Oakland police in riot gear fired smoke, tear gas, flash bang grenades and rubber bullets at Occupy Oakland protesters trying to take a vacant building this afternoon. Near the Oakland Museum of California, demonstrators had planned to take a building nearby and make it a headquarters. But, police were prepared to stop then from occupying the vacant building.
Live streamer Spencer Mills (aka @OakFoSho), known for regularly broadcasting Occupy Oakland action, was on the scene and recorded video (link below).
At about the 12:50 mark, a police officer can be heard making the following announcement:
[I] declare this to be an unlawful assembly. In the name of the people of the state of California, I demand all those assembled on Oak Street to immediately leave the area. If you do not do so, you may be arrested or subject to removal by force if necessary. Chemical agents may be used, which may result in injury. Section 409 of the California Penal Code prohibits being present at an unlawful assembly.
No more than two minutes after tear gas canisters are fired at a group of Occupy Oakland protesters that are holding their ground.
(Mills said at the time that he did not know if it was tear gas or smoke.) The police officer continues to repeat the announcement that the protest was an “unlawful assembly” as more canisters were fired in the direction of the protesters.
Less than a minute after setting off canisters, police fire rubber bullets. [See the 15:26 mark of the video.] A few protesters had appeared to be advancing slowly toward the police in riot gear and were targeted.
Riot police approaches Mills and others taking photos and filming and informs them that they are at an unlawful assembly and need to leave now. He basically tells them they are not allowed to stand and record police that appear ready to move in on the protesters. [See the 16:30 mark.] Mills stands his ground and the officer asks if he has a press card. Mills says he does and the officer moves on and allows Mills to remain. And, instantly, loud bangs begin to go off.
“They’re using flash bangs! They’re using flash bangs! There’s folks at the front that are hunkered down,” Mills shouts. “Holy shit. They’re firing rubber bullets. They’re firing rubber bullets on people at the front.”
Long pause. Sounds of projectiles being fired can be heard. Mills announces that they are actually firing tear gas now. The canisters were initially smoke canisters. They are not anymore, and people can be heard coughing and even choking.
One individual protester comes forward to taunt and yell at police. A flash bang can be heard going off. Mills notes the Oakland Police did not realize, when they setup, that the wind was blowing in their direction so all the smoke and chemicals they fired into the air is blowing back at them and not the protesters.
The protesters move their ranks forward. Objects are being thrown in the direction of police. And, again, a volley of flash bangs and rubber bullets are fired. Some of the protesters fall back. [See the 23:00 mark.]
Less than a minute later, Oakland police advance. They grab what appears to be a cart loaded with objects protesters had and push it toward their police line and away from protesters.
The action appears to die down. About twenty minutes later, at 12th & Jackson in Oakland, the riot police begin to push across the intersection to move back protesters. An arrest is made. [This all happens at the 41:20 mark].
Immediately following this arrest, a person with a video camera ends up on the ground as riot cops further advance. Riot cops surround him. The video Mills captures appears to show him being beat up. Cops can be seen with their batons out and they are swinging them at anyone nearby this person. But, the person with a video camera is not arrested. He manages to get up and away from police.
Oakland police again move their line forward. And, they abruptly rush at the crowd and single out someone for arrest, who is brought to the ground. [See the 46:15 mark.] A paint-filled bullet is fired by a riot cop toward protesters.
The action dies down, but riot cops hold their lines.
At the 54:00 mark is an interview with a man whom I think is named “Calig” (that’s what I hear so I don’t know if that is spelled correctly). He tells a fairly interesting story about what happened to him late in the morning when he was told by someone that police were reviewing photos and his picture happened to be in the group they were examining. He tells Mills about following the Oakland police.
I went and followed them because, of course, I’m not running from anything. All my court dates are presently up to date. I don’t have any warrants. I called the DA a couple of days ago and found out I didn’t have any warrants. So, I wanted to find out from those officers if they had a picture of me and why. When I went to those officers and asked if they had a picture of me, they said, “Maybe.” And I responded, “That’s not a direct answer. Do you have a picture of me or not?” They once again responded, “If you want to find out this way, we can do it.” I’m like what are you talking about? Then they surrounded me, triangled me and illegally detained me. I asked them for what charge. They said I had a warrant. I informed them I do not have a warrant. I contacted the DA two days ago. Then they continue with the warrant, warrant, warrant. Then they took me down to the holding parking lot area where they park all the cars, they conferred with each other and then they came back and said you’re right you don’t have a warrant.
He had them take him back to the plaza.
Mills asks him what he thinks Oakland police are doing to protesters now. He says they are “trying to kettle whoever they have photographed. They’re trying to nab the people who they have paperwork on right now.” And they will identify and target people they want and get others on “trumped up charges.”
While police are not setting off projectiles right now, they may later tonight. Occupy Oakland has another “Fuck the Police” march planned for 7 pm. Stay tuned here for the latest on what happens. I’ll add any updates on the evening action to this post. And watch OakFoSho’s or Spencer Mills’ Ustream for a live broadcast of Occupy Oakland action.
Kevin Gosztola's tweets from Occupy Oakland below
Update - 3:10 AM ET] More than 300 were arrested in Oakland on Saturday. Most of the arrests took place in front of a YMCA.
Gavin Aronsen, a journalist with Mother Jones, was arrested.
This whole action began early in the afternoon as Occupy Oakland moved to convert a vacant building into a community center. The protesters were never able to get to the building. And, throughout the rest of Saturday, police chased protesters around firing off weapons and ultimately corralling them in one location where they had nowhere to go and could be arrested.
[Update - 11:09 PM ET] Via @OccupyFreedomLA - black bloc protesters have apparently broken some windows. Sounds like they were police vehicle windows. Protesters saying this is what they saw happen. (This stream is happening in front of City Hall.)
[Update - 9:53 PM ET] Journalist Susie Cagle is arrested. She has official press credentials. But that means little to OPD who arrest her anyway. [Update - 11:03 PM ET] Oakland police decided not to arrest Cagle after all. She is tweeting the action and you can follow what is happening right now on Twitter @Susie_C
[Update - 9:40 PM ET] Mass arrest in progress. Many “marchers” or protesters with Occupy Oakland who have been arrested are being escorted by police past @OakFoSho. He is getting the names of each person coming by. Live stream here.
[Update - 9:30 PM ET] The Oakland Police Department announce that “marchers” have failed to disperse. They are now under arrest and must “submit” to the arrest. This means many people are going to be arrested. Somewhere between 50-100 are going to be arrested in front of a YMCA, it appears. Those entering the perimeter police have setup are being told they will be arrested if they enter.
[Update - 9:05 PM ET] Spencer Mills describes being kettled by Oakland police and they had tear gas being fired at them. They took down chain link fences that were around them to get out because police were not letting them disperse. They are now marching down Telegraph.
“OPD has been freely releasing chemical weapons all day.” -Spencer Mills
[Update - 8:55 PM ET]
The City of Oakland put out this press release that indicates 19 were arrested. Here is the city’s account of what happened:
At 2:30 pm, marchers began tearing down perimeter fences around the Henry J.Kaiser Convention Center. At approximately 2:50 pm, the first dispersal orderwas given as the crowd began destroying construction equipment and fencing. Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares. Oakland Police Department deployed smoke and tear gas.
By 4 pm, the bulk of the Occupy crowd of approximately 500 has returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza.
As of this release, 19 protesters have been arrested. Most of the arrests weremade on Oak Street when protesters ignored the dispersal order and assaultedofficers. Three officers are confirmed to have been injured.
I didn’t see any IEDs or burning flares in the video I watched so you know what that means. Time to watch the video and see what police might be able to characterize as an “IED” or a “burning flare” so they can make it seem like they were more endangered than they really were. After all, improvised explosive device makes one think of a car bomb probably. If Occupy Oakland was setting off IEDs, that makes them terrorists. And in America, once you establish that a group of people are akin to terrorists, it is possible to do anything to them. It’s especially easy to marginalize them and ensure they are unable to advance their agenda.
Tune in to the live broadcast now. As of 9:00 PM ET, flash bang grenades and tear gas are being fired at protesters again.