Police clear out Occupy Oakland protest camp

OAKLAND, Calif Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:53pm EST

1 of 16. A police officer walks past a dismantled Occupy Oakland encampment at City Hall in Oakland, California, November 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kimberly White

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OAKLAND, Calif (Reuters) - Police moved in to clear anti-Wall Street protesters from a downtown Oakland plaza on Monday, arresting 32 people but avoiding clashes that marked a previous attempt to shut down the Occupy Oakland camp.

Several dozen officers dressed in riot gear and carrying batons descended on the square shortly after dawn but took a less aggressive approach than in a similar move three weeks ago, and were met with less resistance from demonstrators.

The previous move had sparked clashes between protesters and police that turned into one of the most violent episodes since the anti-Wall Street movement began in New York in September, targeting a financial system protesters believe most benefits corporations and the wealthy.

Former Marine Scott Olsen was critically injured during that altercation, giving impetus to protests nationwide. Olsen, 24, was released from the hospital last week and has called for peaceful demonstrations.

Monday's police action saw officers sometimes smiling and talking with protesters as they took down about 100 tents as a helicopter overhead illuminated the area. A separate line of officers kept a chanting crowd from entering the camp.

By rush hour on Monday, Frank Ogawa Plaza was fenced off as police and a handful of protesters lingered at the edges, the latter singing songs at a blocked-off intersection.

"We had to bring the camps to an end before more people got hurt," Mayor Jean Quan told a news conference after the action. City officials said they hoped to reopen the central plaza to demonstrators by 6 p.m. but would not allow camping.

City officials said there were no injuries to citizens or officers and that Frank Ogawa Plaza would reopen for peaceful demonstrations, but that protesters would no longer be allowed to camp there.


Still, the move was not without conflict and prompted the resignation of a top adviser to Quan, who has come under heavy criticism for her handling of the Occupy movement in her city.

"He's moving on, I'm moving on," Quan said of the decision by civil rights attorney Dan Siegel to resign shortly before the raid.

Before the camp was completely cleared a crowd of protest supporters chanted "Shame on you!" and one protester, Joanne Warwick, said the police action was disturbing.

"Here we are after five weeks and we can't work this out," she said.

Occupy Oakland organizers said they would reconvene on Monday afternoon at the main downtown library.

Oakland is one of several cities where authorities have moved in recent days to shut down Occupy camps, saying they have become sources of rising crime.

The weekend saw police clearing operations in Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Denver, Colorado, as well as threats of action in other cities if protesters did not clear out on their own.

In St. Louis, where 27 anti-Wall Street protesters were arrested on Saturday, attorneys for members of Occupy St. Louis planned to take their battle to regain their downtown campsite to federal court on Tuesday.

They were seeking an injunction that would allow an overnight presence in Kiener Plaza, the downtown city park near the Gateway Arch where the protests against economic inequality maintained a camp for six weeks.

Meanwhile in New York, protesters said they would seek to shut-down Wall Street on Thursday by holding a street carnival to mark the two-month anniversary of their campaign.

Organizers acknowledged that the move could be the group's most provocative yet and could lead to mass arrests and further strain relations with city authorities.

(Additional reporting by Jim Christie, Peter Henderson, Mary Slosson, Dan Whitcomb, Bruce Olson and Chris Francescani; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (10)
Midnight1 wrote:
“the City could not assure adequate public health and safety in the plaza”. But it can assure denying citizens of their First Amendment Rights, or cracking the skull of a two tour vet, or intimidating citizens with tear gas, mace, rubber bullets, bully brutality, and allowing non Occupy elements access to the park to create mayhem designed to appear as part of the Occupy movement.
Yeah, sounds like Oakland can assure a lot.

Nov 14, 2011 9:55am EST  --  Report as abuse
rasputyn wrote:
here’s something really hilarious about these protestors and the police… but for the over-burdened tax-payer, these same police could well be part of the protestors. After all the employees of government produce very little in terms of real goods and services. The really critical services are always held ransom by public officials when they want to raise taxes. What is coming fast down the proverbial turnpike, is a real reduction in public spending, with the result that many public servants will be unemployed. All this is a prelude to the disintegration of the US. Sad. But we will have to look to one of the new super states for world leadership.

Nov 14, 2011 10:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
The photo that accompanies this story, kinda says it all. A “protestor”, all dressed up Halloween style . . .

I have trouble taking people seriously, when they wear masks, or costumes (think “frat” party)!

Nov 14, 2011 12:15pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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