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Oakland police union calls for end to 'Occupy' camp
November 11, 2011 / 7:36 PM / 6 years ago

Oakland police union calls for end to 'Occupy' camp

* Call comes day after man shot dead near camp

* Police union says movement has achieved aims

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 11 (Reuters) - One day after a man was shot dead near a downtown Oakland plaza where members of the Occupy Wall Street movement are camped, the city’s police union called on Friday for the protesters to leave.

Occupy Oakland demonstrators have denied that the shooting, which occurred on Thursday afternoon at a public transit station at the edge of Frank Ogawa Plaza, had anything to do with their movement.

The Oakland Police Officers Association, in an open letter to the protesters on Friday, said that officers sympathized with their movement but that the city was in a “state of emergency” and asked them to leave.

“You have sent the world a strong message; now it is time to go home. Your leaving today, peacefully, of your own free will, on the 30th day, will send a message to Oakland that you care about our citizens and respect our city,” the union said.

“With last night’s homicide, in broad daylight, in the middle of rush hour, Frank Ogawa Plaza is no longer safe,” the union said. “Please leave peacefully, with your heads held high, so we can get police officers back to work fighting crime in Oakland neighborhoods.”

The Occupy movement that started in New York has sprouted protests in many U.S. cities for weeks against economic inequality and what activists call Wall Street greed and government influence.

Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters at a news conference that investigators were “still trying to put the pieces together,” adding, “Obviously, for someone to lose a life, that’s a big deal.”

ROUTINE GUN VIOLENCE

Protest organizers said the shooting was an example of gun violence that flares routinely in Oakland and accused officials of intentionally leaving street lights off around the plaza after dark over the past two nights.

“This was another case of violence in the streets of Oakland, and it’s going to be blamed on the occupation,” said Tim Simons, one of several protesters who speaks for the group. “But if the city really wants to make it a safe occupation, they wouldn’t shut off the lights.”

Another spokesman, Shake Anderson, told the Local ABC News affiliate, KGO-TV, that the person who died may have sought safety in the camp shortly before being shot.

“This is also known to be a safe spot. So if somebody does wrong things in their community, they might want to come here, and this is not the place for that,” Anderson said.

In a separate KGO-TV interview, City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said his “biggest fear has obviously happened.”

“I have been very, very vocal about the fact that we cannot allow this to continue, because lives and property losses are what’s at stake,” he said. “We have to end this occupation.”

The shooting comes at a time of tense relations between protesters and police who have already tried to forcibly remove them earlier, efforts that sparked confrontations.

Police forcibly removed tents and drove protesters out of the plaza on Oct. 25, only for demonstrators to return later that day to reclaim the public square outside City Hall in a clash with police that left one former Marine in the group badly injured from a tear gas canister.

Police and protesters clashed again the following week after a day of largely peaceful citywide rallies and marches that forced a brief shutdown of the Port of Oakland.

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