2011-11-03 from "Oakland Local" [http://oaklandlocal.com/article/occupy-oakland-“we-shut-down-port”-demonstrators-say-ongoing-analysis]:
Protestors blockading the port
Editor's Note: The following are reports "from the field" by Oakland Local writer and photographer Eric Arnold as he continues to cover the Occupy Oakland movement in downtown Oakland.
"We shut down the port!”
Wednesday - 3:25 p.m.
A crowd of about 4,000 is at 14th and Broadway, listening to Boots Riley speak. “People have a common enemy: the system,” he says.
(Boots Riley leads the march to the port)
Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” sparks a mini-flash mob of dancing frenzy. Boots announces that seven buses are on their way to pick people up and take them to the port.
The buses start leaving.
The crowd begins to march west on 14th, toward the port.
Crowd chant: “Strike, occupy, shut them down, Oakland is the people’s town!”
The residents of City Towers apartments on 14th Street cheer as the march passes. “Join us!” the marchers yell.
(Marchers surge toward the port.)
There is a huge catcall as the crowd passes under the BART tracks by the I-580 on-ramp in West Oakland. Overheard: “This march is a mile wide.”
On the overpass, heading toward the port. Crowd chants: “Justice for Oscar Grant!”
The port dinosaurs loom; bike-mounted portable speakers play a Bob Marley tune.
About 20 protestors are blocking a truck on its way to the port. The driver honks his horn continuously. It’s deafening. The crowd starts clapping. Three more trucks line up behind the first. A helicopter circles overhead.
Councilwoman Desley Brooks is sitting on the side of the street, watching the truck scene. It’s quite possible that she’s the only local elected official to actually camp out with the Occupiers and to go on the march. Eventually, the trucker stops bleating his horn.
Occupy SF folks are holding down a gate at the port. The march surges forward.
“We already have a victory. We’ve already made history,” an 'OO' organizer tells the assembled masses. The crowd splits into two sections. The “general strike” banner takes the left road, the “occupy Oakland“ banner takes the right. Richmond Spokes’ Brian Drayton plays Toots and the Maytals’ “54-46” on a boombox strapped to his bike.
(An estimated 10,000 people marched on the port)
The general strike contingent waits at Seventh Street and Middle Harbor Road. Other marchers are considering taking over the Bay Bridge. The idea results in a police scramble, but doesn’t actually come to fruition.
About 15-20 marchers are in line at a taqueria truck inside the port area. Hungry marchers stock up on iced tea and burritos. Meanwhile, there’s a report 300 cops are at West Grand, guarding the freeway entrance.
The “occupy Oakland” banner group is blockading two entrances. Hundreds of folks are moving in a circle, preventing container trucks from exiting.
About 20-25 cops and several vehicles remain at West Grand, near the freeway entrance. No marchers are attempting to move onto the freeway, and eventually the cops leave.
About 350 people remain in the occupy Oakland banner group, occupying a port gate next to the Oakland Army base. A man in an American flag shirt says, “Wanna hear an interesting story? I asked the police to leave and they left.”
Two women gyrate to a techno beat playing from a portable beat machine.
There’s a report that police are going to Seventh and Broadway.
About 400 people are assembled at Seventh and Maritime, waiting for confirmation that the port is shut down. The crowd cheers longshoreman going home and chants, “We shut down the port!”
A line of bored CHP cops protect the I-880 on-ramp. The cops are polite, helping marchers cross the intersection.
Thousands participate in strike
Wednesday - 10:30 a.m.
Arriving at 14th and Broadway. A huge, diverse crowd just marched from 14th and Telegraph. There is a large truck with a sound system on 14th at the foot of the plaza. Rapper Mistah FAB addresses the crowd: “They looking for a reason to shut us down.” They don’t understand the power is in the people,” he says emphatically.
FAB says he represents the part of the 99 percent that is the youth. “We’re not here to destroy Oakland,” he adds.
Another hip-hop group, BRWN BFLO, performs a song called “Powerful People” in the plaza bowl.
A Native American ceremony featuring Ohlone Indians, along with Buddhist monks, takes over the plaza stage. They are beating traditional drums, burning sage and chanting. “Come and join us in our struggle to protect our sacred lands … this is Ohlone territory,” says a man wearing a feathered headband. He’s holding a staff with an eagle head.
There’s not a single police officer in sight. The crowd at 14th and Broadway keeps swelling. There are BHS and Mills students, teachers, organized labor, anarchists, hippies, black and brown folks, Asians, you name it. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” plays on the sound system, followed by “Get Up” by the coup and dead prez.
There’s a report that students and teachers from CCA are trying to shut down Bank of America and Chase banks.
A speaker from Causa Justa says those two banks have been shut down, along with Wells fargo and Citibank. “We closed the four largest banks,” she says. At least 1,000 people and maybe more are in the intersection of 14th and Broadway, chanting “hella hella occupy.”
Mayor Quan’s husband, Dr. Floyd Huen, is spotted in the crowd. He’s holding up a 99 percent sign.
Boots Riley reports that many longshoremen didn’t show up for work, in a show of solidarity. "The port is halfway closed,” he says.
Oakland rappers Mistah FAB, Richie Rich, and D Labrie are spotted in the crowd.
Around the plaza, there are prayer and meditation circles, performances by singer-songwriters and hip-hop groups, and Occupiers in tents.
Various speakers are talking about their personal reasons for being there. “Wachovia and Wells Fargo’s trying to steal my house. They stole my neighbor’s house,” one man says.
The overall effect at the 14th and Broadway intersection is almost overwhelming. There’s a lot to take in, a steady stream of motion seemingly coming from all directions, people everywhere. The crowd continues to grow,
(Protestors hold up a banner at 14th and Broadway)
A march passes by 14th and Franklin. Along with teachers and organized labor, there are kids on scraper bikes. Just down the street, at 14th and Webster, another march heads toward the plaza. Again, there's not a single police officer in sight.
Hip-hop demonstration and rally engages youth of color
Nov. 1 - 4:30 p.m.
Thus far, probably the least-represented constituency in the Occupy movements - not just in Oakland, but elsewhere - has been youth of color.
That was all remedied by today’s jobs and education rally/hip-hop concert, “Swag’n 4 Justice,” an event produced by Urban Peace Movement, along with United Roots, the Ella Baker Center and other youth groups.
“Swag’n” was able to mobilize the 16-24 urban demographic, with particularly high numbers of Asian-American and African-American kids, about a couple hundred in all. The tactic of using hip-hop to engage this demo isn’t particularly new - many of the organizers behind the event have essentially been doing the same thing for a decade - but it is effective. “Swag’n” was as well-organized as any event, which has happened since Ogawa plaza was rechristened in honor of Oscar Grant, and more polished than most.
Performers included Askara X, Brandon, J-Million & O-Zone and DJ Fuze. The material had all the elements of turf rap or KMEL-ready R&B, but with conscious lyrics (sample: “taking care of what you got/ even if it’s not a lot”), which addressed themes like the struggle, economic reality and the need for motivation and self-determination.
In-between performances, speakers engaged the crowd in call-and-response with slogans like “more jobs = less violence” while hammering away at a few talking points: trying to get jobs for local residents from the Oakland Army base, eliminating lack of incarceration as a condition of employment, and better education.
(Oakland youth, "Swag'n 4 Justice")
A moment of silence is held for Mac Dre, the Bay area rap pioneer killed on this day in 2004. DJ Fuze played a few choice Dre tunes, resulting in spontaneous dance ciphers breaking out. Yes, we have now reached the point where Mac Dre is considered “old school" - even his later material such as “Feelin’ Myself” - and it should be noted that a bunch of teenagers bouncing around to “Thizz Dance” is actually a form of ancestor worship, a ritual tradition dating back to the origins of dance as an art form.
Ella Baker ED and Port Commission nominee Jakada Imani also speaks to the crowd. Imani is the only stage performer wearing a suit, and if his comments ( “it wasn’t an accident that you were born;” “stand up Oakland”) came off as a bit generic, well, it’s been more than 10 years since he was a member of Communist hip-hop act Red Brigade.
“Swag’n 4 Justice is with the Revive Oakland coalition,” explains co-emcee Rayne Smith. “Our goal is to get thousands of jobs. Not just any jobs, jobs that are quality jobs.”
Smith notes that the rally brought out “a very diverse group as far as age, race, everything and that’s a great thing because the jobs that are gonna be on the Army base are from youth on up to people much older.”
J-Milli-on and O-Zone perform their popular song “The Real Oakland.” They are followed by Queen Deelah, who says, “if we can transform Oakland, we can transform the world” before jumping into a song called “Transform.” Deelah has great energy, and it’s always nice to see a female emcee onstage, especially a conscious one.
Urban Peace Movement founder Nicole Lee speaks to the perception that youth of color have been underrepresented in Occupy movements.
“That’s what we hope to contribute to this, we want to carve out a space for young people, people from the flatlands of Oakland to participate … we stand in support and solidarity with the Occupy movement because it’s the same message.”
The crowd is wowed by an impressive exhibition of turf dancing by the Turf Feinz and Turfin 24/7, as Fuze plays electro-hop and Casual’s all-star tribute to the Town, “Oakland.” The dancers’ acrobatic moves draw a phalanx of photographers to the front of the stage to witness yet another Oakland-identified art form.
Heavy gusts of wind overturn many of the tents - whose number is back up to 150 or so - in the plaza; Occupiers scramble to right their temporary homes. The overall energy is palpable, just 15 hours before the general strike demonstration is scheduled to start. A sense of anticipation fills the air as Occupiers await what tomorrow will bring.
Agenda announced for general strike
Oct. 31 - 4 p.m.
Occupy Oakland organizers held a press conference today announcing their agenda for Wednesday’s general strike, which is expected to draw thousands of people to Oakland. The announcement took place at the intersection of Telegraph and Broadway, a symbolic and historically-significant location: 65 years ago, in 1946, the last general strike to take place in America was also announced from that very same corner.
The speakers focused on four main themes: foreclosures, education, labor, and police brutality. The Occupy Oakland movement, explained Louise Michel, was “sparked by the need to end police strikes on the community.” It’s a movement, she reminded the assembled media, with “no leaders, no political parties” which is attempting to “take back control from corporate power which perpetuates all forms of oppression and the destruction of the environment.”
The decision to move ahead with a general strike, she said, was made by “overwhelming consensus” by a general assembly of thousands of Oakland residents the night after “brutal police attacks” on demonstrators and the subsequent re-occupation of “Oscar Grant” plaza.
“We call for a general strike against the 1% because we know that their wealth is produced by the work of the 99 percent,” Michel said. Organizers plan to picket any workplace or school which takes disciplinary action against people participating in the strike.
Michel was followed by hip-hop musician Boots Riley, who announced a march on the Port of Oakland at 5 p.m., to “shut it down and blockade the flow of capital on the day of the general strike, as well as to show our solidarity with the longshore workers against EGT in Longview, Washington” – a company whose profits last year were 2.4 trillion with strong ties, Riley said, to Wall Street. “This is just one example of Wall Street’s corporate attack on workers,” he added.
The entire world, Riley said, is “fed up with the huge disparity of wealth.”
Up next was labor organizer Clarence Thomas, a third-generation Oakland longshore worker, who said, “this is a movement about fighting corporate rule with worker power.”
Over the past 30 years, Thomas explained, American workers have increased production, yet “wages have remained stagnant.” That gap, he said, represents corporate profits, which “the 1% have been living off of,” to the detriment of the 99%.
“This is not about a crisis on Wall Street,” Thomas said. “This is capitalism run amok. Capitalism has failed us.” Billionaires produce products in America by people working for slave wages, he continued, “and the only way that’s gonna be turned around is when the workers rise up.”
Pat Brooks, the next speaker, was more succinct. Speaking on police brutality, she said, “we will not take it any longer.”
Brooks was followed by Nell Myndham, who said she wanted to send a message to Chase bank: “I need my home more than they need one more [foreclosure]."
There have been 30,000 foreclosures in Oakland, she said, 905 of which are in three zip codes, disproportionately affecting blacks, Latinos and the elderly.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America have more than $2 trillion in assets apiece. We’re calling,” she said, “for investment in our communities.”
Javier Armes followed with a statement on public education in Oakland. The same day the Occupy camp was raided, he said, five public schools in East Oakland were scheduled for closure – a financial crisis perpetuated by the accumulation of a an eight-figure debt by the Oakland Unified School district in 2003. “If the system cannot maintain schools for our children, we will take over our schools and run them ourselves,” he vowed.
Organizers also noted the solidarity of the Egyptian people with Oakland’s Occupy movement, as well as the connection between labor and liberation. “all over the world, people are marching in solidarity and looking at Oakland, “ Riley said.
Though the strike was called for by Occupied Oakland’s general assembly, it has been joined by the ILWU and SEIU, two of the strongest organized labor groups. Additionally, Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana has released a memorandum which promised that city workers will not face disciplinary actions from the city.
On Wednesday, there are three calls for convergences at 14th and Broadway, at 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. The march to the port begins at 5 p.m. sharp. All day, the general strike will feature speakers, bands, and DJs, promising what one organizer called a “festive” atmosphere. More info is online, at occupyoakland.org/strike.
Saturday night march takes it to ‘the hood’, confrontations mostly avoided
Oct. 28 - 6 p.m.
Looking at the Occupied camp, it would be hard to tell that Tuesday morning’s police raid had even taken place. Once again, hella tents line the grassy field in the plaza – about 50 of them. The kids’ tent and medical tent are back in action. Occupied Oakland is rebuilding its infrastructure.
8:30 p.m.: The now-familiar thudda-thudda of helicopter engines permeate downtown Oakland. There are at least two choppers in the air, monitoring the movements of a march against police brutality, which followed a speak-out on the same topic. The ABC 7 live feed shows a line of riot cops and hundreds of marchers, although the precise location is difficult to determine from the aerial view.
9:15 p.m.: The march - about 400 or 500 strong - has reached 13th and Broadway, chanting, “this is what democracy looks like” and “the people united will never be defeated.” A large banner reads “justice for Oscar Grant;” many are holding shields depicting skeletons with crossed hands, which say “stop police brutality.” Many in the crowd are in Halloween costumes, which blend in perfectly with the masked protestors.
9:33 p.m.: As the crowd reaches 19th, it chants, “we are Lovelle Mixon.” Just then, the lights on the Paramount Theater go out.
9:50 p.m.: A suggestion is made to march through “the hood” - West Oakland. The marchers do just that, veering down Adeline, then West, chanting “whose streets, our streets!” Curious onlookers, most of them African American, come out of their houses to watch. Some join the march. One man runs out, chanting “f--- the police!” The crowd cheers him.
10:15 p.m.: A line of police block the freeway off ramp at 17th street. There is a brief stand-off, which has the potential to turn ugly, but thankfully doesn’t. OPD are on their best behavior; there are helmeted officers, but the riot squad is nowhere to be seen. Police captain Ersie Joyner is on-hand, providing leadership to the rank-and-file.
Some of the protestors appear agitated at the sight of the cops, but the few who voice epithets are quickly over-shouted by chants of “peaceful protest.” The potential crisis is averted as the march turns eastward on 17th, over the overpass, and back toward downtown and the plaza.
10:25 p.m.: A graffiti tagger is heckled and chastised by a few protestors who remind him that the vandalization of personal property is not one of the goals of the Occupied movement. The tagger runs away. One marcher is overheard remarking, “the revolution is exhausting.”
10:30 p.m.: Someone—it’s unclear who—breaks a window at the OPD office at the northwest end of the plaza. A bunch of photojournalists run up to the window to document the damage. A couple of protestors ask the media pros why they need to take pictures of the broken window. An AP photog shrugs and says, “I’m just doing my job.” A young white guy using a pair of leopard-skin panties as a mask asks another photographer with a press credential, “who are you?” The irony of an anonymous individual questioning a credentialed member of the media about his identity seems lost on Mr. Leopard Panties.
10:35 p.m.: At the corner of San Pablo and 16th, an argumentative discourse takes place over “a bunch of white people tagging houses in West Oakland.”
10:45 p.m.: Back at the plaza, a young woman with pink hair writes in chalk, “the love speaks without words and always speaks the truth.”
10:50 p.m.: There’s still a lot of activity going on. About 75 people line the bowl, sitting and talking, as the people in tents prepare to spend another night in the Occupy Oakland camp.
Michael Moore: “we have killed despair”
Oct. 27 - 2:15 p.m.
A blind veteran named Richard Casolla, who was hanging out at a shrine to injured veteran Scott Olson in Oscar Grant plaza, shares his story.
On Tuesday, he was tear-gassed, he says, and “couldn’t breathe for four blocks.” The gas carried all the way down to Sears, he says. Casolla also says didn’t hear any kind of warning before the gas went off. He’s planning to file a lawsuit, he says, against both the city and the police.
There are now more than 40 tents set up in the grassy field.
In the amphitheater bowl, an Islamist prayer session attended by about 25-30 people is happening.
The Occupied site buzzes with activity. There are many onlookers, occupiers, journalists,and lawyers milling about.
A guy starts ranting about media not being part of the 99 percent. When asked what media outlets he’s referring to, his lists all the network stations: "2, 4, 5, 7.” He also says he has no Internet access.
Hip-hop journalist Davey-D, SF rapper Sellassie (wearing a Raiders jacket) and KPFA funk DJ Rickey Vincent share a brief conversation with Jeff Wozniak, a civil rights attorney defending the accused Nortenos against the gang injunction.
“We need gang injunctions against some of these cops,” Davey quips.
About 50 people stand in line, waiting to get a freshly-printed “Hella Occupy Oakland” poster. Directly adjacent, about 25 people are lined up for chicken and vegetable sandwiches.
Musician Kev Choice, just arrived from Atlanta, takes a look-see. Choice says he’s been following the events in Oakland, and wanted to check out the Occupied zone for himself.
Filmmaker Michael Moore speaks to the Occupied Oakland crowd for about 45 minutes. Moore hits all the right notes in a speech laden with media-savvy soundbites. Corporate media was not prepared to deal with the Occupy movement, he says.
“In my lifetime I have not seen a moment like this.”
Moore touches on the “militarization of local police forces” and the lack of transparency in the Department of Homeland Security budget, the “$2 billion a week" he says are spent on “illegal wars,” the corporations whose actions led people to start the Occupy movements, the false perception that America is not a liberal country.
He mentions Scott Olson: “the only place he had to worry about was his own country.” And he says, “I don’t pay you to hit me in the face with a tear-gas canister.”
There have been victories already as a result of the Occupy movements, he says: “we have killed despair. This movement has killed apathy…You have altered the national discussion.”
This week in Oakland, he adds, will go down as a “watershed moment … millions have watched, millions have been inspired by you.”
After the Oakland encampment was raided, and after peaceful protestors were assaulted by police, he emphasized, “you didn’t go away. You were supposed to go away.”
The speech ends with a baseball game-like chant of “let’s go, Oakland!”
Moore’s speech coincidentally happened at the same time as a press conference given by Mayor Quan, which was much less well-attended.
(Michael Moore addresses the crowd at Occupy Oakland)
A man named Haroun Arsaali shares his story. On Tuesday, he says, he was marching from the library to the jail. After turning left on Washington, he passed a line of cops who “took it upon themselves to start attacking the crowd, especially those who were in front with the banner. We were basically stuck between riot police hitting us and a big crowd behind us with nowhere to go. “
Arsaali says he was surrounded, struck with baton blows, and tackled to the ground. He struggled to breathe, and passed out. He woke up being carted into a paddy wagon. He was then taken to Highland hospital, then to Santa Rita jail.
When he asked for a phone call to a lawyer, Arsaali says he was searched, and then beaten by correctional officers. “They kicked me on my legs, then putting me face first against a wall. More correctional officers came up behind me that I could not see. One of them took my arm and basically put it in such a position, I thought it was going to snap off. I was jumped by at least four correctional officers,” he said.
“After that, I was dragged into a holding cell where the beating continued. They continued to put enormous stress on my wrist. I still have no feeling in my hand. My face was put under the toilet and they put my hands inside the toilet. I have bruises and scrapes everywhere.”
One of the officers, he said, then stood on his face. “My jaw is still swollen,” he said. “I have lumps all over my head.” He was then told not to move or look around until he heard the door lock.
Arsaali says he did not resist “in any way shape or form.” He weighs all of 135 lbs., he notes. “These guys are all 250-plus. He also insists he didn’t throw any projectiles at the Oakland police officers before they beat him with batons, either.
Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” plays in the plaza.
The plaza bowl has become festive; hundreds of people are being entertained by the brassy sounds of the Extra Action Marching Band, following the night’s GA. There are cheerleaders with sparkly pom-pons, flag-wavers, and masked muscle dudes. Many in the crowd are in costume, as an MC on a megaphone chants, “Viva la Occupacion!” It’s completely surreal. Then again, a bit of levity is perhaps what the Occupiers needed. After all, what good is a revolution if you can’t dance to it?
Quan booed off stage, apologizes
Oct. 28 - 9:30 a.m.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has a “credibility problem,” according to the SF Examiner. After Tuesday morning’s raid which forcibly removed an estimated 150 Occupiers from their tents, she issued the following statement: "As a defense against protesters who were throwing items from the encampment’s kitchen at officers, law enforcement officers deployed bean bags and gas canisters. No injuries to protesters or law enforcement officers have been reported."
This came before Tuesday evening’s events – which did result in injuries to protestors, the most serious being a fractured skull suffered by war veteran Scott Olson, who remains in a medically-induced coma at Highland hospital.
Last night, the Chronicle reports, Quan attempted to speak to the GA, but was booed off stage and left without saying a word.
She later posted a statement on her Facebook page, which has received thousands of comments critical of her actions. Quan said she was “deeply saddened” about what happened Tuesday and added, “ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened.”
She then held out an olive branch: “I want to work with you to ensure that this remains peaceful moving forward.”
A “minimal police presence” will be in effect, Quan promised, and she hopes for “direct communication” between Occupy Oakland organizers and city staff, specifically her and police Chief Jordan.
The statement ended on a hopeful note: “I hope we can work together.”
However, it’s fair to ask whether Quan’s statement is a case of too little, too late. As East Bay Express editor and columnist Bob Gammon blogged after Wednesday’s press conference, “it seems that Quan has taken criticism from the law-and-order crowd much too seriously and has forgotten her progressive roots.”
Gammon went on to outline exactly why the Mayor’s credibility was in tatters: “Quan ... badly misread how the police raid would not only be viewed by her progressive supporters in Oakland but by liberals around the nation and the world.”
At this point, it appears that Quan is in damage control mode. She cannot hope to appease conservatives who have long been critical of her stance on crime and public safety by kowtowing to Occupiers. Yet she may have eroded her progressive base by being out of town when the police violence against demonstrators occurred and failing to give satisfactory explanations for what happened at her press conference – at which she admitted that the decision to raid the camp was made by Jordan and City Administrator Deanna Santana.
Reaction to Quan’s statement on the Occupy Oakland Facebook page was skeptical at best; of the 105 comments generated, not a single person expressed support for Quan’s position.
This much seems clear: If the Mayor hopes to win back the hearts and minds of liberals and progressives, it’s going to take more than an apology.
Thursday - 5:30 p.m.
As of about 4:15 p.m. Thursday, eight tents had re-sprouted in Frank Ogawa plaza. At this time, it is not known whether demonstrators will attempt to occupy the plaza overnight, directly defying the terms set forth by City Administrator Deanna Santana and Mayor Jean Quan.
Much of the narrative around Occupy Oakland in the past day has centered around the use of force by Oakland police and other agencies during Tuesday’s violent clashes. Scott Olson - a Marine who reportedly served two tours of duty in Iraq and had joined the Occupy Oakland march after participating in San Francisco’s Occupy demonstration - has become an unfortunate symbol of what many are calling excessive and brutal violence.
This video - posted on YouTube - might seem reminiscent of the Napalm scene in "Apocalypse Now" – except the targets are American civilians on native soil. In the video, as tear gas is released into the intersection of 14th and Broadway, a bloodied Olson is seen just moments after being directly hit with a projectile, as people rush to his aid, crying for medical help:
[video not available]
This video, taken a moment earlier, shows Oakland police lobbing another tear-gas grenade at demonstrators attempting to help Olson:
[video not available]
And this video, taken earlier in the day at Eighth and Washington streets, shows OPD attacking demonstrators attempting to flee with batons, before setting off tear-gas:
[video not available]
No order to disperse is heard before the gas is deployed, an apparent violation of OPD’s use of force policy. Oakland Local asked a police spokesperson about this apparent discrepancy, but has yet to receive a reply. This link has more info about specific OPD policy regarding less-than-lethal force options.
Other questions surround the use of rubber bullets – and by whom. Today at the plaza, a man displayed a nasty-looking large purplish bruise he said was sustained when he attempted to help Olson, along with a rubber ball the size of a blueberry, which he believes inflicted the wound.
Yet, according to Interim Chief Howard Jordan, OPD’s inventory doesn’t include rubber bullets. During yesterday's press conference, Jordan conceded that other police departments and law enforcement agencies assisting OPD - 14 in all - may have fired rubber bullets and/or flash-bangs. Jordan has called for a full investigation into the matter. But finding out which departments were involved - and who shot what, when, at whom - could present a difficult logistical chore, which may be beyond OPD’s internal capacity to do so.
The ACLU has created a form for people injured by police in Oakland on Tuesday. In a statement, the civil rights organization said, “When police respond to peaceful protest and civil disobedience with excessive force, the result is to make people afraid to exercise their free speech rights. The Constitution was intended to protect us from exactly that.”
In other Occupied Oakland-related news: People who lost personal property during Monday night’s raid are advised to call the department of Public Works at (510) 615-5566 to identify and retrieve their belongings. Filmmaker Michael Moore will reportedly address tomorrow night’s GA.
Wednesday - 11:45 p.m.
This evening's events:
9:13 p.m.: A clip of Boots Riley speaking at the general assembly is posted on Facebook. His comments:“The world is watching us here tonight. The world is watching the Occupied Movement in general. And a general strike is the direction that we need to take this whole thing in. (cheers) Pardon my language but we need to capitalize on the momentum we have going on right now. We right now are inspiring thousands. The folks that are in the unions right now are looking for inspiration. We need to be that inspiration. We need to reach out to them and tell them this is the time in history for them to act.”
9:29 p.m.: A massive roar is heard coming from the plaza. At the plaza entrance, an amplified speaker plays the soulful intro to “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” The chain-link fence has been removed; a solitary tent sits on the newly-liberated grass.
The assembly is packed, with at least 1,000 people (some estimates are as high as 3,000). The energy is powerful. “We’re gonna shut down Oakland and we’re gonna shut down the world!,” one speaker says.
“Occupy Wall Street has been unable to take it to the streets until today, when they did it with us,” another speaker says.
There is a chant of “Oakland, Oakland, end police brutality.”
A Twitter post notes that Occupy Wall Street is donating $20,000 and 100 tents to Occupy Oakland.
10 p.m.: The crowd chants, “Strike! Strike! Strike!”
10:01 p.m.: A snippet of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” plays, briefly.
10:20 p.m.: About 100 people chanting “Oscar Grant” at 14th st. BART entrance. Demonstrators heading to Occupy SF are being blocked by BART cops and not allowed to enter the station. Trains aren’t stopping at 12th Street. The “Oscar Grant” chant resumes.
10:35 p.m.: There is a huge crowd in the idle of 14th and Broadway listening to disco music. Most of them are on their way to SF.
10:45 p.m.: Only about 20 or 30 people remain in the plaza.
Wednesday - 7:30 p.m.
A press conference was held at Oakland City Hall earlier today. In addition to just about every local media outlet, from Laney College to KGO-TV, there were reporters from the Wall Street Journal and other national outlets. It’s safe to say the Occupy Oakland story has become major.
While waiting, a reporter mentioned he had just returned from Highland hospital, and that Scott Olson, the war veteran seriously injured last night by a still-unknown weapon, was in a coma.
During the press conference, Mayor Jean Quan, City Administrator Deanna Santana and Police Chief Howard Jordan all spoke.
“Yesterday was a sad day for us,” Quan said. “We don’t want this to be about demonstrators and the police.” The city, she said, was “hoping to restore Frank Ogawa (plaza) as a free-speech area.”
Quan commented on the use of force by police as being excessive in the view of many people. The story that hasn’t been told, she said, is how cooperative and amenable OPD had been – up until the past 36 hours, that is.
Santana outlined several conditions under which demonstrators are welcome at the plaza. These included: No camping/lodging, and no violence. She also said city workers have removed 10 tons of debris and another 10 tons of personal property.
Jordan indicated his support for free speech, then defended police action as “appropriate” because “officers had things thrown at them.” A notice to disperse was given, he claimed, before the use of force was incurred.
Olson’s injury, he said, was being treated as a Level 1 incident – the same as use of lethal force - and was under investigation by Internal Affairs.
“It’s unfortunate that that happened,” he said. Other incidents involving the use of force are also under investigation, he said.
During a Q&A session, Quan, who was out of town at the time, revealed that she didn’t know when the camp was going to be raided. She later admitted that she did not make the decision to raid the camp, which was the result of Jordan and Santana assessing factors such as public safety, health and fire hazards and anti-police graffiti. The inability of fire and paramedic units to answer calls made was also cited as a factor, as was one reported incident where a man was hit with a 2x4, Santana said. Quan also noted that the camp became markedly less safe at night.
Jordan was asked about the use of force, specifically what weapons were used by OPD. The department has “no rubber bullets in its inventory,” he said, adding that reports of flash-bang grenades were actually CS (tear gas) balls. OPD used bean-bag pellets and CS gas, and no other weapons, he claimed. (Apparently batons don’t count). However, Jordan admitted that other departments may have used rubber bullets or other weapons.
Jordan also was asked why OPD had an LRAD, or sonic cannon, a weapon which is not legally allowed to be used on American citizens.
“It was not deployed,” the chief said.
The use of force at Eighth and Washington happened because officers were “doused with paint and hit with rocks and bottles,” he said, adding that in that situation, when specific individuals target police, police have the right to target those individuals.
After the press conference, police spokesperson Holly Joshi was asked to clarify OPD’s use of force policy. Jordan had appeared to explain a scenario where bean-bag pellets might be used. However, at Eighth and Washington, tear gas was deployed into the middle of a large group of people, not just those who had hurled projectiles at cops.
“Tear gas can’t be deployed at one specific person,” Joshi explained. “Tear gas is used once something has been declared an unlawful assembly and the crowd has been given an opportunity to leave, and they’re not dispersing. They’re acting violently, right? So if they’re not listening to the dispersal order, tear gas is used to disperse the crowd. Does that make sense?”
Joshi’s explanation appears to be out of alignment with what actually happened at Eighth and Washington. As witnessed by reporters, after several officers were doused with paint and vinegar, police struck demonstrators with batons. This was followed by CS canisters being set off. After police retreated southward and formed a line, it was then and only then that the order to disperse was given.
By the time the press conference ended at about 5:30 p.m., a crowd of about 75-100 people had already gathered at 14th and Broadway. One demonstrator said, “we want a peaceful fight, but we’re not planning on backing down until we’re heard. Asked if he was planning to spend the night there, he held up a sleeping bag and smiled.
Meanwhile, a young African-American male held up a soda bottle filled with rubber bullets he said he had collected off the streets - which appeared to confirm they were used by one of the agencies involved, if not OPD.
Wednesday 3:45 p.m.
The aftermath from last night's events continue to reverberate. Oakland's Occupy movement was mentioned in the BBC News' top story, while blogger Zennie Abraham noted 4,000 negative comments on Quan's Facebook page - indicating she could face political fallout long after the fumes of tear gas fade from Oscar Grant, nee Frank Ogawa, plaza.
Speaking of tear gas, Internet reports say a man named Scott Olson has a fractured skull after being struck by a canister fired by OPD; he's said to be in critical condition at Highland Hospital.
OPD's violent response to occupiers' attempts to have a peaceful assembly has been heavily criticized; the ACLU is reportedly considering a class-action lawsuit against the department. It's also being disputed whether notification of unlawful assembly was given before police fired into the crowd - an occurrence, which happened on at least five separate occasions yesterday. In the first such instance, at around at 6 p.m. Tuesday, OPD deployed tear gas against demonstrators before issuing an order of unlawful assembly. There are conflicting reports as to whether they first gave that order in later instances.
The city has issued a press release noting "At approximately 10 p.m. last night, a group of approximately 300 protesters in the area of Frank Ogawa Plaza began throwing large rocks and bottles at officers after receiving multiple orders to disperse. These violent actions prompted the use of less-than-lethal munitions including tear gas by law enforcement to disperse the crowd."
However, the Chronicle reported that tear gas was also used earlier, at 7:45 p.m., and again at 9:30 p.m. independent video and photographic evidence from numerous sources confirms the earlier incidents, which weren't mentioned in the city's press release.
The city also noted "several unsuccessful attempts to enter Frank Ogawa Plaza" which occurred between 4 and 4:30 a.m. this morning.
No official tally of arrests made was released, but the press release notes that "50 percent of the protestors arrested were from outside Oakland."
A media briefing with Mayor Jean Quan,who was out of town yesterday, Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan and City Administrator Deanna Santana is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.
For now, the streets of Oakland are calm. A chain-link fence has been installed around the plaza's grassy field, and at 3 p.m., about 50 people had gathered in advance of a rally is scheduled for 14th and Broadway at 6 p.m. this evening. Organizers are urging that non-violent tactics be employed and have called for no direct engagement with police.
Tuesday - 10 p.m.
A rally for Occupy Oakland turned into a march, then the beginnings of a riot, before turning back into a march, which turned into a standoff.
About 1,000 people gathered at 4 p.m. at the public library for a march through the streets of Oakland. As the march headed toward Broadway, a wall of cops attempted to divert them. Cops gave way, though and the crowd marched down Broadway. A tense stand-off ensued; one protestor was arrested.
The another line of cops were waiting at Eighth street, so the crowd went down to Washington. At Washington and Seventh, the cops made their stand. They got into it with a few protestors, jabbing them with batons and taking hits from vinegar bottles and paintballs. OPD released a flash-bang grenade, which is basically a firecracker loaded with tear gas. It does not smell good.
The march continued back to Broadway; protestors attempted to retake Frank Ogawa plaza, but were met with stiff resistance. After OPD announced it wouldn’t hesitate to use chemical weapons, the crowd dispersed, marching to Snow Park, where they could assemble without police presence. A few scenarios were proposed, including protesting Bank of America’s corporate offices. Eventually, it was decided to return to Frank Ogawa plaza, where police fired more flash-bangs and more tear gas.