Public safety meeting addresses gang injunction, death of Derrick Jones
on December 15, 2010
Half of Tuesday’s three-hour Public Safety Committee meeting at Oakland City Hall addressed November’s fatal officer-involved shooting of an unarmed East Oakland man. Oakland Police Department Chief Anthony Batts announced he has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigations to open a federal civil-rights investigation to determine whether OPD officers wrongly used lethal force.
Derrick Jones, 37, was shot several times by police officers after he reached for his waistband during a November 8 police chase. The officers who responded to the scene after a domestic dispute call told investigators they believed Jones was reaching for a weapon. Later, police reports revealed the shiny object officers described seeing near Jones’ waist area was an electronic scale.
Jones’ mother, Nelly Jones, wept in front of the Public Safety Committee members telling them that her son was killed “at the hands of violent Oakland police.”
Separate investigations concerning Jones’ death are being conducted by the police department’s Internal Affairs and homicide sections, as well as a third investigation by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Batts said he had also asked the FBI to conduct a another investigation with the department so the findings will be “transparent.”
Offering his condolences to the Jones family at the meeting, Batts said, “With all sincerity, not just as a chief of police, but as an African American man and as a father, I understand your pain.”
Later during the meeting, the Public Safety Committee passed a resolution urging the city administrator to provide the city’s Violence Prevention and Public Safety Oversight Committee more prompt and responsive access to financial and program records from the city’s police, fire and human services agencies. Also included in the discussion was a plan to merge the Community Policing Advisory Board and Violence Prevention Public Safety Oversight Committee in January.
The meeting ended with a public forum in which residents took turn speaking about their opposition to the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction filed by the City Attorney’s Office in October.
If approved by the court, the injunction would be the city’s second and would cover approximately 400 blocks of the Fruitvale neighborhood. Similar to the North Oakland gang injunction that was approved in June, 2010, the 40 alleged gang members named in the lawsuit would not be allowed to congregate in groups, wear certain colors and would be subject to a curfew within a “safety zone.”
Cesar Cruz, co-founder of the Homies Empowerment Program and director of Intervention Support Services at the Urban Services YMCA said, “Our city attorney is saying it’s criminal for kids to be wearing red while riding a bike in a so-called ‘safe zone.’ I’m hoping you find this criminal. I’m hoping you stop this gang injunction.”
Cruz and other community organizers are asking for separate public forum at the next Public Safety Committee meeting in January.
Update: Pertaining to Cruz’s comment, the City Attorney’s office wishes to make clear the proposed injunction only applies to specific adults who are proven in court to be members of the Norteños. The proposed order posted on the City Attorney’s website also makes no mention of bikes.
Image: Nelly Jones, Derrick’s mother wept in front of the committee members telling them that her son was killed “at the hands of violent Oakland police.”
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