Oakland’s Coal Ban Loses One More Time in Court

Plus, violence erupts across the nation in response to police killing of George Floyd

A federal appeals court upheld a ruling invalidating Oakland’s prohibition on coal shipments last week.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a May 2018 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, which found that the city of Oakland had insufficiently made the case that coal shipments posed a significant harm to the community. The appellate court voted, 2-1, to uphold the ruling on Tuesday.

The ruling could allow roughly five million metric tons of coal and coal byproducts to be shipped annually through the Oakland oversized bulk terminal.

The appellate judgment is a big win for developer Phil Tagami, whose massive marine bulk terminal at the former Oakland Army Base was the impetus for the city’s ban on coal shipments in 2016.

Tagami has long maintained that the project, first conceived more than a decade ago, always included the possibility of procuring coal shipments. Others disagree.

Environmentalists began lobbying Oakland officials about how coal and particulate sloughed off of rail cars would exacerbate poor air quality in West Oakland, and make the city complicitous in promoting climate change in other areas of the world. After the Oakland City Council passed a resolution banning coal, Tagami sued the city.

Chhabria was not convinced by Oakland’s arguments and sharply criticized the city’s case in favor of the coal ban in his 37-page ruling.

“The record is riddled with inaccuracies, major evidentiary gaps, erroneous assumptions and faulty analyses, to the point that no reliable conclusion about health or safety dangers could be drawn from it,” Chabbria wrote.

In a lengthy interview with the East Bay Express last December, Tagami voiced confidence in the ruling being upheld by the appellate court. But he also indicated that just one more victory in court would be unlikely to end the legal wrangling over coal at the marine bulk terminal.

“We’re going to see this through,” Tagami said. “We’ve planned for a long, cold winter.”

That outlook appears prescient, as demonstrated by a statement from the Sierra Club, one part of a coalition fighting against coal in Oakland.

“This is not the end,” said Isha Clarke, member of the group Youth Vs Apocalypse. “We will continue to fight because the residents of West Oakland deserve to live in a community that hasn’t been poisoned by racism and greed. We are calling on the City of Oakland to pass a new ban that will protect its citizens. No one is disposable.”

Hayward Police Shoot and Wound Man in his 60s

Body-camera footage released by Hayward police from the May 27 Tasing and shooting of a man who angrily wielded a knife at officers captured one officer essentially questioning aloud his colleague’s decision to use his service weapon and not his Taser.

The suspect did not die, but was rushed to the hospital, police said. Video shows him bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds to the abdomen.

The shooting occurred in the Mt. Eden neighborhood of Hayward on Bahama and Sleepy Hollow avenues around 12:45pm, according to police. Police were called to the area to investigate reports of a man chasing another individual. The suspect was later seen banging on doors in the neighborhood, police said.

In a video apparently obtained by police from social media, the suspect is seen yelling at another man in a car, whom he appears to be following, apparently after some sort of motorcycle accident. By the time officers arrived to question the man, he was shirtless and bleeding from the apparent accident.

Two separate videos from the body cameras of officers involved in the altercation show at least four police officers, who eventually drew their weapons, surrounding the suspect as one officer spoke to the clearly agitated man. The officer repeatedly attempted to deescalate the situation, but to no avail. The man then went into his garage and returned with a knife that he waved in the air and in the direction of one officer.

After failing to heed repeated commands to put down the weapon and after menacing the officer from a distance of roughly six feet, one or more officers used their Tasers to subdue the man. But a split second later, another one of the officers repeatedly shot the man.

An officer who fired his Taser was then heard yelling, presumably at the colleague who fired his service weapon, “What the fuck? Taser!”

It’s the second time in a week that Hayward police officers have discharged a weapon. During a traffic stop on May 20, Hayward police shot and killed an unidentified man in his 20s.

Woman Arrested for Distributing Anti-Asian Screed

Police arrested a San Leandro woman on suspicion of committing a hate crime on May 22 after she posted anti-Asian literature on homes in the city’s Heron Bay neighborhood. Nancy Arechiga, 52, was taken into custody and booked at Santa Rita Jail. She was later released on bail due to a county policy that aims to limit the jail population due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The handwritten notes placed on five homes included the message, “if you are a woman or man and was born in other country, return, go back to your land immediately, fast, with urgency.”

The Heron Bay development where the xenophobic notes were distributed in West San Leandro includes a large number of Asian-American homeowners.

“I am aware of reports that a woman was posting flyers containing anti-Asian messages at residences and public places in our community yesterday,” San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter wrote on Facebook last weekend. “There is no place for hate in our community.”

San Leandro Police said they suspect Arechiga also placed a similar note last Thursday on a message board located at a Heron Bay trail that included the phrase, “no Asians allowed, leave immediately.”

In Other News …

Amid an expected $54 billion budget deficit, Gov. Gavin Newsom has one proposal that is sure to make progressives happy. Newsom hopes to save $400 million a year by closing two state prisons within the next three years, the Chronicle reported. … Meanwhile, California state senators are proposing the state balance its budget by using more reserve funds than Newsom proposed earlier this month, the Associated Press reported. Senate Democrats also want to hold $9 billion in payments to school districts for one year. …

A city audit of the Oakland Police Commission concluded that the civilian watchdog body has failed to comply with its requirements under the city charter, lacks organizational structure and wields too much power in its ability to fire the police chief, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. … Oakland elevated City Clerk Latonda Simmons to assistant city administrator, the city announced. Known for promoting greater public accessibility to City Hall, Simmons is one of the most popular people in city government, as this 2015 profile in Oakland magazine suggested.

A federal judge ruled that a group of cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, can proceed in suing oil companies in state court for causing climate change, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. … A San Leandro woman filed a lawsuit alleging that San Leandro Police caused her to have a miscarriage after an officer stomped on her stomach during a traffic stop in June 2019, Vice News reported.

East Bay Rep. Mark DeSaulnier plans to resume his work in Congress, albeit virtually, after recovering from a medical issue that had him on ventilator for four weeks, the Chron reported. DeSaulnier posted a video on Monday to announce his return and remark on the worldwide changes that have occurred since he was hospitalized on March 13.

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