Despite Canceled Hearing, Oakland Councilmembers Still Plan to Talk About Controversial ICE Raid



The Oakland City Council's Public Safety Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing this Tuesday about a controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in August that may have constituted a violation of Oakland's sanctuary policy. But last week, Councilmembers Annie Campbell Washington and Abel Guillen abruptly cancelled the hearing.

Even so, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said she plans to speak at this week's Pubic Safety committee meeting about the raid. Kaplan also said that other councilmembers and activists will show up to talk about the controversy.

Under the council's rules, councilmembers and members of the public can talk about the raid and OPD's role in it and any other topic not on the committee agenda during the public forum part of the meeting.

The ICE raid and OPD's assistance have become a source of tension for Oakland's leaders.

Kaplan has accused her colleagues of a "cover-up."

On Aug. 16, two Oakland cops helped the Homeland Security Investigations unit of ICE conduct a raid of a West Oakland home. The OPD officers blocked the street outside the house while about 20 ICE agents executed a search warrant.

One man was arrested during the ICE raid, but he hasn't been criminally charged, according to federal court records. Instead, the only ramification is that he's now facing civil charges of being unlawfully present in the country. He now faces deportation.

Under Oakland's sanctuary policy, no city employee, including the police, can lawfully assist federal agents who are enforcing civil immigration laws.

So far, Kirkpatrick and the department's answers have only raised more questions.

ICE has claimed it's a human trafficking case, but the agency has refused several times to make public any further information with the media.

When questioned in August and September about the raid, Kirkpatrick went on to make false statements. She erroneously said that the man who had been arrested was already criminally charged, and that a deportation case wasn't underway. Neither was true. Kirkpatrick also made a false statement regarding the timing of when the Oakland Police Department formally ended cooperation agreement with ICE.

As a result, the city's Privacy Advisory Commission published a report alleging the chief made false statements and raising questions about whether she knowingly lied, or simply was mistaken. It's also possible that ICE hasn't been transparent with OPD, and the chief relied on the agency's representations, which weren't accurate.

But Kirkpatrick declined to appear at a previous privacy advisory commission hearing to answer questions raised by the report.

Regardless, Mayor Libby Schaaf has come out in support of Kirkpatrick, saying  she's "met with Chief Kirkpatrick and the federal agents involved in the investigation to develop a thorough understanding about this matter," and has "not seen anything that calls into question the chief’s truthfulness or integrity."

It's unclear if ICE shared any law enforcement records with Schaaf, or if the mayor is simply taking the agency at its word.

Campbell Washington and Guillen said last week that they put the Public Safety committee hearing about the ICE raid put on hold indefinitely because Brian Hofer, chair of the privacy commission, filed an internal affairs and CPRB complaint against the chief for untruthfulness.

But Hofer said it wasn't his understanding that a complaint would cancel the hearing. He intended for both to proceed.

There's also no city rule that states that the council can't hold a hearing about something that's also related to a matter being investigated by OPD's internal affairs unit.

The internal affairs unit reports directly to the police chief, meaning that Kirkpatrick is now effectively in control of the police department's confidential investigation of herself.

But Kaplan told the Express over the weekend that she and others still intend to talk about the Oakland police's cooperation with ICE, and the controversial August raid, during Tuesday's committee meeting, even though it isn't on the agenda.