Police have reopened streets around Frank Ogawa Plaza after early morning closures to make way for the raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment. As cars began passing through the area again, a group of about 15 protesters blocked Broadway, linking arms and chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets.” They impeded traffic for about 20 minutes until police threatened to arrest them around 10 a.m. and the group cleared out of the street. Meanwhile, at the plaza, cleaning crews were disassembling the tents that remained standing.
Thirty-two people were arrested this morning in what appears to have been a largely peaceful police sweep of Frank Ogawa Plaza to clear out the Occupy Oakland encampment that has stood outside City Hall for weeks. At a morning news conference at the city’s Emergency Operations Center after the raid, Police Chief Howard Jordan said only nine of the people arrested are Oakland residents. He said there were no injuries to police officers or protesters. “I’m very proud of the way the officers acted today,” Jordan said. Oakland police were assisted by officers from the San Leandro, San Francisco, Hayward and Fremont police departments, and sheriff’s deputies from Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, he said.
City Administrator Deanna Santana said Oakland is paying between $300,000 and $500,000 for today’s mutual aid. Mid-morning, cleanup crews were going through the disassembled encampment and there were no protesters in the plaza, except for a man who has climbed a tree and refuses to come down, Jordan said. Jordan said the city is looking into the man’s legal rights to be there before trying to remove him.
Meanwhile, city employees were being told not to come to work until 10 a.m., and residents are advised to avoid visiting City Hall today unless they have urgent business there. Downtown merchants were being asked to consider delaying the start of their work days as well. Mayor Jean Quan sounded hoarse as she spoke at the news conference, saying a number of protesters left the encampment voluntarily before police moved in. “We met with multiple groups within the camp and asked them to leave,” Quan said. “Many of them have, and I want to thank them for that.” She asked people throughout the Bay Area to respect the city’s decision to shut down the encampment, and refrain from engaging in “destructive acts.
After the camp was raided the first time on Oct. 25, protests downtown turned violent, resulting in injuries to both police and protesters, and downtown businesses were damaged. In response to a reporter’s question, Quan also briefly discussed the departure of her unpaid legal adviser Dan Siegel, who resigned over Quan’s decision to raid the camp. She said she and Siegel went to college together and sometimes disagree. “He’s moving on, I’m moving on,” Quan said.
The mayor admitted to being tired today. “As the mayor of Oakland, this has been a very difficult situation,” Quan said. She said she believes the “Occupy” movement is morphing into a movement larger than just encampments, but that the protesters who were removed from Frank Ogawa Plaza today are trying to find private property to move onto. In the meantime, so Santana said city officials hope to have Frank Ogawa Plaza cleared and available for public use, including demonstrations, by 6 p.m.
She said, however, that camping will not be allowed. Jordan said there will be a “strong police presence” at the plaza. “We are going to be having a very strict no-lodging policy,” he Protesters announced on the Occupy Oakland website that they plan to reconvene at the Oakland Public Library at 125 14th St. at 4 p.m. Police plan to hold another media briefing at 1 p.m.
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