More than 400 anti-Wall Street protesters were arrested in Oakland during a night of skirmishes in which police fired tear gas and bean bag projectiles, the city said on Sunday, marking one of the biggest mass arrests since nationwide economic protests began last year.

Violence erupted again in Oakland on Saturday when protesters attempted to take over the apparently empty downtown convention center to establish a new headquarters and draw attention to the problem of homelessness. [REUTERS/Photo: Stephen Lam/Article: Emmett Berg]

Read more: Arrests in Oakland protest rise to more than 400

Whistleblowing Wednesday: Cop Identified In Scott Olsen Incident Also Fatally Shot 3 People While On Duty

Oakland Police officer, Robert Roche has been identified as the officer who threw a flash-bang grenade at Iraqi veteran Scott Olsen and his rescuers on October 25th.

Video from the tear gas-soaked night of the 25th shows a prone Olsen lying in front of metal barricades and police in riot gear. As several protesters ran to Olsen’s aid, someone from the cluster of police appears to lob a flash-bang grenade into the crowd gathered around the young veteran. The stun grenade explodes amid a cloud of tear gas and deafening noise, scattering Olsen’s rescuers.

An extensive review of video footage and Oakland Police Department records by this reporter indicates that Robert Roche, an acting sergeant in the Oakland Police Department and member of OPD’s “Tango Teams,” threw the flash-bang at Olsen and his rescuers.

It’s also not the first time that Roche’s actions have come under scrutiny. Police records show that Roche had previously killed three people in the line of duty.

In one clip of footage shot on October 25 by KTVU, the camera zooms in on a helmeted, gas-mask wearing officer in OPD insignia pointing a shotgun at the crowd. Olsen’s inert body is also visible in front of the barriers. Another video clip shows the same officer training his shotgun on the crowd, lowering the firearm as a crowd gathers around Olsen, and stepping back behind a line of San Francisco sheriff’s deputies on the barricade line. A grenade is then tossed at Olsen’s body as rescuers arrive.

Roche is a rifle officer who has also served in gang enforcement units. He has been involved in three fatal shootings during his career:

  • In 2006, he fatally shot seventeen-year-old Ronald Brazier after the teenager fired on Roche and two other officers.
  • In 2007, Roche shot and killed an unarmed Jeremiah Dye in a crawlspace under an East Oakland house. Dye had run from police after his cousin shot and wounded an OPD officer during a traffic stop.
  • In March 2008, fifteen-year-old Jose Buenrostro was shot to death by Roche and two other officers while in possession of a sawed-off rifle on 79th Avenue in East Oakland.

Buenrostro’s family received a $500,000 wrongful death settlement from the City of Oakland in 2010, even though police claimed that Buenrostro pointed the weapon at them. Buenrostro’s family contended that he did not threaten the officers.

Roche and Sergeant Ronald Holmgren, who supervised Tango Team 2 during the October 25 crowd control actions, were not assigned to the Tango detail on the evening of the November 2 General Strike, according to Oakland Police Department records. However, Roche was photographed on the street during the January 28 confrontation with Occupy Oakland protesters, shotgun in hand.

OPD’s “Tango teams,” or tactical teams, have been at the heart of some of the most intense clashes of the Occupy Oakland movement (see “Oakland Used Violent Cops Against Occupy,” 12/21/2012, “). Aside from the Olsen incident, video from the evening of the November 2 General Strike shows an unidentified OPD officer wearing a rucksack emblazoned with "Tango Team” striking US Army veteran Kayvan Sabeghi with a baton. Sabeghi was later hospitalized for a ruptured spleen.


“Being a leftist is a calling, not a career; it’s a vocation, not a profession. It means you are concerned about structural violence, you are concerned about exploitation at the work place, you are concerned about institutionalized contempt against gay brothers and lesbian sisters, hatred against peoples of color, and the subordination of women. It means that you are willing to fight against, and to try to understand the sources of social misery at the structural and institutional levels, as well as at the existential and personal levels. That’s what it means to be a leftist; that’s why we choose to be certain kinds of human beings.”

- Cornel West

Judge Threatens OPD Sanctions For ‘Military-Type Response’ To Occupy Protests

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered Oakland’s police department to submit a plan to address numerous unresolved complaints regarding their handling of the Occupy Oakland protests, warning that failure to comply within a week could lead to sanctions. District Judge Thelton Henderson’s mandate comes just a day after the release of a report by an outside monitor that concluded Oakland police used “an overwhelming military-type response” to Occupy’s demonstrations — the first official report to confirm Occupy Oakland’s struggles against police brutality.

The Oakland police department has received more than 1,000 misconduct complaints since the Occupy protests began, most have which have become backlogged. The department has been under court-ordered external monitoring and review since 2003, after four officers were accused of planting evidence, fabricating police reports and using excessive force. Henderson’s mandate sets strict deadlines for the department to clean up its act while continuing to comply with the reforms that stemmed from that 2003 case:

HENDERSON: It would be problematic enough if, as seems inevitable, [Oakland police’s] compliance levels were to backslide as a result of their failure to address the Occupy Oakland complaints in a timely fashion. Such failures would be further indication that, despite the changed leadership at the City of Oakland and its police department, [Oakland police] might still lack the will, capacity, or both to complete the reforms to which they so long ago agreed. The court will consider appropriate sanctions, including the imposition of daily or weekly monetary sanctions, until compliance is achieved.

On October 25, police attempted to subdue protesters with heavy-handed tactics such as rubber bullets, flash grenades, and smoke bombs — and ended up injuring an Iraq War veteran in the process. The Oakland police department later rejected an ACLU public records request to investigate the October events, and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s legal adviser resigned in outrage over the city’s treatment of the Occupy protesters.


Occupy Oakland demonstrators shield themselves from an exploding tear gas grenade during a confrontation with the police near the Oakland Museum of California in Oakland, California January 28, 2012.

Police fired tear gas at hundreds of Occupy Oakland protesters who tried to take over a shuttered convention center on Saturday, arresting 19 people in the latest clash between anti-Wall Street activists and authorities in the California city. [REUTERS/Stephen Lam]

Read more: Police fire tear gas at Oakland protesters, 19 arrested


MUST WATCH AND REBLOG! (Watch what the press fails to show you)

Video proof of OPD kettling protesters, leaving no exit, them tear gassing them,

‘Green technology’ is so insidious. It’s feel good capitalism, people really think they’re changing the world. I’m sitting here in a new college built entirely from recycled materials. Its high tech, is powered almost entirely through solar, and has cleaner air or some shit. When I look around me though nothing has changed. Not the state of the environment, or peoples mentality. Well, they might recycle more, and get others to recycle, but that hasn’t stopped Monsanto, or coal mining companies. People act like I’m insane in class when I bring this kind of stuff up; they really don’t want to come to terms with their entire philosophy still being exploitative and destructive to the planet. Oh, low flush toilets and environmentally friendly soap? We have those too.

My comrade at Occupy Oakland, Stephanie McGarrah

The enemy is this economic system, that tries to expand infinitely on a finite planet, that has consumed the majority of our natural resources, that won’t stop consuming and abusing no matter how “green” it becomes or how regulated it is. The enemy is CAPITALISM.