Occupy Oakland’s Attempt To Reclaim Empty Property Turns Violent

Since the worldwide Occupy movement caught fire in late 2011, its participants have sought a way to peacefully coexist with city officials while still taking a stand for what they feel are social and economic injustices on both the local and national levels.

In November 2011, the Occupy Oakland community, after surviving a barrage of police violence sanctioned by Mayor Jean Quan, wanted to find a new home that would both provide offstreet shelter for its participants, as well as a central location to conduct its educational and social outreach.

Not surprisingly the Occupy Oakland General Assembly voted to do something radical: reclaim and occupy the Oakland Municipal Auditorium building, which has been vacant for over 6 years, and repurpose it as a community center.

Yesterday, Oakland occupiers attempted to put that plan into action. Several thousand protesters participated in a spirited march to the long-closed civic auditorium by Lake Merritt which was met by riot police who derailed the first move-in attempt with batons, smoke and tear gas.

While Occupy Oakland coverage of the event claims that police officers continued the violent behaviors that left Iraq veteran and protester Scott Olsen near death at a demonstration in October, 2011, Mayor Jean Quan says that they were provoked by protesters who allegedly pelted them with bottles, rocks, burning flares and other objects. Occupy Oakland protesters once again came to the aid of several individuals who were seriously injured by the officer’s actions.

Several reports claim that, during Occupy Oakland’s subsequent march through the downtown area, protesters broke into the YMCA and City Hall, where they burned flags, broke an electrical box and damaged several art structures, including a recycled art exhibit created by children.

Protesters claim that the actions of the Oakland Police Department violated First Amendment rights as well as its own policies by attacking, kettling and arresting the marchers. An account on the Occupy Oakland website states “officers…were swinging batons at protesters in a violation of OPD crowd control policy, which allows for pushing of jabbing with batons, but not the swinging of them,” and “they kettled a march in progress, and arrested hundreds for refusing to disperse. Contrary to their own policy, the OPD gave no option of leaving or instruction on how to depart. These arrests are completely illegal, and this will probably result in another class action lawsuit against the OPD who have already cost Oakland $58 million in lawsuits over the past 10 years.”

Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said about 300 arrests were made. Occupy Oakland is not deterred by the violence and arrests of yesterday’s action, and is holding a Rise Up festival today at Oscar Grant Plaza.


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Image credit: Occupy Oakland


Eddie O.
Eddie O7 years ago

These are incredibly brave, caring, people who are standing up for all of us trying to make a difference. So far they have done tremendous good bringing a lot of corruption and inequality to the forefront, where it can be dealt with and changed for the better. They have my complete praise, admiration, and support.

Richard B.
Richard B7 years ago

Nancy, look up "commons". A municipal center belongs to the community.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G7 years ago

As long as they win back their rights!

Debbie W.
Past Member 7 years ago

Beyond awareness, this "movement" is so diluted, polluted and segmented as to disappear, hopefully sooner than later. No leader, no Mission Statement, no clear code of conduct.

Are you aware that OWS from Atlanta was asked to leave the outside area that is part of the MLK Center ... by the King Family. Tell you anything?

The Atlanta's DESIGNATED LEADER FOR THE DAY ... was Tim Franzen. Tell you anything?

Debbie W.
Past Member 7 years ago

"Reclaim" implies there was a legitimate claim in the first place ... was there? When? By who?

Occupy Oakland General Assembly. Sounds impressive and official, could be just another bunch of pushy slugs ... what's the actual makeup.

Nancy L.
Nancy L7 years ago

Why do these people think they can just take over places that do not belong to them in the name of OWS? There's a name for it - it's called vagrancy and loitering.

Jeff Kline
Past Member 7 years ago

It appears, once again, that it was the police who turned violent! It looked like a war zone, due to police escalation, as opposed to negotiation. OPD has a bad history of using so-called non-lethal weapons against peaceful protesters, going back to attacks at the Oakland docks some years ago--- which resulted in a court case and rules of conduct that they have again violated, not to mention they cracked the skull of an Iraq Wat vet with a tear gas canister shot at his head at close range, last year during an Occupy protest-- which had been peaceful until the police became violent!

John Kramer
John Kramer7 years ago

I wish they were protesting to get prostitution legalized.

Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer7 years ago

Spread the protest.

Corporations have over-powered our government which now believes that out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs is inevitable and necessary with expectations that the middle class should fall on their swords. It is the underlying cause of the financial collapse and borders on national security with the loss of our middle class tax base. Yet, this nation does nothing, not even demand it be restricted by whatever method. International businesses are doing the UN-AMERICAN activity of destroying U.S. salaries, U.S. businesses that hire in the U.S., and as an end result, destroying the U.S. marketplace while still demanding BUSINESS ENTITLEMENTS and protections for themselves.

Infrastructure spending and tax breaks will not replace enough jobs to keep up with the hemorrhaging loss of U.S. jobs from out-sourcing over seas. Neither party will do anything about it unless we begin grass roots efforts to protest out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs. If nothing is done we will deserve what we get and it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Lynn C.
Past Member 7 years ago

These people are so brave!