Let’s talk about theory. In theory, when an arm of state power – for an example the police – arrests someone a certain set of conditions must be met. This typically involves the person being arrested facing charges for a crime or being cited for a violation.
But as many Americans learned for the first time watching the police respond to the Occupy protests, sometimes arresting people is just a tactic with no clear crime or violation occurring.
That’s bad enough but for the members of Occupy Oakland arrest was not only a tactic to stop a protest but the beginning of an hours long detainment:
Eight Occupy Oakland protesters have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Oakland and Alameda County, saying their civil rights were violated when they were held in jail for hours but never charged with a crime…
Arrestees were held for as long as 85 hours, said the suit, filed by Berkeley attorney Yolanda Huang and Dan Siegel, a former adviser to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
Mayor Quan can’t be happy about this, not only might the city face heavy penalties from a lawsuit her police force caused but the suit was filed by a former adviser.
The attorneys are asking a judge to give the lawsuit class-action status, which would broaden the number of plaintiffs to others arrested during the protest.
“Rather than cite and release, class members were incarcerated for long periods in overcrowded and inhumane conditions, including unheated or deliberately chilled cells, with limited seating, no sleeping facilities, sometimes standing room only, no toilet facilities, no feminine hygiene and no food, water or medical care,” the suit said.
The mass arrest outside the YMCA happened hours after protesters tried to take over the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center several blocks away.
Perhaps this lawsuit will provide some incentive to the police and their superiors to stick to more legal forms of arrest and detainment. Or maybe an incentive for taxpayers to start tossing politicians who run up these huge legal bills by breaking the law.
Photo by Oakland Local under Creative Commons license