Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Police Brutalize, Dismantle Occupy Oakland Camp

October 25, 2011 Occupy Oakland

This morning at 5am over 500 police in riot gear from cities all over
central California brutally attacked the Occupy Oakland encampment at 14th
& Broadway. The police attacked the peaceful protest with flash grenades,
tear gas, and rubber bullets after moving in with armored vehicles.
Apparently the media was not allowed in to document this repression, and
the police established barricades as far apart as 11th and 17th. Over 70
people were arrested and the camp gear was destroyed and/or stolen by the
riot police.

Contact the mayor and tell her what you think of her actions.

Reconvene today at 4pm at the Oakland Library on 14th & Madison. Occupy
Oakland is not finished, it has only begun.

Inside the Shocking Police Crackdown on OccupyOakland: Tear Gas...An eyewitness account...

by Susie Cagle, of AlterNet
Tuesday Oct 25th, 2011

Over the last two weeks I've seen a community rise up seemingly out of
nowhere -- one based on consensus decision-making and strong
anti-oppression values for all people involved. One that included free
food and a clean kitchen, a community garden, free school and twice-daily

Last night I saw that community torn apart by a show of force so grossly
outrageous in terms of mass of force, brutality, and cost to an already
broke city that nearly shut down most of its libraries, and is on the
verge of closing schools.

All day rumors of an impending eviction had been swirling around the tent
city occupation in Frank Ogawa Plaza. After several nights of false
alarms, campers seemed split over what to believe on Monday. It was Occupy
Oakland's two-week anniversary, and a group of demonstrators partied at
the 14th and Broadway plaza entrance with cake, balloons and dancing. The
General Assembly was smaller; there were clearly more tents missing than
on the previous day. But people were engaged, and strides were made.
Someone announced that a nearby church had donated use of its kitchen for
the Occupation. There would no longer be a need for the propane the city
had found so problematic. There was more talk of growing the camp than
defending it. When I went home around 2:30am to feed my cat and charge my
phone, I felt confident the plaza was safe for the night.

Halfway through my tea I read on Twitter that campers had spotted police
mobilizing a few blocks from the camp. By the time I arrived back at the
plaza, campers had barricaded the perimeter of the camp as well as the
entrances to the plaza. I walked the perimeter and didn't see any police,
so I entered the camp, where feelings were tense. That's when I heard the
roar of police motorcycles on Broadway. By the time I pulled my video
camera out and crossed the street, about 500 Oakland police and supporting
troops from more than a dozen nearby departments were mobilizing in riot
gear, clubs and guns in hand. They announced that by remaining in the
camp, protestors might face "chemical agents" and "bodily injury."

I couldn't get the man making the announcements to meet my eye.

A few minutes later, police broke their lines and some of the news vans
along 14th were allowed to leave. It was then I noticed that I and a
couple dozen others who were primarily filming the police action were now
between a second and third line of officers. We were pinned. I heard a few
pops, a flash, a crack, and saw a puff of white smoke that kept growing.
Suddenly we were moving quickly down 14th street, followed by a cloud of
tear gas. At least 85 protesters were arrested, of the approximately 200
who remained in the plaza. Many remain in jail on $7,500-$10,000 bails
awaiting arraignment on Thursday.

More than an hour later, after shutting down much of downtown Oakland
within a large barricaded perimeter, and after the end of park curfew at
6am, police mobilized to clear out Snow Park, the expansion sister camp to
the main plaza. Several protesters were arrested there after refusing to
leave their camp, which had been facing eviction notices for nearly a
week. The demonstrators there had brought a manual lawnmower and were
maintaining the overgrown park; they had no portable toilets or sanitation
issues; and they were not cooking with an open flame. When asked why they
were arrested during open park hours, one officer responded that the park
was "a crime scene" so it could be closed at any time. At that point I
couldn't help but laugh. "I'm serious," he said.

These camps are now flattened, but occupiers remain defiant. As I write
this, people are organizing. That's what I feel the need to do here, but
while I want to provide more synthesis, I don't feel like I can do that
yet. I came to Occupy Oakland as an independent journalist and it was made
known to me that my right to free speech as a member of the media is about
as valuable to the city of Oakland as the rights of the occupation that
they're holding in cells. I think I'm still reeling.

But I guess what I'm saying is that the city council meeting might be kind
of crowded tonight.

Susie Cagle writes and draws true stories. She is also the founder of the
Graphic Journos collective.

No comments: