Police officers assigned to Oakland’s public housing units routinely use a loitering law to stop residents from gathering with family and friends in shared building spaces and their own yards, a new lawsuit alleges.
The suit, filed this week in federal court, says the city ordinance is applied excessively to young black men and should be deemed unconstitutional. Named as defendants are the city of Oakland and the Oakland Housing Authority Police Department.
The entities that filed the lawsuit — including the East Bay Community Law Center and local ACLU division — submitted a stack of police reports as part of the complaint. The records showed that housing authority police officers used the loitering ordinance as grounds for handcuffing someone who was getting ready for a barbecue, questioning a group that had assembled for a funeral and stopping a woman who was there to drop off medicine for her mother.