City Council debates fate of Occupy encampment

November 7, 2011 7:42:58 PM PST
The City Council in Oakland spent the afternoon in closed session Monday apparently debating the Occupy Oakland encampment and what to do about it.

The dissension is growing inside City Hall about what to do next regarding the giant camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza. There are at least a couple council members who think it's time to clear it out again.

"I think it would be totally irresponsible of us to continue allowing this to grow and to happen," said council member Ignacio De La Fuente who believes it's time for he and his colleagues to act if Mayor Jean Quan won't. "I am prepared to act and I think that it is possible. I think we are in, my opinion, in an emergency-type public safety situation and the mayor is not acting. We need to act."

ABC7 News has learned that many city employees have joined local businesses in complaining about the camp, some calling it a hostile work environment.

City Administrator Deanna Santana is also said to be gravely concerned about health and safety conditions at the camp, especially fire hazards that include open flame and propane tanks.

But Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Oakland's highest-ranking elected official, says she supports the camp being allowed to stay.

"Many say that there is no agenda, no leadership, but that will come," said Lee.

Quan is demanding protestors do a better job controlling the violent among them. Video posted on YouTube by OccupyTV.org shows protestors during last week's general strike trying to stop those in the black masks from breaking windows and destroying property at Whole Foods.

"Don't deny the voices that have already been speaking up," said Rev. Daniel Buford of the Allen Temple Baptist Church.

Buford says that at the very least, the Occupy Oakland demonstrators need to be more open to hearing all voices. He says he and other faith leaders have been told they're not welcome to speak at the daily general assembly meetings at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

"People just told me, well, you know they're not allowing ministers to speak because ministers are in the same category as politicians as far as these people are concerned," said Buford.

Faith leaders believe it's ironic they're not being allowed to exercise their free speech rights at a camp that is supposed to be all about that.

The City Council has a regular meeting Tuesday evening. The issues around the camp are not on the agenda, but many expect they will come up.


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