Shooting victim is tied to Occupy Oakland
Oakland police said Sunday that a man shot to death near the Civic Center on Thursday had been staying at the Occupy movement's encampment, as had one suspect in the killing.
Many campers whose tents now crowd the City Hall plaza have said they did not believe the shooting was connected to Occupy Oakland and suggested that the city was using the incident as further justification to raze the encampment. Police have issued three eviction orders to campers since Friday, asserting that they are violating laws banning open fires, overnight camping in public parks and the use of propane, among other activities. The most recent "cease and desist" order was handed out to campers Sunday.
In an evening news release, police said the Alameda County ccoroner's office has identified the man shot shortly before 5 p.m. on Thursday as Kayode Ola Foster, 25. Foster's family, the release said, confirmed to police investigators "that Foster had recently been staying at Frank Ogawa Plaza."
According to police, witnesses say one suspect was a "frequent resident" at the camp for several days before the shooting. A second suspect is also being sought. The Oakland Police Department and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
The encampment took root Oct. 10 and was cleared by police Oct. 25 in an action that triggered a mass evening protestwith some violence and a heavy response by police in riot gear who used tear gas, bean bag bullets and other projectiles on the crowd. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, a veteran liberal activist, allowed the camp to reestablish itself on the plaza after images of the gas-clouded streets and news of a critically injured peaceful protester made international news.
But then a largely peaceful Nov. 2 "general strike" attended by as many as 10,000 supporters turned violent at night when 200 people took over a building, lighted fires and vandalized small businesses and city property. A majority of the City Council, business leaders and even some Occupy movement supporters have since called for the camp to be dismantled again.
In a statement Sunday, Quan said the city has made "real progress" over the last few days in encouraging some protesters to leave voluntarily. The city reports that the number of tents is down to 150 from 180.
"It is now clear to most Oaklanders that because of the increased violence associated with the camp and the strain on our city's economy and resources, now is the time for the encampment to end," she said.
City officials will continue to provide information about shelters and other services, and is opening its winter shelter Monday -- a day early.
In her message Sunday, Quan said the city has "tried to negotiate" with the encampment since the beginning but that Oakland remains "one of the few cities where occupiers refuse to allow direct communications with a group of representatives."
"Camping is a tactic," she wrote. "It is one that has divided Oakland, a city of the 99%. It's time to work together on the issues of unemployment, foreclosures and education cuts. While the camping must end, the movement continues."
-- Lee Romney
Photo: An Occupy Oakland medic, wearing red, and others tend to a shooting victim near the encampment. Credit: Jane Tyska / Associated Press