Former Oakland PD chief speaks out on 'Occupy'

November 6, 2011 12:08:47 PM PST
Former Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts is speaking out about the Occupy Oakland movement for the first time since his resignation last month.

About a mile from the Occupy camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza, Batts was taking in the appreciation of a coalition of local pastors at a ceremony on Saturday honoring his service to the city.

"It's painful. It's hurtful," Batts said. "I think Oakland is a wonderful city. I think it has a lot of wonderful people here that care very much about the city. They want to see us with a positive reputation."

Batts said he watched the clashes between police and protesters on television over the last few weeks. When asked how he felt the Occupy Oakland demonstration had been handled, he was careful not to criticize but did relate advice given to him while out of town by former president Bill Clinton.

"You can never conquer issues through force," Batts said. "It always has to be with diplomacy, and I think the first thing we have to do is to be diplomatic."

Batts offered some perspective for residents and local businesses being affected by the ongoing occupation.

"I think, in reality, what you really have are people sitting down on the grass and you have people camping illegally in a park," Batts said. "We have to take a breath right now, and we have to show some patience right now."

Batts resigned on October 11 -- one day after the first protesters began camping at Frank Ogawa Plaza -- after the city council nixed three of his crime-fighting initiatives. Batts was also facing longstanding warnings by a federal judge that the courts could take control of the department if certain reforms were not adopted.

Batts said he was often in conflict with Mayor Jean Quan's priorities. The mayor has since come under fire for her handling of the Occupy demonstrations.

Batts formally handed in his badge on Friday.


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