Two demonstrators from a June 2020 George Floyd protest won a quarter million dollars after being shot with rubber bullets, and the Oakland Police Department has agreed to not use “explosive grenades on peaceful crowds.”
The fallout from the George Floyd protests from May and June 2020 is still falling out — at least, it is for the City of Oakland and Alameda County in a U.S. District Court. Last November, that court ordered a settlement conference between those two government bodies and two protesters shot with rubber bullets who were suing them over it, as Oakland North reported at the time. Now KRON4 reports that the settlement is complete, and the two protesters will be awarded $250,000, as well as a set of administrative changes to how Oakland and Alameda County law enforcement can use force with peaceful protesters.
Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office have agreed to permanently ban rubber bullets, bean bags and "less lethal" munitions at demonstrations and pay two protesters $250,000 who were injured during a George Floyd protest two summers ago. https://t.co/T8KyZ1gD6R— Lisa Fernandez (@ljfernandez) September 1, 2022
KTVU adds the details that “The money will be shared by Tosh Sears, who was shot in the hip, and Kierra Brown, who was shot in the calf – both with rubber bullets by sheriff's deputies on June 1, 2020, as they were participating in a protest organized by youth at Oakland Technical High School.”
Neither the City of Oakland nor Alameda County officials have returned comment to any media sources on the settlement, so the only information we have to go on is the commentary from Sears’s and Brown’s attorneys. But having just won their clients a quarter of a million dollars, needless to say they are very happy to talk to the press.
Oakland has a policy of not allowing law enforcement to use “impact munitions,” that is, non-lethal firearm weapons like rubber bullets and beanbags, against protesters. But the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office was not under any such restriction, and the OPD allowed them to do their dirty work, so to speak. As Lederman describes, "Alameda County came in and shot a whole bunch of people. OPD then said, 'We can't control the mutual aid officers and we need mutual aid.'"
This settlement ostensibly closes the loophole that allowed sheriff's deputies to do what the OPD could not.
The other settlement-winning attorney R. Michael Flynn said in a statement that "Even if someone does pose a grave danger, the injunction prohibits police from shooting into a crowd, especially when people are running from teargas. Under the settlement agreement and AB48, the police must try de-escalation, and they must give adequate notice and opportunity to leave before resorting to munitions."
But of course, if you’ve ever been in a protest like that, you know that none of those rabble-rousers ever takes the police up on their “opportunity to leave” offer. Still, this a legitimate policy change won through the civil courts, and is likely to lead to fewer injured protesters, in Oakland and Alameda County at least.
Image: @gnarly_gnarwhal via Twitter