Hundreds of protesters were arrested in Oakland this weekend following activists’ unsuccessful afternoon effort to occupy a former convention center. Over a thousand protesters decided to head back to their former encampment outside City Hall, which is when police confronted the marchers and began arresting them en masse.
Those arrested included six journalists: Mother Jones’s Gavin Aronsen, independent journalist Susie Cagle, Kristen Hanes of KGO Radio, Vivian Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle, John C. Osborn of the East Bay Express, and Yael Chanoff of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Hanes had credentials, though from San Francisco police, not OPD, and Ho did have OPD credentials.
Aronsen describes his arrest:
As I waited in line to be processed and transported to jail, Ho approached me with an officer who had released her from custody. The two explained to my arresting officer that I was with the media. “Oh, he’s with the media?” the officer replied, although I had already repeatedly told him as much and my credentials had been plainly visible all night. He appeared ready to release me, until a nearby officer piped in, without explanation: “He’s getting arrested.”
This still lifted from @OakFoSho’s livestream offers some insight into how Oakland was placed under police lockdown.
Occupiers told harrowing tales of police firing tear gas, bean bags, and flash bang grenades at them during the protest. Some protesters built makeshift shields from scrap metal in order to protect themselves from the same projectiles that gravely injured veteran Scott Olsen during this fall’s protests.
A young man named Kevin told me about an aggressive interaction he had with an officer, who he describes as “bloodthirsty.” According to Kevin, a “really big” officer (helmet number 881) started screaming at him, yelling, “Come on! Come over here! Come get some!”
In response to the police aggression and mass arrests, Occupiers in cities across the country participated in solidarity marches Sunday evening in New York, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles.
I attended the solidarity march at Washington Square Park where around 200 protesters gathered to express support for the West Coast Occupy. There was definitely a lot of energy buzzing in the crowd and several participants remarked that it felt like the “old days” of Zuccotti. Much of that energy manifested in anger and discontent with the police. (Photo by Allison Kilkenny)
Some Occupy organizers attempted to quell the staple “Fuck the Police” chant which erupted during the march almost immediately.
As the group moved through the streets, the chant was replaced with a new one: “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. NYPD, go away!”
A young woman named Jodie told me she decided to attend the event because some of her friends were arrested at the Occupy Oakland action over the weekend.
“I hope we can generally raise awareness about the movement. It’s really hard now that there’s not a centralized location to keep up the media coverage and keep it in people’s minds,” said Jodie.
The goal of the solidarity march seemed to be the procession itself as a destination was never announced. Protesters left Washington Square and embarked on a march that lasted hours, and frequently spilled into the streets, resulting in more than a few tense standoffs with the NYPD.
Twelve protesters were ultimately arrested, and I witnessed police roughly treat some of the protesters by shoving them back onto sidewalks and throwing arrestees down to the sidewalk. At one point, a young medic claimed she had been punched in the back by the police, and later I saw an officer on 14th Street run for medical attention after apparently having been struck in the back of the head.
I recorded the following footage of one of the arrests:
The march ended up on 9th Street just east of Avenue B in front of an empty former school building that previously housed the Charas/El Bohio Cultural Community Center before the group was evicted ten years ago by the developer, Gregg L. Singer.
“This was once a vibrant community center,” a man said as others pounded on a tall plywood fence that sealed the empty building off from the sidewalk. “The people in Oakland wanted to create a community center.”
A security guard emerged from inside the building and peered down from an elevated plaza at those outside. A man tried to clamber over the fence, but police officers quickly pulled him down and arrested him as a helicopter with a spotlight hovered overhead.
By 10:30 p.m., most of the marchers had moved to Tompkins Square. One man strummed a mandolin. Another tapped on a drum. Several others stretched out on an asphalt pathway, using backpacks as pillows and gazing at the sky as a line of police officers stood at a nearby entrance to the park.