Occupy protesters try to shut down Oakland City Hall

(Jonathan Bloom/ABC7)

January 5, 2012 8:26:27 PM PST
Occupy Oakland protesters tried to occupy Oakland City Hall Thursday. While they were unsuccessful, their actions did cause City Hall to be shut down for about three hours.

Thursday's demonstration was to show anger at police not only for tearing down their tables and tents, but for what they say are unnecessary physical confrontations and arrests. Protesters say they've become so fearful of Oakland police, they've taken to videotaping every encounter with them because that's their only defense.

Adam Katz shot video just before he was hauled off to jail. It was part of the police action to clear out Occupy demonstrators, after authorities revoked their permit to protest in front of City Hall.

"We were held in the back of a van for a couple hours; two of the people in the back of that van had their handcuffs so tight that their hands started swelling up and as they swelled they became more and more painful; it was tantamount to torture," Katz said.

Oakland police declined ABC7's request for an interview about the arrests.

Protesters say they're getting fed up.

Another demonstrator showed ABC7 the bruises on his back, and offered up video he says shows police throwing him to the ground and handcuffing him last Friday. Officers came to remove a teepee that was set up after they said people were sleeping and eating in it.

"In the past weeks they've been getting worse and worse, they've been holding our people longer and longer, for charges as absurd as lynching," protester Omar Yassim said.

So demonstrators arranged to occupy the mayor's office to get some answers.

The only problem? Police locked them out of City Hall.

The mayor and city manager didn't respond to ABC7's requests for comment about the unusual security measure that protesters call a violation of their rights.

"It's city hall, it's our city hall, our taxes pay for this building, our taxes pay for their salary, we have every right to go in here; they have no right to do this," Yassim said.

Police eventually let in a three-person delegation to talk to city staff.

One delegate was former City Councilman Wilson Riles.

"We asked that there be some period of step back from police actions in order to allow some building of trust," Riles said.

But as riles spoke on the steps police on the other side of the building were captured by a cellphone camera pulling one protester inside and taking him into custody.

Protesters say there were at least a couple of other arrests Thursday evening, but for the moment police are not going on the record to confirm that.

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