Oakland Privacy Scores Another Victory

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Last night, the Oakland City Council voted 8-0, to formally end all law enforcement cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its parent agency Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The resolution, authored by council members Desley Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan and Noel Gallo and endorsed unanimously by the board’s Public Safety committee on January 9th, was championed by the activist group Oakland Privacy.

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf stated on November 22 to KTVU that she agreed with the strengthening of the City’s 1986 sanctuary resolution to prohibit all cooperation saying: “Oakland is a proud city of immigrants. We must stand united and protect our most vulnerable communities.”

The non-cooperation resolution, which the Public Safety committee instructed should be followed by an ordinance to formalize it into law, is the culmination of a six-month controversy that followed Oakland Police Department traffic assistance in a West Oakland raid in August that resulted in the pending deportation of a 25 year old Oakland resident.

After advocacy groups and citizen journalists with the Independent Media Center raised questions about inconsistencies between public statements about the raid, documents and witness testimony, Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission launched an independent investigation. The investigation concluded on October 5th that a violation of municipal sanctuary policy had occurred and public statements made by Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick a month earlier that criminal charges had been filed and that the case was not a deportation matter, were false. 18 individuals, including the Commission Chair Brian Hofer, filed an Internal Affairs complaint against Police Chief Kirkpatrick for untruthfulness. That complaint is still pending.

On November 28, the City Council convened a public hearing on the West Oakland ICE raid where scores of Oakland residents implored the City to remove loopholes from sanctuary policy and ensure City of Oakland employees do not participate in any way, shape or form with federal raids. As Council Person Rebecca Kaplan put it: “not even to get ICE a cup of coffee”.

Media Alliance director Tracy Rosenberg, who works closely with the Oakland Privacy advocacy group, commented: “The intermingling of immigration enforcement with criminal investigations by Homeland Security Investigations has made it impossible for a sanctuary city to assist them on any basis. Oakland has found out what Santa Cruz found out almost a year ago: they lie.”

Oakland’s action, if approved on Tuesday night, would follow the passage of Senate Bill 54 which limited law enforcement cooperation with immigration enforcement throughout the State of California and has prompted threats from AG Jeff Sessions of punitive actions against California.