Occupy, Oakland, Police Play Blame Game

Responsibility for the clashes between police and protesters in Oakland on Saturday is not immediately assumed, by neither police nor protesters.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    These are tough times for the Oakland Police Department. There is the threat of a government takeover. This while the fight with 'Occupy' protesters continues. On the sidelines are the residents who say something has got to change. NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez takes a look at a complex issue in the East Bay. (Published Monday, Jan 30, 2012)

    Now that police and protesters have left the streets, the city of Oakland is busy picking up after the mess left on Saturday, when thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters clashed on and off with hundreds of police, who arrested at least 400 of the agitators.

    Who's to blame? Depends who you ask.

    Oakland's City Hall was a mess, with a 100-year old model of City Hall tipped over and broken and a burnt flag nabbed from City Council chambers among the casualties, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The protesters say that all they wanted to do was use an unoccupied, empty building -- the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center near Laney College, to be exact -- and use it as a "headquarters for the movement," the newspaper reported.

    Police responded with tear gas, beanbag bullets, and batons -- and that was "the most egregious violence," according to Scott Johnson, an Oakland resident who participates in the Occupy movement.

    The police dealing with Occupy meant less cops to deal with the five homicides that occurred in Oakland over the weekend, according to a police spokeswoman, who called dealing with Occupy "new territory for law enforcement."

    The Oakland Police Department is hardly perfect, however, with a slowness to adhere to court-ordered reforms putting the department on the track to federal receivership.

    Criticism has also been leveled at the cops for their use of mass arrest tactics, with many protesters saying it was impossible to hear the disperse orders. But the protesters are hard-pressed to defend trashing City Hall and breaking into a YMCA, especially when Oakland is among northern California's more hardscrabble cities.