Recommendation: Improve communication with the public
City officials need to be more transparent about the laws and rules that they would consider to be relevant to a given protest activity. Alameda District Attorney Nancy O’Malley believes that “Oakland . . . need[s] more people out there talking to people about why they make their decisions.” This sentiment was echoed by Deputy City Administrator Arturo Sanchez:
“I think that the moment [Oakland officials] knew that they were going to engage in this [Occupy protest action], we should have come out to the very first tent person and explained what our rules are what our requirements are . . . and attempted to have a much firmer hand in terms of making sure that they worked with us on that.”
The city should develop clear communication protocols for future protest actions on how it intends to manage protests, including whether camps will be permitted and policies on arrests and charging decisions.
Similarly, OPD offices spoke to us about how much they valued the opportunity to engage with protest organizers in advance of a protest action, and the importance of the protest organizers “policing themselves” (thereby allowing the OPD to assume a much less visible and offensive stance during the protests).
How can the city (either the city management or OPD) engage in this kind of constructive communication with protesters in a way that would be perceived as respectful, constructive and welcome from the perspective of those protesters?