Oakland Mayor Jean Quan called on "Occupy Oakland" to pack up and leave voluntarily Thursday night.
The mayor made that call during a late night news conference in Oakland. She did not say what would happen if they did not leave on their own. On Oct. 25 police forced the occupiers to leave the area and that caused a violent protest that included the disbursement of teargas on the crowd four separate times.
The latest move for a voluntary department came just hours after a man was shot and killed in Frank Ogawa Plaza within steps of the encampment.
Though protesters said the shooting was not related to the encampment and police have said there is no apparent connection between the two, the mayor said that kind of violence was unacceptable either way.
Quan said that the police department's resources need to return to addressing violence and said that tonight's homicide "underscores the reasons why the encampment must end."
"Camping is a tactic, not a solution," Quan said in a statement.
She said that the city sent outreach workers to the camp late Thursday and made beds available at shelters to provide for the homeless.
Also Thursday, a new poll by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce indicate that almost two-thirds of likely Oakland voters believe that the continued presence of the "Occupy Oakland" protests in Frank Ogawa Plaza is negatively affecting Oakland businesses.
The poll was conducted by EMC Research and commissioned by the chamber. Over 1,100 likely Oakland voters were polled by an automated call that asked respondents 11 questions, said Ruth Bernstein of EMC Research. Sixty-three percent of poll respondents said the impact of Occupy Oakland on local businesses and workers has been harmful, and 37 percent say they are less likely to go to downtown Oakland because of the ongoing "Occupy" protests. Most voters polled also said they did not want the encampment to continue.
Thirty-three percent said they support the continued occupation of the plaza, 48 percent said the encampment should be removed, and 19 percent said they were not sure. Voters were also asked whether they agree with Mayor Jean Quan's handling of the protests; 73 percent said they disapprove of Quan's handling of the protests, and only 11 percent said they approved.
Bernstein said that the poll indicated that while Oakland voters support the principles behind the encampment, many believe that in practice it may be hurting the city. "Oakland voters obviously support the principles behind the Occupy Wall Street movement," Bernstein said, "but they're worried about the impact on downtown Oakland, the impact on jobs and on businesses."
Bernstein said in conducting the poll they were careful to make sure it reflected the demographic distribution of likely Oakland voters. She said that of those responding, 46 percent self-identified as white, 27 percent as black, 8 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 8 percent as Asian or Pacific Islander, and 10 percent as other. Census data posted to the city of Oakland website indicates that Oakland has much higher populations of blacks, Latinos and Asians, but Bernstein said that the data reflects likely Oakland voters, not the overall population.
Chamber of Commerce officials said the poll bolsters their criticism that the continued Oakland encampment is hurting small businesses and keeping visitors away from downtown Oakland.
"These results confirm what we've been hearing from business owners, Oakland homeowners, residents and even the police union - we need the mayor to lead us to a successful and peaceful resolution," said Chamber of Commerce President Joseph Haraburda.
Chamber officials held a press conference to discuss the poll results at their headquarters at 475 14th St. at 2 p.m. today. Protesters have disputed claims that the encampment has hurt small businesses downtown, and have said that some businesses have seen gains from the increased activity in Frank Ogawa Plaza.
They have also suggested that the heavy police response to the encampment, rather than the protests themselves, may be responsible for keeping visitors away from downtown Oakland.
Bay City News