Were this week's nationwide crackdowns against Occupy protests a concerted national effort? That's what an offhand remark by Oakland mayor Jean Quan has many people believing.
In an interview with the BBC early Tuesday morning, Quan seemed to hint at a deliberate nationwide effort to eradicate on the urban camps that have marked the Occupy movement. "I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation," Quan said, "where what had started as political [movements] and political [encampments were] no longer in control of the people who started them."
The remark has led to speculation in the liberal blogosphere that this week's police raids on Occupy encampments across the country were part of a government plan to shut down the movement. (The blog FireDogLake suggested the crackdowns were scheduled to coincide with President Obama's trip to the Pacific Rim.)
The timing of the raids would seem to not be mere coincidence. Since Friday, nine Occupy protests have been the targets of organized police action:
St. Louis, MO: Police evicted protesters from their encampment near the Gateway Arch Friday night -- 27 people who refused to abandon the camp were arrested. Mayor Francis Slay is in discussions with the movement to find another home for the protesters.
Burlington, VT: Protesters camped outside Burlington's City Hall left over the weekend, at the urging of city officials.
Denver, CO: Police raided an Occupy Denver camp on Saturday and removed tents, mattresses and a grill from a sidewalk. 17 protesters were arrested.
Salt Lake City, UT: Authorities shut down Occupy Salt Lake City's camp in Pioneer Park Saturday night. 18 protesters were arrested in a largely nonviolent confrontation.
Portland, OR: Protesters and police clashed violently on Sunday as authorities cleared protesters from city parks they had been occupying. More than 50 people were arrested, and one protester was hospitalized. According to Occupy Portland, he remains in a wheelchair with a broken back.
Chapel Hill, NC: On Sunday, police armed with semi-automatic rifles evicted protesters who had been squatting in an abandoned car dealership. The protesters were loosely affiliated with the Occupy Chapel Hill movement, but did not represent the official camp. Seven people were arrested.
Oakland, CA: Police in riot gear raided an Occupy Oakland camp in
Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Monday morning, clearing it of tents and tarps and
arresting 33 protesters. The move came under criticism for the use of tear gas against protesters.
New York, NY: Police moved in on Occupy Wall Street's camp Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning, clearing it of protesters, tarps and tents. Nearly 200 people were arrested, including at least five journalists.
For his part, New York Mayor Michael Bloomerg seemed to deny speculation that this morning's raid on Occupy Wall Street was part of a larger effort.
"The final decision to act was mine, and mine alone," he said at a press conference.
UPDATE: Rick Ellis at Examiner.com spoke with a Justice official who said each 'eviction' was "coordinated with the help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies."
Ellis spoke with the official on background Monday night who said local police agencies received planning advice from national agencies. Ultimately, though, the decision on how to handle the protests was in the hands of local law.
Part of the advice given to local police was to seek legal reasons to evict the Occupy protesters, mainly focusing on zoning laws.
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