City leaders in Oakland called for the immediate removal of the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza on Wednesday.
The plea comes amid reports that the Oakland police department is planning on once again forcibly removing the protesters from the plaza.
City council president Larry Reid, flanked by a couple dozen business and city leaders, had a litany of reasons why they should leave. He claimed the city of Oakland has "taken ten steps backwards" since the camp occupied the downtown area.
Reid was joined by Ignacio De La Fuente, Desley Brooks and Libby Schaaf along with other business and religious leaders on the banks of Lake Merritt.
Reid said the area was not designed for camping, adding tents encroach on public walkways, it has many fire hazards, and said people were choosing to urinate and defecate out in public.
Reid said occupants are becoming increasingly confrontational with city workers and the fire department.
"I am witnessing a city where we will not be able to attract business to downtown," Reid said.
Occupiers interrupted the press conference with a rowdy chant which was returned with another chant from those gathered behind the podium, according to NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez.
The issue is deja vu in Oakland. Police forcibly removed campers the morning of Oct. 25. That sparked a violent protest on the street that same night that included several orders to disperse followed by shots of tear gas on to the crowd.
The incidents drew national attention to Oakland and in the end, the campers were allowed to set up right where they started.
All of this is happening under the watch of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who on Tuesday issued a statement asking protesters to appoint a spokesperson to negotiate with city officials for the removal of the camp.
Occupy Oakland protester Kevin Seal told Bay City News he has not heard of any progress toward appointing a spokesperson to negotiate with city officials, adding because of the nature of the Occupy protests, there are no official representatives. He said they are working to improve health and safety conditions at the camp, and that they are taking responsibility for keeping the camp clean and safe.
Quan did not take part in the news conference, but did issue the following statement on the matter.
Mayor’s Statement on encampment in Oakland—November 9, 2011
Oakland has shown its support for the 99%. Now it is time for this encampment to show its support and respect for the people of Oakland.
We renew our call on Occupy Oakland to make a decision to leave immediately.
Occupation is a tactic, not a solution. Frank Ogawa Plaza cannot sustain permanent living quarters and our economy cannot sustain this occupation.
While I am pleased to see a consensus developing on the Council to remove the camp, I call on elected leaders who are clamoring for an immediate raid to put forward a plan that does not cause additional injury to people, property and our reputation, or result in another re-occupation. I urge them to join me, the City Administrator, Police Chief and community leaders in implementing a plan to remove the encampment. We know that a tiny minority thinks it is a sound strategy to pit our Police against demonstrators. We call on everyone to reject provocation of violence.
We will talk with the demonstrators, the community, and the police to build a common understanding around a peaceful resolution.
This has been a test of leadership and a test of conscience. Oakland is a city of hope and opportunity. We are the 99%.
Mayor of Oakland