by Joshua Sager
In the early morning of October 25th, a massive police action took place on the occupiers of Oakland, CA. Numerous news sources have reported that hundreds of riot squad and state police descended upon the campsite outside Oakland city hall at around 4:30AM.
The occupiers formed barriers out of scrap materials such as wooden pallets, intending to obstruct the police incursion into the park. At approximately 4:45 AM the police warned the occupiers that they were in violation of the law by staying in the park overnight, and began to close in upon the Occupy Oakland camp.
The police came in full riot gear and used crowd suppression weapons, including flash bang grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag guns. This constitutes the most aggressive police response to any Occupy protest site within the United States since the movement began last month.
A firsthand account by Kevin Army, a blogger for Open Salon, states that the mainstream media were warned away from the police action and the independent media were intentionally tear gassed. It appears that the media was dissuaded from documenting the evolving situation at Occupy Oakland, either through warning or inclusion in the ensuing violence.
The police action in Oakland lasted for just over an hour. By the time that it was done, the campsite was destroyed. Numerous protesters sustained minor injuries and chemical exposure due to gas, but no severe injuries have been reported. No police injuries have been reported.
There are conflicting reports of the number of arrests at the Oakland site. The police report just over 70 arrests at the main site in Frank Ogawa plaza, as well as under ten arrests at smaller locations around the city. Some reports by protesters and media on site report higher arrest totals, ranging from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties.
The Mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, released an official statement early today, an excerpt of which is posted below:
“Many Oaklanders support the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. We maintained daily communication with the protesters in Oakland.
However, over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism. Frank Ogawa Plaza will continue to be open as a free speech area from 6 am to 10 pm.”
Tuesday night saw continued confrontations between protesters and police, as the occupiers tried to re-enter their encampment. Again, riot police used tear gas to disperse the protesters. By early Wednesday morning, the only thing remaining in Frank Ogawa Plaza was a thin haze.