OccupyOakland vigil dismantled, 11 arrested

Oakland Police officers in riot gear once again use force to disperse a peaceful protest.
Yael Chanoff

After several nights of threats, the OccupyOakland vigil at 14th and Broadway was dismantled last night by police, and this latest incident in a series of aggressive arrests has prompted the Interfaith Tent group to pledge to return today at 2 pm to protest at the spot.

Eleven people were arrested throughout the incident. Seven have been charged with obstruction of justice. Bail has been set at $5,000. Others have additional misdemeanor and felony charges, and are being held in lieu of between $10,000 and $30,000 in bail.

Police entered the plaza a few minutes after 11 pm. About 50 people were at the steps of Frank Ogawa Plaza, renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by protesters. Protest materials included a teepee, a food table, an information table, a media table with power and computers, a decorated umbrella serving as an “Interfaith Space,” a platform, flag and protest sign accompanying a tree sitter, and prayer flags strung overhead.

On Dec. 30, the city of Oakland had revoked a permit allowing for the teepee and information table, and threatened arrest if protesters did not remove those items. Without issued a specific warning that they would be arriving at that time, several police cars pulled up on 14th St at 11:06 pm. About 50 police in riot gear, wielding batons, emerged from the vehicles and lined up on the far end of the plaza. After a captain gave some orders, the officers advanced as a line.

Many protesters ran off. A few dozen continued to stand in the vicinity of the vigil. As police advanced, some shouted, “You must leave now! You must back up or you will be arrested now!”

Protesters responded, “What are you arresting me for?” to which officers repeated the order to back up. About five protesters stood in front of the teepee, as others obeyed orders to back up. Those five were arrested. Police dismantled the teepee.

“You’ve gotta leave. We’ve been told to make you leave. We’re doing what we’re told,” one officer said. He declined to answer a question from the Guardian on who the order came from.

Police ceased advancing when they had formed a line surrounding the vigil area.

A Public Works Agency truck pulled on the plaza and workers began loading all protest materials into the truck. Police did not attempt to dislodge the tree-sitter.

Police had left the plaza by 11:45 pm, leaving no trace of protest materials on the ground. Protesters marched to the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility where arrestees had been taken, and when several entered the building demanding information about those arrested, but were promptly pushed out by police.

Members of the Interfaith organizing contingent within Occupy Oakland have planned another march for 2 pm today. A Facebook event says that protesters may meet at the Plaza, “erect the canopy and then go into city hall to occupy the mayor’s and city administrator’s offices.” (https://www.facebook.com/events/280730585308960/)

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