'Occupy' tents back up in Frank Ogawa Plaza

October 28, 2011 1:15:49 AM PDT
The 'Occupy Oakland' demonstrators forced to clear out of Frank Ogawa Plaza earlier this week are once again pitching tents at the plaza.

It was a massive effort to clear out the huge encampment near Oakland City Hall. The raid and its aftermath put hundreds of demonstrators and police in danger. This time it appears the city is taking a hands-off approach.

The chain link fencing protesters had made into an impromptu sculpture came down and was carried away by city workers in Frank Ogawa Plaza Thursday. At about the same time, a handful of tents went back up.

"We're sick of being locked out of a public place, so we made it public again," protester Maxwell Pride said.

A City Hall source told ABC7 that Mayor Jean Quan has ordered city staff and presumably the police not to remove the new outcropping of tents until further notice.

So now, two days after hundreds of police raided the 'Occupy Oakland' encampment, city crews removed 20 tons of garbage and property, and after at least one protester was seriously injured during police actions, the tents are back.

"Some of us, including myself, think the encampment should be allowed; that what's going on in society outweighs any inconvenience of having people camp here," Quan's unpaid legal advisor Dan Siegel said.

The tents are not just returning to Frank Ogawa Plaza; a lone tent has also popped up at Snow Park. The protesters are planning for a general strike on Nov. 2.

Quan issued a written statement Thursday evening. She had hoped to speak to the Occupy Oakland group, but didn't since there were a lot of other people who were speaking to the crowd. She said she didn't want to be a distraction to their discussion. You can read her full statement here.

Quan apologized in her statement for writing the address rather than speaking directly to the crowd as had been expected. She said that she had planned to speak at the "Speak Out" segment of tonight's Occupy Oakland assembly, but it was canceled.

The mayor in her statement apologized for the outcome of Tuesday night's demonstration -- where a heavy police presence kept protesters out of the plaza with tear gas, smoke grenades and rubber bullets.

"It was not what anyone hoped for, ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened," the statement read.

She said city officials have started an investigation into the use of force by police Tuesday night.

Quan thanked the demonstrators for Wednesday night's peaceful protest and said she would continue to order "a minimal police presence."

The mayor pledged to support the Occupy movement but asked for several things in return: direct communication between Occupy Oakland representatives and city staff; that demonstrators maintain healthy and safe conditions at gatherings and that they provide access to public safety employees in case of emergency.

The final request was that the demonstrators abide by the hours set aside for demonstrations at Frank Ogawa Plaza -- between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. -- and not camp out overnight.

Quan in her statement also mentioned Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran injured during Tuesday night's protest. She said she visited with Olsen and his family today "because I was concerned about his recovery."

According to a statement by Iraq Veterans Against War, a group Olsen was active in, the 24-year-old suffered a fractured skull when he was hit by a police projectile during the protests.

Prior to tonight's Occupy Oakland general assembly meeting, demonstrators gathered at a vigil for Olsen at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

When the general assembly meeting began a short time later, one speaker suggested that the city lower flags to half-mast "to recognize the violence the city of Oakland did to Scott Olsen and other citizens."

Bay City News contributed to this report.


Load Comments