Occupy Oakland protesters assess damage after clash
Tasha Casini, 22, had been among the protesters camping at Oakland's central plaza since Oct. 13.
Police said they did not use rubber bullets in the clash with protesters but many of the demonstrators said they had the bruises to prove otherwise.
"It was an anti-repression march," Casini said of the demonstration, noting that she saw no violence from protesters.
Casini was wounded when she returned with others to try to retake the plaza after the "second or third order to disperse."
A woman in the crowd was hit by a projectile fired by police, she said. As Casini rushed to help the unconscious demonstrator, she was struck in the back of the thigh.
A flash grenade landed right next to the downed woman's face, and those trying to assist her were forced to flee.
Casini acknowledged that an officer a few blocks away had been hit with a paintball but said she was appalled at the force of the police response given the overall peaceful nature of the action.
Others seemed to agree. Leandra Johnson, 36, of El Sobrante stood in the intersection at the plaza, holding a sign reading: "We Have the Right to Peaceful Assembly" as motorists honked in support.
It was the mother of five's first outing in support of the movement.
"Last night is the reason I'm here today, and it'll be the reason I'm here tomorrow," she said. "We have dictators falling around the world, and we support peaceful protest in those places, and this happens here."
She called Oakland's tactics "very disappointing."
Richard Rossman, 83, said he and his wife joined other "old farts" in peaceful protest every Monday in Berkeley, where they live, to call for taxation of "the richest Americans."
He said he thought the Occupy Oakland camp could have been disassembled more effectively.
He noted that Oakland's gathering had taken on a disturbing flavor, marred by drinking, drugs, trash and violence and a large number of homeless people and others who incited conflict.
San Francisco's action, which he visited early on, was more "joyful," with a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and littering, he noted.
"I think it [Occupy Oakland] needed to be removed, but it could have been done in a different way," he said, with more outreach from city leaders and public health officials.
Oakland city officials, however, insist they tried to work cooperatively with the camp and got nowhere. They were planning a news conference for later in the day to discuss police actions.
-- Lee Romney in Oakland
Photo: Occupy Oakland protester Tasha Casini showed off a massive bruise Wednesday that she said she received in a direct hit from a rubber bullet. Credit: Lee Romney / Los Angeles Times