Ministers upset over Nutcracker raid

July 3, 2008 7:09:31 PM PDT
Mention the name "Nutcracker" and you think of the Christmas-time ballet, but in Oakland that's the name of a massive police production to arrest gang members. Some like it, but others don't.

By their own admission, Oakland Police brought out the big guns when they descended on the Acorn Housing Complex last month. Police say that show of force was absolutely necessary and others say it was way over the top.

"The residents here, according to what we've been told, were frightened to death, not by the young men, but by law enforcement," said Christopher Muhammad, a Nation of Islam minister.

Nation of Islam leaders stood with clergy in West Oakland to denounce the so-called "Nutcracker" raids where police claim broke up the violent Acorn gang.

"We are outraged and alarmed, at the sight of armed personnel vehicles, over 200 officers, high-powered rifles, the use of shock grenades, the kicking in of 30 doors," said Keith Muhammad, a Nation of Islam minister.

On June 17, Oakland Police and other agencies raided 34 locations and arrested 56 people, police claim are responsible for a string of murders and other violent crimes, including two restaurant robberies earlier this year. California Attorney General Jerry Brown called the suspects "urban terrorists."

"To tie young black males to what's going in Al Qaeda in the Middle East is to set young black males up to be treated as enemy combatants," said Christopher Muhammad.

On Thursday, Attorney General Brown told ABC7 "This was a well-executed series of arrests. The Acorn gang was terrorizing West Oakland for far too long."

"Everyone who was arrested was arrested with due process. We did not just do a sweep, hoping to arrest just anybody we could arrest. We targeted certain individuals who had active warrants, which were signed by a judge," said Lieutenant Ersie Joyner from the Oakland Police Department.

Leroy Moses lives in the Acorn community.

"The police man, they were just arresting people, handcuffing people left and right, man. They did this old lady real bad, they had her on the ground handcuffed, talking real crazy to her," said Moses.

Declining to appear on camera, another resident told us she supports the police raids.

"They cleaned up some of the trash and dirt around and they need to come back and continue, finish up what they started," said a resident.

Police say last month's raids have brought relative peace to this neighborhood. They say shootings are down by 66 percent and robberies down 27 percent since they began their investigation in March. Oakland Police also encourage anyone who believes they were mistreated during last month's Nutcracker raid, to make a formal complaint with the department. So far, no one has done that.


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