Occupy Oakland: Police disperse protest with tear gas (UPDATED)

Protesters at Occupy Oakland.

Police and protesters scuffled in the streets of Oakland on Tuesday as more than 1,000 people marched on city hall to voice anger over scores of arrests at an “Occupy Wall Street” camp.

Police dispersed the crowd once with what appeared to be a stun grenade and several other times set off tear gas to drive the demonstrators away from a downtown plaza that had been at the center of the conflict.

Witnesses reported seeing several people taken into custody during the confrontations, but an Oakland police spokeswoman said the department would not confirm any Tuesday night arrests until Wednesday.

Protest leaders said the march aimed at reclaiming Frank Ogawa Plaza, which had served as a base for two weeks of protests against economic inequality in the city until police cleared it before dawn by firing beanbags and tear gas.

The area remained cordoned off with metal barricades and guarded by police for the remainder of the day, though Oakland city spokeswoman Karen Boyd said that, once cleaned, it would be reopened to allow daytime demonstrations.

About 350 people were in the plaza when police began to clear the area, Boyd said, confirming that officers deployed beanbags and gas. There were no reports of injuries but least 85 people had been arrested on charges of camping or assembling without a permit in the plaza.

The city said in a statement it had told protesters last Thursday to cease overnight camping and cooking at the plaza. More warnings were issued on Friday and Monday.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement that the city had maintained daily communication with the protesters and thanked those who “peacefully complied with city officials.”

“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,” Quan said.

The city said conditions at the plaza had begun to deteriorate by the second week of the protests, with police, fire and medical responders reporting they were denied access to the plaza for service calls.

The city also said it had received reports of a sexual assault and a severe beating, and that sanitation had worsened a rodent control problem in the plaza. Officials also said the plaza was damaged by graffiti, litter and vandalism.

‘STAND UP AGAINST REPRESSION’

But the move angered protesters, who accused the city of using heavy-handed tactics, and they assembled again in the afternoon for the march on city hall, vowing to retake the plaza.

As more than 1,000 people marched through the streets, a small group scuffled with police not far from downtown and several were arrested.

The bulk of the crowd headed for city hall. At Frank Ogawa plaza, police ordered protesters to disperse and were largely met with cooperation.

“I’m here because I’m incredibly sad and incredibly angry, protester Samsarah Morgan, 51, said. “I’m hoping our city government comes to their senses and stops dealing with us like a fascist state.”

Morgan said she founded a “children’s village” at the Occupy Oakland encampment and was worried about four children who had stayed in tents there.

Jeremy Tully, the 30-year-old employee of an Internet company who was handing out flyers for an upcoming Marxist conference in Berkeley, called the city’s action an unnecessary show of force.

“I left work early today to come and stand up against the kind of repression that happened this morning,” Tully said.

The protest was the Oakland version of the movement launched more than a month ago as Occupy Wall Street in New York.

The protesters are angry at government bailouts of big banks, persistent high unemployment, and economic inequality in the United States. Demonstrations have spread across the nation and overseas, although crowds remain relatively small in most cities.

Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested in New York since the protests began. There have also been numerous arrests in other cities.

In the last week, Chicago police arrested about 130 protesters in Grant Park, the site of President Barack Obama’s victory speech on election night in 2008, and another 15 people at a protest in Philadelphia.

UPDATE: Occupy Wall Street is saying that one of the Oakland demonstrators is in the hospital with a fractured skull:

Last night police forces violently raided Occupy Oakland, arresting 85 people and brutalizing many peaceful participants, using excessive physical force, tear gas, and dangerous projectile rounds.

Among those injured is Scott Olson, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. Olsen is in the hospital with a fractured skull.
 
“Scott is in stable but serious condition as the neurologists decide whether to take him into surgery or the ICU,” said Joshua Shepherd, a friend of Olsen’s. “Oakland Police Department fired a tear gas canister at his head, fracturing his skull.”

It is unconscionable that American government officials would sanction the use of such extreme force against peaceful citizens.

The group also sent out a video of what it says is the incident that injured Olsen:



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

National

New Apple devices include default kill switch

By Marina LopesWASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Apple Inc phones include a theft deterrent system that enables users to lock their devices and wipe them clean…

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

Movies

Review: Desert-walking movie 'Tracks' would be better as…

Mia Wasikowska walks 1700 miles across Australia's deserts in "Tracks," in a story that defies triumph-of-the-spirit cliches but gets some of them anyway.

Movies

Review: 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' is the…

Liam Neeson's latest thriller actually has a respected source and writer-director, but it's still very much a Liam Neeson thriller.

The Word

The Word: Avril Lavigne not such a Nickelback…

Say it ain't so! After recently celebrating a year of wedded bliss — and showing off a gaudy 17-carat diamond ring to mark the occasion,…

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson,…

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson, Donald Brown

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…