The EPD and the APD and Their Dramatically Different Responses to the Occupy ‘Threat’

Hank Sims / Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 @ 9:06 a.m. / News

Everyone should read Thad Greenson’s fascinating story today on the leadup to the first Eureka Police Department raid on Occupy Eureka. Particularly interesting is the Eureka Police Officers Association’s attack on Councilmember Linda Atkins for “leaking” the fact that the EPD was planning to bust up the encampment. Greenson quotes a letter from the EPOA that was circulated at Tuesday night’s Eureka City Council meeting:

”Whether intentional or inadvertent, warning the Occupy Eureka group of an upcoming operation to remove their illegal encampments could have endangered the safety of the public, Eureka Police Department personnel and the protesters,” the letter states. “EPOA feels this warning also contributed to the tension and conflicts between the protesters and law enforcement when the operation to remove the illegal encampments finally took place.”

When EPD Interim Chief Murl Harpham spoke to John Matthews last week, he too expressed concern about the fact that news of the camp’s imminent bust-up had reached Occupy ears. (Harpham declined to name names.)

Really, though: Isn’t there a chance that the EPD is a little too ratcheted up about all this? Advance knowledge that their camp was illegal and was due to be cleared sooner or later — that right there endangered police officers and the public? Isn’t the EPD misreading its foe, here? These aren’t armed terrorists.

Contrast these high-tension relations with what’s happening in Arcata. For at least several days and possibly a week or longer, Councilmember Susan Ornelas, for one, has been warning Occupiers at Arcata City Hall that they would have to be busted up sooner or later.

What’s more, APD Chief Tom Chapman himself delivered an eviction notice to the Occupy Arcata camp yesterday, as the Arcata Eye reported. (Though the Eye‘s website seems to be down at this writing.) Chapman has been down at the Occupy camp just about every day, speaking with protesters with a sort of graceful and understanding firmness. You can watch a whole bunch of videos of these encounters on the Eye‘s Facebook page. They seem like a master class in effective police/community relations.

Why are Ornelas and Chapman happy to tell Occupiers that they must evacuate or face arrest? Why would the Eureka Police Department fear this?

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