Occupy Oakland

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Occupy Oakland
Part of the Occupy movement
Occupy Oakland 99 Percent signs.jpg
Occupy Oakland on November 2, 2011
Date October 10, 2011
Location Oakland, California
37°48′18″N 122°16′18.48″W / 37.80500°N 122.2718000°W / 37.80500; -122.2718000
Causes
Methods
Parties to the civil conflict
  • Occupyoakland.org
  • Oakland General Assembly
  • supporters
Lead figures
  • Occupyoakland.org
  • Oakland General Assembly
Arrests and injuries
Injuries 4+[1][2][3]
Arrested 400+[1]

Occupy Oakland refers to a collaboration and series of demonstrations in Oakland, California that started in October 2011. As part of the Occupy movement, protestors have staged occupations, most notably at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall.

Occupy Oakland is allied with New York City's Occupy Wall Street and other nearby protests like Occupy San Francisco, Occupy San Jose and Occupy Cal.

Occupy Oakland began as a protest encampment at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza on October 10, 2011. Protestors renamed it Oscar Grant Plaza after a young man who was fatally shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit Police in 2009. The encampment was cleared out by multiple law enforcement agencies on October 25, 2011.[4] That evening when protesters tried to reclaim the site, clashes between police and protesters resulted in multiple injuries and over 100 arrests. Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, suffered a skull fracture allegedly caused by a police projectile. His injury came to national attention and became a rallying cry for the Occupy movement.[1] The site was reoccupied by protesters the next evening. The November 2 General Strike & Anti-Capitalist March brought thousands of demonstrators to downtown Oakland for a day of action, including a march to the Port of Oakland, which was forced to shut down operations. That evening, clashes between protesters and police again occurred when protesters occupied a vacant building in downtown Oakland. Two more protesters were seriously hurt by police and both actions were captured on video. Investigations into the alleged police misconduct are being conducted by the Oakland Police department, the ACLU, and the National Lawyers Guild.

Law enforcement once again cleared the protest encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza on November 14, 2011. Mayor Jean Quan’s decision to allow the police intervention resulted in the resignation of the mayor's unpaid legal adviser Dan Siegel; later that day Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu also resigned, for unspecified reasons.[5] Other protest encampments were created and subsequently dismantled by law enforcement. The last encampment at Snow Park was cleared after an early morning raid on November 21, 2011. The movement was left with no physical presence occupying any public space overnight in the city of Oakland.[6] On November 29, demonstrators began a 24/7 vigil at the plaza.[7]

Oakland has a history of controversy between citizens and police that pre-dates the Occupy Movement.[8] Occupy Oakland has often centered around complaints about the police misconduct, and relationships between protesters and police are especially frayed at Occupy Oakland.[9]

As of June 2012, Occupy Oakland had continued to engage in organized meetings, events and actions.[10] Oakland police estimated that as of April they had interacted with over 60,000 protesters since the movement began.[11]

Occupations and Major Events[edit]

First Plaza Occupation[edit]

An overhead layout of Frank H. Ogawa plaza.
Occupy Oakland poster announcing the October 22 March.

The first occupation lasted for 15 days from October 10 to October 25. Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, was symbolically renamed "Oscar Grant Plaza" by the protestors, referring to Oscar Grant, a young Oakland man killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in 2009, an incident that became the catalyst for major protests during 2009 and 2010.[12]

The occupation of Frank Ogawa Plaza officially began at 4 p.m. on October 10, 2011, with a rally attended by hundreds of supporters. This rally was held in tandem with Indigenous People's Day, both as a statement of solidarity and an expression that this action firmly situated itself against colonialism and nation states.[citation needed] The first general assembly, an open democratic meeting based on Occupy Wall Street's New York general assembly, was held in the plaza amphitheater at 6 p.m. and a couple dozen protesters set up tents that evening.[13]

Occupy Oakland planned and organized a number of direct actions including marches and rallies and guest speakers to build support for the movement. On October 14, protesters participated in a short march during rush hour.[14] The following weekend, around 2,500 people, including actor and activist Danny Glover, came out for a Saturday march and rally to show their support for Occupy Oakland.[15] On October 17, the three American hikers recently freed from an Iranian prison made their first West Coast speaking appearance at Occupy Oakland, drawing an audience of around 300 people.[16]

A diverse array of people inhabited the camp, ranging from students and professionals to unemployed workers and homeless people.[17] The camp grew to roughly 150 tents that were used for both camping and to provide essential services to protesters and visitors. A "miniature city" evolved complete with a kitchen, library, a bicycle-powered media center, and children's village. The grass was strewn with straw and walkways were created using wooden pallets and boards.[18] There were tents dedicated to arts and crafts, medical attention, supplies, and conflict resolution. Activities were scheduled throughout the day including committee meetings, discussion groups, and yoga classes.[19] Actor and activist Danny Glover spoke at a rally on October 15.[20] Hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco donated food, supplies, and tents to the protesters the night he played a concert in town.[21] The grandnephew of labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez got married at the site on October 20, 2011. Mateus Chávez and his fiancé Latrina Rhinehart had not planned to be married at a protest encampment, but as supporters of Occupy Oakland, it made their wedding "that much more meaningful."[22]

On October 22, protesters held a rally at the plaza, marched from the plaza to Snow Park and protested outside a branch of Wells Fargo.[23]

October 25 police raid & evening protest[edit]

At 4:50 a.m. on October 25, 2011, police in riot gear arrived to clear the plaza encampment in a raid that two local NBC reporters described as "violent and chaotic at times."[24] The raid was conducted by 392 officers of the Oakland Police Department along with 202 personnel from 15 local law-enforcement agencies under a "mutual aid" agreement. Officers were from the police departments of Berkeley, UC Berkeley, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Newark, Palo Alto, Pleasanton, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Clara, as well as the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, San Francisco Sheriff's Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, and Solano County Sheriff's Department. Additionally, the California Highway Patrol assisted in traffic management and security of the freeways, but did not become involved in any contacts with Occupy.[25]

About 200 protesters attempted to defend the camp with a makeshift barricade consisting of crates, metal police barricades and dumpsters.[26] Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said loud bangs heard when the raid began came from M-80 and M-1000 firecrackers hurled at officers by protesters. He said police used tear gas to effect an arrest after officers were pelted with rocks and bottles, and that police used a beanbag weapon after someone threw a garbage can at officers. All told, police arrested 75 people, mostly for alleged misdemeanors.[24]

The post-raid scene was described by reporters for the Oakland Tribune as looking like a "hurricane-struck refugee camp."[26] Police erected metal barricades around the perimeter of the encampment, which they had destroyed, as 200-300 protesters gathered around them chanting.[27]

External video
"Raw Video: Protesters Clash With Oakland Police." Footage of woman's arrest at police line. Police firing tear gas at protesters. Oct. 25[28]
"Occupy Oakland: teargas fired at protesters." Compilation of Oct. 25 clashes. Includes aerial footage of tear gas & flashbangs.[29]

At 4 p.m. between 1000 and 1500 people including clergy, students, and union members gathered at the downtown Oakland Public Library for a rally and march back to the plaza to reclaim the space.[30][31] At the rally, one reporter noted that "there was a feeling that the way the city responded to the camp was not only out of proportion to the problem, but that it was kind of a waste of money and energy that could be going to address these other issues."[32] On their way, they headed to the Oakland Police Department to protest, and were blocked by a line of police in riot gear. There was a brief standoff and after a police officer forcefully arrested a woman, some protesters threw paint on the police.[33] At 6 p.m. riot police began firing tear gas at the marching protesters.[34] The protesters continued to regroup and, at one point, sat down with linked arms in the intersection of 14th and Broadway near the plaza.[34] They were declared an unlawful assembly and told to leave or be subject to chemical weapons.[33][35] The march continued around the city until about 9:30 p.m. when the protesters returned again to the plaza which was barricaded and guarded by 100 riot police wearing gas masks.[35] Some protesters threw water bottles and other objects at the police. Police issued dispersal orders, which failed to move the crowd, and fired tear gas and beanbag rounds.[35][35][35][36][37]

Oakland police chief Howard Jordan denied the use of flashbang grenades and said that the explosions came from M-80 firecrackers thrown by protesters.[35] Both witnesses and reporters from The Guardian described these explosions as looking and sounding like flash-bang devices, and video shows no evidence of demonstrators throwing explosive devices, but plenty of evidence showing police doing so.[30][35][37] Because of the presence of 17 other law enforcement agencies assisting the Oakland police department, Oakland city officials are not aware of exactly what weapons were being used by these outside police agencies, including possibly rubber bullets.[citation needed]

Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen suffered a skull fracture caused by a projectile that witnesses believed was a tear gas or smoke canister fired by the police.[38] He was rushed to the hospital by other protesters, who were shot at with unknown police projectiles while attempting to aid him.[39] At least two other protesters were injured.[1] The American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild are calling for an investigation into the use of excessive force by Oakland police.[40] While police had arrived prepared to use batons, chemical agents, beanbag and rubber bullet rounds, they failed to arrive with any medical personnel to attend to injuries.[citation needed]

Oakland resident Spencer Mills live streamed the night's events which provided video footage seen by over 60,000 viewers.[41]

Second Plaza Occupation[edit]

Tents within the protest camp of Occupy Oakland at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza on November 12, 2011. Oakland City Hall stands in the background.

The day after the police raid, October 26, between 1,500 and 3,000 people gathered peacefully for a speak-out and general assembly in the plaza's amphitheater.[42] The grassy area of the plaza was empty and surrounded by chain link fences. The general assembly voted to organize a general strike for November 2.[40] The fences were torn down by protesters chanting, "Whose park? Our park!" and one tent was erected.[42] Mayor Jean Quan issued a statement urging non-violence and asked that there be no overnight camping; however, the city did not take steps to prevent the re-occupation.[43]

The plaza was re-occupied for 18 days, from October 26 to November 14, and the "miniature city" grew to about 180 tents. A medical tent staffed by the California Nurses Association and an interfaith tent were among the new additions to the second occupation.[44][45] The re-occupation of the plaza inspired documentary filmmaker and activist Michael Moore to visit the site on October 28, 2011. He encouraged the crowd of 1,000 by saying, "We've killed despair across the country and we've killed apathy."[46][47] That same day, pro-democracy protesters in Egypt marched from Cairo's Tahrir Square to the U.S. Embassy in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. [48]

On November 10, the one-month anniversary of the Occupy Oakland demonstration, a man was fatally shot about 25 yards away from the encampment.[49] Occupy Oakland medics responded to the victim until the police and paramedics arrived. Initially, there were mixed reports about whether the people involved in the shooting were connected to Occupy Oakland,[49][50] and many occupants[who?] felt that the incident had unfairly become a catalyst for their removal.[citation needed] Police later determined that the victim, 25-year-old Kayode Ola Foster, was indeed an Occupy Oakland participant, but only for the previous few days, as was one of two possible murder suspects.[51][52] In response to the shooting, demonstrators observed silence, prayed, and held a candlelight vigil for the victim led by one of the camp chaplains.[53]

On November 15, Occupy Oakland protesters joined the Occupy Cal demonstrations at UC Berkeley,[54] with demonstrators chanting "here comes Oakland".

November 14 police raid[edit]

The city of Oakland distributed notices of violation to protesters for three days from November 11 through November 13. The notices stated that the protesters were in violation of the law by lodging overnight, obstructing the use of a public park, and making fires in a public park.[55] In the early hours of November 14, approximately 700-1000 police dismantled the camp as supporters protested peacefully. Police made about 20 arrests, 14 of whom had been praying all night in the camp’s interfaith tent.[56] Though the camp was cleared, a continuous presence at the plaza was maintained by a demonstrator in one of the plaza trees.[citation needed]

Two top City officials resigned: Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu and Legal Adviser to the Mayor Dan Siegel.[5]

General Strike of November 2[edit]

External video
Raw chopper footage showing protesters on the entrance ramp to the port of Oakland
Video of protests at Whole Foods
One of the marches to the Port of Oakland during the 2011 Oakland General Strike on Nov. 2, 2011

Thousands of protesters gathered at the plaza on November 2 to participate in rallies, marches, and teach-ins designed to empower citizens and to draw attention to economic inequity and corporate greed as part of the 2011 Oakland General Strike.[57] The Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest port in the United States, was shut down after an several thousand people blocked the entrances to the port.[58][59]

Official estimates put the number of people attending the general strike at 7000, while organizers say there were between 20,000 and 30,000.[60] Most of the protesters were peaceful, but the overall peacefulness of the crowd was marred by a number of vandals, including a group who smashed windows at a local Whole Foods and Wells Fargo, looted an art store, and plastered downtown businesses with graffiti.[61][62]

The police presence was minimal during the day. Most of the people had gone home by 11 p.m., when dozens of protesters took over the building that once housed the nonprofit Travelers Aid Society, and started a massive trash fire at 16th and Broadway that sent flames 15 feet high. Just after midnight, police ordered the crowd to disperse for unlawful assembly. Soon, one officer on Broadway was struck on his face shield by a bottle, disorienting him. Within a minute, officers launched flash-bang grenades and tear-gas canisters, beginning a series of late-night clashes between the demonstrators and police.[63][64] 103 people were arrested.[65]

Snow Park and Veterans Camp[edit]

Snow Park, a small park beside Lake Merritt, was established on October 18 with about two dozen people occupying the park after Frank Ogawa Plaza had filled up with tents.[66][67] The Snow Park protesters initially spent time maintaining the grounds of the park.[19] They were removed from the park by law enforcement on the morning of October 25, an hour after Frank Ogawa Plaza was raided. Six protesters were arrested.[4] The camp was reestablished with one tent erected on October 26 or 27.[68] The encampment grew to about 20 tents by November 13.[69] On November 21, 100 campers peacefully left Snow Park after law enforcement arrived.[6]

About seven protesters set up camp in front of the Veterans Memorial Building near the intersection of Harrison and Grand on Veterans Day, November 11.[56] They were cleared out by law enforcement on November 14.[70]

After the occupations at the Frank Ogawa Plaza and Veterans Camp were removed by law enforcement, Occupy Oakland briefly occupied a vacant lot in the Uptown neighborhood in downtown Oakland from November 19 to November 20. Demonstrators took down fences and set up tents, hung banners, and had an impromptu dance session in the rain, powered by a sound truck. Some nearby residents were opposed to the new occupation location.[71][72]

Port shutdown of December 12[edit]

On December 12, the Port of Oakland was again shut down as Occupy Oakland participated in a West Coast shutdown of ports. Those occupations asked for the blockade to be extended. At the Port of Oakland, hundreds of protesters stayed overnight and successfully stopped the 3AM shift of ILWU workers from going to work. Port Blockade organizers communicated with ILWU representatives and decided that any further picketing would result in damage to the relationship between ILWU and Occupy Oakland. The crowd dispersed peacefully with no arrests or even police presence.[73]

Anti-police Saturday evening marches of 2012[edit]

Starting the first Saturday of January, some supporters of Occupy Oakland began a series of what they called "Fuck The Police" (FTP) protests.[74] Officials estimated that policing each FTP in January cost the City about $50,000.[75]

Statements posted on the Occupy Oakland website before the marches urged those opposed to violence or vandalism to either steer clear or avoid interfering with those willing to engage in "mayhem."[76] A statement issued prior to the January 14 "FTP" march read, in part:

"IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you identify as peaceful and are likely to interfere with the actions of your fellow protestors in any way (including telling them to stop performing a particular action, grappling, assaulting or holding them for arrest), you may not want to attend this march. It is a militant action. It attracts anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and other comrades of a revolutionary bent. It is not a march intended for people who are not fully comfortable with diversity of tactics."[77][78]

Occupy Oakland's "Fuck the Police" protests have been criticized by many in Occupy as antithetical to the movement's stated purpose—to use peaceful protest to shift the status quo in the direction of empowering common folk worldwide, both politically and economically.[citation needed] The move to a "diversity of tactics" (meaning the use of violence) has worked to undermine public support, which some non-violent Occupy participants believe has been the intention of infiltrating 'agents provocateurs'."[79][80][81][82] By way of contrast to Oakland, protesters at the now-defunct Freedom Plaza Occupy camp in Washington, D.C., were required sign a nonviolence resolution if they wanted to stay.[83]

Move-in Day (Jan 28)[edit]

External video
Footage from city hall showing vandalism
Mass arrest attempted at 19th St.
Occupy Oakland 1/28/12 footage[84]

On January 28, members of Occupy Oakland had planned a 'move-in' day to take over a vacant building and establish it as a social center.[85][86] The target for occupation was the long-vacant Kaiser Convention Center.[87] Organizers kept the building targeted for takeover a secret, so the exact route was a mystery to most of the marchers. After winding through Laney College, the crowd ended up at the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, where police were ready. Some in the crowd carried plastic garbage cans cut into shields, prepared for police conflict.[88][89][90]

Police first attempted mass arrests near Telegraph Ave and William St. This attempt failed when kettled protestors were ordered to disperse. As police moved in on the kettled marchers, the marchers overturned a chain link fence and fled across a vacant park. The march continued heading up Telegraph towards 20th.[91] Three officers were injured in the skirmish between Occupy protesters, as protesters threw bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices, and lit flares, police said, in a large skirmish on the front steps of the Oakland Museum of California. The most seriously injured officer received a cut to his face that required stitches after a protester hit him with a bicycle. The other two injured officers received bruises, and one injured his hand.[92] Police again stopped the march on Broadway between 23rd and 24th. This second attempt at kettling was successful. Police announced over loudspeaker to the kettled crowd: "Marchers, you have failed to disperse after several lawful orders. You are now under arrest". There were 409 arrests at Occupy Oakland on January 28, but only 12 of those were charged.[93]

Critics alleged that police engaged in kettling and failed to issue the required audible dispersal order prior to mass arrests.[94][95] Several journalists reported being arrested or placed in restraints.[96] In response, The Newspaper Guild released a letter protesting Oakland Police's "unacceptable interference with journalists covering Occupy Oakland and resulting law enforcement actions."[97]

Over the course of the day, police received more than 1,700 calls for service elsewhere in Oakland that police were delayed or did not respond to because officers were busy confronting protesters. More than 480 of those were 911 calls.[98]

"Aquapy" Lake Merritt[edit]

On December 15, police evicted a floating encampment, "Aquapy Lake Merritt".[99] Subsequently, a second "Aquapy encampment" returned to the Lake. On January 31, 2012, eviction warnings were served on the second Aquapy.[100] The police foreclosed Aquapy 2.0 on the evening of February 1.[101]

Local government reaction[edit]

The reaction of local politicians and city officials was mostly positive at first. In fact, Oakland councilmember Desley Brooks was among the protestors sleeping in tents on the inaugural night of the encampment.[102] Councilwoman Jane Brunner expressed support for the movement by stating, "It's about time people are speaking up."[13] Mayor Jean Quan visited the protest site the next day on October 11, 2011, and according to KCBS, condoned the occupation but asked that campers not urinate on plaza’s large oak tree because it has shallow roots.[103] City administrator spokeswoman Karen Boyd said that the city's plan was to let the protesters stay "As long as they are peaceful and respectful of the rights of all the users of the plaza.".[104] Bay Area U.S. Congress members Barbara Lee and Pete Stark also released statements of support.[102]

The Alameda County Health Department inspected the camp on October 19.[104] The next day, October 20, the City of Oakland published and distributed an official notice of violation citing the camp for fire, safety, and sanitation hazards.[105] The city issued violation notices threatening arrest for the next few days.[106][107][108] The 300 to 400 demonstrators "appeared determined not to leave" and countered that "complaints about rats, drug crimes and violence in the area of 14th Street and Broadway went unchecked before they arrived."[109]

In response to the mayor's support for the November 2 general strike, the Oakland Police Officer's Association issued an open letter to the citizens of Oakland expressing "confusion" about Mayor Quan's decision making.[110] The open letter took issue with Mayor Quan's decision to allow public employees to participate in the upcoming general strike:

[T]he Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off. That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest?

On November 3, the City Council met to consider a resolution by council member Nancy Nadel supporting the Occupy Wall Street protest movement and urging Mayor Jean Quan to collaborate with Occupy Oakland.[111] After more than 100 members of the public spoke—many opposing the resolution—Nadel withdrew her proposal, conceding "We don't have the votes tonight for this resolution."[112]

On November 9, five members of the Oakland City Council, Desley Brooks, Ignacio De La Fuente, Patricia Kernighan, Libby Schaaf, Larry Reid (councilmember), two dozen clergy, and Oakland business owners held a press conference calling for the immediate eviction of Occupy Oakland. The group alleged that the ongoing protest had harmed the economy of downtown Oakland, and cited reports of fire hazards in the camp. Occupy protesters interrupted the press conference by chanting, "We are the 99 percent of Oakland." The council members counter chanted: "Occupy Oakland must go." The press conference ended earlier than anticipated.[113] There are questions as to the legality of this gathering of council members, as restrictions exist which require published notice of this many council members gathering at one place.[citation needed]

Oakland city officials estimated the Occupy movement cost the city $2.38 million in police overtime pay, private security and mutual aid, not including costs of the Port of Oakland protests and not accounting for insurance policy reimbursement. The estimate was a revision of the $5 million figure provided by Mayor Quan.[114]

Police conduct and controversies[edit]

Oakland has a past history of police misconduct that long predates Occupy Oakland. An independent monitor was appointed by a US District Court to monitor police misconduct. In Allen v. City of Oakland ("Riders case"), the city paid a record $10.9 million to 119 plaintiffs who were victims of police misconduct. Oakland was also the site of the BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant.

Scott Olsen head injury on Oct 25[edit]

External video
"Occupy Oakland video: Riot police fire tear gas, flashbang grenades." Oakland police fire tear gas against protesters. Oct. 25. Scott Olsen can be seen being evacuated at :58—1:23.[115]
"Occupy Oakland video: Interview with Scott Olsen About His Injury from the Police Attack on October 25th, 2011." Scott Olsen discusses the events of Oct 25th, his injuries, and the Oakland police department investigation[116]

On October 25, 2011, Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old former Marine and Iraq War veteran, suffered a skull fracture caused by a projectile that witnesses believed was a tear gas or smoke canister fired by the police.[38][117]

A video by protesters shows the explosion of what appears to be a flash-bang device thrown by one officer near protesters attempting to aid Olsen.[118] The Associated Press later reported that it was not known exactly what kind of object had struck Olsen or who had thrown or fired it, but that protesters had been throwing rocks and bottles.[119] The Guardian reported that a projectile found near where Olsen fell was a so-called "bean bag round".[118] Olsen was rushed to the hospital by other protesters, who were fired upon with unknown police projectiles while attempting to aid him.[39] Doctors said that he was in critical condition. At least two other protesters were injured.[1] The American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild are calling for an investigation into the use of excessive force by Oakland police.[40] However, the investigation by the Citizens Police Review Board is expected to last several months.[120]

Olsen served two tours of duty as a data network specialist in the Iraq War, was awarded seven medals (including the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal), and received an administrative discharge as a lance corporal in November 2009 after serving four years.[121] While still an active-duty servicemember, Olsen created a website called "I hate the Marine Corps" as a forum for "like-minded grunts to vent". Despite the site's title, Olsen insists he doesn't in fact hate the Marine Corps, nor does he regret his enlistment.[122]

At least 1,000 people held a candlelight vigil for Scott Olsen in front of Oakland City Hall on October 27, 2011.[123] He was released from the hospital around November 10, and is gradually recovering from his injuries but has difficulty speaking. On November 14, he posted a statement on a social networking site stating, "After my freedom of speech was quite literally taken from me, my speech is coming back but I've got a lot of work to do with rehab."[124] A video interview with Olsen, the first since his injury, was published November 28, 2011, on the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center web site.[125] In short order, Olsen was subsequently interviewed on three nationally televised cable news shows: MSNBC's The Ed Show (Nov. 29),[126] MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show (Dec. 1)[127] and Current TV's Countdown with Keith Olbermann (Dec. 2).[128]

In March 2012, a report revealed Olsen was hit by a beanbag round, rather than a tear-gas canister as had been suggested.[129]

Nov 2/3 arrests and allegations of beating, shooting and excessive force[edit]

External video
"Shot by police with rubber bullet at Occupy Oakland" Filmed by Oakland resident Scott Campbell, moments before being shot by an Oakland Police officer.
"Iraq war veteran Kayvan Sabehgi beaten by a police officer"

Scott Campbell was video recording members of the Oakland Police Department during an Occupy Oakland protest on the night of November 2–3, 2011. Shortly before 1am on November 3, he was shot by police using a less-lethal round while he was filming a stationary line of police in riot gear, hours after the 2011 Oakland general strike but during ongoing street clashes between protestors and police in what the San Francisco Chronicle described as "chaos after midnight. Masked vandals shattered windows, set fires and plastered downtown businesses with graffiti before police moved in, dispersing crowds with tear gas and flash-bang grenades and making dozens of arrests."[63]

The apparently unprovoked shooting of Campbell was documented by the resulting point-of-view video from his own camera. University of South Carolina criminal justice professor Geoffrey Alpert said that unless something occurred off-camera to provoke the officer, the shooting was "one of the most outrageous uses of a firearm" he'd ever seen. "Unless there's a threat that you can't see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force," Alpert told the Oakland Tribune.[130]

Also on the night of November 2, Kayvan Sabeghi was hit with a baton numerous times by a police officer then arrested.[131] As police handcuffed him during his arrest, Sabeghi declared his veteran status to a nearby KTVU TV-2 news camera, claiming: "I had two tours in Iraq, one tour in Afghanistan."[132] However, U.S. Army spokesman Troy Roland said on November 11 that the Army has no record of Sabeghi being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.[133] Sabeghi was charged with resisting arrest and remaining at the scene of a riot. While in police custody, he complained of severe pain and asked for medical treatment. Eighteen hours after his arrest, he was transferred to Highland Hospital, where he was treated in the intensive care unit.[134]

Although she was clearly wearing a press pass, Journalist Susie Cagle was arrested in the early hours of November 3 and spent 14 hours at 2 different jails.[135] She was charged with failure to leave the scene of a riot. Journalists' rights in the United States are constitutionally protected through the First Amendment. Cagle is one of several journalists covering the Occupy movement that have been arrested.[136] Additionally, Cagle reported having been subject to and witness to mistreatment of protestors during her imprisonment.[137] Cagle was again arrested while covering an Occupy Oakland march on January 28, 2012.[138]

General Strike marchers struck by car on Nov 2/3[edit]

External video
"Protesters struck by vehicle" Footage of the incident

During the evening march to the Port of Oakland as part of the general strike on November 2, protesters were struck by a car in an incident recorded on video. Nine days later, two victims held a press conference alleging that the incident was a criminal act and questioned why the Oakland Police Department had not prosecuted the driver or contacted the victims.[139]

Badge covering[edit]

External video
"OPD covering name badge before raid at Occupy Oakland" Footage of the incident

On the Nov. 2 protests, Officer John Hargraves was filmed having placed black tape over his name on his police uniform. When questioned by a civilian, Officer Hargraves refused to respond. The civilian then spoke with Lt. Clifford Wong, one of several nearby officers. Lt. Wong approached Officer Hargraves and silently removed the tape from the officer's uniform.[citation needed]

Internal Affairs Division learned of the events on November 4 and began an investigation. "Deliberate concealment of a badge or name plate" is a Class I offense, the most serious classification. As a result, Officer Hargraves was ordered suspended for 30 days, but has remained on the job pending a disciplinary appeal. "Failure to report others who commit any Class I offense" is also a Class I Offense. Lt. Wong was demoted to the rank of Sergeant.[140]

In January 2012, a US District Court described the events as "the most serious level of misconduct." and noted that it is a crime for officers to conceal their name or badge number.[141][142] The District Court is considering further sanctions against the involved officers.[citation needed]

Additionally, the District Court has stripped the Oakland Police Department of some of its independence, with a potential eye towards placing the Oakland Police under the control of a federal receivership.[143]

Move-in Day clashes, kettling, and arrests[edit]

January 28 had been designated "Move-in Day" by some members of Occupy who intended to occupy an unspecified location and transform it into a social center. .

Oakland Police arrested 409 individuals[93] in the largest mass arrest in Oakland history.[144] Among those arrested were at least six journalists. Journalists alleging police misconduct included Kristin Hanes of ABC News-KGO, Susie Cagle,[145] Gavin Aronsen of Mother Jones, Vivian Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle, John C. Osborn of East Bay Express, and Yael Chanoff of San Francisco Bay Guardian.[146]

One journalist emerged after 20 hours of imprisonment and reported witnessing police brutality and cruel treatment.[147][148]

The local chapter of National Lawyers Guild released a statement on Jan 30. In it, the guild alleged a number of human rights abuses, including hundreds of unlawful arrests, physical assaults. The statement claims that many imprisoned protestors were being denied counsel or being denied medical care or medications. The statement called for action from the Monitor saying: "OPD has shown itself incapable of handling crowd control in a legal, much less professional manner [...] We would urge the appointed monitor to take action immediately to rein in this abusive conduct."[149]

On January 31, charges were dropped for all but 12 of the 409 arrested individuals.[93] A public forum on police misconduct was scheduled for the Grand Lake Theater on February 9.[150]

Protestor conduct and controversies[edit]

Allegedly violent tactics, alleged infiltration by agents provacateurs[edit]

The Occupy Oakland movement has attracted particularly strong controversy for its tactics. During protests, police have allegedly confiscated knives, scissors, mace, and tear gas, as well as large corrugated metal shields from protesters.[151] Protesters have also been accused of throwing bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices, and lit flares at police.[152] Police accused protesters of slashing tires and invading vacant buildings during protests, and Oakland citizens have expressed concern that the protests have necessitated a large police presence which has made the rest of the city less safe.[151] Foreign correspondent Chris Hedges and Occupy organizers Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are among those who contend that various groups, including some agents provocateurs, have infiltrated Occupy Oakland in order to subvert and co-opt the movement, and/or discredit it by causing disruption. They cite evidence that various groups have an interest in infiltrating Occupy demonstrations—Black Bloc anarchists, the Oakland Police Department, right-wing pro-corporatist groups, and even the Democratic Party.[153][154]

At a General Assembly on January 29, members of Occupy Oakland expressed a schism in the movement, with some claiming Occupy Oakland had strayed too far from its grassroots ideologies of economic justice, and claiming use of violence was detrimental to the movement in general.[151] The Occupy Bay Area Jewish Contingent, another Occupy movement, has sought to distance itself from Occupy Oakland, saying it had been "hijacked" by violence.[155] Members of Occupy Sacramento blamed Occupy Oakland members for at least one incident of violence in their city.[156] Occupy protests in other cities, including Occupy Wall Street, have held at least some protests supporting the Oakland movement following incidents of violence, though individual members interviewed have questioned its tactics.[152]

City Hall break-in[edit]

"This past weekend, though, should clear away any sympathy for the protests and doubt about the movement's downward direction. Outside their ranks, it's hard to imagine anyone supporting the dead-of-night rampages and hooded demonstrators. Lost entirely amid the vandalism and bottle throwing is the movement's original message of economic disparity."

—Jan. 31 San Francisco Chronicle editorial on the City Hall incident.[157]

On the night of January 28, 2012, Occupy Oakland protesters reconvened at Frank Ogawa Plaza, entered and vandalized City Hall, following the day of clashes during which 409 were arrested. Members of Occupy Oakland were seen on surveillance video prying open the building's doors and strewed garbage inside the building, knocked over a 100-year-old replica of the city hall and damaged a children's art exhibit before taking several items, including an American flag, and setting it on fire.[158][159] Protestors also allegedly smashed display cases, broke down doors, overturned vending machines, damaged a classroom, cut wires in the building and sprayed graffiti inside.[160][161]

The action was criticized by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who likened it to a "tantrum," as well as the Oakland City Council, and Police Chief Howard Jordan, while members of Occupy Oakland blamed the Oakland Police for the day's violence in general.[151] At least 12 protesters facing misdemeanor charges were issued stay-away orders barring them from being near City Hall. Protestors alleged the orders were unconstitutional, while city officials contended the orders kept the Occupy protests from being infiltrated by those who had an "organized strategy to riot, clash with police officers, vandalize property and wreak havoc upon the city."[152][162] Quan said the city would seek monetary compensation from protestors responsible for the damage in city hall, as well as community service cleaning up East Oakland.[161] The San Francisco Chronicle opined that the break in had damaged the credibility of the Occupy movement, saying "Occupy's stature and credibility as a driver of debate are gone for good."[157]

Position on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict[edit]

In February 2012, Occupy Oakland "suggested that Israel had 'prodded' the United States into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq" and they "overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel."[163][164] Individual protestors interviewed by Jewish publication j. indicated the move was aimed primarily at seeking justice for Palestine, but the move drew criticism from the pro-Israel Jewish community as well as several Jewish leaders in the Occupy movement. Unrelated to the vote, David Biale, a professor of Jewish history at U.C. Davis, who had held teach-ins in support of the Occupy movement, said of the vote, "the Occupy Oakland movement has in many ways discredited itself by its tactics, which have violated the nonviolent character of the movement in general," while Fred Werner, a founding member of the Occupy Bay Area Jewish Contingent, said he distanced himself from Occupy Oakland, saying it had been "hijacked" by protesters who were using violence.[155] In a separate opinion piece, j. said Occupy Oakland was in danger of costing the entire Occupy movement its support from the pro-Israel Jewish community.[165]

Alleged hate crimes[edit]

Three Occupy Oakland members faced charges of felony robbery and hate crimes stemming from a February 22 event where they allegedly battered and robbed a woman. The unidentified 20-year-old woman was walking down Piedmont Avenue from a Wells Fargo bank when she said she overheard Occupy Oakland members calling for a riot, and the told them not to riot in her neighborhood.[166] According to an Oakland Police report, she was then surrounded by protesters Michael Davis, 32, Nneka Crawford, 23, and Randolph Wilkins, 24, "and battered as they yelled vulgar epithets regarding their perception of her sexual orientation"[167] before taking her wallet. The woman contacted police who arrested one of the three later that day, and the other two February 29. They were charged on March 2.[168] The charges were dropped May 21.[169]

South Africa Project counter-protest[edit]

On February 27, members of Occupy Oakland were allegedly part of a group who attacked the South Africa Project, a group protesting violence by blacks against whites in South Africa. Around 35 members of the South Africa project were protesting at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, as around 100 San Francisco area residents and Occupy members stood nearby shouting at them. South Africa Project has attracted controversy as an alleged white supremacist group, and Occupy members claimed they had ties to Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. The protest itself remained peaceful, but as Sacramento police and State Highway Patrol officers escorted them to a parking garage after the protest, they were attacked by about 50 Occupy Oakland-affiliated protesters. The Occupy members threw cans and bottles at police before rushing the group. Two police officers were injured and three Occupy protesters were arrested.[170][171] The counter protestors held an Occupy Oakland banner, and all three who were arrested were affiliated with the Occupy Oakland movement. Following the protest, members of Occupy Sacramento distanced themselves from the incident, and protesters with that movement claimed the violence began only once Occupy Oakland members arrived.[156]

Chronology of events[edit]

Weeks 1 - 4 (October 10 - November 6)[edit]

Occupy Oakland began on October 10, 2011, with a rally attended by hundreds and protest encampment of a couple dozen tents at Frank Ogawa Plaza.[13] and later at Snow Park.[172] On October 15, Occupy Oakland saw crowds of around 2,500 people march and rally.[15]

Beginning October 20, City officials distributed notices to the protesters citing "violence, assaults, threats and intimidation", among other complaints, and, forbidding lodging overnight.[173] The demonstrators "appeared determined not to leave" and countered that "the rats, drug crimes, and violence in the area of 14th Street and Broadway went unchecked before [Occupy Oakland] arrived."[109]

On October 25, 2011, police officers in riot gear from various Bay Area law enforcement agencies cleared the plaza and Snow Park during the early hours of the day.[4] That evening, as protesters attempted to re-occupy the plaza, violence between the police and protesters resulted in Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen's head injury.[33]

Protesters retreating east on 14th Street toward Lake Merritt after Oakland Police attempted to disperse them from Downtown with less lethal weapons.

Between 1,500 and 3,000 people gathered peacefully at the plaza on October 26, 2011. The plaza was re-taken by protesters with at least one tent erected that evening. The general assembly voted to organize a general strike for November 2.[40][42][174]

About 2,000 people held a candlelight vigil for Scott Olsen at the plaza on October 27, 2011.[175]

The Oakland Police Officer's Association issued an open letter to the citizens of Oakland expressing "confusion" about Mayor Quan's decision making in relation to the general strike.[110]

Thousands of protesters gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza to participate in rallies, marches, and teach-ins designed to empower citizens and to draw attention to economic inequity and corporate greed as part of the 2011 Oakland General Strike.[57]

A downtown Oakland Wells Fargo branch closed for business because of roughly 100 immigrant rights protesters who marched from Occupy Oakland's encampment to protest the bank's connection to companies that run immigrant detention centers.[176]

Weeks 5 - 7 (November 7 – November 27)[edit]

Occupy Oakland poster advertising November 19 "Mass Rally & March" on 14 and Broadway, released on the Occupy Oakland website November 15.[177]

On November 10, the one-month anniversary of the Occupy Oakland demonstration, a man was fatally shot about 25 yards away from the encampment.[49]

In the early hours of November 14, approximately 700-1000 police dismantled the camp as supporters protested. Police made about 20 arrests, 14 of whom had been praying all night in the camp’s interfaith tent.[56] This raid ended without any reported violence.[178]

In mid-November, the city administrator's office authorized an emergency expenditure of $300,000 to employ VMA, a private security firm, to guard against further encampments by Occupy Oakland.[179]

On November 15, the Occupy Oakland website released a flyer and information about a planned "Mass Rally & March" through Oakland due to take place November 19[177] to "expand the Occupy Movement". The website states the flyer was created in response to calls by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly convened on 11.11.11.[177]

On the morning of November 21, the last Occupy camp at Snow Park was dismantled by the city. For the weeks after this raid, protesters have also continued to occupy the plaza by maintaining a small kitchen to feed hungry people, and an information table to keep people informed.[citation needed]

Weeks 8 - 11 (November 28 – December 19)[edit]

On December 6, Oakland City Council declined to support paying additional funds to VMA, the private security firm charged with guarding against encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza.[179] In January 2012, the contract with VMA was not renewed.[180]

January 2012[edit]

On January 24, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson issued a ruling in Allen v. Oakland critical of the Oakland Police Department.[181] The court found that "[Oakland Police Department] finds itself woefully behind its peers around the state and nation". The ruling increased the authority of a court-appointed monitor, requiring the Police to consult with the court-appointed monitor over future changes to personnel and policy. If the Oakland Police Department fails to comply with the court ruling, Oakland Police Department could be placed in a federal receivership ("federal takeover").[182][183][184]

On Saturday, January 28, a crowd of approximately 500[citation needed] Occupy Oakland protesters unsuccessfully attempted to break into the historic Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. This action was taken in spite of the City of Oakland’s repeated advisements that peaceful assemblies, protests, and marches would be facilitated, but that the illegal breaking and entering into buildings or other criminal acts will not be tolerated. A total of 409 arrests were made, and the investigation is ongoing.

February 2012[edit]

On February 7, Oakland City Council held a public meeting to consider recommendations from Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Libby Schaaf to:

"Adopt A Resolution Opposing Any Purposeful Upcoming Or Future Port Of Oakland Shut-Downs, Directing The City Administrator And Urging The Mayor To Use Whatever Lawful Tools We Have, Including Enforcement Of State Laws And Local Municipal Code Regulations And Requirements, To Prevent Future Shut Downs Or Disruptions Of Any Port Operations"

The resolution failed to pass. Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente, Libby Schaaf, Jane Brunner and Desley Brooks voted in favor of the resolution. Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Nadel voted no. Patricia Kernighan and Larry Reid abstained.[185]

Civil suit and settlement[edit]

On July 2, 2013, the Oakland City Council agreed to pay a $1.17 million settlement to 12 Occupy Oakland protestors who were injured by police. Among them was Scott Campbell, who was shot with a less-lethal round while filming officers.[186] The settlement agreement also required that police adhere to their crowd-control policy. On December 10, 2013, the Oakland City Council agreed to pay $645,000 to settle the claim from a man beaten by a police officer during an Occupy Oakland protest in November 2011.[187]

See also[edit]

Police in Oakland

References[edit]

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  140. ^ Oakland cops disciplined for name-covering episode
  141. ^ Judge rules covered police badge serious violation
  142. ^ Ruling of Jan 27, 2012: "Hargraves also violated California Penal Code section 830.10, which provides that “[a]ny uniformed peace officer shall wear a badge, nameplate, or other device which bears clearly on its face the identification number or name of the officer” "
  143. ^ See below, also Allen v. City of Oakland.
  144. ^ RT News
  145. ^ Washington Post - OCCUPY OAKLAND: After 2nd arrest, comics journalist Susie Cagle shares her on-the-ground experience
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  147. ^ Yael Chanoff - Occupy Oakland inmates at Santa Rita attacked- developing story
  148. ^ Salon - Occupy Oakland protesters denied medication in jail (2/2/12)
  149. ^ National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco Police Violence Targets Occupy Oakland Demonstration
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]