Occupy Oakland protesters march to support Occupy Cal demonstrations
on November 15, 2011
There is no longer an Occupy Oakland encampment in front of Oakland City Hall, but the protest doesn’t appear to be going away.
On Tuesday afternoon, about 400 people marched to the UC Berkeley campus from Frank Ogawa Plaza, which was the home of the Occupy Oakland camp from its inception October 10 until November 14, when the camp was shut down by police in an early morning raid.
The march was organized in support of all-day protests happening on the UC Berkeley campus, which has its own Occupy Cal group. Last week, protesters at UC Berkeley tried to set up an encampment in Sproul Plaza and were met by a show of force from campus police, and 40 people were arrested. The group is still holding general assembly meetings and some plan on setting up tents in the plaza again tonight.
The crowd marched down Telegraph Avenue, covering nearly five miles, carrying signs including a large white banner reading “We are the 99% Occupy” that nearly covered the street from sidewalk to sidewalk. As protesters closed in on campus, they chanted, “Here comes Oakland.”
Protesters from a separate student-led march through Berkeley had arrived back on the campus shortly before the Oakland crowd arrived, and a combined crowd of at least 2,000 people gathered in Sproul Plaza shortly before 5 pm for a general assembly meeting.
The first raid on the Oakland camp, as well as the Occupy Cal camp raid, drew national attention and criticism of police tactics. Videos of UCPD officers using batons on protesters have circulated on the Internet since. “Anybody who saw the video of police brutalizing students who were doing nothing but being peaceful would be in this march if they could,” said Karen Connor, a nurse, as she marched down Telegraph Avenue carrying a sign that read, “Power to the people not corporations, end corporate personhood.”
Connor said that though she hasn’t been camping out, she has been attending Occupy Oakland events since protesters first started setting up tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza in early October. She said her husband, also a nurse, was tear-gassed the night after the camp was evicted the first time, on October 25. Asked where she thinks the Occupy protest goes from here, Connor said she didn’t know but said she planned to “keep fighting” for her children’s future. “We’re fighting for the 99 percent while the fat cats are buying mink coats,” she said.
Sandy Sanders, a 60-year-old artist riding his bike in the march, said he came out to support the protest because he believes it can help “liberate society from the power of corporations.” Sanders said he had been camping out at Snow Park, the site of another Occupy Oakland encampment, when it was raided in October. (As of Tuesday afternoon, a small rebuilt encampment remained at Snow Park, though police have said they will shut it down soon).
While Sanders said he hadn’t returned to camping since, he had no doubt that protesters would return to Frank Ogawa Plaza and set up tents on the lawn again. “We’ll go back. We’ll just keep camping and keep developing direct democracy,” Sanders said. “That’s what this is all about, direct democracy.”
Robin Woods, a 22-year-old anarchist from Minneapolis, Minnesota, said he agreed the camp would return to Frank Ogawa Plaza at some point. Woods, who said he has been at the camp since the fifth day and has visited other Occupy encampments around the state, said he thinks the Occupy protest will “last years.”
“We’re going to rebuild,” said Woods. “We’re going to take over buildings. Every time they cut us down, we’re going to rebuild and step it up.”
Ben Petersen, a 30-year-old truck driver based in Oakland, walked through the march carrying a three-person tent over his head that was resting on two crisscrossed pieces of wood he had fashioned together. Petersen said he came up with the idea as a way to poke fun at the “war on tents.” He said that while he hasn’t been able to camp in the plaza or attend many meetings or marches because he’s been on the road, he supports the Occupy protests and doesn’t think evictions will stop it.
“I don’t think the movement is willing to call it a day,” Petersen said, motioning to the crowd as the march neared Berkeley. “Look at the energy here—it’s still high even for this. I think it’s still growing.”
You can see Oakland North’s complete coverage of Occupy Oakland here.
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