Occupy Oakland protestors march through Oakland after chaotic day of evictions, arrests
on October 25, 2011
This story was updated at 9:15 p.m. today. Oakland North will continue to follow this story as it develops. Follow our live tweets at @northoaklandnow.
By 9 pm Tuesday, Occupy Oakland protesters and police officers had faced off several times in downtown Oakland as the police ordered protesters to leave and protesters refused to go.
The march, which began shortly after 5 p.m. after a rally at the Oakland Public Library, followed a chaotic day in downtown Oakland that began with 85 arrests after a predawn raid of two Occupy Oakland encampments.
The protesters reached Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility on 7th Street shortly after 6 pm, where they were met by dozens of police in riot gear who ordered them to disperse and fired tear gas.
The march then turned and headed to Frank Ogawa Plaza. 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 14thStreet 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, 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?”
Oakland Police called a press conference for 9:15 pm Tuesday night, which Oakland North will attend. They also released an updated statement that included information on the department’s use of tear gas. In the statement, OPD spokesperson Johnna Watson said police used tear gas “as a defense tactic” against protesters who were throwing glass bottles, rocks, pots, pans, kitchen utensils and plates.
The day began when police raided the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza before dawn Tuesday after receiving complaints about numerous health and safety violations, including a sexual assault, according to a press release from the city administrator’s office.
The list of violations at the camp in the release included “sexual offenses, fighting, public drinking and intoxication.” On October 17, the city administrator’s office received a sexual assault complaint and numerous other complaints in the days following, the release said. City Administrator Deanna Santana and the Oakland Police Department did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
“We have an obligation to maintain public safety and health,” Santana said at a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday morning. “We were not able to respond when people were requesting service calls.”
After members of the Alameda County Health Department and the Oakland Fire Department conducted inspections at the campsite on October 19, “the City began putting appropriate plans in place to put and end to overnight camping and cooking” in Frank Ogawa Plaza, the statement said.
Police raided two Occupy Oakland protest encampments at 5:30 Tuesday morning, at Frank Ogawa Plaza and Snow Park near Lake Merritt, evicting hundreds of people. According to police, 85 people were arrested – 79 in the area around the plaza, and six at a smaller camp at Snow Park. OPD Sgt. Darrin Downum said many of the arrests were for such misdemeanors as violating park curfews and camping without a permit. Some protesters were also arrested for felonies, he said, for allegedly throwing bottles at police when police moved on the camp.
Protesters had been camping out in Frank Ogawa Plaza since October 11 in protest of economic inequality and the federal bailout of Wall Street banks. On Thursday, the protesters started receiving eviction notices from the city that noted health and safety concerns at the camp and ordered them out by 10 p.m. Friday. But the protesters remained, holding a rally and a march to Lake Merritt through city streets on Saturday that was attended by hundreds of people.
More than 100 people were living in tents when the evictions began in the predawn darkness on Tuesday morning. Several hundred police officers, from Oakland as well as more than a dozen other Bay Area police departments, began arriving at City Hall at about 4:30 a.m. According to police chief Jordan, police issued a warning over a megaphone that anyone who did not immediately leave the plaza would be arrested. Jordan said about 30 people complied and left.
Some protesters built a barricade of dumpsters, crates and trashcans, and at about 5:15 a.m., police in riot gear began removing the barricade and moved in on the camp. Jordan said police used force – including beanbag rounds and tear gas to arrest some people. Jordan denied reports by some protestors that police used rubber bullets as well.
After police had secured the plaza, protestors remained outside barricades, chanting and yelling at police. Protesters broke through the barricade at 8:30 in the morning, and some also blocked off traffic on Broadway for minutes at about the same time.
Around 8:50 am on 14th and Broadway, across the intersection from Frank Ogawa plaza, people suddenly started shouting as police chased after a young man with a beard and a red button up shirt. As they grabbed him, he put his hands up. The officers then made him kneel, hands behind his back, cuffed him and took him across the street behind the police barrier in front of the plaza.
People chanted, “Let him go!” as the officers walked him across the street.
About 30 minutes later, a commotion broke out down the street on Franklin and 14th, where a young man was face down on the ground with police surrounding him. The officers got him to his feet and there was blood on his face. He shouted that his name was Michael Stoker and that the police had tackled him.
Witnesses said officers had told him to get up on the sidewalk and that he apparently did not react fast enough, which is when two officers threw him to the ground. The officers put the man in a van after frisking him against the hood.
Afterward, OPD closed 14th street between Franklin and Broadway to all pedestrian traffic and cars.
AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson said downtown bus service was disrupted for about 11 hours, starting at 5 a.m. “Its hard to do our normal turn around when one part of the system is disrupted,” Johnson said of delays caused by the raid throughout the bus system.
By 10 am, the tents had been flattened and the encampment was filled with sleeping bags, stuffed animals, and trash strewn about. Police and employees of the public works department were going through belongings left behind, leaving tags with numbers.
Minutes earlier, City Administrator Santana, Chief of Police Jordan, and Interim Fire Chief Mark Hoffman spoke briefly at a press conference at city hall. Mayor Jean Quan was not present because she is in Washington D.C. raising money for the Port of Oakland, Santana said at the press conference.
Quan released a statement at 7:30 am Tuesday morning that read, “Many Oaklanders support the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. We maintained daily communication with the protestors in Oakland. However, over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism. Frank Ogawa Plaza will continue to be open as a free speech area from 6 am to 10 pm.”
Other city officials did not return calls for comment Tuesday afternoon. All City Council meetings scheduled for Tuesday evening at City Hall were cancelled.
See our update posted at midnight on Tuesday for a complete wrap-up of the rest of the day’s events.
You can see Oakland North’s complete coverage of Occupy Oakland here.
This story was written by Ryan Phillips, with reporting by Monica Cruz-Rosas, Tasion Kwamilele, Brittany Schell, Amna Hassan, Amina Waheed, Byrhonda Lyons, Catherine Traywick, Dylan Bergeson, Megan Molteni and Adam Grossberg.
Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to: email@example.com.