OAKLAND -- Mayor Jean Quan distanced herself Thursday from statements that certain police officers were out to get her and that police were trying to send her a message when her car was immobilized two years ago for unpaid parking tickets.
Her statements, which appear in an online New York Times Magazine article about Oakland, threatened to worsen already strained relations between her and members of the department.
"We don't set anybody up. We didn't set her up," police union President Barry Donelan said. "My members are too busy out there trying to protect the citizens to be engaging in the behavior that she's suggesting."
Donelan also said that meter maids -- not sworn officers -- put the boot on Quan's car, which had been cited for more than $1,000 in unpaid parking tickets. "We had nothing to do with that," he said.
In the story that was posted Wednesday, Quan says that relatives and left-wing friends thought that the Oct. 25 eviction of Occupy protesters and the botched police response to the ensuing protests were orchestrated by police to make her look bad.
"You know, I was out of town, they closed down the camp a day early and then overreacted," she said. "Certain people in the police had tried to set me up before. I mean, my car got booted right after the election."
Asked why, Quan, replied, "To send the message that they can do what they want. That I better watch out."
Quan acknowledged making the statement during an interview several months ago, but said she was explaining how others perceived the events. "I was just talking about what people were saying, not what I believe."
Quan criticized the article, which focused primarily on Occupy Oakland and the city's tradition of radical politics. "The reporter had an angle," she said. "He kept trying to make me say things that put me at odds with the police."
The mayor, herself a civil rights activist in the 60s, said she had been told that the story wouldn't focus so much on Occupy. She called the paper this week to convey her concerns about the article.
Quan has never been especially popular with the police rank-and-file. On Monday, it was disclosed that a photo of the mayor posted a department bulletin board was defaced in a manner that Internal Affairs found to be "racist, insulting and inappropriate."
Quan said the incident had occurred during the 2010 election and that the Internal Affairs investigation ended six months ago.
Before this week's article, Quan has not previously speculated publicly that officers have it in for her.
After her Prius was booted outside City Hall in late 2010, Quan took responsibility for the unpaid parking tickets she and her husband, Floyd Huen, had collected during the recently completed mayoral race.
"As soon as I found out about them, I paid them," she said at the time.
Likewise, Quan never suggested that the Oct. 25 eviction of the Occupy encampment outside City Hall had actually been scheduled to occur the next day when she returned from meetings in Washington, D.C.
During a news conference one day after the eviction, Quan said she didn't know which day police planned to break up the encampment. "I don't do the tactical planning," she said.
The decision to press ahead with eviction was made by two close Quan confidants: City Administrator Deanna Santana and Police Chief Howard Jordan.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6345.