Occupy Cal makes its dramatic entrance

Student protesters gathered on the UC Berkeley campus late last night following police raids.

Late yesterday afternoon, the word was that Occupy Oakland might be facing another raid Nov. 9. As things happened, there was a clash between police and protesters in the East Bay yesterday -- but not in Oakland. Campus police brought heat to neighboring Berkeley instead, where protesters angered by income inequality and the rising costs of higher education have launched Occupy Cal, a student-led occupation on the University of California Berkeley campus.

The Daily Californian has produced excellent coverage of Wednesday's events, including video that shows the police confrontation from multiple angles, a live blog with the blow-by-blow, and a Twitter feed that is getting updated just about every three minutes.

Day one of Occupy Cal featured a series of teach-ins beginning at 8 a.m., a rally at noon, and a march to the Bank of America. Later in the afternoon, when student protesters set up tents in front of Sproul Hall, University of California police clad in riot gear descended upon the encampment and were met by a line of protesters who resisted with arms linked. By the end of the day, according to the Daily Cal, "the protest’s hashtag #occupycal … trended worldwide on Twitter."

Here's footage of the first tense standoff, which appeared on the Daily Cal website.

You can find an entire video series of the events of Nov. 9 here.
Police returned to Sproul Plaza once again after 10 p.m., and another standoff occurred. A total of 39 arrests were made -- seven earlier in the afternoon, and 32 in the second round of clashes. Charges included resisting and delaying a police officer in the performance of their duties, and failure to disperse when given a dispersal order.

Some 2,000 people gathered at Sproul Plaza following the second police raid, and the mood turned from tense to energized as a General Assembly was convened. At 1:29 a.m., the Daily Cal's live blog reported:

"Occupy Cal participants have voted to strike — theoretically in solidarity with demonstrators across the UC system — on Tuesday. The vote passed by a count of 569 yeses, 31 noes and 29 abstentions. General assembly meetings are to occur every day in Sproul Plaza at 6 p.m. to plan for the strike."

According to sources at Occupy Oakland, there is a great deal of crossover and support between Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland. The encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza (renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by activists) plans to hold a 10 p.m. "community solidarity vigil" this evening, Nov. 10, according to an update from a text alert system maintained by the occupiers.

Meanwhile, drama between protesters and city government appears to building yet again in Oakland, and rumors of a possile police raid either Nov. 9 or 10 were circulating yesterday.

When the Guardian encountered San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr outside City Hall Nov. 9 and asked him whether Oakland police had contacted San Francisco's police department to prepare to lend support for a raid, Suhr stated that he had seen Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan one day earlier and that Jordan had not mentioned anything about it to him.

Speaking of police, Berkeley City Council voted that the Berkeley Police Department should not to enter into mutual aid agreements with UC police or Oakland, citing excessive force and free speech violations by police during protests in Oakland and at UC Berkeley.

Today, Nov. 10, is also Occupy Oakland's one month birthday. According to an announcement on its website:
You are cordially invited to Occupy Oakland’s one month birthday celebration!
Thursday November 10, 2011
5-10pm in the Amphitheater of Oscar Grant Plaza
Music, Dancing, Retrospective Slide Show & much more!
please bring donations of cakes, sweets & party favors!

But Mayor Jean Quan and City Council members aren't feeling the hella love. Oakland City Council members have made it clear that they are unhappy with the presence of the Occupy Oakland encampment because they say it is bringing harm to local businesses, and when members of Oakland City Council held a press conference to express this view they were surrounded and shouted down by Occupy Oakland protesters.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Mayor Jean Quan issued the following statement:

"Oakland is a city of the 99% and last Wednesday's peaceful demonstrations showed support for the broad goals of creating job and reducing income inequality. However, as a city, we are carrying a disproportionate share of the burden. Overnight camping and the continued presence of a small, unsafe element are impacting both local businesses and our neighborhoods.

"Local businesses are hurting because of vandalism and reduced patronage. Neighborhoods are hurting because city services already stretched by budget cuts face additional demands responding to emergencies downtown.
"We are a city of the 99%. Oakland has the highest rates of unemployment, poverty and foreclosures of the major Bay Area cities. We are struggling under the weight of budget cuts at the local, state and federal levels. While we support the call for broader participation in political and economic democracy, we cannot ignore violence, property destruction and health and safety issues in Frank Ogawa Plaza.

"This situation is costing us real jobs. We can't afford to lose a single job."
The statement stopped short of telling protesters to clear out, but it noted, "We call, once again, for dialogue between representatives of the encampment and the city to move toward a peaceful resolution."