As protests pop up around the world, from Egypt to Turkey to Brazil, a court in Oakland was busy reviewing the reaction to a sect of America's protest movement, Occupy Wall Street in Oakland. The city of Oakland had a particularly heavy-handed response to protestors and a dozen sued the government for the harsh treatment. They were awarded just over $1 million for the damages and the court ordered a review of Oakland's policies.
The $1.17 million payout, which also requires police to adhere to their crowd-control policies, follows criticism by outside experts who said the Oakland Police Department was severely understaffed and insufficiently prepared to deal with the protesters.
The plaintiffs filed suit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco over their treatment by police on Oct. 25, 2011, when officers clashed with protesters who tried to reoccupy a City Hall camp that officers had cleared earlier in the day. Also included in the suit were allegations that police had acted improperly after a general strike on Nov. 2, 2011, devolved into rioting and more confrontations with police early the next morning.
"We're very pleased with the result," said Rachel Lederman, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild in San Francisco, which represented the plaintiffs. "This is really a good decision by the city and the Police Department to take some responsibility for the fiasco of their ill-planned response to Occupy Oakland and to take responsibility by compensating some of the people who were the most seriously injured."
The decision is a big win for the individuals involved — as well as potential protest movements in the future — as they will be eligible to receive far more than protestors around the world.