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Case Name Anti Police-Terror Project v. Oakland PN-CA-0043
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-03866 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Police Violence Protests (Spring/Summer 2020)
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Case Summary
This class action lawsuit was filed on June 11, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiffs were the Anti-Police Terror Project, Community Ready Corps, and several individuals. Defendants were the City of Oakland, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) Police ... read more >
This class action lawsuit was filed on June 11, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiffs were the Anti-Police Terror Project, Community Ready Corps, and several individuals. Defendants were the City of Oakland, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) Police Chief, an OPD Sergeant, and two OPD officers. The suit followed police actions to quell protests that arose after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and counsel from the National Lawyers Guild, alleged that Oakland police used tear gas, flash-bang grenades, and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful protests. Their suit was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, they claimed that the actions of the OPD in quelling the protests were in violation of their:
  • First Amendment rights to free speech, free assembly, and free association;
  • Fourth Amendment rights against excessive force and unlawful seizure;
  • Fourteenth Amendment rights to substantive due process.
They also said that the city was liable for failure to select, train, and supervise the police department.

Plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order which would prohibit the use of pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, and non-lethal weapons. They also sought a preliminary and permanent injunction to prohibit the alleged constitutional violations in the future. They also sought declaratory relief and money damages to be determined at a later date.

On June 12, 2020 the case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero. Through the next week, plaintiffs submitted proposals for temporary restraining orders, and on June 18, 2020 Judge Spero granted the order. It prohibited use of tear gas and chemical irritants, flash-bang grenades, and rubber bullets except upon decision of an Operations Commander or Incident Commander in the OPD.

After a series of hearings on the matter, on July 29 the court entered a preliminary injunction against the defendants to prohibit the OPD from using "less-lethal" weapons except in very limited settings, mandating that they wear body cameras, and requiring further training. 2020 WL 4346828. The provisions in the injunction were largely agreed upon by both parties during the hearings. However, the parties disagreed about the extent to which "mutual aid partners" would be bound by the preliminary injunction. During protests, the OPD had used mutual aid from other police departments and municipalities. The Court's subsequent opinion explained that because no mutual aid partners were defendants, the Court could not issue injunctive relief binding on mutual aid partners. 2020 WL 4584185. However, because under California law OPD officers were to remain in charge when using mutual aid, the Court included provisions in the preliminary injunction to ensure OPD officers remain in charge and that OPD would ensure that mutual aid partners do not use tactics inconsistent with the preliminary injunction.

The plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce and modify the preliminary injunction and for sanctions on October 7, 2020. The plaintiffs alleged that the City violated the preliminary injunction by deploying chemical agents and projectiles in a prohibited way, kettling peaceful protestors, and failing to maintain social distance during protests that followed the shooting of Jacob Black by a Kenosha police officer on August 23 and the failure to indict any police officers for the death of Breonna Taylor on September 25. At the Court's order, the plaintiffs submitted a proposed order on October 21 explaining their requested changes to the preliminary injunction. In their proposed order, the plaintiffs sought $100,000 in sanctions and several modifications to the list of items prohibited from use by the OPD and corresponding changes in training.

The City responded with a cross-motion to modify the preliminary injunction. The City disputed that it violated the injunction and sought changes to the mutual aid section of the injunction. The City said that after OPD informed its mutual aid partners of the preliminary injunction, many of its partners responded that they would no longer provide mutual aid. The City argued that it expected significant, extended protests with the upcoming presidential election and asked the Court to suspend the mutual aid section of the preliminary injunction and clarify that the injunction did not bind mutual aid partners.

The Court denied the plaintiffs' motion to modify the preliminary injunction and instead granted the defendants' motion to modify the injunction on October 28, 2020. 2020 WL 6381358. The Court acknowledged the concern of large-scale demonstrations with the presidential election and the potential challenges the OPD would face in policing such large-scale demonstrations without mutual aid. It found that the combination of the lack of mutual aid and the potential demonstrations was a significant change in the facts meriting a change in the injunction to properly balance the equities of the parties and the public interest. OPD officers still were required to ensure that mutual aid partners were briefed on OPD's prohibited weapons and force to the extent possible.

The plaintiffs also filed an amended complaint on October 20. In the amended complaint, they added numerous individual plaintiffs. In addition, they added claims alleging assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, negligence, and violations of their rights under the California Constitution. The factual allegations and sought after relief remained largely the same.

This case is ongoing as of January 2, 2021.

Jack Hibbard - 07/20/2020
Emily Kempa - 01/02/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pepper/OC spray
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Oakland
Oakland Police Chief
Plaintiff Description Anti-Police Terror Project, Community Ready Corps, several Oakland, CA residents individually
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 06/11/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
12/23/2020
3:20-cv-3866
PN-CA-0043-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
06/11/2020
Verified Application for a Temporary Restraining Order and Class Action Complaint for Damages and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
PN-CA-0043-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
06/18/2020
Order Granting Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause [ECF# 34]
PN-CA-0043-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
07/29/2020
Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 52] (2020 WL 4346828)
PN-CA-0043-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
08/10/2020
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 54] (477 F.Supp.3d 1066)
PN-CA-0043-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
10/20/2020
First Amended Class Action Complaint for Damages and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 71]
PN-CA-0043-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
10/28/2020
Amended Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 82]
PN-CA-0043-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
10/31/2020
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce and Modify, and Granting in Part Defendant City of Oakland's Cross-Motion to Modify, Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 83] (2020 WL 6381358)
PN-CA-0043-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Beeler, Laurel (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-9000
Spero, Joseph C. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0002 | PN-CA-0043-0003 | PN-CA-0043-0004 | PN-CA-0043-0005 | PN-CA-0043-0006 | PN-CA-0043-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brunner, Jane (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0001 | PN-CA-0043-0007
Burch, James Douglas (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0001
Johns, Emily Rose Naomi (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0001 | PN-CA-0043-0007 | PN-CA-0043-9000
Kim, Andrew Chan (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0001 | PN-CA-0043-0007 | PN-CA-0043-9000
Mehta, Sonya (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0007 | PN-CA-0043-9000
Riley, Walter Phillip (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0001 | PN-CA-0043-9000
Siegel, Daniel Mark (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0001 | PN-CA-0043-0007 | PN-CA-0043-9000
Weills, Anne Butterfield (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-0001 | PN-CA-0043-0007 | PN-CA-0043-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Mclaughlin, Kevin P. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-9000
Pereda, David Alejandro (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0043-9000

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