City officials plan to reopen Frank Ogawa Plaza this afternoon
on November 14, 2011
Oakland city officials plan to reopen Frank Ogawa Plaza to the public this afternoon, Howard Jordan, the interim chief of police, said at a press conference in downtown Oakland Monday afternoon.
Jordan said that the plaza, which has been closed and barricaded since a police raid of the Occupy Oakland encampment earlier this morning, will be reopened some time between 4 pm and 6 pm.
“We don’t really have any reason to keep people out of the plaza because it’s a public domain,” said Jordan, appearing at the press conference with City Administrator Deanna Santana. Mayor Jean Quan was not present, but will attend another press conference later in the day, a spokesperson said.
When police raided the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza the first time on Oct. 25, the plaza remained closed when protesters returned in the evening, leading to clashes with police that included tear gas canisters fired into the crowd.
This morning’s eviction was peaceful, with no injuries and no violent confrontations between protesters and police. Of the 33 people arrested, nine are from Oakland, Jordan said.
Occupy Oakland organizers have called for supporters to reconvene today at the downtown Oakland Library, at 14th Street and Madison Street, at 4 pm.
Jordan said he expects “a large and peaceful rally,” and does not anticipate friction between police and protesters specifically because the plaza will be open. He said that keeping officers off the front line will reduce hostilities and keep them safe as well.
“The difference is that we’re going to open the plaza almost 24 hours sooner,” Jordan said. “As you recall, last time it took two days for it to be reopened.”
When the plaza reopens, Jordan and Santana said, it will be open to the public 24 hours a day. However, lodging will not be permitted, Jordan said, and police will take steps to make sure tents do not spring up in front of city hall again. “We will have a police presence in the plaza,” Jordan said.
With the Frank Ogawa Plaza encampment now empty, protesters’ focus has shifted to Snow Park, near Lake Merritt, where there is another Occupy Oakland encampment with about 25 tents. Jordan said police plan to “decamp” the Snow Park site as well, but did not say when police would take action. Jordan said police have not seen a large influx of protesters who had been camped out at Frank Ogawa Plaza moving to Snow Park, and do not intend to let that happen. “We’re not going to let [Snow Park] turn into Frank Ogawa Plaza,” he said.
While Jordan said all downtown roads had been reopened after their early morning closures, the block surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza remained barricaded at 2 pm.
Jordan and Santana also clarified aspects of this morning’s raid. Santana said the police operation cost between $300,000-500,000—money that will come from a $30 million reserve fund and won’t affect the budget of other city services. Jordan said that there were fewer than 100 OPD officers at the morning raid. When a reporter asked if there were about 300 officers there, total, including other local agencies that answered the OPD’s call for mutual aid, Jordan agreed that that was “roughly” the number.
You can see Oakland North’s complete coverage of Occupy Oakland here.
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