“This is a city completely out of control with a police force that doesn’t know which way to turn, a mayor that is indecisive in giving instructions,… all at the mercy of a mob that is fomenting revolution,” says Sam Singer, a political consultant who runs his own public relations firm in neighboring Berkeley, Calif. “This is part of the problem of a leftist progressive mayor who doesn’t want to betray her own political background by taking a hard line when she needs to put an end to this because it is giving Oakland a black eye.”
But others say the Oakland Police learned volumes from the first episode last week, in which police groups tried to dismantle a downtown encampment.
“I would give them a failing grade of 50 for the first interaction,” says Olis Simmons, executive director of Youth Uprising, an activist group which counsels young people.
She notes, however, that 19 other law enforcement agencies were called in, creating chaos and misunderstanding about standard OPD procedures.
She gives the police an 80 for their behavior during Wednesday's general strike, which brought between 10,000 and 15,000 protesters to the port area for several hours.
“I think they learned from the previous disaster,” she says.
That assessment is echoed by Abel Habtegeorgis, a spokesman for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland. When the police took a surveying role by standing in the background, protests went smoothly and peacefully, with family members of all ages participating. But later, outside agitators arrived to create problems, bringing police into situations that then escalated into violence, he adds.