Oakland police arrest hundreds of Occupy protesters


OAKLAND, Calif. - Police arrested some 400 demonstrators Jan. 28 in response to the latest attempt by Occupy Oakland activists to occupy a vacant building and establish a new encampment there.

Supporters said during an action they called "Move-In Day," a crowd of between 1,000 and 2,000 demonstrators marched to the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, near downtown, intent on turning the long-vacant building into a new encampment and social center. There they were met by police in riot gear.

Oakland police said the crowd was ordered to disperse when some protesters started destroying construction equipment and fencing. Police said they responded with tear gas and beanbag projectiles after protesters threw bottles, rocks and other objects at them. Protesters said police also used rubber coated bullets and concussion grenades.

Marchers then converged on a downtown park, and, ordered to disperse there, ended up at a YMCA on the edge of downtown, where many of the arrests took place.

The protest's final stop was City Hall, where some demonstrators broke in, cutting electrical wires, smashing glass cases holding a children's art display, and burning a U.S. flag.

Police said three officers, and one protester, were injured - a claim disputed by the protesters.

It was the first such action since an attempted building occupation failed early in November, after being met with concerted police action. Occupy Oakland's original encampment in front of City Hall was violently evicted Oct. 25, and peacefully removed a second time Nov. 14.

On Nov. 2 and again on Dec. 12, the Port of Oakland was shut down by protests.

Earlier in the week, Occupy Oakland had warned Mayor Jean Quan, the police and the City Council they planned to take over a building on Jan. 28, to serve as a "social center, convergence center, headquarters, free kitchen, and place of housing." Though they did not specifically name the Kaiser Center, discussion had focused for weeks on the likelihood of a takeover attempt there.

Occupy Oakland had also threatened that if thwarted, it would consider "occupying City Hall indefinitely," shutting down the Port of Oakland including the airport, and calling on the hacker group Anonymous for support.

Speaking on radio station KPFA the next day, Maria, an Occupy participant who didn't give her last name, challenged the contention that the attempted occupation was illegal. She pointed out that "thousands of abandoned buildings remain locked up while people are freezing and sleeping in the streets every night ... abandoned buildings, and people sleeping on the streets at night, is an example of what's wrong with our larger system, the capitalist system we live under today."

Maria added that "the purpose of police in this society is to protect the sacrosanct institution of private property at the expense of people meeting their needs."

But others have pointed to the estimated $5 million the protests have cost the city at a time when its budget woes are already so severe that city workers, many of whom are people of color, are losing their jobs.

Inspecting the damage at City hall, Mayor Jean Quan called on community members and Occupy participants to "stop making excuses for this behavior," and urged the Occupy movement to "stop using Oakland as its playground."

Some Occupy activists, meanwhile, threatened to sue the police, contending their arrests were illegal because no order was issued to disperse.

On Jan. 20, Occupy Oakland joined other Bay Area Occupy protesters and other movements in a nationwide day of action initiated by Occupy Wall St. and Move to Amend, to shut down San Francisco's financial district. The daylong nonviolent demonstration used a variety of creative means, including blocking Wells Fargo's headquarters, holding a "foreclosure party," invading Bechtel Corp.'s lobby to read a list of charges, and staging a "squid fry" at Goldman Sachs headquarters 

Photo: Nov. 2, 2011, at Occupy Oakland's geneal strike mass day of action. People's World 


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  • i agree with hank millstein. we need to turn occupy into a massive movement for the basics...healthcare, clothing, housing, schools and cultural/sports centers, and a host of other needs. like the sit-ins and freedom rides of the 60s, we have to constantly ascertain when tactics exhaust their usefulness and figure out new things to do.

    they say war...and this is class warfare... is mostly about intelligence and counterintelligence.....and the ability to win over people's minds and hearts. the confrontational tactics of the anarcho-nihilists take away our capacity to be at one with the people. in fact, if these elements didn't exist, it would have been a stroke of genius for the police to INVENT THEM. and who knows...?

    Posted by gary hicks, 02/02/2012 2:53pm (4 years ago)

  • I fear that elements of the Occupy movement, especially in Oakland, are getting sidetracked. The movement isn't about occupying pieces of real estate; it needs to be about building a broad-based movement to challenge corporate domination of politics. It started out to do that and has actually succeeded in raising public consciousness about this issue and about economic inequality generally--formerly a taboo subject in public discussion. The last thing it needs now is to have bands of anarchists drive it into a corner by making occupation of this or that building its focus. And this is all the worse in that in Oakland it's directed against a reasonably progressive city administrations that many progressives struggled hard to elect. As Uncle Ho said, "Unity, unity, great unity--victory, victory, great victory!" Looks like some Occupy activists in Oakland need to learn that lesson

    Posted by Hank Millstein, 01/31/2012 12:12am (4 years ago)

  • When will we start holding officers accountable for their brutality and excessive use of force? Evicting protesters is Unconstitutional and endangers the basic rights of EVERY last American. Is this the country we were raised in, were men and women are beaten, gassed, pepper-sprayed and arrested for their disapproval of the government? We have to be careful to protect our Constitutional Rights! Raise awareness and do your part with these free posters I designed for the movement on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/11/propaganda-for-occupy-movement.html

    Posted by Brandt Hardin, 01/30/2012 3:40pm (4 years ago)

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