At least 85 arrests after police clash with protesters attempting to retake Frank Ogawa plaza, which was base for demonstrations
Police used teargas on Occupy protesters. Link to this video
– Occupy Oakland: police fire teargas and baton rounds at protesters (Guardian, Oct. 26, 2011):
Police have used teargas after scuffles broke out between officers and protesters demonstrating against dozens of arrests at an Occupy Wall Street camp in Oakland, California.
According to protest leaders, the march – attended by more than 1,000 people on Tuesday night – was intended to reclaim Frank Ogawa plaza, which has served as a base for two weeks of protests against economic inequality in the city until police cleared it before dawn.
At least 85 people were arrested when police used teargas and baton rounds to break up the camp, sparking fury among protesters who have accused city authorities of a heavy-handed response to their demonstration.
On Tuesday afternoon, protesters marched through the streets of Oakland towards city hall, vowing to retake the plaza. During the march, a small group scuffled with police not far from the city centre, and several were arrested.
Reuters reported that police dispersed the crowd with teargas and what appeared to be a stun grenade.
At Frank Ogawa Plaza, police ordered protesters to move away and they were largely co-operative.
“I’m here because I’m incredibly sad and incredibly angry,” said one protester, Samsarah Morgan. “I’m hoping our city government comes to their senses and stops dealing with us like a fascist state.”
Another protester, Jeremy Tully, a 30-year-old internet company worker, accused the authorities of using unnecessary force.
“I left work early today to come and stand up against the kind of repression that happened this morning,” he said.
City chiefs said they had told protesters last Thursday to cease camping and cooking at the plaza. More warnings were issued on Friday and Monday.
Oakland’s mayor, Jean Quan, said in a statement that the city had maintained daily communication with the protesters and thanked those who “peacefully complied with city officials”.
She added: “Over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the city could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism.”
The city said conditions at the plaza had begun to deteriorate by the second week of the protests, with police, fire and medical staff reporting they were denied access.
The authorities also said they had received reports of a sexual assault and a severe beating, and that sanitation had worsened a rodent control problem in the plaza, which, officials said, was also being damaged by graffiti, litter and vandalism.
The protest was the Oakland version of the movement launched more than a month ago as Occupy Wall Street in New York.
The protesters are angry at government bailouts of big banks, persistent high unemployment, and economic inequality in the US. Demonstrations have spread across the country and overseas, although crowds remain relatively small in most cities.
Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested in New York since the protests began. There have also been numerous arrests in other cities.
In the last week, Chicago police arrested about 130 protesters in Grant Park, the site of President Barack Obama’s victory speech on election night in 2008, and another 15 people at a protest in Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, police in Atlanta have ordered Occupy Wall Street protesters to leave a park that has been barricaded off since early on Wednesday. About 50 protesters have locked their arms and are refusing to leave Woodruff Park, defying orders to vacate it or face arrest.
Obama addressed the issue of unrest during a television appearance on Tuesday night. “Look, people are frustrated,” he told Jay Leno. “And that frustration expresses itself in a lot of different ways. It expressed itself in the Tea party, it’s expressing itself in Occupy Wall Street … Everybody needs to understand that the American people feel that no one is looking out for them right now.”