Occupy Oakland Update


People cover their faces as they run away from the billowing tear gas unleashed by the police to disperse the protest outside Frank Ogawa Plaza Tuesday night. (Mike Alfieri/DVC Inquirer)

Occupy protesters were tear gassed and flash banged by police as they try to re-enter Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland Tuesday night.

Oakland police raided and evacuated the Oakland camp early Tuesday morning arresting 85 people.

Protesters who had been living in the encampment defied the Oakland riot cops who barricaded Frank Ogawa Plaza with metal gates and returned to confront the police later that afternoon.

“We are [here] supporting Occupy Oakland. They got raided this morning…we’re protesting massive inequality of the wealth. ” Protester Zoe, who declined to give her last name, said.

At approximately 4:00 pm, Oakland police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and issued an order of dispersal. They warned that anyone who did not comply would be at risk of exposure to a chemical agent.

Officers threw tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowd. Some protesters were shot by rubber bullets and others by unidentified, non-lethal weapons. Some who were injured were carried away by other protesters.

Scott Olsen, 24 year old Iraq War Veteran, was hit by a projectile fired by police. When protesters went to try to carry him away, a flash-bang grenade was set off at the feet of the protesters.

He was then carried away by protesters and later taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland.

According to the Huffington Post, Olsen’s roommate, Keith Shannon, sent an email stating, “The neurosurgeons have decided he needs surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain and it will happen in a day or two. ” His condition has been upgraded from ‘critical’ to ‘fair. ‘

Despite the gassing, protesters remained present, chanting across the front line at Broadway and 14th street.

“Who’s streets?” A man shouted through a bull horn. “Our streets!” The crowd replied.

Protesters from all over Oakland showed up to show support, regardless of the danger of tear gas exposure.

“We didn’t want to just sit at home…we wanted to go out and do something. ” Chris Brains, protester, said.

Protesters stressed the fact that they were doing everything they could to maintain the peace in hopes that they would be able to remain demonstrating in the area.

“This is a peaceful protest. You remember the Constitution, right?” A man shouted through a bull horn to police.

While most protesters remained peaceful, there were some who tossed crumpled water bottles and eggs at police which prompted further gassing from the police.

At 10:55 pm, protesters worked together to push out a man who grew too aggressive.

At 11:02 pm, police retaliated by throwing unannounced tear gas and flash bangs at protesters.

Protesters cleared the scene to get fresh air, returning shortly after.

“We live up the street and I could smell the tear gas.” Lila Nelson, Oakland resident said while washing acid powder from the tear gas off of her face.

The Oakland police department issued conflicting information in a press release on Tuesday. According to the release, police did not deploy rubber bullets or flash-bang grenades.

“The loud noises that were heard originated from M-80 explosives thrown at police by protesters. In addition, Police fired approximately four bean bag rounds at protesters to stop them from throwing dangerous objects at the officers. ” The release said.

However, footage and eye witness reports showed the devices causing loud explosions and accompanying flashes came from the police.

The event has garnered international attention. Outlets from The Guardian in England, to Russian television news, and even entertainment news like The Daly show have reported on the events. Egyptian revolutionaries will rally to show support for the Oakland protesters this Friday.

Pressure has been put on the Oakland police department and City of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan about the questionable response.

“We are hoping to restore the park, Frank Ogawa, as a free speech area starting this evening…It’s a tough time for America, we are trying to find the right thing to do. I’m gonna try to be working with the community groups…this is something that we hope we can make progress on.” Quan said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Wednesday night proved to be a much tamer evening for the occupy movement in Oakland. At least 1500 people showed up where they voted on a city-wide general strike. “We must strike while the iron is hot,” was the chant repeated by the crowd in the plaza, voicing support for the strike. The general strike will occur on Nov. 2.

The more tumultuous moments came around 7:30 pm when protesters took down the fences surrounding the park. Later at 10 pm, protesters rushed the 12th street BART station, sending police scrambling to lock down the stations many entrances. The protesters held open the gates and quickly exited the station after a handful of riot cops showed up.

The protesters then marched up and down Oakland until they eventually returned to the plaza around 12 am.