Page One

Estimated 400 Arrests Made in Day of Occupy Oakland Action

By Bay City News
Monday January 30, 2012 - 09:47:00 AM

Oakland police arrested an estimated 400 people Saturday during a day of protests that began with an attempt to take over a vacant building and ended with mass arrests and a break-in and vandalism at City Hall.  

Protestors that broke into City Hall Saturday evening broke an interior window in a hearing room, tipped over and damaged a historic model of City Hall, destroyed a case holding a model of Frank Ogawa Plaza, broke into the fire sprinkler and elevator closet, stole flags and burned one flag in front of the building, according to City Administrator Deanna J. Santana.  

In addition, public works staff are working to remove "offensive" graffiti in Frank Ogawa Plaza, removing debris from City Hall and the plaza area and fixing a damaged sprinkler system, Santana said. 

"While City Hall sustained damage, we anticipate that all city offices will be open for regular business tomorrow," Santana said. 

The attack on city hall occurred while police were busy arresting several hundred protestors outside the YMCA at 2350 Broadway in Oakland.  

Police alleged protestors were trying to break into the building and had ignored a dispersal order issued around 6:30 p.m. Protestors said they were trying to escape through the building from police, who had surrounded the group.  

The mass arrests followed a day of conflict that began when a group estimated by police at around 450 to 500 protestors marched from Frank Ogawa Plaza starting at around 1 p.m.  

The group allegedly attempted to take over the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center near Lake Merritt, which organizers said they planned to reappropriate as a new home for Occupy Oakland.  

Once they reached their destination, organizers had planned to kick off a two-day "Oakland Rise-up Festival" to celebrate the establishment of the movement's new space. 

Police said protestors began tearing down perimeter fences at the center around 2:30 p.m., and were ordered to disperse at 2:50 p.m. 

Officers were allegedly pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares, according to police. Police said they used smoke bombs, beanbag projectiles and tear gas, and protestors at the scene reported officers using batons on individuals in the crowd. 

By around 4 p.m., the bulk of the group had retreated to the plaza and regrouped. A second march set out from Frank Ogawa Plaza around 5:30 p.m. with the stated goal of making another attempt at taking over a building, although the targeted location was never publicly identified. 

A reporter for the San Francisco-based Mother Jones magazine, Gavin Aronsen, was among those arrested, according to the magazine. Aronsen said on his Twitter feed that he was released early this morning.  

Three police officers were injured in Saturday's events, and two protestors have reported injuries, according to Police Chief Howard Jordan. 

Jordan said the department received 1,176 calls for service during the response to the Occupy protests, including 482 calls to 911.  

A number of agencies provided assistance to Oakland police on Saturday, including the California Highway Patrol, Sheriff's departments from Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Marin counties, and police from the cities of Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, Pleasanton, San Francisco and Union City/Newark, and the University of California at Berkeley.