Oakland police moved in on Occupy Oakland protesters early Monday morning, but protesters say the tents won't be gone for long. Jodi Hernandez reports.
To the surprise of just about no one, police in riot-gear moved into the Occupy Oakland encampment early Monday morning, clearing it out and making arrests.
Officials reopened Frank Ogawa Plaza to the public at 4:40 p.m. City crews said they removed more than 27.8 tons of debris and 8.2 tons of green waste from the former camp site.
They said it will be open 24/7 but said no one will be allowed to pitch a tent and camp there. By 6 p.m. hundreds of people marched on the plaza. They stayed there for hours Monday night taking part in a peaceful protest.
NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell described the 6 a.m. raid as "business-like" with campers putting up little resistance to officers. Many chose to leave on their own after being given that option by police.
In the end there were 32 people who chose to be arrested, according to Oakland Police Department Chief Howard Jordan. Only nine of those people had an Oakland address. Jordan said a 33rd person was arrested later in the morning after spitting on an officer.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said following the raid that she was relieved on behalf of the city that the raid ended peacefully. There were no reported injuries to police or protesters.
"We had to bring a camp to an end before more people were hurt," Quan said.
It was the second such raid on Occupy Oakland. Police also moved in on Oct. 25. That raid was followed by a massive protest on the streets of Oakland that ended with several disbursements of tear gas on the crowd.
City officials said they planned to have Frank Ogawa Plaza open to the public by Monday night. Jordan said there would not be a curfew for people, but added no one would be allowed to set up a tent or sleeping bag in the plaza overnight.
Workers moved in by 10 a.m. to clean out or decontaminate the area.
Quan justified the raid by saying that the camp was straining already strained resources. She noted that during one of the protests there were 179 911 calls that did not get answered by other members of the Oakland public.
City officials said Monday's police operation cost between $300,000 - $500,000. City Administrator Deanna Santana said the city will dip into its reserve to pay for the action.
The following is the official statement from Mayor Quan:
"I’m very grateful that this morning’s effort went so smoothly and peacefully. We’re here this morning because Occupy Oakland has taken on a different direction from the national movement.
It was no longer about the abuses of the financial institutions, foreclosures and to the unemployed. At the encampment we’ve had repeated violence, we’ve had a murder. I don’t want any more people to die before this comes to an end.
The encampment has been a tremendous drain on our city. During one of the recent demonstrations, we had 179 public safety calls for service that went unanswered because of the demonstrations downtown. We’ve had increased drug dealing, sexual assaults—all of this was occurring in a one-square block encampment.
This is not what Occupy Wall Street is about. In addition to the violence at Frank Ogawa Plaza, the city cannot afford for our small businesses and vibrant downtown to lose hundreds of jobs and nearly half of their patrons.
For weeks now we’ve been trying to meet with the organizers of the encampment and there is no clear agenda or demands. We remain one of the only cities that has not had a representative committee to work with. Our community’s already strained resources-- our police, our public works and other city services --have been pulled away from serving Oakland residents who ARE the 99%.
We took every step we could to resolve this peacefully. We planned the removal as carefully as we could and made repeated attempts to make sure that all campers who wanted to leave voluntarily had the opportunity to do so.
We met with multiple groups during the last week. And we are grateful that many took advantage of the opportunity to leave peacefully. I also want to thank the many churches and community groups who stepped up to offer alternative housing and to encourage the camp to close peacefully.
As the Mayor of Oakland in this very difficult situation, I’ve tried to do what is right for the City and for the safety of our people at every step. I am asking for people–even those who disagree with this decision--to respect the City’s right to close the encampment and for demonstrators not to engage in destructive acts. It is time for us to work together on the issues that unite us.
I want to thank the Alameda County Mutual Aid police departments and our own police, public works staff and other city staff who have also worked hard to keep this peaceful."
Mayor of Oakland