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  • The Oakland Police Department has long been the center of criticism, but the latest sex scandal has already emptied it of three police chiefs.

    The Oakland Police Department has long been the center of criticism, but the latest sex scandal has already emptied it of three police chiefs. | Photo: AFP

Published 19 June 2016

While the East Bay has been applauded for cracking down on police for a sex scandal, activists demand accountability higher up for ongoing police brutality and injustice.

After the third police chief resigned in Oakland in just over a week over a sex scandal embroiling several East Bay departments, enraged activists are narrowing in on Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who “stood by” the department every time officers shot Black men and “said they were in the right,” Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project said. 

Protesters Shut Down the Oakland Police Department

The APTP hung a banner that read: "Guilty of: human trafficking and statutory rape" in front of the department as part of a protest hours before Schaaf announced the chief’s resignation. The group are demanding that the names of all implicated officers be released and that all who participated and knew about the scandal, in which an underage sex worker had sex with over two dozen officers, be convicted and jailed.

Brooks added in an interview with ABC7 News that Oakland devotes 60 percent of its budget to policing, funds that would be better placed in education and job creation.

Over 25% of Oakland's Black population has been displaced in the last 10 years. Under the Libby Schaaf administration, this displacement crisis has intensified,” wrote Community READY Corps on its Facebook page, advertising a Week of Action to Stop Stay & Expand connecting police abuse with accelerating gentrification.

Paul Figueroa, the police chief who resigned his duties Friday, was appointed to replace Ben Fairow only two days before.

“I want to assure the citizens of Oakland that we are hell-bent on rooting out this disgusting culture,” Schaaf said angrily, calling the environment in the department “toxic” and “macho.”

“As a Mayor of Oakland I am here to run a police department not a frat house,” she said.

Schaaf has declined to provide details about the ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the department, claiming that releasing information could impede the probe and possible charges.

She did acknowledge that an unrelated investigation was underway into the sharing of racist text messages by some officers. Local broadcaster NBC Bay Area reported some of the messages contained racial slurs and images of the Ku Klux Klan.

Photos: Anti Police-Terror Project Facebook page

As many as 31 officers from the Oakland police department and other area law enforcement agencies had sex with a teenage sex worker, including some while she was underage, according to ABC7 News.

More than a Dozen Arrested in Oakland Police Brutality Protest

Reports in local media are based on interviews with the woman, elected officials, Oakland police sources as well as documents. The Mercury News also reported that police officers across the East Bay including Livermore, Richmond, Alameda and Stockton, are also embroiled in the scandal.

Contra Costa County’s sheriff deputy was placed on administrative leave on Monday and both Richmond and San Francisco opened an internal investigation the next day and Alameda County placed its district attorney inspector on leave on Wednesday.

Alameda also cleared four sheriff’s deputies of criminal and administrative wrongdoing, and Livermore and Stockton police departments declined to conduct investigations “because no one has made any official complaints against their officers,” reported SF Gate.

Police in California are protected from disclosing information on officer misconduct and are not obligated to hold public hearings when facing reviews and disciplenary action under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act.

Schaaf said she would not appoint another acting chief and command staff would instead report to City Administrator Sabrina Landreth.

Photos: Anti Police-Terror Project Facebook page

“I feel that this is an appropriate time to place civilian oversight over this police department,” she said.

Former Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, who had headed the department since May 2013 and was heralded by Schaaf for recent declines in shootings and murders, resigned last Thursday. Schaaf declined to elaborate on the move aside from saying Whent made a “personal choice.”

Schaaf replaced Whent with Ben Fairow, but changed course and removed him on Wednesday, saying that she received “information” that made her question whether he could lead the department.

The news comes just days after the release of a Stanford University study on the department, which found that African American men were four times more likely to be searched during police traffic stops than whites and were more likely to be handcuffed even if they were not arrested.

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