At least two members of the Oakland Police Commission this week called on two of their own, including the chair, to step down amid allegations of chaos in the body that oversees the city’s Police Department, which has been under federal monitoring for more than 20 years.
Commissioner Regina Jackson, who has been on the commission since its inception less than six years ago and previously served as chair, and Commissioner Marsha Peterson took part in a rally Tuesday afternoon outside Oakland City Hall to make their demands known publicly.
Those gathered called on commission Chair Tyfahra Milele and Commissioner Brenda Harbin-Forte to resign.
“I know we are doing the right thing,” Jackson said. “And the right thing is to remove Tyfahra Milele as chair and to remove Brenda Harbin-Forte as a commissioner.”
Speaking to reporters, Jackson added, “Mayor, if Brenda Harbin-Forte is demonstrating the kind of professionalism that you are expecting, (and) is in alignment with your beliefs and your values, then keep her on. But if she’s not, off with her head.”
Harbin-Forte is a mayoral appointee, Jackson said, appointed by former Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Thao did not respond to a request Tuesday afternoon for a comment on the trust and confidence she has in Harbin-Forte.
Jackson said Harbin-Forte has called for her resignation, Peterson’s resignation and the resignation of Oakland City Councilmember Kevin Jenkins all within 72 hours.
Harbin-Forte did not immediately respond to confirm or deny Jackson’s allegation.
Sowing the seeds of chaos
The chaos on the current police commission is due to “Milele’s failed leadership,” Peterson alleges.
Factions have developed on the commission, according to both sides demanding resignations. Harbin-Forte said Monday that five commissioners support Milele while Jackson and Peterson do not.
Mariano Contreras, a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability, which aims to hold Oakland police accountable and which has also demanded Milele’s resignation, said inaction by the police commission forced Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao to fire Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong in February.
That month, some questioned whether Thao gave the police commission time to act, having fired Armstrong about 90 minutes before a special commission meeting. Thao said she could have fired Armstrong at any time without cause, but she treated him like other officers who receive disciplinary action within 30 days.
The 30 days was up on the day she fired Armstrong.
Former Oakland Police Commissioner Jose Dorado said Milele and Harbin-Forte “need to go.” Jackson said it is the City Council that can remove Milele from the police commission.
On Monday, Harbin Forte said she and Milele were not troubled by Tuesday’s planned rally.