Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Occupy Oakland saw a second night of heavy police force against the Occupiers. Flash grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets were again used, according to reports. In Atlanta, police also removed Occupiers, but the actions there were reported as “orderly and peaceful.”
This isn’t all that’s happening in the much wider Occupy movement, of course, and I’ll get back to more of that tomorrow. But I’m staying with the Occupy Oakland story at least one more day, for several reasons. One of the biggest is that I’m seeing the question raised in a number of places, including in comments and tweets — is this kind of police action something Occupiers at other locations should begin to anticipate? And if such clashes spread, what and who might be behind them?
Not to get all conspiracy theory here, and definitely not suggesting this is what’s happening in Oakland, but insertion of “agitators” is a common tactic. And from the Right, there have warnings that the “Left will get violent.” Or, maybe Occupy Oakland is just a combination of local factors. Whatever, the use of tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets seem more than a little excessive. Like the earlier action by NYPD of spraying Mace directly in the face of Occupiers, and officers on horses riding into a crowd.
Via OWS’ Peoples Library, Occupy Oakland’s Plaza Gazette:
Starting at about 4:45am this morning, Tuesday, October 25, approximately 500 police in riot gear attacked and destroyed the Occupy Oakland encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza. …
Police attacked the peaceful protest with flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets after moving in with armored vehicles. Police established barricades as far apart as 11th and 17th. Over 70 people were arrested and the camp gear was destroyed and/or stolen by the riot police.
The LA Times confirms eyewitness reports to the Gazette that the police assaulted the peaceful protest with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades after moving in with military-style armored vehicles. (A military veteran mentioned concerning this type of grenade : ‘They use them in Iraq. And also in parks in downtown Oakland.’) Barricades were established as far apart as 11th and 17th Streets. Between 70 and 90 arrests are reported.
“This is what a police state looks like” is the description by the Plaza Gazette.
At OWS, you can find more information, photos and videos.
From Al Jazeera:
Police in riot gear have used non-lethal weapons on a crowd of more than 1,000 people attempting to march on to Oakland’s city hall to condemn arrests made at an ‘Occupy Wall Street’ camp.
Police dispersed the crowd with what appeared to be stun grenades and set off tear gas to drive the demonstrators away from a plaza in Oakland’s business district that had been at the centre of Tuesday’s conflict.
Ali Winston, a journalist at the scene, described to Al Jazeera the police’s tactics.
‘It’s really, really tense and I think the cops are trying to walk a fine line, but I don’t think they are going to back down and neither are the demonstrators.’
Al Jazeera has a slide show of last night’s actions at the above link.
From the SFGate blog, Occupy Oakland: Mayor Jean Quan in Big Trouble After Riot:
Occupy Oakland is now forever marked by a decision that could cost Oakland Mayor Jean Quan her job. Calling for the use of 500 police officers in a pre-dawn raid Tuesday morning, followed by more tear gas bombs Tuesday night, has thousands of Oaklanders upset with Quan. …
All I can says is unless a better way is developed, and soon, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wall Street, and Occupy Atlanta, and all the Occupies in America could result in the destruction of (or perhaps the transformation of) the liberal base in this country.
It’s hard to vote for politicians that gas and shoot your friends.
And from Mother Jones:
The Occupy Oakland protests turned violent Tuesday evening when police officers cracked down with rubber bullets* [*OPD denies, but says it cannot speak for 15 other law enforcement agencies on scene], tear gas, and flash-bang grenades on protesters marching through downtown Oakland. Around 75 people were arrested Tuesday morning when police dismantled the Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
The Atlanta police actions were reported by The Atlanta Journal Constitution :
Officers swarmed the park around 12:45 a.m. The arrests were orderly and peaceful, though some of the protesters had to dragged out. By 1:30 a.m. the park had been cleared and by 2 a.m. onlookers and demonstrators who watched from the perimeter had largely dispersed as police maintained a significant presence downtown.
Occupy Atlanta, like Occupy Oakland, say they’ll be back.
First, be sure and check out the video Taylor posted in her comment, though take her cautionary note seriously.
Second, this from OWS regarding last night’s raid on Occupy Oakland: “Among those injured is Scott Olson, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. Olsen is in the hospital with a fractured skull.” According to a friend of Olson, “Oakland Police Department fired a tear gas canister at his head, fracturing his skull.”
Third, and as I wondered about earlier, is this the kind of police action other Occupy cities may face? And along with that, what, if anything, will our Electeds, and the wannabe’s, have to say?
(Photo via SFGate)