OPD releases videos from Oct. 25 demonstration

Oakland police got shot with red paintball
November 9, 2011 12:43:14 AM PST
The Oakland Police Department has released four new videos showing the tension in the streets on the afternoon of Oct. 25th, after police moved in to remove protesters from Frank Ogawa Plaza earlier that morning. One of the videos shows an officer being pelted by a bright red paintball. The video evidence, police say, reveals the tension and anger they were confronting on that day. There were also more than 15 agencies that came in as part of mutual aid on October 25th as protesters marched into the Downtown area.

Later on that day, Police Chief Howard Jordan says officers used tear gas and fire bean bags only when they felt threatened and these videos are meant to illustrate those situations. Berkeley police were among those agencies that were called in that night as part of longstanding mutual aid agreement. Now, the Berkeley City Council will debate whether they want their officers sent to Oakland next time something like this happens.

"With what happened in Oakland, I think it really requires us to take a closer look and think about in what situations we will respond when there's First Amendment activity and how we will respond," said Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.

Arreguin wants to carve out some exceptions to mutual aid agreements in terms of what types of incidents will trigger Berkeley's involvement. Berkeley City Councilmember Susan Wengstaff says she would not want to do anything that would jeopardize Berkeley getting mutual aid from other cities if and when they need it. That debate expected Tuesday night in Berkeley.

In the meantime, there have been several investigations opened up in Oakland as to what happened in terms of the police response the afternoon and evening of Oct. 25th.

Fire officials point out hazards at 'Occupy' camp

Tuesday night, Oakland city officials opened a new dialogue with the "Occupy" protesters who have been camping outside City Hall for nearly a month. This comes as the encampment is once again racking up a list of potential safety hazards.

The city is saying they are seeing some of the same problems that occurred before police tore down the encampment two weeks ago. The daily inspections have turned up ongoing potential fire hazards.

They were barbecuing dinner in the evening, but overnight two protesters had started fires inside two of their tents to stay warm which brought out the Oakland Fire Department.

"I'm looking for full cooperation, but I'm worried as it gets colder and daylight shifts, we're going to get more people burning small fires, we're going to have more people bring in LP gas heaters that are going to get too close to combustible materials," said Interim Oakland Fire Chief Mark Hoffmann.

Oakland listed a number of hazards and potential hazards at the encampment which the city says has grown to 180 tents. There are problems like extension cords and electrical wiring running underneath wet hay. Oakland also says there is a sanitation concern with food waste accumulating around Frank Ogawa Plaza and inadequate maintenance of portable toilets.

"The food waste, we have litter patrols that go out every three hours to go pick up the litter waste," said protester Maxwell Allan Pryde.

Following last week's destruction after the general strike, city officials are asking for any home video that might identify vandals. Tuesday, staff members in the mayor's office met with some of the protesters in the plaza and are planning more talks.

"We're asking the camp itself whatever form they take in the future, wherever they are, to really disassociate themselves from the violent demonstrators and they haven't done that yet and I understand they're going to discuss that tomorrow night. So that's basically what we're asking them. So we had a little talk today and I hope that was a good beginning," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

The city says the Occupy protest has cost the city more than $1 million and hurt many local businesses. Interim police chief says he would like to see protesters leave on their own, but no one has a game plan on how that might happen.

'Occupy Oakland' protesters want to takeover buildings

Some Occupy Oakland demonstrators have their sights set on a takeover. They want to move into vacant buildings throughout the city, the very buildings they say are empty because of foreclosures by big banks.

Some of this is motivated by practical concerns and the desire of some campers to get out of the cold weather and expected rain as we move toward the winter months. But at least one community activist who is very close to Quan is concerned about this latest turn at "Occupy Oakland".

"My feeling is this is not consistent with what the 'Occupy' movement is all about," said James Vann.

Vann is a longtime Oakland political activist and strong supporter of Quan. Like Quan, Vann believes in the anti-corporate message of the Occupy movement. However, when Vann attended a recent general assembly meeting at Frank Ogawa Plaza he was alarmed and disappointed by what he heard.

When discussing how to grow the movement, the demonstrators were fixated on just one option.

"The unanimity of opinion of the group was kind of surprising," said Vann. "The thing that got the most applause was whenever somebody mentioned taking over buildings or being more confrontational, it got a large outcry."

"I think we should be occupying people's houses that are getting foreclosed by robo-signing," said demonstrator Josh Dolan. He thinks occupying a vacant building is a logical next step. "No one else is using it. I saw how many big, old, beautiful, vacant buildings are there in Downtown Oakland anyway? This is about creating a liberation for the people and space."

In the meantime, the hundreds living on the plaza continue to ignore numerous request from Quan to end the camping and abide by safety regulations, like those banning cooking with propane and open flame.

Tuesday, Quan released another lengthy written statement, asking for some kind of dialogue with the campers that could lead to a peaceful resolution. Quan writes: "While we support the call... we cannot ignore violence, property destruction and health and safety issues in Frank Ogawa Plaza."

While hinting that something has to change, Quan has yet to lay out any specific plan. She has alluded in the past week or so asking the demonstrators to move, but there are no specicfics.

Jordan and city administrator Deanna Santa has been very clear, that having demonstrators occupying buildings would be unacceptable.


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