Federal agents surround Oaksterdam during the raid on April 2, 2012. Photo by Ryan Phillips.

One year ago, federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, a move that sent ripples throughout Oakland’s well-established cannabis industry and raised questions about the complex and often conflicting web of state and federal regulations surrounding medical marijuana use and patient rights. In this four-part series, Oakland North will examine what’s changed since last year’s raid, who was affected the most, and what may lie in store for medical marijuana use here in Oakland.

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In Oakland, the city attorney represents the city government, advising its departments on legal matters and ensuring that city officials are constitutionally sound in their practices. When former City Attorney John Russo left his position in June before completing his third term to become the city manager of Alameda, Barbara Parker became the woman for…

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John Russo is getting ready to pack his bags on June 10, ending his 11-year term as Oakland City Attorney to start his new position as Alameda City Manager on June 13. In this exclusive interview, Russo looks back on his time in Oakland, including six years on the city council, and talks about the city’s budget problems, gang injunctions, and the vote he thinks he got wrong.

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Just as the hearing for the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction got underway on Tuesday, police officers entered the court and arrested Javier Quintero—one of the 40 alleged Norteño gang members named in the injunction—for a parole violation. Quintero was the first defendant to testify in the hearing, which began in mid-February, and has not missed a single day of watching the proceedings.

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After the defense spent three days questioning Oakland police officer Douglass Keely, who was involved in creating the list of the 40 alleged Norteño gang members named in the Fruitvale gang injunction, prosecutors finally got a chance to cross examine him on Tuesday. The crux of their examination involved showing the judge dozens of photos of the alleged gang members’ tattoos and gang clothing, as well as graffiti in the Fruitvale neighborhood, that were meant to demonstrate that the defendants had been correctly identified as active gang members.

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As the hearing over the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction grinds on, tension is rising between the two sides over how long the process is taking. On the prosecution’s side, the Oakland City Attorney’s Office wants the court to approve the proposed injunction as quickly as possible while the defense, which represents 27 of the 40 alleged gang members named in the injunction, wants to prevent its enforcement.

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Abel Manzo, one of the alleged gang members named in the Fruitvale gang injunction, was the only person to testify in the hearing on Wednesday. His lawyer, Jose Luis Fuentes, used his line of questioning to paint a picture of Manzo as a person who had some minor run-ins with the police but was never involved in gangs.

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On Tuesday night, Oakland City Council’s public safety committee heard a report from the City Attorney’s Office about the effectiveness and cost of gang injunctions, but despite nearly three hours of heated public commentary, the committee decided not to take actions regarding the report on the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction.

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