Before Ferguson, there was Oakland, reports Politico. In 2001, as the Occupy Wall Street movement expanded, Occupy Oakland became one of the biggest protest sites. In a city known for having one of the nation’s most brutal police forces, there were repeated, violent, pitched battles between protesters and police as hundreds of heavily militarized cops fought kids throwing bottles. The city paid more than a million dollars to settle lawsuits over aggressive police tactics.
Officer-involved shootings were frequent, and often fatal. Complaints of beatings, shakedowns and unwarranted arrests were rampant and cost the city dearly. All told, from 2001 to 2011, Oakland paid $57 million for claims, lawsuits and settlements involving alleged misconduct by the Oakland Police Department. Then last year, when there were protests over the deaths in Missouri and New York City of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, in Oakland, there were no rubber bullets this time. No flash-bang grenades. “The police showed remarkable restraint,” says Jim Chanin, the Oakland attorney whose decade-old lawsuit started the whole, long frustrating effort to reform the city's police. “I'm not going to declare victory, but I think we've turned a corner.”