Tense standoff at Occupy Oakland

Occupy Oakland was broken up early this morning. Citing allegations of drunkenness, sexual assault, and health violations, the city sent in the police at 4:30 a.m. to take down the camp. Given the timing of the police action, it’s hard to believe that drunkenness and health violations constituted a real part of the reason for eviction, and one sexual assault had been reported several days before. Nevertheless, the police broke up the encampment, and city workers removed all tents and equipment, presumably destroying the garden that Everett and I saw yesterday.

The Oakland Tribune has been liveblogging the events today, and as of 6:30 p.m. (20 minutes ago), about a thousand protesters are in front of city hall at the site of the encampment. Police have demanded the protesters disperse, but the protesters aren’t going:

The protesters, possibly as many as 1,000 people, are all gathered at 14th street and Broadway. Over the last 30 minutes, police have launched wooden dowls and some concussion gernades into the crowds. It was not immediately known how many protesters, if any, were hit. An Oakland Tribune news photographer was hit with something launched by police. At least two people have been arrested since the rally and march kicked off at 4 p.m. Many in the crowd are wearing bandanas, possibly to protect themselve if the police use tear gas. Sirens are sounding, motorcycle police from many agencies are in downtown and there is general chaos as police try and clear out the massive amount of people.

I talked with Everett a couple of hours ago, and we agreed that we were glad we had seen the encampment — more of a village, really — before the city destroyed it; and from what had had seen of the occupiers, we also agreed that we would not be surprised if they returned. But what will happen tonight is anyone’s guess.

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