Plan to break up Occupy Oakland camp took a week
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Oakland began preparing to dismantle the Occupy camp in front of City Hall a week ago, when interim Police Chief Howard Jordan and City Administrator Deanna Santana put out the call for neighboring jurisdictions to provide some of the hundreds of cops who wound up being mustered early Tuesday.
On Friday, two days after those two had set the process in motion, Mayor Jean Quan abandoned her initial support for the protest and came to the same conclusion as they had: The camp was a hazard to public safety and health, and had to go.
The questions were how, and when.
First up, timing. It would take at least five days to arrange the influx of police from other jurisdictions, and anyway, Occupy forces were planning a big march Saturday. That meant Monday at the earliest.
In the meantime, the plan was to try to thin the crowd by sending in social workers to lure away some of the hard-core homeless who had joined the campers.
On Monday, fire officials went through removing propane tanks that could serve as weapons against police.
By then, Quan had gotten out of Dodge – flying to Washington for long-scheduled meetings designed to raise money for developing the old Oakland Army Base.
The mayor, who has been taking hits over her public safety policies, was concerned about how it would look for her to be out of town when the cops made their move – but not concerned enough to cancel, feeling that her new police chief could handle the situation.
Tension remains after “Occupy Oakland” clashes
Police fired tear gas and beanbag rounds, clearing out the makeshift city in less than an hour.
Hours after nightfall Tuesday evening, protesters had gathered at a downtown library and began marching toward City Hall in an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of the disbanded camp.
They were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.
The scene repeated itself several times just a few blocks away in front of the plaza, where police set up behind metal barricades, preventing protesters from gaining access to the site.
Tensions would build as protesters edged ever closer to the police line and reach a breaking point with a demonstrator hurling a bottle or rock, prompting police to respond with another round of gas.
The chemical haze hung in the air for hours, new blasts clouding the air before the previous fog could dissipate.
The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear gas. Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march, at least one of whom was injured when what appeared to be a tear gas canister hit his head, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.
About 200 remained after the final conflict around 11:15 PDT, mostly young adults, some riding bicycles, protecting themselves from the noxious fumes with bandanas and scarves wrapped around their faces.
Police have denied reports that they used flash bang canisters to help break up the crowds, saying the loud noises came from large firecrackers thrown at police by protesters. Continue reading