Occupy Oakland: Timeline Of A Resistance Movement

Walking down the street yesterday, I was offered a copy of the Street Spirit, an independently published  street paper.  Here’s their website:  http://www.thestreetspirit.org/

The most recent edition had a handy history of Occupy Oakland thus far.  Enjoy as you read, and hopefully be thinking about how the movement needs to evolve in order to keep the momentum going!

Compiled by Ariel Messman-Rucker

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City, people in cities all over the country are coming together to occupy public spaces in an effort to create real social change.  These occupations are occurring in scores of cities across the country, as activists build grass-roots movements against greed and injustice.  

Occupy Oakland is at the forefront of this groundbreaking movement, and its massive marches and encampments have gained national significance.  Street Spirit is providing this chronology of events so that people can read this “first rough draft of history” and have a record of the amazing accomplishments of this people’s movement for social justice.

Monday, October 10. 2011

The Occupy Oakland movement began with a demonstration at Oakland City Hall in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Francisco. Several hundred protesters marched into Frank Ogawa Plaza in the late afternoon and began setting up tents in the grass in front of City Hall.  Police said they would allow the encampment to remain in place over night.

Friday, October 14

Occupy Oakland protesters left the plaza for a short, 45 minute march from 14th Street to oakland Police Headquarters and then back to Frank Ogawa Plaza.  The group’s only stop was outside the Glendire detention facility.  Police set up barricades at key intersections to “avoid incidents.” 

Saturday, October 15

Actor Danny Glover led a “Jobs Not Cuts” march from Laney College and the marchers rallied at Frank Ogawa Plaza where Glover spoke to spoke to the crowd.  Organizers estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 people participated in the march.

Monday, October 17

The three recently released American hikers who were jailed in Iran – two of them for 26 months and the third for 12 months – joined hundreds of protesters at the Occupy Oakland camp and spoke to the crowd in front of City Hall. 

Tuesday, October 18

A new Occupy Oakland encampment was established at Snow Park by about two dozen people and a few tents were set up as well.  Some protesters told ABC 7 News they moved to the park because they wanted the protest to spread and others explained that it was becoming overcrowded at the plaza in front of City Hall.  Flyers were handed out by the city explaining there could be no activity or sleeping in the park after 10pm but protesters stayed past the deadline and were not forced to move by the police.  

Wednesday, October 19

Police Chief Howard Jordan and City Administrator Deanna Santana decided the occupy Oakland encampment must be forcibly evicted from Frank Ogawa Plaza.  They started contacting neighboring police jurisdictions to ask for the hundreds of police officers they think they’ll need to clear the camp.

Thursday, October 20

Oakland’s City Administrator’s Office publishes as “Notice to vacate Frank Ogawa Plaza” at 8pm.  “We believe that after 10 days, the City can no longer uphold public health and safety,” according to the official notice.  “In recent days, camp conditions and occupants’ behavior have significantly deteriorated, and it is no longer manageable to maintain a public health and safety plan.”  

Friday, October 21

The City of Oakland issued another official notice, in part stating, “You do not have permission to lodge overnight in Frank Ogawa Plaza.  You must remove all tents sleeping bags, tarps, cooking facilities and equipment and any other lodging material from the Plaza immediately.  Your continued use of the Plaza for overnight lodging will subject you to arrest.”  

This same notice was issued to the people staying in Frank Ogawa Plaza on October 21, 22, and 24.  On October 23, Oakland officials issued an almost identical notice to people staying in Snow Park.  It is estimated that between 300 and 400 protesters were living in the plaza encampment on October 21.  There were few police seen after the 10pm deadline to evacuate given by city officials and only a few protesters were left.  Occupy Oakland supporters said the City of Oakland’s concerns were unwarranted and that teh camp has its own kitchen, medic tent, library and donated portable toilets.  Mayor Jean Quan was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as saying “We’ve had three days now where we’ve had incidents where people have been hurt,”  she said.  “We really can’t let the encampment keep going.”

Mayor Quan abandoned her support of the Occupy Oakland protest and agreed with Police Chief Howard Jordan and City Administrator Deanna Santana that the encampment must be shut down.  They plan to act Monday, October 24, at the earliest and “the plan was to try to think the crowd by sending in social workers to lure away some of the hard-core homeless who had joined the campers.”

Saturday, October 22

Hundreds of Occupy Oakland protesters marched from Oakland City hall, through the downtown area and around Lake Merritt, closing freeway ramps and thoroughfares.  They marched pas a Wells Fargo branch, which closed its doors.  An estimated 75 protesters crammed themselves inside of a Chase bank, which stayed open.  Protesters changed, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”  Protesters threw hundreds of bank deposit slips in the air to land all over the floor.

Tuesday Morning, October 25

Shortly before 5am, Oakland police dressed in riot gear cleared demonstrators from Frank Ogawa Plaza where the Occupy Oakland protesters had been camped since October 10.  Hundreds of police officers from multiple jurisdictions removed approximately 300 people from the plaza and dismantled the encampment.  Many people left on their own, but some were handcuffed and taken away by police.  According to the Oakland Tribune, after the police raid was over, the plaza “looked like a refugee camp that had been struck by a hurricane.”  Police also raided the smaller encampment in Snow Park approximately 30 minutes later where six arrests were made.  According to the Oakland Tribune, Interim Police chief Howard Jordan said 102 people were arrested on October 25; the majority before dawn.

Later Tuesday, October 25

Following the raid, about 500 protesters met at the main branch of the Oakland library at 4pm where they decided to reclaim the plaza and rename it Oscar Grant Plaza [this was the name of the unarmed young black man that was shot by Bart cop Johannes Messerle].

Around 5pm, protesters left the library and began marching [I participated in this march and it provided me with one of the most beautiful moments of the movement yet.  As the huge crowd marched down the street a guy about my age became swept into the crowd and wept as he chanted along with the marchers.  A number of people noticed his tears and approached him with hugs.] toward the plaza, which had been barricaded and declared closed for several days by Oakland officials.  Protesters faced off against police in riot gear as they tried to retake the plaza just 12 hours after the early morning raid. 

Police gave warnings for protesters to disperse from the entrance to the plaza at 14th Street and Broadway.  When protesters refused to leave, police began firing several canisters of tear gas and flash-bang grenades into the crowd at about 7:45 pm, causing the demonstrators to scatter.  Police and protesters clashed again at about 9:30pm .  Some protesters reportedly began throwing bottles at the police who responded with more tear gas and shot bean bags and flash-bang grenades into the crowd.  At its largest, the crowd of protesters grew to more than 1,000.  

During the protest, Scott Olson, a 24 year old former Marine, was hit in the head by a police projectile, which caused a fractured skull and brain swelling.  Video footage of the event shows Olsen lying motionless in front of the police line after being hit.  A group of about 10 protesters come to Olsen’s aid, gathering around him.  Police can then be seen throwing an object into the group surrounding Olsen, which then explodes causing teh protesters to scatter.

Olsen was taken to Highland Hospital by fellow protesters.  A photo shows protesters carrying him away, blood dripping down his face from the head wound.  Olsen is an Iraq war veteran who did two tours of duty and came home uninjured.  He became a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.  Olsen worked during the day, but was so committed to Occupy Oakland, he would sleep in the tent city at Frank Ogawa Plaza at night.

A friend reported him as being in critical, but stable condition at the hospital on Tuesday night.  jay Finneburgh, an activist photographer who was near Olsen when he was injured, told The Guardian that he found a beanbag round near a pool of blood at the site where Olsen had been hit.  On a KTVU news broadcast a protester pulled up his shirt, showing a large dark bruise on the side of his lower back.  Another protester showed the news camera three rubber bullets that he said were used by the police.

Wednesday, October 26

The Occupy Oakland General Assembly met peacefully in the reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza to discuss the idea of a general strike.  1607 people voted, 1484 in favor of a resolution to have a general strike and mass day of action on November 2 in an attempt to shut down the City of Oakland.

During a Wednesday news conference, Mayor Jean Quan told reporters she did authorize the police to break up the encampment the previous day, but she said she didn’t know it would take place on Tuesday when she was in Washington DC.  Quan has taken harsh criticism for her absence during the early morning raid and the violent clashes between protesters and officers from more than a dozen police departments.  

The National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union sent a public records request to the Oakland Police Department about the use of force that occurred on Tuesday night.  They are also calling for a full investigation and a halt to the use of force by the police.

Thursday, October 27

A candlelight vigil was held in honor of injured veteran Scott Olsen.  A crowd of about 1,000 people gathered, many holding candles.  Vigils for Olsen were held in other cities across the country as well. Occupy Oakland protesters reclaimed the plaza by pitching about two dozen tents in the evening.  The group plans to rebuild the encampment in the coming days.  Mayor Jean Quan attempted to speak to the crowd at the Thursday night Occupy Oakland General Assembly meeting, but she was booed off stage and ended up retreating back to City Hall.  Quan released a statment ot protesters later that night.

Friday, October 28

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore addressed approximately 1,000 protesters in front of City Hall.  he told Occupy Oakland protesters that they are inspiring people across the nation.  “We’ve killed despair across teh country and we’ve killed apathy,” he said.  Scott Olsen’s condition was upgraded to “fair.”  A hospital spokesperson said he is breathing on his own and communicated through writing after being unresponsive Tuesday night and having to be intubated.

Monday, October 31

Mayor Quan had all medical supplies that were taken during last Tuesday’s raid of the encampments returned to Occupy Oakland.  This came in response to threats by Occupy Oakland protesters that they would occupy Quan’s office on October 31 if the supplies were not returned.  The police returned confiscated herbs, bandages, ibuprofen and thousands of dollars worth of donated equipment.

Wednesday, November 2

Occupy Oakland once again became the center of the nationwide Occupy movement as activists held a general strike and mass day of action in an attempt to “shut down” the city.  There were multiple marches through downtown Oakland in the late morning and early afternoon.  large groups of protesters marched on banks to shut them down for the day, including Wells Fargo, Chase and Bank of America.  

By the early evening, the crowd grew to upwards of 10,000 protesters [other estimates put it at 100,000 people that were coming and going] and by 4pm the large swell of demonstrators began their march towards the Port of Oakland, the nation’s fifth largest port, in hopes of shutting down the night shift.  The peaceful protesters filled the highways leading into the Port of Oakland, successfully blocking the entrances so that cars that drove up had to turn away and leave.  By 8pm, port officials decided to completely shut the port down for the night 0 the exact goal Occupy Oakland had set out to achieve.

After a long day of peaceful protest, a small group, not connected to the main event, broke windows, sprayed graffiti and set fires.  Most of the thousands of protesters had gone home by the time a group of about a dozen people took over a vacant two-story building a couple of blocks away from the main encampment.  The group barricaded themselves into the building, hung signs and blocked off both ends of the street.  

While there were few cops present during the day’s events, hundreds of police officers came into the area around midnight to try to stop the small group’s actions, including setting a large trash can fire.  They clashed with police, throwing bottles and rocks, and police threw tear gas and flash-bang grenades and arrested a dozen people.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that some people thought the police had unnecessarily escalated the situation.  The Chronicle quoted Morgan Ress, and observer for the National Lawyers Guild, as saying, “Police formed lines on both sides of us.  I saw them beat anyone who ran and arrest anyone who stood still.”

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