a special education student at Emerson Elementary incredulously told the school board. Budget cuts and spending freezes implemented by the district earlier this year have prevented Emerson staff from using school funds to buy basic necessities like mops and paper towels. But Luce also said an assistant in the school's special ed program was cut, directly impacting her child's learning.

High school students from across the district warned the board that new proposed cuts of as much as $15 million will "limit our chances of graduating."

"My school, Castlemont, is one of the most under-resourced schools in this district," said Karla Briseño, a student organizer with the group Oakland Kids First. "Sometimes it feels like schools like mine don't matter as we are left behind."


Fremont High School student Amelia Mendoza said her campus already endured a $900,000 cut last year leading to the closure of programs like the Mandela Academy, which prepared students for careers in legal and government service and public safety.

"Asking for money back mid-year from schools is so disruptive," a 5th grade teacher from Chabot Elementary told the board.

"There's not enough teachers in the classrooms," complained Aliyah Sulaiman, whose son attends an Oakland elementary school. "Our children's education is slipping away."

The mother of a Frick Impact Academy student said she quit her job to volunteer at the school due to staffing shortages caused by prior budget cuts. She said further cuts would be extremely harmful.

"When you guys make cuts to the budget, it doesn't just affect the kids," she told the board. "It doesn't just affect the teachers. It affects me and the community."


Later in the evening, after hours of public comment — virtually all of them highly critical of the school board and administration — several directors apologized for the deepening financial crisis.

"I'm sorry we're in this situation," said boardmember Jody London, North Oakland. "There are things I could have done differently."

Boardmember Roseann Torres, Fruitvale, wiped tears from her eyes as she took some of the blame. "My daughter just graduated last year from Oakland public schools," she said. "In many ways, I failed my own child."

Torres said the board has "voted like sheep" to approve fiscally irresponsible initiatives and spending requested by previous administrations.

"I'm angry at this entire board for not governing better and not asking more questions of Antwan Wilson and Tony Smith," she said, referring to two former superintendents.

Board president James Harris also took responsibility, but he defended former-Superintendent Antwan Wilson and said OUSD's problems are mainly "structural deficits" many years in the making, rather than over-spending by Wilson's administration.

Many students, parents, and teachers disagree, however. They place blame on Wilson and the board for spending millions more on administrative salaries and outside contracts than was authorized in prior year budgets.

"If I was to suggest anything," said Jun Kim, a Castlemont High School student who also organizes with Oakland Kids First, "it would be to cut unnecessary jobs created while Antwan Wilson was superintendent."

The board has already voted to make approximately $15 million in cuts, but the exact amounts, and how they will fall on different schools, is yet to be finalized.

The board's budget and finance committee will meet Dec. 6 for further discussion about the mid-year cuts.

On Dec. 7, the full OUSD board will hold another discussion.

And on Dec. 13, the board will take a final vote on a resolution to lay off employees and make cuts to school sites.

See this week's print edition of the Express for more reporting about OUSD's budget crisis.

Editor's note: this story was updated to identify three students who spoke at the board meeting.

Tuesday’s Briefing: San Leandro Cop Charged With Statutory Rape; 333-Unit Housing Project in Downtown Oakland Gets Financial Boost

Plus, state regulators propose new environmental rules to build more transit-friendly development.

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 10:10 AM

FILE PHOTO BY STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN
  • File photo by Stephen Loewinsohn

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Nov. 28, 2017:

1. An ex-San Leandro cop has been charged with statutory rape after he admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old girl in the department’s Explorer program for youth interested in pursuing law enforcement careers, reports Evan Sernoffsky of the San Francisco Chronicle. Marco Becerra quit the force in October after police said he confessed to having sex with the teen. Prosecutors have charged the 26-year-old with three felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

2. A 333-unit housing project slated for downtown Oakland now has the financial backing of Brookfield Property Partners, one of the world’s largest real estate investors, reports Roland Li of the San Francisco Business Times$. The market-rate housing development is being built at 301 12th St. and includes about 24,000 square feet of retail space. The nonprofit East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. is also building 60 units of affordable housing next door.

3. California regulators are proposing to revise the state’s main environmental law in an effort to build more transit-friendly housing and new bikes lanes in cities, reports Liam Dillon of the LA Times$. Under the proposed changes to the Environmental Quality Act, opponents of transit-friendly housing and bike lanes will no longer be able to argue that the developments will cause more traffic in the immediate vicinity. Instead, such projects will be judged on whether they reduce driving overall in the region.

4. Only about 30 percent of ninth graders in California will go on to graduate from college, reports Sharon Noguchi of the Mercury News$, citing a new study by the Public Policy Institute of California.

5. U.S. Postal Service Investigators say a package exploded at an Alameda home on Friday, injuring one person, reports Rick Hurd of the East Bay Times$. The person did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

6. And the state Senate stripped Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, of his leadership positions following allegations that he sexually harassed at least three women, reports Patrick McGreevy of the LA Times$.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sideshows Spin Donuts Around Police Over Thanksgiving Weekend in Oakland

More than 100 cars and hundreds of spectators took over major intersections in The Town.

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 10:28 AM

sideshows.png

You probably heard it Saturday night? The Town was lit with multiple roving sideshows involving more than 100 cars and hundreds of spectators, some of them flashing green lasers, detonating fireworks, and spraying celebratory gunfire into the night sky.

For hours, the cars rumbled through East Oakland, taking over intersections like 35th Avenue at MacArthur Boulevard and 42nd Avenue at Coliseum Way. The spontaneously organized festivities went well past 4 a.m.

For the uninitiated, a sideshow is a mischievous ritual involving vehicular stunts and auto-matadors who walk into clouds of smoldering rubber smoke to palm-slap car fenders as they skid by like high speed metal bulls on a rampage.

It's like a drag race crossed with a bullfight surrounded by a street party.

niggas really had the town lit af last night 💯🔥🎥@510_carlos #sideshow #drift #burnout #donuts #oakland #tank2town

A post shared by 🎬⛽ Cali Car Meets & Shows 💨🚨 (@valleyswangs) on


The performative nature of a sideshow is paramount. No one just watches. Every other person is filming these brazen roadway takeovers. Some attendees have Instagram and Youtube accounts where they post curated images and videos of their exploits, often set to hyphy soundtracks. Others simply livestream the bacchanal to Facebook.

Oakland is the birthplace of the sideshows, which originated in the 1980s, and it's still the venue for the biggest gatherings. But these days, many attendees drive in from the Central Valley, and even as far away as Southern California. Like pilgrims to a sacred rite, they travel great distances seeking out these dangerous street ceremonies. The shows are organized informally over social media and by word of mouth. The faithful are many.


Of course the shows are also illegal. Oakland police and the California Highway Patrol have been trying to shut them down since they started.

Many Oakland residents also dislike the sideshows because of the noise and dangers they present.

Two years ago, when a similarly giant a swarm of sideshows converged in Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf held a press conference with OPD and CHP officials who vowed to crack down. Schaaf said sideshows present "unacceptable levels of destruction and harm" and would not be tolerated.

But judging by Saturday night's performance, the cops aren't winning this war. That's despite an anti-sideshow operation earlier this month that resulted in 13 tows, 12 citations, and two arrests, according to OPD. Police even made examples of people's confiscated whips on Twitter to discourage drivers from coming to Oakland.


But the deterrent doesn't appear to be working. The shows are going strong, and the police are outnumbered.

During the really big sideshows, like the mayhem this weekend, the cops have to contend with hundreds of participants who congregate simultaneously at multiple intersections along Foothill, Bancroft, International, and MacArthur. Spectators park in the middle of streets, blocks away from the action, creating impassable barriers that prevent police and tow trucks from getting close to the maelstrom of twirling Cameros and Mustangs. Far outnumbered, and also having to contend with Oakland's steady drip of assaults, robberies, shootings, and other emergencies, police often have to hang back and watch.

Over the weekend, OPD deployed "chemical munitions" to break up some of the gatherings, according to police radio communications. And when the shows mustered, OPD attempted several times to funnel the sideshows onto freeway onramps. From there, OPD wanted the CHP to block exit ramps ahead of these mobile swarms. This tactic is designed to funnel the revelers out of Oakland.

But that didn't work out so well on Saturday night.

Monday’s Briefing: At Least Seven Dead in East Bay Freeway Crashes; Number of Starving UC Berkeley Students Soars

Plus, Alameda finalizes new cannabis rules.

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Nov. 27, 2017:

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1. At least seven people died in East Bay freeway crashes over the holiday weekend, including four people who were killed by a drunken driver on I-80 in San Pablo. The driver in that deadly crash, Fred Lowe, was arrested on suspicion of felony vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, and felony DUI, reports Rick Hurd of the East Bay Times$. In addition, a 10-year-old girl was killed in a crash on I-80 in Emeryville; a 68-year-old man died when he drove his minivan into the Oakland-Alameda estuary; and a big rig driver died on I-80 in Berkeley.

2. The number of low-income UC Berkeley students who rely on free food supplies from Cal’s Food Pantry and from the state’s food stamp program, known as CalFresh, is soaring, reports Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. “More than 500 UC Berkeley students have applied for food stamps since January, up from 111 in all of 2016, and just 41 the year before.” And records show that UC Berkeley students made 1,549 unique visits in September alone to the Food Pantry.

3. The Alameda City Council last week finalized its new cannabis rules and will allow the first two medical pot dispensaries to open on the Island in 2018, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. In addition, the council approved permitting one medical marijuana nursery, four pot manufacturing businesses, and two weed testing labs. However, the city has banned the sale of cannabis for adult recreational use.

4. California Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, announced this morning that he is resigning immediately following allegations from six women who accused him of unwanted sexual advances, reports Melanie Mason of the LA Times$.

5. And a media company backed by the conservative Koch brothers has purchased Time Inc., which publishes Time, Sports Illustrated, and People magazines.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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