Oakland Police Department Headquarters

How "policing the police" has become more successful in the digital era

Panther Patrols (sometimes referred to as "Patrolling the Pigs") were perhaps the Black Panther Party's most famous and historically remembered tactic. Seeing the black ghetto as a police state, Panthers exercised their Second Amendment right to bear arms in opposition to police intimidation and brutality. Aside from highlighting racist hypocrisies of gun-ownership proponents, this tactic resulted in higher demands for police accountability. To some degree, skepticism of police motives increased as did demands for proper disciplinary action for offending officers. However, because of the power still afforded to law enforcement to withhold sensitive information, accountability could often only go as far as witnesses in court. Therefore, Party leaders chose to emphasize a “threat of real actions” against institutionalized injustices rather than hope for real justice in these situations.
The present technological era has changed the game. In recent years, activists have tested the limits of modern technology in order to hold law enforcement accountable. For example, filming police activity is often considered illegal. However, the only illegality concerns interfering with an officer performing their duties. A recent article in The Atlantic (linked below) outlines exactly what to say if an officer tries to stop, confiscate, or destroy your video recording. And that knowledge only matters if you are caught filming in the first place. It goes without saying that with a majority of Americans having ready access to smart phones, regulation of videotaping is nearly impossible. Videos of police brutality—most recently one of an officer beating a young black girl in a South Carolina classroom (see link below)—tend to go viral and result in very real consequences for the offending officers.
Results like these are a clear improvement over the Black Panther era’s hope to intimidate “the man” into justice. Today, justice can be demanded more readily if officer transparency is forced via technology and social media. In efforts to promote such transparency, police departments—including the Oakland PD—have implemented the use of body cameras on officers to document their behavior while on duty. Already, the OPD have begun releasing body camera footage from officer involved shootings (an example is linked below)—bringing Huey Newton and Bobby Seale’s accountability vision closer to reality.

Street Address:

455 7th St, Oakland, CA 94607 [map]

Cite this Page:

Camille J. Brown, “Oakland Police Department Headquarters,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 12, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/142.

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