The demonstrative public show of support for the family of Alan Blueford and their quest to get police departments reports detailing how their son was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer on May 6 resulted Tuesday night in the release of the report to the family during an Oakland City Council meeting. The report was also publicly released online today by the Oakland Police department.
On Tuesday night, protesters filled the council chambers, and shortly before the meeting was to start, police officers sealed off the room in an effort to prevent a raucous protest like the one at the September 18 council meeting. Outside, hundreds more people clamored to get in, chanting and stomping their feet in support of the Bluefords’ quest to get police reports.
About an hour into the meeting, before the council took up the first scheduled agenda item, council president Larry Reid handed over his own copy of the initial crime report to the Blueford family. The protest dissipated as the Blueford family and their supporters went outside, where their attorney, John Burris, spoke about the report to an assembled crowd.
“It’s not complete, but it’s significant,” Burris said, noting that the report is heavily redacted.
City Administrator Deanna Santana and Reid made the final decision to limit the number of people indoors after a boisterous protest about the Blueford killing two weeks ago led to the shut down the council meeting, said Karen Boyd, a spokesperson for Santana. Boyd also said that the previous protest created a fire hazard, and caused violations with the Americans with Disabilities Act. “The decision was made to ensure the building is safe, and to facilitate a public meeting,” Boyd said.
After the room’s capacity was met, city officials said, the rest of the crowd could watch the meeting from an overflow room on TV.
After Tuesday night’s protest ended around 6:45 pm, the council returned to its planned agenda, and a spirited crowd weighed in on a proposed ordinance that would amend the city’s municipal code, establishing a new chapter requiring the registration and inspection of newly-acquired residential properties in Oakland that are not occupied by the new owner.
Under the original proposal, sponsored by Councilmember Desley Brooks, new property owners would have 30 days to schedule an inspection with the city to determine whether or not there are health and safety violations. Then, the owner has 60 days to fix any violations. Brooks said a trend of big investors buying up foreclosed-upon properties in East and West Oakland, then leaving them sit vacant, exacerbates problems with crime and economic development that already persist.
“Recent information shows that many properties that have been foreclosed upon are being purchased by non-owner occupants,” Brooks said. “It’s a phenomenon happening all over the country—investors are able to come in with cash, and make purchases, then they don’t do anything with the properties and they sit in disrepair.”
Language in the original proposal outlines the issue. “Non-owner occupants are purchasing many foreclosed and other residential properties with significant rehabilitation needs that are not being adequately remediated by the purchasers, and are rented out without adequate remediation.” The proposal also said that it worsens the city’s quality of life, causes a decline in property values and contributes to barriers to economic development.
Some public speakers said Tuesday night said the proposed ordinance is flawed, and that it would undermine investment. “The bill discriminates against people who own property and live there,” said Paul Junge, the public policy director at the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan introduced a substitute motion Tuesday night that would exclude short sale properties that that do not include a notice of default, and would eliminate the ordinance’s exemption for people who own six or fewer units.
The council’s resulting vote, split 4-4, must be broken by Mayor Jean Quan. The issue is expected to be voted on at the next City Council meeting, set for October 16.
As the council met on Tuesday night, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan issued a public message stating that the department would publicly release reports related to Blueford’s death.
“Officer-involved shootings may undoubtedly impact and affect police and community relations more so than any other incident or event,” Jordan wrote in his statement. “And deservedly so. These incidents represent moments of police authority and uses of lethal force—authority provided to us by law and derived from public consent—that result in the most contentious and adversarial of all outcomes.”
“I am hopeful that these documents, once posted to the Oakland Police Department’s website, will help serve to provide clarification,” his statement continued.
These documents are available at on the Oakland Police Department’s website.
Oakland North will continue to follow this story.