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Police clear out downtown Occupy Oakland camp
OAKLAND, Calif. — Riot-clad law enforcement officers cleared out Oakland’s weeks-old anti-Wall Street encampment just before dawn Monday, arresting Occupy demonstrators and removing tents from a downtown plaza after issuing several warnings over the weekend.
Protesters appeared to put up little resistance and officers could be seen calmly leading some demonstrators away in plastic handcuffs. Warnings from authorities had been similar to those issued before officers used tear gas and bean bag projectiles to clear the encampment on Oct. 25.
Officers made 32 arrests during Monday’s raid, Police Chief Howard Jordan said, adding that there were no reports of injury to officers or protesters.
After officers blocked off the streets surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza, some demonstrators gathered near the barricades and vowed to return. By 9 a.m., most of the demonstrators had left the area.
“Where we go from there is up to timing and chance,” said Shon Kae, who’s on Occupy Oakland’s media committee. “We just do what seems right at the time, and we’ll roll with the punches.
“There is no secret plan. We all have to just keep on with the struggle,” he said.
The action came a day after police drove hundreds of anti-Wall Street demonstrators from weeks-old encampments in Portland, arresting more than 50 people.
Oakland officials stepped up calls for an end to their city’s encampment after a man was shot and killed Thursday near the plaza. Police issued a fourth cease and desist order Sunday night telling demonstrators they couldn’t camp there.
Mayor Jean Quan had allowed protesters to reclaim the disbanded site after facing criticism following the Oct. 25 raid. The camp grew substantially afterward, although city officials said on Sunday the number of tents has dropped by about 30 to 150 since Nov. 8.
“We came to this point because Occupy Oakland, I think, began to take a different path than the original movement. It was no longer about the pieces of the financial system or foreclosures or the unemployed,” Quan said.
“The encampment became a place where we had repeated violence and last week a murder,” she said. “We had to bring the camp to an end before more people got hurt.”
Protesters would be allowed to return to the plaza after the tents were cleared out, but they wouldn’t be allowed to spend the night, officials said.
“We’ve been consistent that they can use it as a free speech location,” Quan said. “They can gather tonight, but no camping is allowed.”
On Sunday, friends confirmed that an Iraq War veteran who was injured in the Oct. 25 raid, Scott Olsen, has been released from the hospital. Olsen, who suffered a skull fracture, became a rallying point for protesters nationwide.
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