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2 Oakland police officers disciplined for Occupy actions

One of the officers had covered his nameplate with dark tape. The other removed the tape when a videographer inquired about it.

January 12, 2012|By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco -- Two officers involved in Occupy protests have been punished by the Oakland Police Department for violating official policy, after an onlooker's video showed one of them with dark tape obscuring his nameplate, according to court documents.

After an expedited internal affairs investigation into the actions of Officer John Hargraves and Lieutenant Clifford Wong, interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan "immediately moved to implement what, in my judgment as chief of police, was appropriate personnel action," Jordan said in a recent written declaration.

Jordan did not disclose the punishment "on advice of my legal counsel," he said in the declaration.

Attorneys in a more than decadelong legal case against Oakland and its Police Department took Hargraves and Wong to federal court in connection with their actions during a daylong general strike called by Occupy Oakland in early November.

The two officers were among a small uniformed group outside police headquarters approached by videographer Terrence Jerod Williams, who said he was concerned that one of the officers had hidden his name "to prevent citizens from identifying him in the event he engaged in acts of misconduct," Williams said in a declaration.

In a video that Williams posted on YouTube, the officer ignored his questions. So Williams asked Wong about the blacked-out nameplate. In the footage, Wong walks over and strips off the black tape to reveal the name "J Hargraves."

Under the California Penal Code and city policy, uniformed police officers must wear a badge or nameplate that identifies them to the public. The court action alleges that Wong failed to report Hargraves' conduct to the department's internal affairs division.

Hargraves said he covered his name tag out of "concern for the safety of his family," because an officer from another agency had been videotaped by Occupy protesters, had his name and address posted online and received threats of violence, according to court documents.

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