Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Oakland plans to reopen plaza for protesting — not camping

October 26, 2011 | 11:19 am

A bean bag shell casing is seen beside grafiti left behind at Frank H. Ogawa plaza Wednesday
A small band of protesters remained outside Oakland's central city plaza Wednesday morning after a night in which Occupy Oakland demonstrators clashed with police.

The group watched peacefully as city workers erected a chain-link fence around the grassy area that about 350 people had populated before police cleared the main encampment Tuesday.

City officials said they planned to reopen the plaza to the public once the fence was up — to allow for protest but not camping.

PHOTOS: Occupy Oakland protest

Businesses in the area were open and little damage was visible save for two cracked windows. The damage to one of those windows was caused by a rubber bullet fired by police, said Mike Porter, 24, who camped at the plaza for eight nights until he was arrested before dawn Tuesday.

Police have said they used no rubber bullets, but protesters say they have collected evidence to the contrary.

Demonstrators plan to reconvene in the plaza at 6 p.m. Wednesday and say protests will continue nightly.

"When they finally did raid it, it was the most ridiculous use of taxpayer resources," said Porter, of Pleasant Hill, about 20 miles away.

His booking sheet shows he was cited for disorderly conduct, loitering with no identification — though he says he carried two pieces of ID — and remaining at the scene after it had been declared an illegal assembly.

He spent about 15 hours in jail and could hear the chants of protesters from his cell.

"I came back down as soon as I got out," he said, sporting black sneakers with sky-blue laces.

Porter decried the repeated use of tear gas and flash grenades, saying lone actors were responsible for breaking the peaceful vibe of the action to occasionally lob a bottle at riot-geared police.

"There was never more than one object there at once and as soon as they did that the police would gas everyone," he said. "We're mad at the police too, but throwing something is not going to get you anywhere."

As he spoke, motorists passing through downtown honked and hollered in support.

The message, protesters said, was clear: The nature of the crackdown and police response seemed to stir greater support for the right to demonstrate.

"It's gonna be a tough lesson," Porter said.


Occupy Oakland: Police and protesters in tense standoff

Occupy Oakland: Police fire two more rounds of tear gas at crowd

Occupy Oakland: Protest spokeswoman says police action "beyond" what's necessary

— Lee Romney in Oakland

Photo: A spent bean-bag shell casing lies near graffiti in Oakland's Frank H. Ogawa plaza Wednesday. Credit: Ben Margot / Associated Press