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Police shut down floating Aquapy encampment on Lake Merritt

on December 16, 2011

Oakland police late Thursday night confiscated the SS Don’t Let the Banks Punk You Out, a raft launched onto Lake Merritt less than a week ago in order to advertise for the West Coast port shutdown and Occupy the lake — or Aquapy it, rather.

During the late evening raid, three occupiers sailing on the 10-foot-long vessel were detained briefly and then released. At least one occupier, who gave his name as Jeff Boffo, of Oakland, was ticketed for not having a boat permit. “[OPD] equated it to getting a speeding ticket,” he said after his release from custody.

Following a call on Twitter for supporters to come down to Lake Merritt at around 10 p.m., about 30 people showed up at the sailboat clubhouse, where seven police cars and at least 10 officers could be seen.

By 10:30 p.m., a police vessel with six officers was bringing the Aquapy vessel back to the docks at the boat house. Upon arriving, the officers escorted the three occupiers, their arms zip-tied behind their backs. They were then led to the boat house and detained for about 30 minutes before being released to an enthusiastic crowd.

Officers on scene would not comment on why the occupiers were being detained, and OPD’s Public Information Officer couldn’t be reached for comment. But according to Boffo’s ticket, he was being cited for violation of city code 12.64.200, which pertains to having an unpermitted boat on the lake. The protesters had also previously been warned by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department that they could not stay out on the lake past the park’s closing at 5 pm.

One of the people who helped construct the boat, and who gave his name only as Gino, was on scene. He criticized the OPD for worrying about a boat on the lake when there is so much crime occurring in the city. “I think they have better things to worry about in Oakland,” he said.

Gino said that OPD warned the occupiers over the past three days or so that what they were doing was illegal, though he said that they would not specify what it was that they were doing wrong.

Following the dismantling of Occupy Oakland’s camp on Frank Ogawa Plaza a month ago, protesters have shifted tactics, finding new and inventive ways to spread their message about what they see as the ills of Wall Street and a corrupt political system. Along with Aquapy, occupiers in the city have also taken over a foreclosed home on Mandela Parkway and 10th Street and, last Monday, attempted to shut down the Port of Oakland in a coordinated action with other West Coast cities.

You can see Oakland North’s complete coverage of Occupy Oakland here. 


  1. Stephen on December 16, 2011 at 8:59 am

    10 police officers and people in handcuffs (zip-ties) because the boat wasn’t registered and they were on the lake after park closing time? Really?

    I want to support the OPD but time after time my confidence in them is damaged by their bone headed actions.

    • Brooke Doris on December 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      If you have suggestions, share them.

  2. […] Following a call on Twitter for supporters to come down to Lake Merritt at around 10 p.m., about 30 people showed up at the sailboat clubhouse, where seven police cars and at least 10 officers could be seen. (Read more.) […]

  3. John Seal on December 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    ‘Attempted to shut down the Port of Oakland’?
    I think the Port WAS shut down, Oakland North.

    I have e-mailed the Mayor repeatedly to find out if there is any truly public space left in our city where citizens can peaceably assemble in accordance with their constitutional rights and without fear that OPD will arrest or attack them. I’m assuming the answer is ‘no’, but I’ve not had any confirmation of that from the Mayor’s office and don’t expect them to stoop so low as to respond to someone who has only lived in the city for 30 years.

  4. Rust Belt Refugee on December 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Well geez, they should have paid the $2 daily boat fee. Oakland needs the money.

    Of course, those 10 city employees performing the arrest might have better used their time emptying the Lakeside Park trashcans and doing some light gardening work.

  5. Jim on December 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    This seems like one of those stunts staged specifically to provoke a police response, which then provides an opportunity to criticize police priorities. Don’t Occupiers have better things to do?

    • Brooke Doris on December 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      Jim there IS nothing more important than demanding that the government be returned to the people, be run by the people,and represent the people.

  6. […] North: Police shut down floating Aquapy encampment on Lake Merritt Oakland police late Thursday night confiscated the SS Don’t Let the Banks Punk You Out, a raft […]

  7. Jacob on December 17, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I have spent the last few days talking with the occupants of the SS Don’t Let the Banks Punk You Out. Completely wrong to assume they were trying to provoke a police confrontation. They were hoping this nonviolent, unobtrusive, nondestructive manner of protest would be a way to exercise their free speech rights without police intervention. I applaud their attempt.
    The Oakland Parks and Rec Board met the day before the vessel was removed by the police. Shame on you Park and Rec Board. (which also has jurisdiction to give permits for Frank Ogawa Plaza). They have accountability in this. But they will be on a retreat next month so no meeting until February. We all should apply for permits and then show up to their meeting in February.

  8. Oakland Oldtimer on December 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Yet more double-talk, deflections, and we’re-above-the-laws political theater, by a movement that refuses to be forthright in declaring that their true agenda is to replace Democracy with Communism.

  9. this land is meant for you and me | Free Farm Stand on December 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    […] Here is another more local occupy event that addresses the same issue in a creative and humorous way. Aquapy:  One of the occupiers said this: “People have gotten really apathetic and turned off by typical protests…it’s important to do creative, exciting things that will get people talking.” Unfortunately like most Occupy events they eventually got shut down, this is a movement too radical for the status quo: […]

  10. […] week it was the maritime raid on Aquapy at Lake Merritt, this week it’s a ban on umbrellas as “illegal structures” in a public plaza, as […]

  11. […] and a daily Interfaith group space on the plaza where protesters hand out information. A group also occupied a raft in the middle of Lake Merritt for nearly a week in […]

  12. […] to set up new campsites, including an “Aquapy” raft floating on Lake Merritt (which was shut down by police),  a lot in West Oakland (also shut down by police), and a vacant foreclosed home in West Oakland. […]

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