Occupy Oakland diverted police from calls, officials say
Oakland officials said the massive Occupy Oakland demonstration on Saturday diverted police resources from calls elsewhere in the city, stymieing the Police Department's crime-fighting efforts.
An estimated 400 demonstrators were arrested during the protest, with some activists breaking into City Hall and vandalizing it.
Mayor Jean Quan condemned the local movement's tactics as "a constant provocation of the police with a lot of violence toward them" and said the demonstrations were draining scarce resources from an already financially-strapped city.
Oakland has logged five homicides since Friday, and Police Chief Howard Jordan told the Los Angeles Times that the law enforcement "personnel and resources dedicated to Occupy reduce our ability to focus on public safety priorities." [Updated at 9:03 a.m.: It is unclear exactly how many calls were delayed because of the protests.]
Oakland officials will seek monetary damages from protesters, Quan said. In addition, the mayor said she would pursue "restorative justice" by asking that those deemed guilty be put to work picking up garbage and removing graffiti in East Oakland.
In a morning tour of the damaged City Hall, Quan pointed out that a room with a smashed door and a toppled soda machine is used for classes for low-income, first-time homeowners. Several flags that had adorned the grand staircase were missing.
City Council agendas and trash littered the floor in the building's grand lobby. Although some graffiti had already been removed, evidence of the previous night's mayhem was visible in broken display cases.
Here is Quan discussing the vandalism in an Oakland Tribune video:
-- Lee Romney and Shelby Grad