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Occupy Oakland: Police arrest 300, officials decry 'illegal activity'

January 29, 2012 |  7:48 am
Police move in on Occupy Oakland protesters as tear gas is blown back toward the officers

Oakland police made more than 300 arrests during a tense Occupy Oakland protest Saturday, with city officials expressing frustration and outrage at the tactics of some demonstrators.

City Administrator Deanna Santana said the city "will not be bullied by threats of violence or illegal activity. ... Breaking into buildings, assaulting police officers, provoking confrontations and vandalizing property are tactics that are counterproductive and divide our community. They drain scarce city resources away from the neighborhoods in greatest need. Oakland deserves better."

Other city officials said the protests prevented police from dealing with other emergencies.

PHOTOS: Occupy Oakland

"This particular faction of Occupy ... they're very violent, and I'm going to be asking for a lot more mutual aid," Mayor Jean Quan told the Oakland Tribune. "They are hurting the neighborhoods by continuing to do this on Saturday nights."

Police in riot gear faced off with demonstrators Saturday afternoon at a rally near City Hall. Hundreds of protesters then marched toward the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, where they began tearing down the fencing around the auditorium, and police moved to stop them.

By 3 p.m., an area to the west near the Oakland Museum of California was declared an illegal assembly as a thick line of officers attempted to disperse the protesters. Police fired tear gas and flash grenades, and some demonstrators responded by throwing rocks and bottles, according to news reports.

A number of  arrests occurred when demonstrators "ignored the dispersal order and assaulted officers," police said. Three officers were reported injured, but no details were released about the injuries.

After demonstrators failed to take over the convention center, dozens ran into the YMCA in the 2300 block of Broadway, where police moved in and began making additional arrests.

In a flier distributed at the starting march, organizers said the movement, “like millions of people, needs a home. Because thousands of buildings sit empty -- for the simple reason that they exist to enrich the 1%. Because with our own space we can create a social center that begins to meet people’s needs -- our needs -- and work to build a world based on humanity and community, not profit.”


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Photo: Police move in on Occupy Oakland protesters as tear gas is blown back toward the officers. Credit: Jane Tyska / Associated Press