Officers from the Oakland Police Department and other regional law enforcement agencies raided the Occupy Oakland encampment early this morning, tearing down the protest site while activists and supporters milled about in the intersection at 14th and Broadway streets, chanting and shouting "Shame! Shame! Shame!"
Protesters had received eviction notices from the City of Oakland in the days before the raid, and word that a police crackdown was imminent traveled via Twitter and text message updates, bringing several hundred people out into the intersection beginning around 2 a.m.
For around two hours, there were no police in sight, but information reached the group clustered in the street that cops in riot gear were preparing for the raid at the Oakland Coliseum, and were bound for Frank Ogawa Plaza in buses.
Several protesters beat drums and vowed to hold the intersection, while groups circled up and walked around the center of the intersection, chanting slogans about how the movement would never die and would only grow stronger with each police crackdown.
When police arrived after 5 a.m., they advanced quickly down 14th Street toward the crowd with batons drawn, then stood in a line to block access to the encampment site, which occupiers renamed Oscar Grant Plaza. Police also formed a line across Broadway, blocking access toward 11th street.
They set up metal police barricades to create about five feet between the police line and protesters in front of the plaza, then stood guard while police in riot gear tore into the camp, dismantled tents, flattened structures, and made arrests. Protesters watching the scene from the street yelled out in dismay, while some tried to appeal to police, telling them they were part of the 99 percent too and that the protest was about protecting their children's futures.
Three protesters remained in the plaza, in the center of the stage outside Oakland City Hall where General Assemblies are held, sitting in cross-legged poses with their heads slightly bent, apparently meditating.
When police approached, one man did not communicate verbally but handed notepaper with messages scrawled on it to police. All three were arrested and escorted out. A group of 20 clergy members from the occupation's Interfaith Tent, who remained in the plaza and sang with candles lit, were also reportedly arrested.
The raid did not get underway until after 6 a.m. At one point, when police were tearing the encampment asunder, they came upon a protester who was still asleep in his tent. "I just woke up," he said, sounding confused and sitting upright in the dismantled tent, as police in riot gear and television news cameras surrounded him.
"You're under arrest," police told him.
There were multiple law enforcement agencies aside from OPD, including San Francisco Police Department and officers from Fremont and Hayward.
Oakland's 12th Street BART station was shut down by the time morning rush hour began after 6 a.m., and Broadway was blocked off from 11th to 17th streets, with police tape blocking access to several blocks on either side of the plaza.
Some protesters prepared for teargas with bandanas soaked in vinegar or by donning helmets or having gas masks at the ready. But at the end of the five-hour ordeal, there were no violent clashes like the one on Oct. 25 that made international headlines after 24-year-old veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull from a police projectile. It was a raw start to the day, and occupiers vowed that they would reconvene outside the Oakland Public Library at 4 p.m. today, just as they did on Oct. 25 after the first early morning police raid.
Photos and videos by Rebecca Bowe