Occupy movement takes hold of Oakland

The Occupy Oakland demonstration continues to be one of the central arenas of a nationwide economic social movement.

Protesters currently occupy Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, even after adverse action by the Oakland police department and a violent group of protesters who identified themselves as anarchists.

According to a release by the city of Oakland, the Occupy Oakland protests have cost the city over $1,000,000. An estimated $700,000 of the expenses come from paying Oakland police overtime for their efforts in maintaining the protests.

The future of the Occupy Oakland protests is uncertain, but in a general assembly, protesters voted in favor of occupying foreclosed homes and properties in the near future.

Mayor Quan continues to face criticism, especially from local business owners who are tired of the protesters interfering with their business.

Quan stated in a press release on Nov. 3, “Today we are focused on helping local businesses with clean up, assessing the damage and recovery. It is time for us to now concentrate on getting the City back to work.”

On Nov. 2, Occupy Oakland called a general strike for the city.

Around 2 p.m., a seperate group of protesters dressed in black with covered faces who identified themselves as anarchists, led a march that quickly broke down into vandalism and violence.

The vandals broke multiple windows and spray painted local businesses and banks. Whole Foods and Bank of America sustained some of the more serious damage. Violence erupted when peaceful protesters tried to restrain the vandals in an attempt to keep the protest benign and prevent a repeat of last Tuesday’s violence.

The anarchists overpowered and outnumbered peaceful protesters and continued their vandalism until the march returned to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at around 3:30 pm.

The main march to the port of Oakland began at 4 p.m. with multiple buses shuttling protestors to the port. The majority of people left from the plaza on foot at 5 p.m. An estimated 7,000 to 10,000 people marched peacefully to the port.

10,000 people marched peacefully to the port.

“The City of Oakland facilitated a long day of primarily peaceful protests with some isolated incidents of violence and vandalism. A series of demonstrations, teach-ins, and marches throughout the City started at 9 a.m. and continued until well past midnight,” stated a City of Oakland Press Release.

At approximately 11 p.m. the anarchist group led another march down Broadway and moved into the former Traveler’s Aid building on 16th street.

“The Oakland Police Department responded to a late-night call that protesters had broken into and occupied a downtown building and set several fires,” according to the department’s press release.

Upon receiving the news of the pending police arrival, the protestors constructed barricades at both entrances to 16th street using dumpsters, wooden pallets and other materials. Protestors set fire to the barricades, provoking police confrontation.

Oakland riot police announced the gathering as an unlawful assembly and allowed protesters time to disperse. After protesters refused to leave, police proceeded to tear gas the area and arrested over 80 people. Police allowed peaceful protesters to return to their tents in the plaza.

It was the second major clash between police and elements of the protesters.

The earlier incident began after Oakland police raided and evacuated the Oakland camp early Oct. 25, arresting 85 people. Police were following Mayor Jean Quan’s orders to clear the campsite.

Later that afternoon, protesters returned to the plaza and defied the Oakland riot cops who prohibited re-entry into the plaza. Oakland police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and issued an order of dispersal at approximately 4 p.m.

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

At 11:02 p.m., police retaliated against protesters who threw empty, crumpled water bottles at police.

“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,” a city of Oakland press release said.

However, footage and eye witness reports conflict with the city of Oakland police report, instead showing devices causing loud explosions and accompanying flashes being thrown by police at protesters.

Scott Olsen, a 24 year old Iraq war veteran was injured by a projectile fired by police. According to Olsen’s roommate, Keith Shannon, Olsen “neurosurgeons have decided he need[ed] surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain.”

Olsen’s injury garnered national attention, including provoking a visit by filmmaker Michael Moore.

He spoke at the General Assembly in front of Oakland City Hall on Friday, Oct 28, to show his support for protesters who were tear-gassed.