Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Oakland Police Action Unnerves Wall Street Protestors AP / Huffington Post

Occupy Oakland Police Action Unnerves Wall Street Protestors
Occupy Oakland
First Posted: 10/26/11 08:31 PM ET Updated: 10/27/11 03:59 PM ET
by Terry Collins and Marcus Wohlsen, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. -- The display of police force in Oakland, Calif., and Atlanta has unnerved some anti-Wall Street protesters. (CLICK HERE OR SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST UPDATES) While demonstrators in other cities have built a working relationship with police and city leaders, they wondered on Wednesday how long the good spirit would last and whether they could be next. Will they have to face riot gear-clad officers and tear gas that their counterparts in Oakland, Calif. faced on Tuesday? Or will they be handcuffed and hauled away in the middle of the night like protesters in Atlanta? "Yes, we're afraid. Is this the night they're going to sneak in?" said activist William Buster of Occupy Wall Street, where the movement began last month to protest what they see as corporate greed. "Is this the night they might use unreasonable force?" he asked.
The message, meanwhile, from officials in cities where other encampments have sprung up was simple: We'll keep working with you. Just respect your neighbors and keep the camps clean and safe.
Business owners and residents have complained in recent weeks about assaults, drunken fights and sanitation problems. Officials are trying to balance their rights and uphold the law while honoring protesters' free speech rights.
"I understand the frustration the protesters feel ... about inequity in our country as well as Wall Street greed," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. "I support their right to free speech but we also have rules and laws."
Some cities, such as Providence, R.I., are moving ahead with plans to evict activists. But from Tampa, Fla., to Boston, police and city leaders say they will continue to try to work with protesters to address problems in the camps.
In Oakland, officials initially supported the protests, with Mayor Jean Quan saying that sometimes "democracy is messy."
But tensions reached a boiling point after a sexual assault, a severe beating and a fire were reported and paramedics were denied access to the camp, according to city officials. They also cited concerns about rats, fire hazards and public urination.
Demonstrators disputed the city's claims, saying that volunteers collect garbage and recycling every six hours, that water is boiled before being used to wash dishes and that rats have long infested the park.
When riot gear-clad police moved in early Tuesday, they were pelted with rocks, bottles and utensils from people in the camp's kitchen area. They emptied the camp near city hall of people, and barricaded the plaza.
Protesters were taken away in plastic handcuffs, most of them arrested on suspicion of illegal lodging.
Demonstrators returned later in the day to march and retake the plaza. They were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.
The scene repeated itself several times just a few blocks away in front of the plaza.
Tensions would build as protesters edged ever closer to the police line and reach a breaking point with a demonstrator hurling a bottle or rock, prompting police to respond with another round of gas.
The chemical haze hung in the air for hours, new blasts clouding the air before the previous fog could dissipate.
The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear gas. Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash following the march. About 100 were arrested.
Among the demonstrators injured was Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq.
Dottie Guy, of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, a veterans advocacy group, said Olsen was hit by a projectile while marching toward city hall and suffered a fractured skull. A hospital spokesman said Olsen was in critical condition.
It was not clear who threw the projectile.
Demonstrators planned to try again on Wednesday night to march, and could clash again with police.
In Atlanta, police in riot gear and SWAT teams arrested 53 people in Woodruff Park, many of whom had camped out there for weeks as part of a widespread movement that is protesting the wealth disparity between the rich and everyone else.
Mayor Kasim Reed had been supportive of the protests, twice issuing an executive order allowing them to remain.
Reed said on Wednesday that he had no choice to arrest them because he believed things were headed in a direction that was no longer peaceful. He cited a man seen walking the park with an AK-47 assault rifle.
"There were some who wanted to continue along the peaceful lines, and some who thought that their path should be more radical," Reed said. "As mayor, I couldn't wait for them to finish that debate."
Reed said authorities could not determine whether the rifle was loaded, and were unable to get additional information.
An Associated Press reporter talked to the man with the gun earlier Tuesday.
He wouldn't give his name - identifying himself only as "Porch," an out-of-work accountant who doesn't agree with the protesters' views - but said that he was there, armed, because he wanted to protect the rights of people to protest.
People who were arrested trickled out of jail as a crowd of several dozen supporters chanted "freedom" as they left.
"I think Mayor Reed would do well to learn quickly that you cannot intimidate, you cannot threaten, you cannot jail something whose time has come," activist Derrick Boazman said. "The fact of the matter is this movement's time has come."
In Portland, Ore., the protest seems to be at a crossroads. Organizers have been dealing with public drunkenness, fighting and drug abuse for weeks, especially among the homeless who are also in the camp.
Some are floating the idea of relocating it, possibly indoors. Others see that as capitulation.
"I don't know if it would be a good idea. Part of the effectiveness of what's going on here is visibility," protester Justin Neff said. "Though I'd do it if there's a possibility that we'd get seen and noticed. I don't know how that would work indoors."
City officials haven't said what would cause them to forcibly evict the protesters. They said they evaluate the camp daily.
In Baltimore, protesters like Casey McKeel, a member of Occupy Baltimore's legal committee, said he wasn't sure aren't sure what to expect from city officials, noting that some cities have arrested protesters in recent weeks.
"Across the country we're seeing a wide range of reactions," he said. "For now we're hoping the city will work with us."
The mayor, Rawlings-Blake, said she is willing to work with them, but they should realize that they are camping out in a city park and that was not its intended use. She said their free-speech rights don't trump the public's right to enjoy the space.
"I have absolutely no interest in a violent exchange," she said. "We want to work with the protesters, but the point is to talk about inequity and talk about how we can work together to have a more just society or more equitable Baltimore.
"It's not about pitching a tent. It's about getting the work done," she said.
Associated Press writers Nigel Duara in Portland, Ore., Sarah Brumfield in Baltimore, Md., Verena Dobnik in New York, Harry R. Weber, Errin Haines and Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Erica Niedowski in Providence, R.I., Michael J. Crumb in Des Moines, Iowa., Ben Nuckols in Washington, Samantha Gross in New York and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Take a look at images from the scene in Oakland below:

Latest Updates On HuffPost's Live Blog:

live blog

1:05 PMToday
Despite faulty rumors on Twitter this morning authorities would be pushing protesters out of their encampment at McPherson Square in Washington, D.C., police are getting along fine with Occupy DC.
The thing they're most worried about at this point that they have actually told protesters of: protecting General McPherson.
In many of D.C.'s public parks, statutes are at the center of them. McPherson Square is no different. On Thursday, the National Park Service distributed guidelines for behavior in the park.
The sheet reads:

In order to protect the General McPherson statue, food or drink should not be consumed at the base of the statue. Food and drinks, particularly drinks with a high sugar content and dyes (such as soda and sports drinks), leave permanent stains; Nothing may be attached or affixed to the statue or passed through landscape features, trees or other vegetation.

The sheet also has guidelines for how to use a generator, assuming that may become more of an issue as it gets colder outside.
-- Tyler Kingkade
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1:03 PMToday
Google Refuses To Remove Police Brutality Videos
Google recently received a request from law enforcement officials to take down YouTube videos showing police brutality. The company refused to do so. The search giant's latest Transparency Report states:
"We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove.Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests."
The refusal could be an important victory for the Occupy Wall Street movement. As The Atlantic points out, in Egypt and Tunisia where the Internet played a central role in inciting revolution, videos showing government brutality helped to energize protesters.-- Meghan Neal
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12:40 PMToday
Send Us Your Photos
Some of the latest photos in this slideshow include scenes from Oakland, just a day after police used tear gas on protesters, sent along to HuffPost.
People from across the U.S. have been sending their images and videos of Occupy Wall Street protests to OfftheBus, The Huffington Post's citizen journalism program. The best of these submissions are included in the gallery below.

To add your own images from OWS events near you, email See more citizen journalism from Occupy Wall Street events here.
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12:35 PMToday
Google Trends On Occupy Wall Street Searches
Google's Political Trendspotters team has figured out some interesting points about the explosive growth of Occupy Wall Street.
In comparison with the Tea Party, they plot the point when search interest for OWS bypassed the Tea Party. They also found that total search volume for OWS at its highest still outperforms the Tea Party during its peak in April 2009.
Here’s what we found:
* Searches for Occupy Wall Street started on Sept 16th & peaked one month later on October 15th * NY is tops in searches, right? Wrong. Top 3 states for most “Occupy” searches: Vermont, Oregon, New York * Search interest in OWS is higher than the Tea Party. Both currently and in looking at the birth of each * Searches for the Tea Party peak each April as Americans begin to file their taxes
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12:34 PMToday
Scott Olsen's Condition Improving
Doctors have upgraded Olsen's condition to fair. He has been moved to Highland Hospital's intensive care unit.
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11:58 AMToday
More Footage Of Police Clashes
Video shows NYPD taking cheap shots at activists last night during OWS' solidarity march for Occupy Oakland. Activists are on the ground and still getting hit with batons and fists.
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11:58 AMToday
Occupy Atlanta Planning To Takeover Space Tonight
Earlier Wednesday morning, more than 50 members of Occupy Atlanta were arrested when police razed their encampment at Woodruff Park aka Troy Davis Park. Tonight, the group plans to takeover another space, spokesperson Sara Amis tells HuffPost.
"We have a plan to reoccupy tonight," Amis explains. "We are not saying where because we don't want the police to show up and meet us there. We have no intention of going away."
Since the group's eviction, the Task Force for the Homeless has helped provide places to sleep for Occupy Atlanta members. The activsts have also seen a bump in attendance to their general assembly meetings. Last night, Amis says, the general assembly at Centennial Park drew 200 supporters. "We have people come to our general assemblies that have never been there before," she adds.
Tonight, Amis says they will be doing a march in support of the Task Force for the Homeless. At 8 p.m., they will hold a GA at Centennial Park. From there, they will be moving to takeover a city space. "We are telling people to bring tents," she says.-- Jason Cherkis
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11:56 AMToday
Priest Resigns Over Occupy London
The senior St. Paul's Cathedral priest who has been supportive of the Occupy London protests since last weekend has resigned. He fears that planned moves by the Church against the protesters could spark violence.
From the AP:

Resigning Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser said on Twitter that he had handed in his notice "with great regret and sadness."
He told The Guardian newspaper that he had quit because he believed cathedral officials had "set on a course of action that could mean there will be violence in the name of the church."

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11:54 AMToday
Hemp Store Raids Connected To Occupy Movement?
Two D.C. hemp stores were raided by the police last night. The stores' owner says he thinks the raids were politically motivated -- he'd called for Occupy Adams Morgan to start today, protesting a hotel development in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.
Read the whole story here.
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11:53 AMToday
Glenn Beck Mocks Marine From Times Square Protest
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11:09 AMToday
Photos Of Injured Veteran Scott Olsen
Here are some photos of Iraq veteran Scott Olsen who was injured by police during an Occupy Oakland protest. Photos were provided by Olsen's roommate, Keith Shannon.

In the photo below, Olsen is the one wearing a helmet.
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10:59 AMToday
Petition Drive Launched To Save Occupy Nashville From Eviction
You can check it out here.
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10:57 AMToday
300 Protesters Close Wells Fargo Accounts
On Tuesday, 300 protesters marched into a Colorado Wells Fargo and closed their accounts in protest of the bank's policies.

Participating customers did not close their accounts because of the controversial $3 debit card fee that Wells Fargo began charging in certain states (Colorado is not one of them).
Rather, the account closings were a statement to Wells Fargo that customers would not stand for predatory lending practices and the bank’s allegedly poor job in improving the financial situations – through HAMP modifications and stopping foreclosure proceedings – for struggling homeowners.
On Monday, members of the CPC walked into a Wells Fargo branch with a list of demands that was faxed to the bank’s CEO, John Stumpf. They asked that Wells Fargo pay the federally mandated 35% tax rate, reduce the principle on underwater loans, increase small business loan lending, and divest from the for-profit prison industry.
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10:34 AMToday
Nerves Fraying At Occupy LA
According to a CBS2/KCAL9 report from Wednesday night, "the normally placid crowd is on high alert" at the Occupy LA encampment, perhaps in reaction to both the raid on Occupy Oakland as well as the Mayor's comments. One protester promised Serene Branson of CBS that "we won’t be daunted. We're just going to keep coming back and coming back... like Chinese water torture."
The following morning at 3am, Los Angeles police paid a visit to the camp after reports of a violent threat. "Two people in the encampment were having a confrontation of some kind," LAPD spokesperson Richard French told The Huffington Post, and one of them had a knife. "The person [with the knife] was taken into custody," French continued, "as was his weapon."
Read the whole story here.
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9:54 AMToday
WATCH: Video Of Last Night's Solidarity March In Manhattan
Filmmaker Casey Neistat provides a close look at last night's Oakland solidarity march in Manhattan. Protestors walked from Lower Manhattan up Broadway towards Canal Street -- seemingly without any visible police presence.
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9:21 AMToday
Protesters In Iowa Picket Scott Walker Dinner, Obama Headquarters
Occupy Iowa members joined a protest outside of a Heritage Foundation dinner which hosted the controversial Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Around 150 protesters, some affiliated with labor unions and the local Occupy movements, showed up with signs outside the hotel hosting the private fundraiser.
"My son is a student in Wisconsin and a resident there and it’s his birthday and he asked me to come, for a birthday present, to protest Governor Walker’s visit," Des Moines resident Mary Caponi told Radio Iowa, "so that’s why I’m here."
"Governor Walker’s legislation that sought to bust unions and take away collective bargaining rights from working families in Wisconsin sparked prolonged protests this spring across Wisconsin, and Iowans have not forgotten what he and his allies have done to their neighbors," said Charlie Wishman, spokesman for the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.
The dinner was put together by prominent fundraisers for Republicans in Iowa who tried unsuccessfully to get New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to run for president.
The protesters that have been a part of Occupy Des Moines have not solely attacked well-known GOP politicians. Over the weekend more than 100 protesters marched on the Iowa campaign headquarters for President Obama and later planned a protest of Republican presidential candidates at a social conservatives' dinner.
-- HuffPost's Tyler Kingkade
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8:59 AMToday
NYPD Sergeants Threaten To Sue Occupy Wall Street Protesters
From the New York Post:
Police sergeants are coming out swinging today against obnoxious Wall Street protesters, saying they plan to "pursue legal action" against demonstrators who injure any of its members.
Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD's Sergeant’s Benevolent Association, said his group plans to pursue legal claims against Occupy Wall Street protesters should they cause injury to any of its 5,000 members.
“In light of the growing violence attendant to the 'Occupy' movements across the country, particularly as evidenced by the recent events in Oakland, I am compelled to place these so-called 'occupiers' on notice that physical assaults on police officers will not be tolerated," he said.

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8:00 AMToday
New Poll Shows New Jersey Residents Support OWS
A new poll shows that New Jersey residents support the Occupy Wall Street movement 46-percent to 29-percent. The poll, released by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind also shows that 67-percent of those surveyed believed the country is on the wrong track. The poll showed that 22-percent of those surveyed believed the country was on the right track.
FDU said that those saying the country was on the wrong track cut across party lines, with 88-percent of Republicans surveyed, 78-percent of independents and 49-percent of Democrats saying the country was on the wrong track.
The results said north Jersey residents, many of whom work in financial services, tend to support the OWS movement over south Jersey residents, with Democrats statewide supporting the movement and Republicans opposing it in the survey.
The poll also indicated that 46-percent of Garden State residents said their state was on the right track while 43-percent said the state was on the wrong track.
-- John Celock
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7:59 AMToday
Last Night's March In New York, Dissected
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7:57 AMToday
National Marketing Campaign For The Occupy Movement
The Huffington Post previously reported on a director who went from making a Wall Street Journal ad to creating the first Occupy Wall Street commercial. Through fundraising on Loudsauce, the commercial aired nationally.
Now the director, David Sauvage, is looking to help launch a national marketing campaign. More videos are in the works, and he's soliciting donations to spread them via an international fundraising website.
In an email passed along to HuffPost, Sauvage made a personal request from friends and family for help raising money. "I wouldn't ask unless I really thought that a little money could go a long way for a movement I genuinely believe in," Sauvage wrote.
Sauvage isn't doing it alone -- a production company called Covalent is doing work at-cost. And he's gotten more team members to join him and spread filming out beyond Zuccotti Park in New York to elsewhere around the country to highlight how the Occupy movement spread.
Watch one of the videos, below:

-- HuffPost's Tyler Kingkade
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7:37 AMToday
Oakland Police Chief Regrets Olsen Injury
CBS News reports:

Police Chief Howard Jordan said at a news conference that the events leading up to Olsen's injury would be investigated as vigorously as a fatal police shooting.
"It's unfortunate it happened. I wish that it didn't happen. Our goal, obviously, isn't to cause injury to anyone," the chief said.
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7:37 AMToday
Send A Get Well Card To Injured Veteran
@ deniseromano :@OWSworldwide Send Get Well Card to Scott Olsen c/o Highland General Hospital, 1411 East 31st St., Oakland CA 94602 #OWS #Solidarity
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7:19 AMToday
Quan Reverses Position Occupy Oakland
Looks like Occupy Oakland can retake the park. The Bay Citizen reports:

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, under attack from inside and outside her administration, announced late Wednesday that Occupy Oakland can return to the plaza in front of City Hall, an abrupt reversal that followed a night of street violence Tuesday and widespread criticism over her handling of the crisis.As more than 1,000 people descended on Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Quan called for "a minimum police presence" and said nonviolent protesters would be allowed to re-occupy the area near City Hall. One day earlier, with Quan's authorization, 400 police officers had dismantled the tent city.

-- Jason Cherkis
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6:59 AMToday
Occupy DC Is Its Own World
Washington City Paper provides an awesome map of Occupy DC's semi-sprawling encampment and a detailed chronicle of that world:

Consider McPherson Square. Its layout mimics the form of a city: There’s more earth than concrete, which allows a separation between the “residential” areas and paved spaces for transit and discussion. The mature trees serve as landmarks—“Meet by that oak,” you might say—and as shelter from both the sun and the rain. It’s surrounded by restaurants, residences, hotels, and offices that are all open to the street, creating a natural circulation of people who stop and stay a while on their way to lunch or appointments or the Metro.
That layout has helped the square develop its own internal geography. The west side is the most cosmopolitan, with communal tents for food, supplies, information, and medical help lining both sides of a wide pathway that serves as a main avenue. Other tents house media, technology, and finance along a side street. These thoroughfares are the most congested, as passersby stroll through, browse at the lending library, sit on a bench, or stop to chat at the information station without getting in anyone’s way. There are a few clever plays on the building blocks of urban life: A plastic bin with dry socks functions as a “sock exchange” and a water fountain has been converted into an “aqueduct” for filling gallon jugs using split bamboo poles, duct tape, and string.

To read the rest of the piece, go here.
-- Jason Cherkis
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6:58 AMToday
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Distances Herself From Police Raid
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Mayor Quan told reporters that she played a very limited role in the raid of Occupy Oakland's encampment:

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who is being criticized from all sides for a police sweep of the Occupy Oakland encampment, said Wednesday that she was not involved in the planning and did not even know when the action was going to take place.
The decision to raid the camp outside City Hall was made by City Administrator Deanna Santana on Oct. 19 with consultation from interim Police Chief Howard Jordan after campers repeatedly blocked paramedics and police from entering the camp despite reports of violence and injuries.
Quan told a news conference at City Hall on Wednesday that her input on the raid was limited.
"I only asked the chief to do one thing: to do it when it was the safest for both the police and the demonstrators," she said.

-- Jason Cherkis
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6:23 AMToday
Watch: NYPD Appear To Pummel Activist In Custody
Scenes from yesterday's solidarity march in New York which include clashes with police. One shot captures an officer repeatedly punching a demonstrator who is on the ground.

-- Jason Cherkis
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3:25 AMToday
An Update On Scott Olsen's Progress
@ MMFlint : Scott Olsen (Iraq War vet shot in head by cops w/ tear gas canister @OccupyOakland) is now in a medically-induced coma & on a respirator.
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3:03 AMToday
Occupy Oakland Calls For Strike, Mass Day Of Action
The Occupy Oakland General Assembly passed a proposal on Wednesday evening to launch a general strike on Nov. 2.
We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.
We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.
All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

Click here to read the rest of the proposal.
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1:56 AMToday
Police Activity In San Francisco
@ OccupySF : Multiple reports of hundreds of cops massing on Treasure Island as well as Potrero. #ows #OccupySF
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0:43 AMToday
Occupy Oakland Shooting Victim's Uncle Speaks Out
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