Group opposed to Occupy Oakland gathers at City Hall for protest
on February 6, 2012
Two groups of protesters gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza on Monday afternoon—one in support of Occupy Oakland, the other made up of people who said the ongoing protest is a drain on city resources.
At around 11:45 am, about 50 people from a group that is calling itself “Stand for Oakland” stood on the steps of Oakland City Hall displaying a green and yellow banner that bore their name. The group is made up of residents and local business owners, including Oakland Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Director Paul Junge.
Many in the group said they had grown tired of the property destruction and vandalism that have accompanied some Occupy Oakland protests, and are concerned about the law enforcement time and city money allocated to policing the protests.
“I’m just tired of the whole movement. It just seems that all they’ve caused is a lot of destruction and conflict,” said Oakland resident David Abdullah as he stood on the city hall steps behind the banner. “As an Oakland resident, I’ve just had enough, and I’m out here with all these people that feel the same way. We’ve had enough.”
As Occupy Oakland protesters began arriving for a planned afternoon march from the plaza to Wiley Manual Courthouse on Washington Street, some began shouting “These are the people that call the cops!” at the people on the steps of city hall, many of whom were wearing “Stand for Oakland” green armbands.
But there was also some emotionally-charged discussion between the two groups about tactics both the police and protesters have used in the dozens of marches and events that have happened since Occupy Oakland first began setting up tents in front of city hall in October.
“You have to take some responsibility. You’re pulling the police away from where they’re needed in East and West Oakland,” Bruce Stoffmacher, who works for City Councilmember Libby Schaaf, said to an Occupy Oakland protester named Ayr as they spoke on the steps.
“They should go there if that’s where they’re needed,” Ayr replied. “But I have a bigger concern because I don’t really see them solving problems.”
As the two protest groups faced off on the steps, Occupy Oakland organizers began setting up speakers and sound equipment in the plaza in preparation for a pre-march rally. At about 12:30 pm, police from a van parked on 14th Street began announcing that “operation of a sound system without a permit is a violation of the Oakland Municipal Code” and that failure to turn off the sound equipment could lead to a citation.
While the people speaking soon quieted, someone played Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” on the speakers. About five police officers dressed in riot gear then began to move through the crowd, evidently in search of the sound equipment, and then struggled with a big mob with protesters to grab the generator that was used to power the sound system, before the group escaped and ran toward Broadway. Some speakers were confiscated by police, according to some Occupy Oakland protesters.
Many of the protesters began chanting, “When Oakland is under attack, what do we do? Fight back!” as police moved through the plaza. Shortly before 12:45 pm, most of the police present in riot gear left the plaza in a van waiting on 14th Street. Shortly thereafter, the Occupy protesters began marching down Broadway toward the courthouse.
Omar Yassin, an Occupy Oakland protester, said the “Stand for Oakland” protest was a “cheap ploy” by Mayor Jean Quan, and the show of support from Junge proves that the Chamber of Commerce was behind the event. “He doesn’t have their interests at heart. He has the interests of every single Chamber of Commerce in America who has the interest of corporations and large real estate firms,” Yassin said.
Jill Broadhurst, a member of a District 4 neighborhood crime prevention council, was passing out the green armbands to “Stand for Oakland” supporters. She said that most of the people who came out to support that group were from similar crime prevention groups or were citizens concerned that Occupy was taking away too many of the city’s resources.
“They’re not necessarily against the Occupy movement,” Broadhurst said of “Stand for Oakland” supporters. “But with Oakland in the challenging times that it is, residents really to do feel that police officers are not around to take care of issues, and just answering phone calls, because they’re dealing with the activities downtown. And I don’t think what is going on down here by [Occupy protesters] is representative of the residents of Oakland.”
You can see Oakland North’s complete coverage of Occupy Oakland here.
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