Palo Alto City Manager James Keene Allegedly Orders PADP Chief to Assist Oakland in Squashing rights to Peaceably Assemble

Palo Alto City Manager James Keene

Palo Alto Free Press has embarked through the issuance of a California Public Records Request to learn the extent of the Palo Alto Police Departments involvement in the Occupy Movement in Oakland California.

Frank Ogawa Plaza Oakland, Ca

With public funds already stretched to its limits, were hoping to gain insight into city manager James Keene’s thought processes in ordering this tactical operation and its costs to the Palo Alto taxpayers.

Our Public Records Request is as follows and we will continually up-date with new information as soon as it becomes available.

Dear City Attorney Molly Stump:

RE: California Public Records Act Request – City of Oakland, California

This letter constitutes a request pursuant to the California Public Records Act (CPRA),[1] submitted to the Palo Alto Police Department on behalf of the Palo Alto Free Press. The CPRA facilitates the fundamental right of access to state public records guaranteed to California citizens in the state’s constitution.[2]

Scope of request: All costs incurred to city of Palo Alto taxpayers for police services rendered to the city of Oakland, California during operation “Occupy” Pre and Post by the city of Palo Alto and it’s Police Department.

Accordingly, the Palo Alto Free Press hereby requests all records (including, but not limited to, electronic records) maintained by the Palo Alto Police Department and their officers, employees,and agents discussing, concerning, or reflecting:

1. Any policies, guidelines, or other documentation regarding the use of police services rendered to other policing agency’s including the City of Oakland, California

2. List of all tactical equipment used during this operation.

3. Copy of request for services received by the city of Palo Alto’s police department from the city of Oakland California on staffing requirements.

4. Total number of Palo Alto Police officers used / employed during operation.

5. Total amount of salaries including overtime.

6  Number to weapons fired: (1) Teargas (2) Tazers (3) Beanbags (4) Bubberbullets

7. Total number of vehicles used.

8. Tactical name assigned by the Palo Alto Police Department for the city of Oakland, California.

This request applies to all documents in your agency’s possession, including emails, video and audiotapes, and other electronic records.[3] It also includes documents that were created by a member of another government agency or a member of the public.[4] If specific portions of any documents are exempt from disclosure, please provide the non-exempt portions[5]

Please respond to this request within ten days, either by providing all the requested records or by providing a written response setting forth the legal authority on which you rely in withholding or redacting any document and stating when the documents will be made available.[6]

[1] Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 6250-6276.48.
[2] See Cal. Const. art. I, § 3(b).
[3] See Cal. Gov’t Code § 6252(e), (g).
[4] See Cal. State Univ. v. Superior Court, 90 Cal. App. 4th 810, 824-25 (5th Dist. 1999).
[5] See Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(a).
[6] See id. §§ 6253(c), 6255.

If I can provide any clarification that will help identify responsive documents or focus this request,[7] please contact me at             650-646-5737       or Please note that the CPRA allows member of the public to request records by describing their content, rather than asking for specific documents by name; an agency that receives such a request must “search for records based on criteria set forth in the search request.”[8]

Because the Palo Alto Free Press is a media organization, I ask that you waive any fees. [9] I also request that any records maintained in electronic format be provided in that same format, to avoid duplication costs.[10] However, should you be unable to do so, Palo Alto Free Press will reimburse your agency for the direct costs of copying these records (if your agency elects to charge for copying) plus postage.

If you anticipate that these costs will exceed $10, or that the time needed to copy the records will delay their release, please contact me so that I can arrange to inspect the documents or decide which documents I wish to have copied.] Otherwise, please copy and send them as soon as possible, and we will promptly pay the required costs.

Thank you for your attention to this request. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at             650-646-5737       or


Palo Alto Free Press

[7] See id. § 6253.1.
[8] See Cal. First Amendment Coal. v. Superior Court, 67 Cal. App. 4th 159, 165-66 (3d Dist. 1998).
[9] See Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(e); North County Parents Org. v. Dep’t of Ed., 23 Cal. App. 4th 144, 148 (1994).
[10] Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253.9.

9 Replies to “Palo Alto City Manager James Keene Allegedly Orders PADP Chief to Assist Oakland in Squashing rights to Peaceably Assemble”

  1. Palo Alto Weekly reported this online. We may need to push the Alameda County DA to investigate and if the evidence supports it press for charges being filed –if they hit the Iraq vet attempted murder and 245 may be appropriate.

  2. 10/28/2011

    Dear editor of PaloAltoFreePress:

    You have done an excellent job of putting forth a detailed California Public Records request– for all of the relevant records necessary to uncover the truth of what occurred in Oakland at the “Occupy Oakland Encampment,” on Tuesday night October 25th.

    (1) Did your record’s request ask whether the PAPD fired tear gas canisters at the crowd?

    (2) Did they fire canisters at the young vet –two tours in Iraq– who was seriously injured on Tuesday night Oct. 25, (Scott Olson)?

    (3) Were members of the PAPD the responsible parties for this act of possible attempted murder?

    (4) Your article suggests that Palo Alto City Manager James Keene may have ordered or approved the use of members of the Palo Alto Police department and their military like tank–and high powered weapons arsenal–to assist Alameda County law enforcement to crush the 1st Amendment rights (Speech, Assembly, etc.), of the peaceful demonstrators– all done under the cover of darkness, while women, children and other vulnerable unarmed individuals slept. Has James Keene returned your calls for a formal interview so you can verify this information?

    (5) Was the mayor of Palo Alto (Sid Espinosa) and or other members of the city council, advised–prior to this police action–that members of the PAPD would be used to assist in crushing the 1st Amendment rights (speech, assembly, etc.) of American citizens and others–in what is commonly referred to as the Occupy Oakland Movement? Did they approve the use of the PAPD for this police action?

    These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked re why our police department—or any police department in this country for that matter—would take it upon themselves to attack peaceful demonstrators–exercising protected core Constitutional rights—including the right to assembly peacefully, to speak-out in an attempt to redress long-standing systemic grievances re the decline of our democratic institutions, and in opposition to such perceived wrongs as a corporate takeover of the people’s institutions–for the benefit of the few , to the determent of the vast majority of the America people.

    I intend to contact Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley (Alameda County District Attorney’s Office 1225 Fallon Street, Suite 900 Oakland, CA 94612—The main phone number to the Office is: (510) 272-6222), and demand that her office begin an immediate investigation into this entire matter.

    I will ask District Attorney O’Malley to pursue this investigation in a timely, through and professional manner. If this investigation develops competent evidence that supports charges against members of the Palo Alto Police Department (or other members of law enforcement)—that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt — then the responsible officers must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Any attempt to defend against legitimate/credible charges based on the defense that members of the Palo Alto police department were “ just following orders” of the Oakland Police Department or other Alameda Law Enforcement Agencies –must be rejected. As the Nuremburg Principals enumerated, when individuals or government agents commit human rights violations–the defense that I was “just following orders” will not be countenanced.

    We must all act now to seek justice,

    Aram James

    1. Dear Mr. James:

      As you know the whole world is looking at the outrageous participation and behavior of all policing agency’s involved in trampling upon our 1st Amendment rights to peacefully assemble. The extent and involvement of the Palo Alto Police Departments activities remains to be seen. We will publish our finding as they become available.

      Unfortunately, the Palo Alto police department specifically Palo Alto city attorney Donald Larkin has instructed all police information officers (PIO’s) to blacklist, not grant interviews, or return phones calls to anyone employed by Palo Alto Free including you!!

      As to weather or not any member of the PAPD fired teargas canisters or any other crowd disbursing harmful projectiles into the peaceful crowds assembled, was in fact one of the questions posed under the California Public Records Request Act presented to the Palo Alto city attorney’s office.

      Any subsequent responses out of the city attorney’s office will no doubt be well scripted if in fact answered at all.

      Furthermore, PAPD Chief Dennis Burns reports directly to city manager James Keene and he must have received all of his marching orders in this well planed out coordinated assault which was no doubt reviewed and signed off by Mr. Keene.

      As you may recall Mr. Keene ordered a swat team assembled and readied during the peaceful demonstration march from City Hall East Palo Alto to City Hall Palo Alto. 500-plus expected for Sunday march to PA City Hall

      And as you know, men, women and children took part in this historic event as well. We beleive the deployment of PAPD officers and there tremendous firepower [teargas grenade launchers and M16’s and sniper rifles] transported over city boundaries to the city of Oakland was not the act of one single person alone.

      Logic dictates Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinoza and ALL city council members were briefed and acted in concert approving this entire quasi military operation.

  3. What’s confusing is this: What does Palo Alto have to do with people assembling in Oakland? It’s not like it’s the Oakland fire. Maybe the interim police chief is seeking outside help due to what? Maybe feeling insecure? But still, Casro Valley and Hayward, were they also asked to muscle out demonstrators in Oakland?

    1. Dear Ms. Hurley,

      We’re not sure at this point however our public records request may shed further light on the total number of policing agencies involved in what we believe to be a military tactical assault on the brick and morter of democracy. The right to redress grievances through peaceable assembly. Please check back with us periodically for up-dates.

  4. The Police are not the Enemy.

    How many protests of serious social wrongs end with stories about a confrontation with the police? There will always be police errors in any protest situation. Police make mistakes just like everyone else. People directing the police do too. When something appears to have gone wrong, the first thing to remember is that the police are not the enemy.

    The social wrong being protested is the biggest enemy. Don’t let the focus of the protest be directed away from the real goal. If you believe that the use of police was misguided, pick up the phone and call whoever gave that guidance and tell them that you think an error is causing the focus of a protest to be redirected from the social wrong to the direction to the police, and ask how they think the focus can be brought back on the social wrong.

    I was involved in a student protest against apartheid in South Africa. The cops were taught to use pain compliance holds (nerve pinches and arm twisting) to get violent drunks to comply with orders when arrested. But students using passive resistance protest methods refused to comply until the pain was intolerable, which amounted to simple torture. News headlines roared against the police. South Africa dropped out of the story entirely.

    The cop who arrested me was an African American. While I was sitting in the back seat of his car, he turned around and said that if he was off duty, he might be on the sidelines cheering me instead of arresting me. What a horrible position for a cop to have to be in.

    The other cop who was in the car was the young future Stanford public security chief, Raul Niemeyer. Niemeyer and his boss Marv Harrington met with students about how to improve police methods in dealing with protesters. They listened, and immediately changed the police methods and training for dealing with student protests.

    The focus returned to South Africa and apartheid. Motorola Corporation, which was selling electronic cattle prods to South Africa to use in torturing people like Nelson Mandela ended up in a headline that it was entirely pulling out of South Africa on the date of the biggest student protest. This would not have happened without the cooperative meetings between police, protesters, and those forming police policy.

    There should be a meeting between those in Palo Alto responsible for Palo Alto police going to Oakland and those opposing it. It may be that both sides share the real goal of the Oakland protesters, and can brainstorm how to implement this goal, in which case the use or abuse of Palo Alto police will be forgotten.

    1. Dear Oops,

      What a novel approach. And your right the police do not have to be viewed as the enemy. Unfortunately, they have acquired the lasting stigma of brutalizing citizens with impunity and immunity. These laws should be changed.

      I don’t beleive the police have ever engaged peacefully organized protesters by extending an olive branch of peace before the actual assault. Why did they not send in a peace delegation and brainstormed as you suggested?

      In hind sight perhaps the outcome may have been different. Thanks for sharing your insightful wisdom…..But the stark reality is this.

      Protesters are viewed as the enemy by the police and the police are viewed as the military by the protesters. Those two convergences are difficult to separate with any trust on either side. Perhaps your comments will become the impetus of great things to come.

  5. The Home-Oracle informs me it is standard procedure for one police department to request assitance from all regional departments (all Bay Area police), when an action will take police away from regular patrols. So while Oakland police concentrated their attention on the Occupy folks, those neighboring police were in Oakland driving around neighborhoods “babysitting” Oakland’s neighborhoods.

    While this makes sense to all police, it seems like creepy spin, considereing there was NOTHING happening but people peacefully expressing dissatisfaction with the economy.

    Did anyone else think People’s Park?

    My problem with county and city authorities is that they apparently no longer work for the people. They work for themselves. Anything goes, as long as it looks good on paper. Their spy equipment is used against teh populace “served.” They do not fingerprint after burglaries, even when the dirty handprints are oh-so evident. But they fingerprint people they arrest (an arrest is an accusation, not a conviction), and they fingerprint people who get foodstamps. What gives? Isn’t this a form of fascism? Very scary.

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