Email this article to a friend

Uprising

Monday, Nov 14, 2011, 10:11 am

Oakland Police Raze Camp, Raids In Denver And Portland

By Allison Kilkenny

Oakland Police, perhaps wishing to send a national message, waited until the east coast AM news cycle Monday to raid the Occupy Oakland encampment. But before the raid began, hundreds of demonstrators had already gathered at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street overnight in anticipation of the eviction.

"It feels pretty sad because we built a community here, and now they can just come and destroy it," said Lara Bitar, 28, who helped collapse three of the camp's four tents early Monday morning. "At the same time, this movement is about more than just the space here."

This is a mentality shared by the nationwide Occupy chapters. The attitude seems to be, no matter how many times the police raid the camps, no many how many times authorities seize Occupy's gear and perform mass arrests, the occupiers will keep coming back - perhaps not in the same locations, but somewhere, eventually. For example, Oakland protesters have already planned to gathered at 4 p.m. at the main library and march through downtown.

Just as that spirit of resilience remains the same, the strategy in confronting police adhered to the tradition of civil disobedience demonstrated by most occupiers, and reflected in an email from an unknown source that circulated among campers. The email advised protesters to remain peaceful and warned, "Expect to see overwhelming use of force by police directed to occupiers who refuse to comply."

Despite the ominous warnings, the eviction was largely peaceful and completed before 7.a.m., though according to media reports, about 20 to 25 protesters were still arrested during the raid.

Video showing officers dismantling tents also features protesters chanting, "Every time you kick us out, we are gonna multiply," and as police cleared the camp, a pair of protesters exchanged impromptu wedding vows:

Portland Raids

Several hundred protesters in Portland, some wearing gas masks and pepper spray goggles, marched past authorities downtown, following raids on two Occupy Portland encampments that resulted in the arrests of 50 individuals

Media outlets -- and I've been guilty of this myself -- such as CBS News sometimes unfairly coin these kinds of confrontations "showdowns," as though the two sides have equal armor and/or ammo when in fact protesters are usually completely unarmed and largely peaceful whereas police are armed with all kinds of weaponry. In Portland, the scenario was no different. Protesters linked arms and stood their ground against officers dressed in full riot gear. 

The confrontation lasted overnight, at one point the crowd swelling to thousands of people. As dawn arrived, riot police had retreated, leaving many protesters to believe they had successfully forced the police to stand down.  

More Arrests In Denver

Three Occupy protesters were arrested on Sunday at Civic Center Park. A state trooper was reportedly injured when he was hit with an object in the head and another officer twisted his knee. 

Tensions grew after police began removing a food table from the park, leading protesters to surround a police car. Sunday's conflict follows another round of arrests made on Saturday night when police dressed in riot gear raided the park, claiming the occupiers' furniture and tents were blocking the right of way.

Protesters have their own litany of accusations to fling back at police, claiming officers have threatened to "break the teeth" of activists, and that police follow protesters even after they left the park, and have assaulted demonstrators who stood on the sidelines.

Allison Kilkenny is an In These Times Staff Writer and the co-host of the critically acclaimed radio show Citizen Radio. Her blog for In These Times, Uprising, focuses on efforts around the world to address the global economic crisis.

View Comments