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Police Arrest at Least 75 Protesters During "Occupy Oakland" Raid

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday October 25, 2011 - 01:13:00 PM

Police said at least 75 protesters were arrested when officers wearing riot gear raided the "Occupy Oakland" encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza early this morning.

Speaking at a news conference at City Hall that began around 9:20 a.m., interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said police are still processing those arrested and that the arrest total will likely increase.

The arrests were mostly for misdemeanor offenses, including unlawful assembly and lodging, Jordan said.  

"I'm very pleased with the way things went," he said. "There were no injuries to the public or my officers." 

He said hundreds of officers from the Oakland Police Department and assisting agencies removed about 200 people from the plaza beginning around 4:30 a.m. 

Jordan said that before police moved in, they gave protesters the opportunity to leave on their own, and about 30 campers did.  

As police entered the camp, there were some confrontations and police used tear gas and nonlethal beanbag weapons.  

When asked why police had used tear gas, Jordan said, "We deployed it to effect an arrest because some officers were being pelted with rocks and bottles." 

He said the beanbag weapon was fired after someone threw a garbage can at police.  

Loud blasts were heard while the raid was under way, and Jordan said the noises came from M-80 and M-1000 firecrackers that protesters had hurled at officers.  

Jordan said the use of the tear gas and beanbag weapons will be investigated by the department's internal affairs unit, as is protocol.  

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was not present at the news conference because she is in Washington, D.C., lobbying for federal funding for the Port of Oakland, City Administrator Deanna Santana said.  

Santana, when questioned about the cost of having so many police officers break up a peaceful demonstration when the city's budget is so tight, said there was no choice. 

"I have an obligation to maintain public safety and health, and I couldn't maintain those under these circumstances," she said.  

Jordan said some of the protesters came from all over the U.S. 

Two local men who had been living at the camp at Broadway and 14th Street said they were arrested shortly before 5 a.m. 

Speaking by cellphone from the back of a police van around 6 a.m., Brian Glasscock, a 20-year-old Oakland resident, said he saw people being tear-gassed, and that his tent had been ripped apart. 

The second man, 23-year-old Berkeley resident Davonte Gaskin, said he had been camping with Occupy Oakland for four days, and that police had used batons to dismantle his tent before arresting him for camping in the plaza. 

An Oakland resident who only gave her name as Kristina, 28, said she was tear-gassed and that people around her were hit by what she thought were rubber bullets. 

She said downtown Oakland was shut down this morning, and that protesters at a second Occupy Oakland camp at Snow Park at Lake Merritt expect to be raided by police. 

Police have since dismantled the Snow Park encampment.  

City officials said in a news release sent out this morning that Frank Ogawa Plaza had been "contained" by 5:30 a.m. and a cleanup operation was under way. 

The news release stated that within a week of when the Occupy Oakland camp materialized, the city began receiving reports of fire hazards, sanitation problems, noise and unsafe structures being set up in the plaza. 

By the second week, firefighters, police and paramedics were denied access to the camp and the city received a report that someone had been severely beaten, according to city officials. 

"Sanitation conditions worsened, with frequent instances of public urination and defecation, as well as improper food storage," the news release stated.  

An existing rat problem in the plaza grew worse, and reports of public intoxication, fighting and sexual offenses increased, according to the city. 

The city sent an eviction notice to protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza last week, but most stayed put.  

City officials said this morning that once the plaza is cleared, "peaceful daytime assembly" will still be allowed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., but no camping will be permitted. 

The 12th Street BART station was shut down during the raid but had reopened by 6:30 a.m. AC Transit bus service was disrupted in the downtown area and detours were set up. 

Several streets remained closed in the downtown area as of 10 a.m.