Downtown Oakland explodes as police evict occupiers

Police fired tear gas late Oct. 25 into a crowd of several hundred protesters backing the Occupy movement who had attempted to retake an encampment outside Oakland City Hall that officers had cleared 12 hours earlier. Police forces from throughout the Bay Area were mobilized for the pre-dawn eviction, which was carried out with smoke grenades, with 75 arrested. Authorities cited “sanitary and public safety concerns” in the eviction. In the evening, hundreds of protesters met outside the public library, a few blocks to the east, and then marched on the police-held Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall—which the protesters had renamed Oscar Grant Plaza. An online video shows police repeatedly firing tear-gas canisters into the crowd. As we write, the plaza remains in police hands, with helicopters circling above, while protesters are regrouping again at San Pablo Ave. to the west. (Gawker, San Francisco Chronicle, IndyBay, Oct. 25)

See our last post on the global econo-protests and the struggle in East Bay.

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  1. Riot police evict Occupy Atlanta
    Riot police backed up with helicopters cleared protesters from a park they were occupying in downtown Atlanta’s Woodruff Park overnight as well, with 53 arrested. (The Lede) And the mayor of Providence, RI, is threatening to go to court within days to evict demonstrators from a park. AP reported that in Oakland “tensions reached a boiling point after a sexual assault, a severe beating and a fire were reported and paramedics were denied access to the camp, according to city officials.” But in Atlanta, state Sen. Vincent Fort, who was among those arrested after coming to the park in support of the protesters, called the camp “the most peaceful place in Georgia.”

    The LA Times reports more than 100 arrests in Oakland overnight, with street clashes continuing into the early hours. Protesters apparently retaliated to police tear-gas canisters with eggs and paint bombs.

    The Guardian reports that ex-Marine and Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen is in critical condition after being hit in the head with a “police projectile” (tear-gas canister?) in Oakland. The Telegraph has chilling video footage of police firing more tear-gas grenades as protesters rushed to help the fallen Olsen.

  2. AK-47 at Occupy Atlanta?
    Echoing similar claims that a homeless rowdy was roughed up by protesters at the Oakland camp (supposedly prompting the eviction), authorities in Atlanta now say a man at the protest camp carrying an AK-47 spurred the decision to evict. Protesters say they have no idea who the man was. (11Alive, Atlanta, Oct. 26)

  3. Oakland protesters retake Oscar Grant Plaza
    Confirming tweets we’ve been getting from contacts in East Bay, the LA Times reports that police in Oakland have re-opened the plaza in front of city hall, where hundreds of protesters again converging. The grassy area where the tens were set up remains behind a fence, but protesters are dancing around it, chanting “Tear it down!”

    Meanwhile, a New York City protest in solidarity with Oakland marched up Broadway from the Financial District to Union Square—in the final blocks, for the first time taking the traffic lanes. A huge detachment of police was waiting at Union Square, with helicopters circling above, and the protesters then dispersed. (WW4 Report on the scene)

  4. Occupy Oakland calls for general strike Nov. 5
    There are an estimated 3,000 people at the reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza, and protesters have taken down the fences that were put up around the grassy central area where the tents had stood. In a General Assembly at the site, protesters just called for a general strike in the city of Oakland on Nov. 5; calling for students to not go to school and workers to stay home from work. (KXTV, Sacramento, Oct. 26)

    1. Date for general strike?
      Some tweets we are getting indicate the date for the general strike is Nov. 2. We do hope the Nov. 5 date (if accurate) was not chosen for Guy Fawkes Day, which would be somewhat problematic. There are already calls being tweeted around for a general strike in all US cities next week…

  5. Oakland mayor “supports” Occupation movement!
    In a pretty clear sign of panic, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan released a statement late Oct. 26 saying she now supports the Occupy Oakland protesters and will minimize police presence at City Hall for the time being. The statement comes less than 48 hours after local police used excessive force against protesters, including rubber bullets, stun grenades, sound cannons, and tear gas. One protester, Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, was shot with a projectile at close range, fracturing his skull and landing him in critical condition. (His condition has since been upgraded to fair.)

    Quan’s statement, via the San Francisco Chronicle:

    We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.

    I want to thank everyone for the peaceful demonstration at Frank Ogawa Park tonight, and thank the city employees who worked hard to clean up the plaza so that all activities can continue including Occupy Wall Street. We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.

    99% of our officers stayed professional during difficult and dangerous circumstances as did some of the demonstrators who dissuaded other protestors from vandalizing downtown and for helping to keep the demonstrations peaceful. For the most part, demonstrations over the past two weeks have been peaceful. We hope they continue to be so.

    I want to express our deepest concern for all of those who were injured last night, and we are committed to ensuring this does not happen again. Investigations of certain incidents are underway and I will personally monitor them.

    From AlterNet

  6. Candlelight vigils for wounded Oakland vet
    Candlelight vigils for Scott Olsen were held the evening of Oct. 26 in downtown Oakland and in cities across the country. In Cincinnati, a small group protesters converged on Piatt Park, from which Occupiers had been evicted days earlier. Arriving just as a 10 PM curfew was being imposed, they negotiated with police for a brief gathering in the park, and then marched on the Hamilton County courthouse. (

  7. Egyptians march in solidarity with Oakland!
    Egyptians marched from Tahrir Square to the US embassy Oct. 28 to protest the police attack on protesters in Oakland, and express solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Photos on show hand-written signs reading “#OAKLAND #GREECE #LONDON #SYDNEY –> THE SAME GOAL,” “FROM EGYPT TO WALL STREET: DON’T AFRAID, GO AHEAD” and “FUCK THE POLICE.”

    The protesters were also expressing outrage over the apparent death by torture of a 24-year-old political prisoner Essam Ali Atta. The Guardian reports:

    Essam Ali Atta, a civilian serving a two-year jail term in Cairo’s high-security Tora prison following his conviction in a military tribunal earlier this year for an apparently “common crime”, was reportedly attacked by prison guards after trying to smuggle a mobile phone sim card into his cell. According to statements from other prisoners who witnessed the assault, Atta had large water hoses repeatedly forced into his mouth and anus on more than one occasion, causing severe internal bleeding. An officer then transferred Atta to a central Cairo hospital, but he died within an hour.

    Protesters said Atta’s death proves the new military regime is not making good on its promises to dismantle Mubarak’s brutal security apparatus. They also noted that Atta was 24, the same age as Scott Olsen, the US vet gravely injured by police in Oakland.

    See our last post on the struggle in Egypt.

  8. Oakland mayor booed out of Oscar Grant Plaza
    Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was booed off the stage by Occupy Oakland protesters the night of Oct. 27 as she tried to speak at their General Assembly. Quan was standing in line to speak at the forum on Oscar Grant Plaza when the group began booing and chanting, “Go away.” (SF Chronicle, Oct. 29)

    Trying to save her “progressive” creds…

    Oakland’s government is clearly in retreat. Having said they would not allow protesters to pitch tents on the plaza again, some Occupiers have nonetheless done so, without interference…

    1. Oakland mayor decries “violence”
      Jean Quan also apparently put a video message on her Facebook page in which she said: “When there’s violence, there are no winners—it polarizes us and opens old wounds.”

      Do you think she was talking about the police?

  9. Has ILWU joined Oakland strike call?
    We are getting Tweets to the effect that the notoriously militant ILWU Local 10, as well as SEIU 1021 and the Oakland Education Association, have endorsed the call for a general strike. Media accounts differ. IndyBay reports that “key leaders of the ILWU” have put out a call entitled “Defend Occupy Oakland with the Power of Organized Labor.” AtlanticWire tells us the opposite: “Unions Say They Won’t Strike with Occupy Oakland”

    Can someone in Oakland tell us what the truth is?

    The ILWU in Oakland and several other West Coast cities did go on strike on May Day 2008 in protest of the Iraq war, and on May Day 2007 in support of immigrant rights. ILWU members also widely participated a June 2010 blockade of Israeli ships in Oakland harbor in protest of the Gaza siege.

  10. Showdown over generators at NYC OWS
    In New York CIty, OWS protesters, represented by attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild, are demanding the CIty return their generators that the fire department confiscated Oct. 28. The Occupiers say the confiscation is a pretext by the city to begin dismantling their encampment, which has been in place since Sept. 17. “Contrary to the Mayor’s public justifications, the seizures were not motivated by health or safety concerns,” says the open letter to FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano. “Instead, it appears the City is trying to end the occupation illegally by creating a public health risk.” The confiscation came before an unseasonably bitter cold snap that left an inch of snow on the city. (DNAInfo, Oct. 30)