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Police Dismantle Occupy Oakland

 
75 arrested; police fire tear gas cannisters.

Occupy Oakland, the tent city protest that began two weeks ago as an extension of the national Occupy protest movement, was removed from the city's Frank H. Ogawa Plaza early Tuesday morning after some 400 police officers swept into the encampment.

Police said they arrested 75 people. City workers are now sifting through piles of belongings left in the 150-tent camp,which had swelled to hundreds of people. Police began to move on a smaller Occupy encampment at Snow Park around 6:30 a.m.

There were no injuries to police or protesters and "minimal property damage," Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said. "I'm very pleased with the way things went," Jordan said.

"People are welcome to come back and exercise their rights," but they are not allowed to camp in the plaza, he said.

More than 400 officers from the Oakland Police Department and 15 area agencies, including from Vacaville, Hayward and the California Highway Patrol, surrounded the encampment on all sides about 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, easily outnumbering about 200 protesters and overwhelming makeshift barricades built from wooden planks, dumpsters and even dirty couches.

It appears police accidentally deployed tear gas cannisters and directed them at fellow officers, witnesses said.

According to Jordan, the protesters were from all over the country. Most were arrested for misdemeanors. There were no children found in the camp, Jordan said.

Mayor Jean Quan, who is in Washington, D.C., told KGO radio she had been in contact with city officials throughout the night. 

Two men who had been living at the camp at Broadway and 14th Street said they were arrested when officers outfitted in riot gear raided the plaza shortly before 5 a.m.

Speaking by cellphone from the back of a police van around 6 a.m., Brian Glasscock, a 20-year-old Oakland resident, said police had used a flash grenade and that he also saw tear gas. He claimed his tent was ripped apart.

He estimated that at least 50 people were arrested.

The second man, 23-year-old Berkeley resident Davonte Gaskin, said he had been camping with Occupy Oakland for four days, and that police had used batons to dismantle his tent before arresting him for camping in the plaza.

An Oakland resident who only gave her name as Kristina, 28, said she was tear-gassed and that people around her were hit by rubber bullets.

She said downtown Oakland is shut down and that protesters at a second Occupy Oakland camp at Snow Park at Lake Merritt expect to be raided by police.

Kristina said those arrested in the plaza were being processed at the corner of 14th and Clay streets.

City officials said in a news release sent out this morning that Frank Ogawa Plaza had been "contained" by 5:30 a.m. and a cleanup operation was under way.

The news release stated that within a week of when the Occupy Oakland camp materialized, the city began receiving reports of fire hazards, sanitation problems, noise and unsafe structures being set up in the plaza.

By the second week, firefighters, police and paramedics were denied access to the camp and the city received a report that someone had been severely beaten, according to city officials.

"Sanitation conditions worsened, with frequent instances of public urination and defecation, as well as improper food storage," the news release stated.

An existing rat problem in the plaza grew worse, and reports of public intoxication, fighting and sexual offenses increased, according to the city.

The city sent an eviction notice to protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza last week, but most stayed put.

City officials said this morning that once the plaza is cleared, "peaceful daytime assembly" will still be allowed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., but no camping will be permitted.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

 

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