An Oakland police officer accused of infiltrating the Occupy Oakland movement insists he was participating as a citizen because he is in agreement with the protesters.
Two weeks ago, Oakland Copwatch produced a video showing a clip of officer Fred Shavies in uniform next to clips of him in street clothes marching with Occupy activists.
The video also contains audio from acting police chief Howard Jordan speaking in 2003 about how to infiltrate activist groups.
Naturally, the video went viral, getting published in sites throughout the world – along with the other videos showing Oakland police going ballistic on protesters with rubber bullets, tear gas and flash grenades.
Shavies, who is also a photographer, came across the video on Twitter, watching it get retweeted repeatedly. In an attempt to clear his name, he tweeted that he is in agreement with the protesters, which is why he was marching with them.
So Oakland photographer and videographer Justin Warren contacted him through Twitter and asked him to do a video interview.
Fred Shavies and I are both from Oakland, and are both photographers. I was acquainted with him because of some mutual friends and interests. When I saw the Copwatch video I recognized him. I saw (from his twitter feed) that he had seen the video, and he had posted a comment identifying with the 99%. I contacted him and asked if he was willing to discuss on camera. He agreed. We filmed the interview the following day.
Shavies comes across very genuine in the video, as someone who really cares about his community – unlike his fellow officers who seem to not care.
“Unlike Shavies, most OPD aren’t residents of Oakland, nor are they strongly invested in the city (other than their desire for employment),” Warren said.
“Shavies is. I think he represents an exception, which is why I thought the story was interesting.”
It is not too difficult to understand why Copwatch would believe Shavies had infiltrated the movement. There has been a long history of police infiltration of such movements in this country.
And there has been just as long of history of tense relations between Oakland police and its community, which has once again risen to the surface since the Occupy movement began.
But Shavies comes across as an officer doing what he can to mend those sorrid relations.
And for that, he must be commended. If only there were more like him.