(One of countless videos and pictures taken last night as the police raided Occupy Oakland)
As a former Bay Area resident, my heart was broken last night looking at the images and videos from what was happening to the protesters at Occupy Oakland. Oakland never gets a break from the police. The peaceful protesters were met with teargas, rubber bullets and flashbang grenades five minutes after it was deemed unsafe. They gave the protestors five minutes to disperse. A blogger from Oakland writes about the account,
You might find it a bit confusing trying to keep track of the different times the Oakland Police department used tear gas on peaceful protesters yesterday. In the morning, they raided the Occupy Oakland camp and destroyed everything the occupiers had built, as I wrote about yesterday (and you can see video of that here).
But then, in the afternoon, this march gathered at the Oakland public library at 4 and proceeded to march back towards Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza. In response, OPD declared the protest to be an unlawful assembly, gave us 5 minutes to disperse, and then attacked the crowd with tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets. I was there until that point, and I can testify that it was a peaceful march until the police attacked it.
If you read an account of the march like this one – or listen to the Oakland Police Chief here — you will get the impression that the crowd was the aggressor (“Occupy Oakland demonstrators clashed…with police” and that “The demonstrators sparred”) and that ”[OPD] had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd and people from pelting us with bottles and rocks and…chemical agents that were thrown at the officers.” It’s very hard to see everything that is happening in a huge crowd like that, so the Oakland police chief may well be telling the truth when he says that his officers were “pelted by paint and a chemical irritant” But whether or not his officers were hit with paint — and even if that justifies what happened next — it has nothing to do with how or why the OPD (and officers from every police department in the area) first used the kind of force they did, when they did.
The role that Jean Quan has played in this is now under scrutiny. The Alameda Labor Council said in their support of Occupy Oakland they believe that Mayor Quan and the City Council are on the “wrong side of history.” Mayor Quan (known to be fairly progressive) has yet to make a public statement–but setting the police lose on the protesters was not the best move. We already know OPD doesn’t deal with protestors humanely or in the service of justice.
Also, here are 15 things you can do to support Occupy Wallstreet (and Denver, Oakland and Boston).