Police Destroy Oakland Protest Camp; Attack Citizens with Clubs, Guns and Teargas
October 26, 2011 Contra Costa Times & Oakland Tribune & San Francisco Chronicle
In a coordinated nighttime raid, armed police in Oakland, California stormed a peaceful protest encampment, destroying tents, seizing property and arresting protestors. Tear gas, flash-grenades, clubs and rubber bullets used against unarmed protestors. US citizens claiming to be exercising their Constitutional rights were jailed and held on $10,000 bail. In subsequent clashes with protestors, police unleashed clouds of tear gas that swept through downtown streets.
OAKLAND, CA (October 25, 2011) -- Early Tuesday, the city ousted protesters who have camped out for two weeks at the Occupy Oakland tent city on Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall. Police started assembling around the tent city at 14th Street and Broadway at about 3 a.m. but half a day later, the protesters are not going quietly.
4:55 p.m. About 500 gathered in downtown
About 500 people have blocked 14th Street in both directions and are chanting "power to the people, and threatening to take over Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, about 12 hours after police rousted hundreds from their tents and arrested more than 1oo.
"We are going to march and reclaim what was already ours, what we call Oscar Grant Plaza and what they call City Hall,'' one marcher said.
Meanwhile, AC Transit buses have returned to their regular routes through downtown Oakland, except for the Line 26, which has been diverted from 14th Street between Broadway and Clay Street.
2:28 p.m. Arrestees being booked, held on $10,000 bail.
Occupy Oakland organizers say arrestees are being booked at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on $10,000 bail each and held until an arraignment on Thursday. Organizers are asking supporters to contact Alameda County Sheriff's Office and Mayor Jean Quan to "demand cite and release."
11:48 a.m. Labor council leader condemns encampment shutdown.
Josie Camacho, a leader in the Alameda Labor Council, is announcing a news conference at 6th and Washington streets right now, condemning the camp's shutdown as "an unprovoked raid on peaceful protesters."
Given the nation's fiscal woes, Camacho said in a prepared statement, "this outrageous act to silence the voices of the protesters puts Mayor Quan and the City Council on the wrong side of history. At a time when resources are stretched in Oakland it is shameful that City funds are expended to silence the voices of the people."
Camacho added, "We oppose the eviction and call on the City of Oakland to release the arrested, drop the charges, restore the occupation or otherwise reverse this silencing of the voice of the majority of Americans."
10:45 a.m. All clear issued for city employees and downtown employers
City Hall is now asking city employees to return to work and encouraging downtown businesses to open. City Administrator spokesperson Karen Boyd said city buildings surrounding Frank H. Ogawa Plaza are closed to the public "until public health and safety conditions can be improved; this includes debris, human waste and hazardous materials removal."
All City Council committee meetings have been canceled. Ironically, the shutdown of a protest about lack of jobs and economic opportunity for many Americans has also canceled the city council's meeting on economic development.
v10:15 a.m. Occupy SF offers support
Occupy San Francisco protesters are offering refuge in their camp for protesters ousted from their Oakland camp this morning. The San Francisco group's Twitter account asks the Oakland group to let them know how they can offer support, and suggests sending people who need rest to the San Francisco camp in Justin Herman Plaza, just across the Bay Bridge from downtown Oakland.
Meanwhile, Occupy Oakland have put out the call on Twitter and elsewhere for supporters to gather at 4 p.m. at the Oakland Public Library, 14th and Madison streets.
9:30 a.m. City press briefing
At a press briefing at City Hall, Police Chief Howard Jordan said 75 arrests were made and the police operation went smoothly, without injuries to police or protesters. No children were found at the camp. Dogs and their owners were allowed to leave.
Tear gas was used, as well as bean bag rounds, officials said. The operation will be investigated and reviewed, according to Jordan.
The hundreds of law enforcement officers at the scene came from departments around the Bay Area, including the Alameda County Sheriff's Deapartment, Berkeley, UC Berkeley, Hayward, Fremont, Pleasanton, Union City Newark, Alameda, the CHP, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Jose.
8:45 a.m. City officials survey the damage
City officials are conducting a walk-through of the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza aftermath to assess the condition of the plaza and the downtown area, according to a statement from the police department.
Officials plan to update advisory for downtown employers and city employees by 9 a.m. Earlier, they had urged employers to delay starting work downtown this morning.
Officials will be available for a media briefing this morning at 9 a.m.
Current road closures downtown: Clay Street between 12th and 14th streets and Broadway between 12th and 14th streets
8:30 a.m. Protesters remain downtown
About two dozen protesters remain across the street from City Hall, where the camp has been dismantled. Tensions escalated considerably when one protester pushed through a barricade and was taken away by police.
About 50 police officers are in place to keep any protesters from re-entering the plaza.
7:37 a.m. Downtown Oakland BART station reopens
The Oakland City Center 12th street station is now open, according to BART. Currently only the 11th street entrance/exit is open at this time.
7:15 a.m. Snow Park camp closed
Police have shut down the Snow Park encampment at 19th and Harrison streets near Lake Merritt.
Officers made numerous arrests, taking protesters away in vans, without any apparent violence.
Several protesters ran around into the nearby streets upending trash cans and Dumpsters, throwing trash into the streets.
The camp is now basically empty, with a few people standing around and the remainders of several tents lying haphazardly in the grass.
6:40 a.m. BART closes downtown station
The 12th Street BART station is closed because of the protests and police action and AC Transit is rerouting buses downtown.
6:15 a.m. Police descend on Snow Park camp
Dozens of police officers are moving into Snow Park near Lake Merritt. An officer is using a bullhorn to tell protesters to leave the small park. Police are ripping down the tents and protesters are yelling "go away, go away."
"Attention protesters at Snow Park, this is the Oakland Police Department, you are in violation of the law. You must comply with this announcement. It has been determined that you are illegally lodging and are subject to arrest. To avoid arrest, you must gather all your belongings and vacate the park. You must comply with this announcement now." Protesters are yelling "police state, police state" and "rise up, rise up, against your masters." Police are forming a line to protect the people who have been arrested and put in police vehicles. Protesters claim they have the right to assemble and yell "shame, shame, shame, shame,"
5:30 a.m. Protesters cleared from plaza, tent city gone
On a side street off Broadway between 14th and 15th streets, a police line is keeping about 20 or 30 people out of the plaza as the protesters chant: "rise up, rise up, come on people rise up." Police said there were about 200 police from Oakland and other agencies involved in the raid. Police said a few protesters threw bottles at first, but then stopped.
A large group of police are mulling around the plaza. There are no more protesters in the plaza. All have been pushed out or left on their own. Three helicopters continue to circle above the scene. Clean up crews will be moving in soon and they have a lot off work ahead. The place is a complete mess with a couch is on its side and carpet and tents strewed everywhere.
5:20 a.m. City issues warning to downtown businesses
The city is advising employers to delay the arrival of employees downtown until further notice. Police have cleared the protesters from the Occupy Oakland camp at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and are now starting the clean up phase.
5:15 a.m. Tent city destroyed
Hundreds of police in riot gear continue to move into the camp and arrest people. Already dozens have been arrested and the camp destroyed. Most of the arrests seem relatively peaceful. Some have moved out on their own. There is massive amounts of destruction at the camp.
Police tore down tents and wooden stalls that had housed medical aid and food. Garbage cans are overturned. Some police have shotguns and all have clubs out. There is a small protest of about 50 people taking shape just off Broadway near 14th Street. People are banging drums and chanting "We are the 99 percent."
Media and TV crews everywhere. An officials with a bullhorn is issuing directive to campers. Police have now classified the area as a crime scene, but nothing violent has occurred. Looks like a hurricane has come through the camp. Entire raid was over in about 20 minutes. On the north end of the plaza, police have formed a line and are pushing about two dozen protesters into the street. Chaotic as the protesters yell at police. One protesters said "Police are the biggest gang in America."
5 a.m. Police move in
Police have donned gas masks and some kind of smoke has been released. There is a ring of police surrounding the plaza. In addition, police have blocked off the intersection of 14th and Broadway.
Police are dismantling the barricades and throwing them into the streets and also tearing down signs, ripping them up.
Protesters are sitting down, and police are now leading them away, handcuffed. Police in masks are moving into the camps.
4:50 a.m. Police surround camp
Police are now moving in from the street into the plaza, telling media to move. Police have set up security corridor, placing media behind them. Police are telling the protesters via bullhorn that "chemical agents" will be used and are repeating that they are illegally camped.
Using a bullhorn, police are announcing their intention to remove anyone from the plaza, repeating instructions over and over again. Taking out billy clubs, they are starting to move in. So far, police have not entered the actual encampment. A lot of television truck are parked nearby and media are assembling as well.
4:40 a.m. Police arrive
Several police cars have arrived. The protesters are running around, throwing things at the police. Riot police with batons full riot gear have assembled on the corner of 14th and Broadway.
Police are lined up from 14th to 15th, at least 100 riot police. Protesters are chanting "Police go home, cops go home " and banging sticks on anything they can find.
A helicopter is hovering over the plaza, shining a spotlight down on the camp.
Homeless people are leaving the camp, trying to get out.
Activists with Occupy Oakland report that police appear to be moving in early Tuesday morning near the encampment on the lawn outside of Oakland City Hall.
Police have been seen walking the perimeter of the camp, but have not gone in as of 3:30 a.m., according to the group, which has occupied a tent city for two weeks.
At the side of the camp near 14th Street and Broadway, people have put up at least two metal Dumpsters to block the area and wooden crates have been placed near the Clay Street side of the camp in an attempt to keep police out. In addition, people are covering their faces with bandannas and one made is carrying a giant shield he fashioned out of duct tape.
3 a.m. Camp braces for police raid
At about 3 a.m., the Occupy Oakland camp leaders sent out a text message, citing "heavy" police presence and then sent out another alert to supporters: "Get here immediately. Lines of riot cops marking toward camp."
More than 300 people have been camping in Oakland to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, which started on Sept. 17 in New York City to protest widespread unemployment and corporate greed.
The loose-knit group occupied the plaza two weeks ago to protest widespread unemployment and corporate greed, but the encampment has grown to encompass many other causes: support for state prison inmates who are on hunger strikes, housing rights, fair wages and against social oppression.
City officials began stepping up pressure on the protesters last week and on Friday upped the stakes by issuing a letter stating that the encampment on Frank H. Ogawa Plaza was "a violation of the law" and threatening violators with immediate arrest.
The "notice of violations and demand to cease violations" came a day after a preliminary letter that urged the residents to vacate the camp because of what the city said were a host of problems, including fighting, vandalism, public urination and other sanitation and public health issues. Officials said an existing rat problem in the area was being made worse by the encampment, which had about 100 tents at one point.
A spokeswoman for the mayor, Karen Boyd, said Friday that the protesters had shown themselves incapable of self-governance. "As a collective, they cannot maintain te plaza in a safe condition," she said.
Staff writers Sean Maher, Cecil and Angela Woodall contributed to this report.
Occupy Oakland Continues to Defy City Orders, Holds March around Lake Merritt Kristin J. Bender / Oakland Tribune
OAKLAND (October 25, 2011) -- A day after Occupy Oakland defied an order by Oakland city officials to break camp and leave the plaza or risk immediate arrest, the tent city was as lively as ever Saturday, Day 13 of the demonstration.
There are hay bales peppered throughout camp, artwork displayed, gardens growing, pumpkins waiting to be carved, clothes hanging out to dry, music blasting from just about every instrument imaginable and signs, signs, and more signs.
Occupy Oakland started out as a protest against corporate greed and widespread unemployment, and there are still plenty of people chanting -- "The banks got bailed out, we got sold out" -- but the messages have spread.
A few of the signs out on Saturday:
"Stop police brutality."
"The corporate media puts the masses to sleep."
"Fight the power."
Occupants on Saturday blasted everything they say is wrong with the city, the government and America.
"Today is a day to show the strength and support for the occupation and the diversity of issues we are trying to address,'' said organizer Tim Simons, 28. "And to show solidarity with the occupy movement and against an economic system that hasn't worked for us, against gang injunctions, against youth curfews and to defend Oakland schools and libraries."
Occupy Oakland marked the day with a march from the camp at 14th Street and Broadway, around Lake Merritt, and back to camp.
Along the way, some marchers stopped to peruse a garage sale on Grand Avenue, others invited waving onlookers five stories up in their apartments to leave their windows and join the protest. The Brass Liberation Orchestra (a fixture at nearly every Oakland protest, no matter what the cause) played a catchy tune -- "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out" -- and at least one man draped in an American flag danced.
Oakland city administrators on Friday afternoon issued a letter stating that the encampment was "a violation of the law" and threatened violators with immediate arrest.
"We understand this is a public space," said organizer Simons. "But this is a liberated space now. We are creating our own rules."
In nearly two weeks not one police officer has been allowed into the camp, Simons said. When police arrive, the campers huddle together and shout: "Go home!"
"It's clear they don't have orders to invade the space," he said. Police Tear Gas Occupy Oakland Protesters Matthai Kuruvila, Justin Berton,Demian Bulwa, Chronicle
OAKLAND, CA (October 26, 2011) -- Police fired tear gas at least five times Tuesday night into a crowd of several hundred protesters backing the Occupy movement who unsuccessfully tried to retake an encampment outside Oakland City Hall that officers had cleared away more than 12 hours earlier.
Police gave repeated warnings to protesters to disperse from the entrance to Frank Ogawa Plaza at 14th Street and Broadway before firing several tear gas canisters into the crowd at about 7:45 p.m. Police had announced over a loudspeaker that those who refused to leave could be targeted by "chemical agents."
Protesters scattered in both directions on Broadway as the tear gas canisters and several flash-bang grenades went off. Regrouping, protesters tried to help one another and offered each other eye drops.
One wounded woman, who others said had been hit by one of the canisters, was carried away by two protesters.
One protester, 35-year-old Jerry Smith, said a tear gas canister had rolled to his feet and sprayed him in the face.
"I got the feeling they meant business, but people were not going to be intimidated," Smith said. "We can do this peacefully, but still not back down."
Police forcibly dispersed the crowd with tear gas again about 9:30 p.m., when protesters began throwing objects at them. As protesters scattered, police closed off Broadway between 13th and 16th streets.
Minutes later, protesters regrouped at the 15th Street entrance to the plaza. Protesters began throwing objects again. Police responded by firing more tear gas canisters.
The protesters were trying to make good on a vow to retake an encampment that Occupy Oakland activists had inhabited for 15 days, until police evicted them early Tuesday.
The evening protest started around 5 p.m., when about 400 people began marching from the main library at 14th and Madison streets toward the plaza, which police had barricaded and city officials had declared would be closed for at least several days.
"We're going to march and reclaim what was already ours, what we call Oscar Grant Plaza and what they call City Hall," said protester Krystof Lopaur, referring to the unarmed man shot to death by a BART police officer in January 2009.
Early on, the scene outside City Hall was largely peaceful, but it was a different story a few blocks west on Washington Street.
Officers in riot gear hemmed in protesters around 6 p.m. and attempted to arrest one person, as about 50 more surrounded them shouting, "Let him go, let him go."
Protesters threw turquoise and red paint at the riot officers. Some led the crowd in chanting, "This is why we call you pigs."
Others pleaded with agitators to be peaceful and return to the march; some protesters tried to fight with police and were clubbed and kicked in return.
Interim Oakland police chief Howard Jordan said his officers had no choice but to respond with tear gas. The crowd at its peak grew to more than 1,000 at about 8:30 p.m., and two officers were wounded from the paint and chemicals thrown at them.
"We felt that the deployment of the gas was necessary to protect our officers," he said at a news conference.
Although police did not provide a number of arrests in Tuesday night's demonstration, he said five people involved with the Occupy movement had been arrested earlier, after the morning raid.
Some protesters who avoided conflict and wanted to show their support for the Occupy Wall Street movement were displeased by the violent turns.
"They didn't have to force police into that situation," said Helen Walker, 46, a nurse from Albany. "It was totally provoked, and if I could have, I would have stopped those idiots from throwing paint."
Toward the end of the night, protesters continued throwing objects at officers, only to be tear gassed in return. After the fourth exchange, some demonstrators took to their bullhorns to try to stop their peers from goading the police. About 150 to 200 protesters remained at Frank Ogawa Plaza after 11 p.m., staring down the officers keeping them from entering.
While the majority of damage was limited to trash cans set on fire and a stolen traffic sign at 15th and Broadway, the worst damage of the night was when protesters smashed the back window of a California Highway Patrol cruiser.
The confrontation came hours after police swept through Occupy Oakland's encampment outside City Hall and a second, smaller camp nearby, arresting 97 people who were protesting as part of a nationwide movement against economic inequality and corporate greed.
City officials said they had been forced to clear the encampments because of sanitary and public safety concerns.
Protesters said the arrest total was 105, and said three people had suffered injuries -- one a head wound and two with broken hands. City officials said they knew of no injuries.
The police, drawn from 18 law enforcement agencies throughout the East Bay, began making arrests shortly before 5 a.m. and removing tents and makeshift shelters. Within five minutes the bulk of the arrests had been completed, and arrestees were led away in plastic handcuffs. Most were arrested for unlawful assembly and illegal lodging, police said.
At 6:15 a.m., police arrested a handful of protesters at a smaller encampment at Snow Park at 19th and Harrison streets near Lake Merritt. One man went limp, but those arrests also happened quickly and without incident amid cries of protest by onlookers yelling, "Cops! Pigs! Murderers!"
Earlier orders to vacate
Mayor Jean Quan was in Washington on a lobbying trip as the arrests were made.
"We've been trying (to talk) with the Occupy Oakland people for the last two weeks," Quan told KGO radio. "Last week it was pretty clear that there was escalating violence."
Officials initially waived city laws that ban camping and allowed the occupation of the plaza. But starting Thursday, the city issued of series of orders for protesters to vacate the area, citing concerns about fire hazards, sanitation issues, graffiti, drug use and violence.
Protesters had vowed to resist eviction and protect the encampment that had grown to about 150 tents. Pathways made of wooden pallets connected a kitchen, a garden, a medical station and an area for children to play.
Gabe Meyers, a protester who had been camping at the plaza, said, "People are going to keep coming back. What are they going to do, send cops in every night and waste taxpayer dollars?"
Meyers added, "The cops are the 99 percent, but they're doing the work of the 1 percent. Wall Street is proud of them every time they clear out an encampment."
Chronicle staff writers Henry K. Lee, Will Kane and Vivian Ho contributed to this report.
(c) 2011 Hearst Communications Inc.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.