The Oakland Police Department is planning an enormous operation to evict hundreds of Occupy Oakland protesters from their encampment near City Hall early Monday morning, according to police and city officials with direct knowledge of the plans.
Oakland has agreed to pay for 700-to-1,000 officers from numerous agencies to be deployed over the next three days, according to an Oakland official who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity. The operation was shaping up as the largest and most expensive police action in Oakland in recent memory.
The cost of the operation could reach $1 million, the official said. Combined with the city's previous effort to evict the protesters, including at least two violent clashes, cleanup and private security that may be hired to prevent the protesters from resettling on the plaza, the overall cost of Occupy Oakland could reach $5 million, he said.
Occupy Oakland issued a call over Twitter late Sunday night for supporters to defend the camp: "Get downtown by 2 or 3 at the latest. All out to defend the #OaklandCommune! We will not be moved!"
Mayor Jean Quan, who by turns has expressed support for the protesters while demanding that they leave, met with labor organizers and other supporters Saturday and approved a plan to allow a group of nonviolent protesters to move to nearby Snow Park, where they will temporarily set up camp while a third party negotiates a lease agreement at another location.
The protesters would then be asked to move to that location, according to the agreement. Several dozen protesters moved to the park on Sunday, including a group calling themselves "Occupy Oakland Peacefully."
But Oakland police have stepped up demands for the protesters to leave, including another order released Sunday morning. The police said the encampment is no longer safe. They identified the victim of a shooting on the plaza last Thursday as Kayode Ola Foster, a 25-year-old male who had been staying in the encampment, according to police.
Oakland police will be assisted in the raid by hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the Bay Area, an effort coordinated through the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
In an interview, Alameda Sheriff Greg Ahern said the city of Oakland will pay $1,000 for each of several hundred deputies and officers from other agencies to assist in the camp’s removal.
“If Oakland wants to take down that camp, there’s going to be an agreement in place where they’ll have to pay for officers,” said Ahern.
He added that other law enforcement agencies will be ready to assist without pay if the situation escalates into an emergency, triggering a local mutual aid agreement.
When asked if he believed Oakland had the money to pay for the operation, Ahern said: “They don’t. But they can’t deal with the liability and the crime and the rapes and drug dealing and guns” occurring in the camp.
According to a police source, the city is considering ways to keep protesters from setting up another camp, including hiring private security to guard the plaza. The city also decided to open the winter shelter at the Oakland Army Base on Monday, a day early.
The department is preparing for a long night and following day. Their response may be complicated by a planned strike on Tuesday at UC Berkeley.
If protesters are evicted, they have agreed to meet at the main public library at 4 p.m. on Monday. Many have expressed interest in retaking the plaza, an effort that led to confrontations on Oct. 25 with police. During the protest, 25-year-old Scott Olsen was taken to the hospital with a fractured skull.
Over the weekend, as Quan remained silent and rumors spread that the camp faced an imminent raid, many organizers, including Quan’s husband and daughter, among other longtime allies, began making frantic plans to prevent a violent confrontation with police.
By Sunday, a couple dozen people, including a group called “Occupy Oakland Peacefully” had repopulated at Snow Park, the site of a previous smaller encampment. They said they preferred the relaxed atmosphere of the park. Other tents popped up in various locations near Frank Ogawa Plaza.
On Sunday night, labor groups met to form a plan to protect the camp but it remained unclear what tactics they intended to use. Some had called for forming a picket line around the camp.
Another group called a news conference on the steps of City Hall to denounce a police raid and present a proposal for vote at the general assembly, the movement's daily meeting. They asked for a public forum on Occupy Oakland, which they hoped would bring together city officials and protesters for dialogue.
But Sunday night, protesters appeared convinced a raid was imminent. They called for an emergency dance party to begin after the general assembly, and no consensus on tactical response seemed in sight.