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12 Occupy Oakland protesters charged in weekend confrontation

January 31, 2012 |  7:14 pm

An Occupy Oakland protester retreats as police fire flash bang grenades and other projectiles .
Alameda County prosecutors filed charges Tuesday against 12 Occupy Oakland demonstrators swept up  in the most volatile confrontation between the movement and police since October.

Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said prosecutors still were reviewing investigative reports against hundreds of others arrested in Saturday’s action -- which began when activists marched to a vacant convention center and attempted to occupy it.

A melee a short while later left three officers and at least one demonstrator injured.

Protesters also marched toward the YMCA, where police made mass arrests when a group entered the  building.

Other demonstrators broke into Oakland’s City Hall and vandalized it.

More than three-fourths of the 360 protesters taken to jails were cited for failing to disperse or “remaining at the scene of a riot,” jail records showed.  They have since been released.

Of those arraigned Tuesday, four were charged with felonies, including assault on an officer.

At the request of prosecutors, the judge ordered them to stay away from the City Hall plaza where the movement has carried out most of its protests, as well as from the convention center that activists attempted to occupy Saturday.

They will enter pleas Thursday.

Seven of the eight misdemeanor defendants also were arraigned Tuesday on charges including resisting arrest, illegally covering one’s face with the intent of committing a crime and vandalism, Drenick said.

The judge ordered them to stay away from the City Hall plaza. The eighth defendant will be arraigned Feb. 7.

Dist. Atty. Nancy O’Malley said in a statement that her office would seek stay away orders in all cases “when legally appropriate and we will seek full restitution for all damages caused by each defendant….While we respect every citizen's right to protest peacefully, we will not tolerate individuals who come to Oakland with an organized strategy to riot, clash with police officers, vandalize property and wreak havoc upon the City.”

Demonstrators caught up in the sweep near the YMCA maintained that police did not give them time to disperse.

Among them was 18-year-old Lorea Foinels of Alameda, who said she spent six hours on the sidewalk in plastic cuffs and another 26 hours in jail before she was processed and booked for “remaining at the scene of a riot.”

Foinels said that either she nor anyone she knows committed acts of violence or vandalism.

YMCA staff allowed demonstrators into the building as they sought to escape officers who had surrounded them, said Foinels, who added that police had fired tear gas and bean bags at the crowd earlier in the evening, and some marchers were trying to avoid another confrontation.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson  said delays in processing the detainees were caused by the large volume and the fact that many jail deputies were reassigned to Oakland’s streets to offer mutual aid in the ongoing protest.

-- Lee Romney in Oakland

Photo: An Occupy Oakland protester retreats as police fire flash bang grenades and other projectiles. Credit: Jane Tyska/The Oakland Tribune