Occupy Oakland protesters camp out in park in defiance of mayor’s orders

Submitted by Freedomman on Wed, 11/02/2011 - 15:37

OAKLAND, Kalifornia (PNN) - October 28, 2011 - Mayor Jean Quan Friday backed off her no-camping request to Occupy Oakland protesters, who seemed determined to ignore the edict anyway by covering Frank Ogawa Plaza with dozens of tents.

City Hall issued a list of guidelines, but the protesters seemed to be setting their own agenda. A Friday afternoon visit by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore to the plaza only strengthened their determination and defiance. Moore, in turn, credited Occupy Oakland for energizing the national movement.

People all over the country watched as police on Tuesday hurled tear gas and other projectiles at Oakland protesters, Moore said.

"This week in Oakland, California, will go down as a watershed moment," he told an adoring audience that had mobbed him when he arrived in front of City Hall at 3:30 p.m. "People across America were disgusted by what they saw here. Millions have been inspired by you because, the next night, you didn't go away.

"You have altered the national discussion."

Moore, the director of films such as "Roger & Me" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," criticized Mayor Jean Quan for backing off plans to speak to demonstrators on Thursday. and he led a moment of silence for Scott Olsen, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran who was seriously injured Tuesday by what witnesses said was a tear-gas canister fired by police.

"We are all Scott Olsen," Moore said. "We will not tolerate our own people being treated that way by people we pay with our tax dollars."

He departed the plaza for his car shortly before 5 p.m., saying that he was going to find Quan. He never entered City Hall, where the mayor and police chief had only hours before faced more questions about the hardhanded tactics used to break up the Occupy Oakland camp Tuesday morning and subsequent protest that left Olsen injured.

Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said he visited the hospital where Olsen is recovering. He did not see Olsen but spoke with his parents.

Police, Jordan said, would maintain a "very, very minimal presence' around the plaza, where about a thousand had gathered by sundown Friday.

Jordan said there are no plans to take any action at this time on the campers, but he would not rule out future action if needed.

Asked why campers were allowed to return, Quan said, the city is not exactly "letting" them camp again.

"We are asking them not to camp," she said, but quickly added that people were not being moved out because "closing down the camp would cause more violence."

The health issues that prompted the raid on the camp had not returned, she said.

The city will announce next week the results of a full review of the police tactics that helped spark the violence.

"We will have more news about that next week," Jordan said.

He asked the public to turn over video of incidents to police. Jordan also said the monitoring agreement connected to the Riders lawsuit "does not prevent us from using bean bags." The lawsuit stems from a police misconduct scandal in 2003.

Rubber bullets, however, Quan added, are not allowed. "One of the things we are looking at is, 'Did someone else bring them in, was there a disconnect?'"

Issues with Tuesday's evictions and the violence that night "are taking away from the overall movement," Quan said.

But campers immediately began sleeping at the plaza Thursday night after protesters removed barricades around the plaza. About 50 tents covered the plaza lawn by 8 p.m.

Friday night at general assembly, protesters approved plans to establish a picket line at the Port of Oakland during the Nov. 2 general strike. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said they would not try to break the line.

The National Nurses United union set up a first-aid station across from another first aid station manned by protesters.

A tent with books, games and toys for children stood once again on the same corner of the plaza as before the raid and volunteers dished out food from a kitchen station.

One camper, 19-year-old Jesse Orton, from Oregon, said he has no intention of leaving the plaza at night despite Quan's request.

"It is a free world," he said. "Why should they have power over me?"

He said he would not listen to the mayor, but that she could "come join us and smoke a bowl with us."