OAKLAND — The Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza was removed by police in riot gear on Nov. 14.
In contrast to a similar raid on Oct. 25 that led to massive protests and the use of tear gas by police, this week campers put up little resistance and 32 chose to be arrested, NBC Bay Area reports. After debris was cleared from the plaza, it remained open to protesters, but they were prohibited from camping.
The plaza is named for Frank Ogawa (1917-1994), the first Japanese American to serve on the Oakland City Council. A bronze bust of Ogawa, who was a councilman for 28 years, stands in the plaza. Protesters temporarily renamed the site Oscar Grant Plaza in honor of a young, unarmed African American man who was shot and killed by a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) officer in Oakland in 2009 — an incident that also resulted in massive protests downtown.
Mayor Jean Quan, who has been criticized for her handling of the Occupy Oakland encampment, issued the following statement on Nov. 15:
“Yesterday’s peaceful resolution proved that Oakland can work together to address tough issues. Clearly it takes all of us working together to address the problems facing our city.
“We are grateful that yesterday’s removal of the camp at Frank Ogawa went smoothly and peacefully. The residents of Oakland realized that the encampment had taken on a different direction from the national movement.
“We took the time to meet with people tent by tent to encourage them to leave peacefully so that only a few a dozen demonstrators were left when police arrived. There was no violence and there was no camping, which has been my goal. People were able to continue to exercise their first amendment rights — last night’s march and the general assembly were peaceful.
“We were happy to see civil relationships between demonstrators and police and we hope that those actions will go a long way to developing an even stronger foundation for community policing.
“I want to thank the Oakland community, the demonstrators who left peacefully and marched peacefully, community peacekeepers and particularly our police force, Chief (Howard) Jordan and City Administrator Deanna J. Santana for their well-organized effort.
“And I also want to thank the public works staff for clearing the plaza and restoring it for public use so quickly. Demonstrators were able to meet in the Amphitheater and hold a general assembly at the plaza by early evening.
“Frank Ogawa Plaza is the cultural hub of Oakland with many different groups using the space for self-expression. It will remain open for public use but camping will not be allowed.
“We encourage the community to make a special effort to support our downtown and Chinatown businesses that have been greatly impacted by the last few weeks of the encampment.
“The chief, city administrator and I will continue to monitor any potential encampments, but the city’s focus must be on getting back to our priorities for serving the entire city.
“We need to move forward with our comprehensive public safety plan that focuses on the 100 blocks that are responsible for 90 percent of violent crime in our city. We must also wrap city’s services and more family resources around these neighborhoods. When we reduce the crime in these 100 blocks, the entire city benefits.
“Equally important is bringing businesses and jobs to Oakland. I will continue to meet and work with companies who are considering locating here to stimulate jobs and bring revenue to our city.
“Our attention and focus must remain on the important city priorities and the work ahead — jobs, education and public safety.”