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Police clear out Oakland protest camp
Dozens of demonstrators arrested as police dismantle encampment in the California city.
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2011 13:45

Riot-clad security forces dismantled an anti-Wall Street encampment in Oakland, California, clearing out occupants and taking down tents, witnesses said.

Protesters appeared to put up little resistance, and officers were seen leading some handcuffed demonstrators away from the downtown plaza.

Officers made over 30 arrests, according to one police source.

Dozens of police in riot gear took down more than 100 tents in the early hours of Monday morning, lit by a searchlight from a helicopter overhead, as a separate line of officers kept people from entering the camp.

When the operation was finished, collapsed tents and debris lay scattered throughout the camp.

Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson told reporters that the tent area was now a crime scene, and that they should keep off the campsite.

'Forcibly move them'

"We don't want anyone to go through where we have to document property," she said.

The police had also set up makeshift fencing around a plaza facing protesters, some 200 of whom were in the street and
chanting at an intersection in the early morning hours.

Officers last raided the encampment on October 25 with tear gas and bean bag projectiles.


Al Jazeera speaks to an Oakland protester at the scene

Mitch Jeserich, a journalist at the Occupy Oakland protest,  told Al Jazeera earlier in the evening that police had not given a dispersal order, although a number of protesters were detained.

"A vast majority of demonstrators have been separated from the encampment, but there are still several people left [in the park]," Jeserich said. "The police could still go in and forcibly move them ... So far it has mostly been a stand-off for the last hour." 

Jesse Falk-Finley, a protestor at the scene, told Al Jazeera by phone from Oakland on Monday: “At this time, there are more police than I can count who have completely surrounded the entire park."

According to Falk-Finley, there have been at least 500 protesters staying in the park in central Oakland. He added that another 1,000 demonstrators had gathered in the adjacent streets.

He continued: "The police are here now, they are preparing, I am sure, to make arrests. It now seems that I can’t get out of the park because [it is] now entirely encircled by law enforcement."

Shooting injury

Oakland city officials on Sunday warned protesters for the third time in three days that they do not have the right to camp in the plaza in front of City Hall and face immediate arrest.

Earlier Monday, protesters said the main plaza was abuzz with rumors of imminent police action, and campers were discussing what to do and how to safeguard those who decided to stay.

"Oakland is not afraid. We're not afraid of our tents being taken away, of the movement being stymied,'' said Shon Kae, who is part of the group's media team.

In-depth coverage of the global movement

A day later, Jean Quan, the mayor of Oakland, allowed protesters to reclaim the disbanded site after facing criticism for her handling of the city's response, as protesters highlighted that an Iraq War veteran had suffered a serious head
injury during the police raid.

On Sunday, friends confirmed that the veteran, Scott Olsen, has been released from the hospital. Olsen, who suffered a skull fracture, became a rallying point for protesters nationwide.

Dottie Guy of Iraq Veterans Against the War said Sunday Olsen was released last week. He can now read and write, but still has trouble talking, she added.

The camp has grown substantially since the October 25 raid, although city officials said on Sunday the number of tents has dropped by about 30 to 150 since November 8.

Officials across the country have been urging an end to similar gatherings in the wake of three deaths in different cities, including two by gunfire. Demands for Oakland protesters to pack up increased after a man was shot and killed Thursday near the encampment site.

Protesters had said that there was no connection between the shooting and the camp. But police on Sunday night identified the slain man as 25-year-old Kayode Ola Foster of Oakland, saying his family confirmed he had been staying at the plaza.

Separate protest

Also on Sunday, police in Portland, Oregon, surrounded demonstrators in a central park area after hundreds of people defied the mayor's order to leave the park.

Up to 5,000 protesters supporting the city's Occupy demonstration against corporate greed had flooded the park area late on Saturday in response to the eviction order, issued by Sam Adams, Portland's mayor, which called for the park to be cleared by midnight on Sunday.

By Sunday afternoon, officers in Portland had mostly surrounded the camp where the protesters were holding a "general assembly" meeting to discuss their next moves.

Police made at least 50 arrests, The Associated Press reported. Horse-mounted police and officers using batons pushed people away from the encampment, it said, while officers used loudspeakers to warn protesters that anyone who resisted risked arrest and could be "subject to chemical agents and impact weapons".

"We were talking about what we were going to do and then they just started hitting people. Seems like a waste of resources to me," Mike Swain, 27, said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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