The first thing I would like to say is that yesterday was about giving back to the community. In my opinion, it was a symbolic action as it should have been known that the Oakland Police Department would enforce eviction. I didn't expect them to even allow possession of any property, that becomes the understatement of the year after the events from last night.
In response to the official statement, I am going to first put what was said and then give a response. These statements can be found at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/ceda/documents/pressrelease/oak033083.pdf
1) "Ms. Santana outlined the damage that protesters inflicted to Oakland’s historic City Hall which included breaking an interior window to a Hearing Room, tipping over and seriously damaging the historic model of City Hall, destroying a case containing a model of Frank Ogawa Plaza, breaking into the fire sprinkler and elevator automation closet, stealing the flags from the grand staircase landing and burning one flag in front of City Hall."
No where in here does it say that children's art was destroyed. I'm also hard pressed to find images of the destruction of children's art released to mainstream media. Also, upon several of my own interviews I found out that the doors to City Hall were open (as they usually are before 9pm on a Saturday). There is usually a guard on staff, and the later it gets MOST of the doors are locked but not all. So I'm more inclined to believe the claims of Occupiers at this point than the Mayor. This seems to be dependent upon her credibility which is fading with me and many in the city of Oakland.
About the "damage inflicted to Oakland's Historic City Hall" most of the people feel like their Civil Liberties are being destroyed by the government, so any burning of the flag, or symbolic way of expressing disrespect for the very government that is supposed to protect the rights that the people feel are violated is not only to be expected, it also seems appropriate (not to mention the Supreme Court ruled it was Constitutional and the was Civil Linerties are being trampled on I can understand the protest). There have been people who have sustained broken bones, been beaten, dragged through the street, arrest and violated through intrusive searches, pepper sprayed, teargassed, snatched off the street and arrested for nothing (like really, not the guilty nothing. The real just walking down the street nothing). Press is even being arrested for filming and trying to comply to aggressive officers giving very unclear orders. Not only that but let's be real here, a building window and a statue are not people so why use such a sensitive way to describe the property damage? These are tax payers who broke the window, and their tax dollars will obviously fix it. Regardless of what people think, most within the support circle of Occupy do have jobs and if they are paying for the police to sit around and play angry birds until the next impending raid, then I guess they are willing to chip in on a window too.
The fact that people don't know why things are getting broken is what surprises me. How much can people take really? I guess the Oakland Police Department and Mayor Quan are determine to find out.
2) "The City’s Public Works staff has been working diligently throughout the day to remove offensive graffiti by power washing the hardscape in Frank Ogawa Plaza, removing debris from City Hall and Plaza area and fixing the damaged sprinkler system."
Some of the "offensive graffiti" was also things like The photo that I just tried to upload from this iPad (hope you can see it) saying all you need is love. Many of the drawings were done by children, and adults. These are the community projects happening. What is not said is how all of those drawings were power sprayed off the sidewalk, but all the trash and dirt that was kicked up from the crevices in the sidewalk were allowed to just sit there in a pile to be cleaned by whomever took it upon themselves to do so as the city workers trucks pulled away. It all seemed like a waste, because the obscene language was spray paint and it wasn't coming off.
An interesting thing to think about is oil based chalk... But I'm sure they have some sort of fancy tax dollar cleaner to get it all up regardless.
About the broken sprinkler system. It needs to be broken. The amount of water that is being sprayed into the stupid lawn is turning it into a mud pit where only the huge rats can run over. It's disgusting, and a big waste of money ESPECIALLY knowing how much water bills are these days. It's these type of tactics that are not exactly working, nor are they cost effective. Why is it that the flowers and the garden weren't allowed to stay? Instead have a mud pit that serves no purpose except keeping people off of it in a public park? It doesn't quite make sense...
3) "“It became clear that the objective of this crowd was not to peacefully assemble and march, but to seek opportunity to further criminal acts, confront police, and repeatedly attempt to illegally occupy buildings,” said Chief Jordan.
Chief Jordan also noted that the response to Occupy activities was accomplished while the department received 1,776 calls for service – including 482 calls to 911 – and while maintaining the City’s ongoing strategy of addressing violent crime in the 5% of Oakland neighborhoods where 90% of the crime occurs. “Personnel and resources dedicated to Occupy reduce our ability to focus on public safety priorities,” said Chief Jordan."
Ok so the whole march was about a move in to a secret building. It was an occupation. College student Joshua Hewitt was escorted off of campus from Chabot College for passing out flyers inviting people to check it out if they were interested. So it didn't "become clear" that was how the march was portrayed. People were marching to the occupation of a building. Even on the flyer, it starts to talk about the fact that there are more vacant homes than homeless people. If that's not clear, then whoever is investigating Occupy needs to go back to school, assuming that the school that's offering classes isn't full and defunded. While Mr. Jordan claims that the demand for presence is needed at Occupy and that it reduces the ability to cover crime elsewhere, he seems to forget that the Oakland Police Department has long since stopped responding to public safety before an hour was up years ago. In some cases, not even showing up. So to claim that Occupy is the reason, is to place all the fault of a traditionally irresponsible police department on a movement that has only been around for a few months. IF the police had been doing their job and protecting the people in Oakland all this time, why did all of these people continue to show up? I think that the people of Oakland are desensitized to the violence in a way that allows them to say it happens every day anyway, so they might as well come fight against it with Occupy. For people who are supposed to protect and serve the community, it sure seems like many in the community do not regard them as public servants to say the least.
4) "Yesterday, a crowd of 500 protesters unsuccessfully attempted to break into the historic Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, members of the crowd charged skirmish lines at Oak Street and pelted officers with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares. The Oakland Police Department deployed smoke, tear gas and beanbag projectiles in response to this activity."
Ok so I had a lot of fun until I realized the march was about to be split up and have no choice but to funnel through the Laney Junior College campus in Oakland on 9th & Fallon. By fun I mean riding on the truck and filming a really good view of the crowd who were all dancing and singing, eating, talking and otherwise socializing. Once the crowd funneled through the college because of police blockades on every other possible route, we were met by the police in riot gear divided by a deep trench. The police had on their riot gear minus the shields at this point, and we're announcing that gathering by the Henry J Kaiser building was an illegal assembly. Coupled with that announcement was a threat of physical force and the use of chemical agents which would likely lead to injuries. We were given 1 minute to vacate an area that took more than 5 to leave.
Before anyone could really leave because of how large a crowd was present, the officers deployed a smoke bomb, or grenade. I don't know what it's called, it I'm sure those of you who have seen video have seen the white smoke. That is the smoke bomb that I'm referring to, which I later found out was military grade. This did not motivate people to leave the area, even though they were planning on moving on. The threat of violence made people stay, which I understand. It was civil disobedience. Someone got pretty mad and threw an orange at the police, while others tore down a fence. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not the most agreeable person after having a smoke bomb shot at me. I think some of the people there felt the same way. So you see, the protesters threw fruit after being shot at. I'd say it's pretty clear who the aggressors were.
After that there was another blockade when protesters left the area father about 5-10 minutes. The police were there every step of the way, very aggressively snatching people down, beating people with batons and shooting rubber bullets at the make shift shields made from garbage can halves. I saw a woman get thrown to the ground right in front of me and an officer run up and draw a large rifle, shotgun looking thing on her. I begged him not to shoot her at which point and time he raised up his gun and trained it on me. I screamed for him not to shoot again. This was all happening so fast, and as press standing on the sidewalk with my press pass, I couldn't believe that we would be chased down for documenting the event. I put all of this here so that people can know that the violence was not on belhlaf of the protesters on many occassions, but the officers.
5) "After ignoring a dispersal order, at approximately 6:30 pm, protesters invaded the YMCA and were arrested.
Simultaneously, a different group of protesters burnt an American flag in front of Oakland City Hall before breaking into the historic building and damaging property. Arrests were made"
Ok so, in front of the YMCA there was a dispersal notice given. Yes there was. [CORRECTION, THERE WAS NOT A DISPERSAL NOTICE, THERE WAS AN ANNOUNCEMENT STATING THAT PEOPLE HAD NEGLECTED TO DISPERSE AND WOULD BE ARRESTED, ]However, it was also very clear at that point that the police had no intention upon letting people go the entire night. Both 23rd as well as 24th & Broadway were blocked off by several police officers in a line backed by more vehicles on the 24th side than 23rd. Many people rushed up to the stairs of the YMCA while others stayed out in the street and on the sidewalk in front. Media (by media I mean Citizen Journalists) were in the crowd scattered about to get footage for viewers. Interestingly enough there are a lot of stories saying that people broke into the YMCA this is not true. There is video footage of people begging to get in and being let in, not breaking the door down.
So the protesters found a way to disperse, that is the point here because the police did not provide a way. Another interesting fact is that the only thing that was declared as unlawful assembly was at Henrey J Kaiser, 19th & Telegraph (protesters had to tear down the fence to disperse because a way was not provided at that instance either) and then later at 14th & Broadway. The police just said they would arrest people in front of the YMCA, they were not given a chance to leave. The sad part about what im saying is, the police chased people around and turned a peaceful assembly into a frantic chase. Where the protesters had to beg to be let in so that they could have a chance to escape to safety. This is called systematic oppression, especially when the mayor and interim make statements to criminalize the people they are oppressing while put in a position to help and protect the citizens. Not to mention a total violation af 1st Amendment rights.
6) "The City of Oakland received mutual aid from the following law enforcement agencies: the California Highway Patrol; Sheriff’s Departments of Alameda County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, San Francisco County and Marin County; the cities of Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, Pleasanton, San Francisco and Union City/Newark; and the University of California-Berkeley"
The city of Oakland has to pay $1000/day/officer for the Alameda County Sherrfis Department. There were several of them there. I was told by the PIO (Thomason I believe) that if it is emergency mutual aid the it comes as no cost. I will have to look into this when I don't have homework and there isn't an Occupy event or impending raid to film. I don't even want to get into how much it costs for every one else. But it makes me think, was this Mayor Quans way of getting help for FTP without paying for it if this is true?
Chabot College and Hayward residents, know that Hayward police came tonight in swat vehicles and full on riot gear. So the next time Occupy Oakland shows up in support of something in Hayward, or does an action there don't be mad. This is not the first time the Hayward Police department has come to give mutual aid in Oakland related to Occupy matters. Know that this has not gone unnoticed.
Berkeley, I couldn't have sworn that the mutual aid contract between you and Oakland was done and over with. What were you even doing there? Is it because you had such a great experience the last time you handled this situation? The presencen of this department had to be one of the most surprising.
Anyway, it's almost 2 in the morning and I have school. I just wanted to clear up a few facts from what I saw the entire time I was out there I will be happy to elaborate and invite comments always. Thank you to all who watch my stream and read the blog.