Michael “Big Mike” Preyer, who works for the City of Oakland, washes away remnants of the chalk art created by Chalkupy yesterday at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Photo by Pendarvis Harshaw.

Two arrests, no reports of vandalism, graffiti after Occupy march

on October 26, 2012

Apart from patches of dusty, multicolored chalk art on the sidewalks—a remnant of Chalkupy—little evidence of last night’s march and gathering commemorating the first police raid on an Occupy Oakland encampment remained Friday morning. Despite declarations that the group would hold an all-night vigil, and rumors that they might attempt to set up a new encampment, the only people at Frank Ogawa Plaza this morning were security guards, commuters and City of Oakland maintenance workers.

After hosting a General Assembly meeting in the plaza on Thursday afternoon, some 200 to 300 Occupy supporters marched through the downtown, to the lake and back. The march concluded at the plaza with a photo slideshow of images from last year’s Occupy activities. By 10:40, the size of the gathering began to diminish.

James Lee, 33, a spokesperson for Occupy Redwood City and co-founder of Peninsula Direct Action—an Occupy affinity group that organizes from San Mateo County to San Jose—said in an email message that he was pleased that the march remained peaceful while still being radical in nature. “Parents marching with their children were shoulder-to-shoulder with young folks with shields shouting ‘Anti-capitalista!’ and ‘Fuck the pigs!’” Lee said. “I saw great representation of queer people, people of color and women, breaking the myth that Occupy is just a bunch of angry young white kids who want to break stuff.”

Lee said he believed the police presence was too heavy. “For such a peaceful action it was total overkill to have so many cops along the march route and patrolling the plaza and loaded up in vans waiting to spring,” he said. “Overall, it was a waste of city resources, definitely overkill and arguably not at all needed.”

For the most part, events remained peaceful last night, and no vandalism, graffiti, or broken windows have been reported by city officials. But there were two arrests, according to the Oakland Police Department.

At approximately 8:35 p.m. Thursday, a protester threw a rock, striking a police officer in the chest, a statement released on Thursday by the City of Oakland states. At 9:10, the suspect, a 25-year-old resident of Stockton, was arrested and was later charged with felony battery on a peace officer, according to a statement released on Thursday.

The second arrest took place between 11 and 11:15 p.m., and involved a 39-year-old from San Leandro who was in possession of cocaine-based crack, said Sgt. Christopher Bolton, a spokesman for the police department. Bolton said that as the Occupy gathering dwindled in the plaza, a private security company in charge of everyday policing there asked the group of approximately 30 remaining people to leave. Police officers then approached the group to issue a formal request for them to leave as well. After one of the group members interfered with that effort, he was arrested and found to be under the possession of the drugs and under the influence of some substance, Bolton said.

Bolton said the police department originally built their response plan based on a “worst-case scenario” after seeing Internet postings, invitations, blogging and Twitter activity calling for participants in Thursday’s march to commit crime and acts of vandalism in support of the raid’s anniversary.

“We structured our deployment based on the best intelligence we had leading up to this event,” Bolton said in a telephone interview Friday morning. “We expected the most potential for confrontation or criminal acts. We also had the ability if the contingency called for it, to call upon mutual aid. That triggering event never occurred.”

Bolton said he does not have a report on how many officers were deployed, as that information is typically not shared by the department. A report on the amount of money spent by the city to fund Thursday’s policing efforts will be released later Friday, he said.

Mayor Jean Quan thanked OPD Chief Howard Jordan and his staff for their work throughout the evening in a statement released on Thursday. “After strong communication and planning with our dedicated, thriving downtown business community, we saw police acting with attentiveness and professionalism to facilitate a peaceful demonstration,” Quan said in the statement. “I’m pleased that the vast majority of the protesters remained peaceful as well. Tonight shows how far we’ve all come since last year and how much we’ve learned as we worked together to improve public safety in general.”

Sean Maher, communications director for the mayor’s office, said the office commends the OPD for working to not to create antagonism with the marchers. “Last night shows a lot about how we all learned in terms of working together to keep Oakland safe while respecting the First Amendment right of folks who want to share their opinions,” Maher said in a telephone interview Friday morning.

Bolton praised the march’s participants for remaining non-confrontational, as well. “We saw long-time personalities associated with Occupy Oakland publicly come out and say that acts of vandalism and violence, crime, and arson are inconsistent with the Occupy Oakland message,” he said. “The persons assembled there last night deserve as much credit as the police department deserves credit for having executed a flawless plan.”

Written by Madeleine Thomas with reporting from Pendarvis Harshaw and Lauren Kawana. 

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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