Search of Oakland's burned Ghost Ship warehouse ends: 36 people died

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Firefighters and police have announced that they completed their search of Oakland's smoldering Ghost Ship warehouse, the artist community that burned during an electronic music party Friday night. A total of 36 people died. Our deepest sympathy goes out to those who lost friends and family in this heartbreaking tragedy for the Bay Area's creative community and beyond. What a loss.

The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts organized a Fire Relief Fund for victims.

(via SFGATE) Read the rest

Though crime happens everywhere, predictive policing tools send cops to poor/black neighborhoods

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Researchers from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (previously) reimplemented the algorithm Predpol predictive policing system that police departments around America have spent a fortune on in order to find out where to set their patrols, and fed it Oakland's 2010 arrest data, then asked it to predict where the crime would be in 2011. Read the rest

Oakland, CA launches ‘See Something, Say Something’ sex work snitch website

Reuters / Jorge Dan
On Saturday, the city of Oakland, California will launch a website where authorities can collect reports of people who patronize sex workers. The reportjohn.org snitch site created by city officials is an odd development in a town plagued by sex abuse scandals within its own law enforcement ranks. It will be interesting also to see what sort of security or privacy measures the site offers to those who use it to submit photos, names, license plates, or other sensitive information to authorities. At the time of this blog post, reportjohn.org is not yet online.

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Oakland mayor denies firing police chief over officers who statutorily raped teen sex-worker

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According to Mayor Libby Schaaf, Police Chief Sean Whent resigned for "personal reasons," and not because of a report in the East Bay Express that revealed that at least 14 of his officers (along with 4 Alameda County sheriff's deputies and a federal officer) trafficked and had sex with a prostitute who was underage when the trafficking began. Read the rest

Man gasps dying words into officer's bodycam: "They're killing me right now... I can't breathe."

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In 2013, Ana Biocini called the Oakland police because she'd heard a noise and thought there might be an intruder in the house. When the police arrived, they handcuffed her brother, Hernan Jaramillo, "without any lawful reason or justification," dragged him 20 feet down the sidewalk, threw him facedown into the ground, and three officers knelt on him while he begged for breath. The 51 year old man died at the scene.

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Squirrel assault shuts down power in SF's East Bay

The assault on the power infrastructure interrupted regional transportation, and left 45,000 humans helpless. Only one rodent life was lost.

AK Press warehouse fire: crowdfunding for survival

The excellent radical publisher AK Press has had a devastating warehouse fire and is fundraising $150K to stay in business. Read the rest

Radical Brownies: girls of color push social justice, not cookies

Oakland's troop of Radical Brownies are girls of color, aged 8-12, who learn about the Black Panthers and Brown Berets, and who campaign for body-acceptance and an end to police violence. Read the rest

Undercover agent pulls gun on protesters and photographer during Oakland protest of police killings

In this photo from a protest in Oakland, an undercover police officer aims his loaded gun directly at a Reuters photographer.

Comic explains problems with Oakland's Domain Awareness Center surveillance plan

Hugh sez, "What's wrong with Oakland's proposed Domain Awareness Center? This new comic by Susie Cagle lays out the issues."

The Testing Ground for the New Surveillance (Thanks, Hugh!) Read the rest

Petition: kill the Oakland "Domain Awareness Center" spy-program

Eddan sez, "The Oakland City Council is in the final stretch of approving the funding of the Domain Awareness Center to be built in Oakland. Though there has been a great deal of public outcry at the City Council itself, it just keeps going forward especially because they're now trying to pitch this as a crime-fighting law enforcement tool. Which is especially important to be on the right side of in Oakland during a City Council/Mayor election year. The Public Safety Committee to meet Jan. 28 is made up of most of the City Council members that are most skeptical and least supportive of the way this Department of Homeland Security new gadget funding is dangled before a resource-poor and embattled police department." Read the rest

Oakland PD's surveillance center's primary purpose is fighting protesters, not crime

An excellent investigative piece in the East Bay Express reviews internal communications and other public records from city staffers and Oakland PD bureaucrats discussing the Domain Awareness Center, a citywide surveillance hub that's currently under construction. Oakland is a city with a decades-long problem with gang violence and street violence, and the DAC -- which will consolidate video feeds blanketing the city and use software to ascribe the probability of guilt to people in the feeds -- is being sold as a solution to this serious problem.

But the internal documents tell another story. Though the City of Oakland's public-facing DAC message is all about crimefighting and anti-terror surveillance, the internal message is very different. City bureaucrats and law enforcement are excited about DAC because it will help them fight protests.

Analysis of the internal documents found almost no mentions of "crime," "rape," "killings" -- but city officials frequently and at length discussed the way the DAC could be used to thwart street protests, future Occupy movements, and trade union activity including strikes. Read the rest

Heather Gold's "I Look like An Egg, but I Identify as a Cookie" interactive baking comedy comes to the East Bay (free tix!)

Years and years ago, I saw Heather Gold's innovative, interactive baking comedy "I Look like An Egg, but I Identify As A Cookie" in San Francisco. It was fabulous. Now it's about to have its debut in the East Bay:

While baking chocolate chip cookies with the audience and special guests (Bakesale Betty), Gold combines heterosexuality (DRY), lesbianism (WET), and the Left (MIX). "Cookie" is a story of first kisses, rugby drama, Mrs C's secret honeycake recipe and slow dancing to Air Supply. Gold transforms the coming out story, making mincemeat of the identities that keep us from our whole selves and each other. "Cookie" is a show of sweet and simple truths.

Heather's making two pairs of tickets available, all you need to do is tweet you favorite secret ingredient with #eggcookie and she'll get in touch. Oh, and here's a great post Heather made explaining why she uses CC licenses in her performances.

I LOOK LIKE AN EGG, BUT I IDENTIFY AS A COOKIE Read the rest

Oakland's chief of police blackholed all emails mentioning "Occupy," trashed official condemnations and sanctions unread

Oakland police chief told a court that he never saw emails from city officials and a federal court monitor who emailed him about police brutality and other illegal actions by his force in its response to Occupy Oakland. That's because, he says, he used a spam-filter to automatically spam-filter all messages containing phrases like "occupy," "police brutality," "press pass," and "excessive force." More from SFGate's Matthai Kuruvila.

The city investigation found that Jordan had city staff put in the filters on Oct. 27, 2011 - two days after a violent clash between police and protesters that made international news. He had been inundated with anonymous messages, he said in a declaration to the court.

But he forgot the e-mail filter was still in effect.

At least until Henderson gave his order and the city investigated. All messages to Jordan with the once-banned phrases now go to his inbox, as of Oct. 19. In addition, Jordan now has a special folder for messages from the court monitor, Warshaw.

"It was never my intention to ignore the monitor," Jordan said in his declaration.

Oakland chief filtered out Occupy e-mail (via JWZ)

(Image: Occupy Oakland October 11, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from quinn's photostream) Read the rest

May Day protests: gas, brutality, and baseless arrest

Mike from Mother Jones sends us a link to the magazine's coverage of yesterday's May Day protests: "Mother Jones reporter was close at hand, and got disturbing photos and video of Oakland Police officers tackling a girl on a bike who didn't seem to be doing anything provocative. He then got a nice taste of OPD attitude: 'Fuck, I just got teargassed,' he tweeted. The video clips are about halfway down, but lots of good photos and bicoastal coverage, too."

"#$#! I Just Got Tear Gassed!" and Other MoJo Tales From Occupy May Day Read the rest

Oakland cops complicit in covering name-badges at Occupy protests disciplined

Remember this video, in which protesters ask an Oakland PD officer why he illegally covered his name-badge, then, when he won't answer, ask a supervisor why this was so? Well, both the cop and his supervisor have been disciplined for their roles in the incident (the cop for covering his badge, the supervisor for failing to report the illegal conduct). The supervisor, formerly a lieutenant, has been busted down to sergeant, and the officer has been suspended for a month (no word on whether he will be paid during the suspension, which he is appealing).

After an internal investigation, Hargraves was ordered suspended for 30 days, and Wong was demoted to sergeant for failing to report the incident to internal affairs, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because the department considers the case a confidential personnel matter...

"[An video the officer had seen on the net involving another officer] called for violence against the officer, including burning down his home," Hargraves wrote. "This caused me great concern for the safety of my family."

But civil rights attorney Jim Chanin said Wednesday, "That's like saying that you can steal from a store because you're poor. If you take that to its logical conclusion, every police officer every day faces possible exposure and danger because their names are on their badges."

Chanin added, "Officer Hargraves could have asked to get an undercover assignment. He could have asked to be taken off duty that day. Instead, he decided to go and get his pay and violate the law.

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Eviction notices served on Occupy Oakland campers, who then destroy every last one of them

"Every last one of the 200 eviction notices handed out earlier" were destroyed by angry Occupy Oakland protesters, according to Inside Bay Area. But don't worry, you can read the full text here. Read the rest

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