As Washington lawmakers strategize about increasing efforts abroad to wipe out terrorism, several East Bay activist picketed outside the Oakland Police Department demanding its end here.
“Who’s the biggest terrorist, don’t you tell no lies? John Ashcroft and the FBI,” chanted about two dozen members of the All People’s Coalition on Tuesday evening before marching to City Hall to continue their protest at a pending council meeting.
The group claimed there were several detainees at the North County Jail a few blocks down from the 455 Seventh St. location, and they were there to pressure City Councilmembers to end their participation in the Anti-patriot Act.
“We want Oakland to take the lead of other cities like Portland, and say ‘we are not going to be a party to these civil liberty violations,’” said Coalition President Olefundi Bakari.
The coalition has been in communication with various members of Oakland’s City Council including Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. De la Fuente is also the chair of the city’s committee on community and economic development.
“He said he would think about it, but since then has not returned our phone calls,” Bakari said.
Little information is available about how many, if any detainees are actually in custody at the Oakland site.
In December U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld set up several key principles which were to be followed — including “the presumption that suspects are innocent until proven guilty and there would be a requirement of a unanimous verdict for the death penalty,” according to documents taken from the U.S. Defense web site.
Additional measures include the fact that tribunals would be open to the public unless classified information was discussed and there would be an allowance of hearsay evidence.
But since embarking upon the rounding up of detainees to be questioned in relationship to terrorist activities, specific information about who and how many are in custody has been difficult to ascertain.
Officer Kevin Cartensen of the Oakland Police Department said he is not aware of there being any political detainees at the facility.
He would not comment any further on the demonstration, other than to say that a few officers were being dispatched strictly as a safety measure.
“[Protesters] will probably leave in a little while,” Cartensen said. “And we have police officers standing by to make sure everything is kosher.”
But according to Bakari the Oakland Police Department has a contract with the Federal government and the north county facility undoubtedly has some of the 1,500 nationwide detainees locked up there.
“They are being taken off the streets, away from their families. They are not being arrested. Sometimes they are not being given access to legal representation,” Bakari said. “We don’t know how many exactly, but we get calls from family members who tell us their loved ones are missing and it’s obvious.”
De La Fuente was unavailable to comment.
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