Breaking: Occupy Oakland Camp Flattened
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Video courtesy of Ustream - Occupy Oakland
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Police have begun arresting people remaining in Frank Ogawa Plaza this morning, and are in the process of dismantling what remains of the Occupy Oakland camp that has occupied the space for most of the last month.
Police blocked off the plaza shortly before 6 a.m. today with lines of riot police. Most protesters had already moved into the street at 14th Street and Broadway before police arrived.
Protesters continue to play music and chant, and have not been ordered to disperse yet, according to live video accounts by protesters.
"We've got the power, people power" protesters chanted as arrestees were led out of Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Some of the arrestees were from the camp's Interfaith Leaders tent, who held a vigil tonight waiting for police to arrive.
Dozens of Oakland police, assisted by Alameda County Sheriff's deputies and several other local police agencies from as far away as Pacifica and Foster City moved into the area around Frank Ogawa Plaza this morning to enforce continuing violations in the plaza related to the Occupy Oakland encampment, according to city of Oakland officials.
Police moved in beginning at 4:30 a.m. and by 5 a.m. officers in riot gear had blocked streets surrounding the plaza.
Rumors had spread among Occupy Oakland protesters that a police raid was imminent this morning, and protesters gathered in the street at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway early this morning to wait for police action.
Another protester climbed a tree in the plaza and has remained there for several hours.
The 12th Street BART station in Oakland will be closed this morning due to police activity in the area, BART officials said.
Protesters announced on the Occupy Oakland website that if the camp is evicted they will reconvene at the Oakland Public Library at 125 14th St. at 4 p.m.
Occupy Oakland amassed at the same library on Oct. 25 after a raid earlier that morning forcibly evicted protesters from the camp.
Dozens were arrested as police tore down tents, dragged sleeping protesters out of the area, and reportedly used smoke grenades and tear gas to disperse campers.
Protesters had occupied the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall since Oct. 10.
After gathering at the library in the afternoon, protesters marched back to 14th Street and Broadway, just outside of the plaza, but were blocked from proceeding by barricades and dozens of riot police.
Police used smoke grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, who reconvened and returned to the corner repeatedly throughout the night.
After the raid drew international media attention and many criticized Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and interim police Chief Howard Jordan's handling of the protests, police presence was minimal the following day and protesters were allowed to return to the plaza.
After staging a one-day "general strike" that peacefully shut down the Port of Oakland on Nov. 2, smaller protests that night again ended in confrontations with police involving tear gas.
Dozens of downtown Oakland businesses were vandalized during the clashes, and pressure began mounting for city officials to again remove the camp.
The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce issued several statements that said the ongoing encampment was harming downtown businesses, a claim which protesters disputed.
After 25-year-old Kayode Ola Foster was fatally shot near the camp on Thursday, Quan and police increased pressure for protesters to leave the plaza peacefully.
Police have issued several eviction notices over the last several days, demanding protesters immediately leave the area, but many protesters have remained camping in the plaza.
(Copyright ©2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)