Federal lawsuit seeks Oakland police reform, attorneys demand charges against protesters be dropped

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Protesters and activists are taking their case to court against the Oakland Police Department for its crowd control tactics during recent protests.

Attorneys for those arrested are demanding charges be dropped.

Meantime, Oakland's interim police chief is promising reforms.

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During more than a week of protests over the death of George Floyd, some actions by Oakland police are being called out.

Bay Area social justice organizations announced they will file a civil rights class-action lawsuit against the City of Oakland for its crowd control tactics against protesters.

"We lift up the unconscionable use of tear gas by the OPD, it's not allowed by the military," said attorney James Birch.

The suit calls for an end to the use of tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets.

Meantime, attorneys for some protesters arrested held a news conference Thursday, asking district attorneys around the Bay Area to drop the charges.

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Attorney Tony Serra joined other lawyers in asking those police departments to be defunded and charges against protesters be decriminalized.

"Each person has a defense they were exercising their first amendment rights to protest police brutality, inflicted on people of color," said attorney David Hollenberg.

Now, a new pledge to reform the Oakland Police department coming from the interim chief.

In an open letter to the community, Susan Manheimer promises a systematic review of the "use of force" in recent protests. The interim chief also proposes banning the use of the carotid restraint, a type of chokehold and commits to reviewing the "8 Can't Wait" reforms promoted by those calling for an end to police brutality.

The Oakland Police Officers Association is in full support.

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"What she laid out is a structure of going forward, addressing issues that are of concern to the community," said Oakland P.O.A. President Bob Donelan.

The interim chief's memo also pledges to review crowd control policies.

The police report could take months to compile but activists say, they can't wait that long.

Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the investigation into George Floyd's death in Minneapolis and protests across the U.S.

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