Oakland police defend use of tear gas during recent protests as dozens of complaints come into police commission

J.R. Stone Image
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Oakland police defend use of tear gas during recent protests
Amid calls for police reform and rallies over the death of George Floyd, Oakland police deputy chief LeRonne Armstrong defends the use of tear gas during recent protests.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- For more than 4 hours community members sounded off in a virtual Zoom meeting with the Oakland Police Commission. Many upset over the Oakland Police Department's use of crowd control tactics which included the use of tear gas.

Facebook Live video from Monday, June 1 in Oakland shows the moments when tear gas was fired into a crowd of protesters. Those on the ground say the crowd was not violent and only a water bottle had been thrown.

"One minute into chanting hands up, don't shoot -- ordinances were fire upon us exploding on the ground and in the air overhead releasing tear gas on us," said one person.

"Tear gas has shown to cause miscarriages and stillbirths and we are in the midst of a pandemic," said another.

"You're supposed to protect and serve us and you have failed," added another person.

RELATED: Oakland protests: Police explain criteria for using tear gas, enforcing curfews

Oakland police deputy chief LeRonne Armstrong was quick to respond to some of the tactics used in recent protests at the end of May and start of June.

"What is missing from the conversation is the amount of violence that OPD was incurring," said Armstrong. "If you look at the downtown Oakland over 200 businesses have been looted and destroyed. Officers were under immense violence through the throwing of rocks bottles Molotov cocktails."

A civil rights attorney says that the Oakland Police Department hasn't followed federal guidelines specifically set for them.

The deputy chief says the department is doing a thorough review of the measures used during recent protests to make sure protocol was followed but went on to say that there was an imminent danger during several protests.

"We had over 30 officers injured some of which were transferred to the hospital and sadly there was a federal officer murder during these protests," said Armstrong.

Many in the public who voiced their complaints say they want the Oakland Police Department's budget cut dramatically, some want the department done away with, and most want tear gas use ended.