(Re)Occupy Oakland

This morning (as I mentioned) police from Oakland and 15 other local law enforcement agencies sacked and pillaged the Occupy Oakland camp in downtown Oakland. Oakland’s mayor was in Washington, DC at the time, trying to secure funding for the Port of Oakland, but insisted that the raid was necessary because of public safety concerns.

This evening, protesters gathered to object to this interference in the Constitutional right to assemble, to speak freely, and to petition their government for redress of grievances, to protest police violence, and to restore the camp. While various local TV stations have remarkable video of the resulting mayhem, Oakland North’s coverage has been notable, so let them explain. Protesters gathered some distance from the original encampment, dispersed when police threatened to fire tear gas, and reassembled around the now-closed site of the old camp:

Police were waiting there as well and had surrounded the plaza. Some protesters then began removing barricades at 14th and Broadway, dragging them into the street and sidewalk. Police tightened their line and appeared to load tear gas containers, and announced on a megaphone that protestors had assembled illegally and anyone who didn’t disperse in five minutes would be arrested. After a few minutes of chanting, protesters then headed back down Broadway toward Telegraph Avenue, where the march appeared to die down, at least temporarily, at about 7 p.m.

Protesters reconvened at Snow Park where they spoke over the megaphone, with some wanting to keep marching and others suggesting that camp should be set up at the park. The crowd overwhelmingly wanted to go back to the plaza, cheering and chanting “These are our streets!” A speaker encouraged them to stay on the main streets so police wouldn’t be able to barricade them in.

At about 7:15 p.m., protesters returned to Broadway and 14th Street where police had reassembled a barricade. When police again announced protesters must leave or they would be arrested, and that chemical agents would be used, protesters stayed. Containers of tear gas flew from the police side, filling the street with smoke. There were several loud bangs [flashbangs: grenades that produce mostly sound and light, and not much shrapnel], and in the tear gas haze, people gasped for breath. Some protesters threw trashcans in the middle of the street, and someone started a fire in a trashcan. But the majority of people ran away from the gas.

By 8 pm, protesters appeared to be reconvening at 19th and Broadway, and then marched toward the plaza again at just before 8:30 p.m. As of 9 pm, a crowd of approximately 500 people had gathered at 14th and Broadway, where protesters chanted “We are the 99 percent” and “Where’s Mayor Quan?”

Reports on twitter describe protesters moving quickly to prevent fires, littering, or violence, and reports are uniform in saying there was no looting of stores, as there had been in the same area during riots after protests over the murder of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer. There’s also dramatic footage and photography of protesters running into the clouds of tear gas to rescue a woman in a motorized wheelchair whose batteries had run out.

The Oakland PD claimed that they fired tear gas defensively, in response to protesters throwing things at them. Reporters and protesters on twitter dispute the claim of violence directed at the police, and have taken pictures of tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, flashbangs, and other dangerous munitions fired at the peaceful protesters.

Occupy Oakland plans another march tomorrow at 6 pm. I plan to be there, camera in hand, to document the march, to stand up for basic constitutional rights, to protest police brutality, and to wonder we saw no such violence even concern directed by police towards teabaggers bearing loaded assault rifles or the banksters who destroyed the world economy.


  1. #1 Travis Wheeler
    October 26, 2011

    Quan released a statement at 7:30 am Tuesday morning that read, “Many Oaklanders support the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. … Frank Ogawa Plaza will continue to be open as a free speech area from 6 am to 10 pm.”

    From your description above, it sounds like the Plaza is only open as a free speech area from 6am to 10pm to those not involved with the Occupy movement. Best of luck today.

  2. #2 Anthony McCarthy
    October 26, 2011

    You’d have thought the culture in the police department in Oakland would have stopped being so fascistic by now. It’s a real problem when that happens. Boston has that problem too.

  3. #3 Collin
    October 26, 2011

    Free speech area? I thought that was the entire US.

    Goals, my ___. We don’t need a goal to have an assembly. Americans are free to peaceably assemble for any reason. Other Americans are free to comment on whether they see a good goal, a bad goal, or no goal.

  4. #4 Lou Jost
    October 26, 2011

    Oakland has always been famous for its police and prosecutorial abuses against “liberals”. They are famous for arresting and prosecuting an environmentalist leader who was victim of a car bombing (Judi Bari, plenty of links on the web) in 1990 —they charged her for bombing herself!!!!! She had been fighting against excessive timber harvests and was probably bombed by industry operatives.

    She eventually charged the Oakland Police Department and FBI with violating her constitutional rights. She and her companion won 4.4 million dollars in damages. Today, it is ironic to read the overly-optimistic press releases which followed that judgement:

    “On June 11, 2002, a federal jury returned a stunning verdict in favor of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in their landmark civil rights lawsuit against four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers.”

    “The jury unanimously found that six of the seven FBI and OPD defendants tried to frame Judi and Darryl in an effort to crush Earth First! and chill participation in Redwood Summer. That was evident in the fact that 80% of the $4.4 million total damage award was for violation of their First Amendment rights to speak out and organize politically in defense of the forests.”

    “It’s really beyond our wildest dreams,” said Darlene Comingore, Judi Bari’s friend and executor of her estate who stood in for her as co-plaintiff in this suit. “We hope the FBI and Oakland and all the police forces out there that think they can violate people’s rights and get away with it are listening because the people of the state of California and Oakland today said, ‘No, you can’t. You can’t get away with it.’ “

  5. #5 bob
    October 27, 2011

    Wow, wish I could join you. Remember the probability of agent provocateurs and false flag operations, too, regarding the stuff being thrown at the police and the trash can fires, that is in fact commonly used and we should really be assuming it is being used by default.

    It’s like chess, the enemy will make the best move they can think of, which probably includes anything you can think of. If that means planting some provocateurs then so be it. If not the police then some banksters, I bet they have tons of hired goon on retainer to toss into the ring.

    Remember that prank call from “david koch” to Scott walker too, even the authorities use provocateurs. This type of thing deserves to be pointed out more clearly.

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