Police Harassment of Occupy Oakland Members Continues in Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, Update

Posted on December 16, 2011

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Continuing harassment from the previous night, police arrested two to three people—one apparently for sitting on a blanket in the plaza. Police also apparently confiscated a food table, which has been for weeks offering free food to the hungry in the plaza.

While the vigil itself operates under a permit, actual use of the park remains a hotly contested issue, as police, under the orders of the city administrator’s office, enforce several absurdly expressed city codes, applied in discriminatory fashion. Rights of public use once taken for granted in the city are apparently no longer available to members of Occupy Oakland, or their supporters—many of which, at this point, remain the core of working class and poor people of color from surrounding neighborhoods.

The recent arrests and harassment should be of concern to any one who regularly uses or passes through the plaza. If you have questions about how to safely use the park without risking arrest make sure to call Arturo Sanchez:

Email: ASanchez@oaklandnet.com
Phone: (510) 238-7542

Update:

I just talked to Ali, one of three people who was arrested this afternoon. we told me that the altercation started when he tried to retrieve some items from Department of Public Works bin where they had been discarded. He was surrounded by police, who tried to restrain him and dragged him toward the paddy wagon. As a way to pacify him, he was told that he would only get a citation, but he was arrested anyway, and taken to jail where he was charged with resisting arrest with five thousand dollar bail. The community put together bail and he was released on bail after midnight. Khali remains in jail on unrelated charges.

Update 2:

Alex in comments adds his perspective on the attack on the food table:

I was at Ogawa/Grant plaza today when the arrests happened, and was actually one of the people carrying the food table. It was not taken by city workers or police.

The police showed up and told everyone that there could be no free-standing structures other than the approved vigil table, or they would be confiscated. A number of us didn’t want the food or the food table to be trashed, so we picked it up and started walking with it, so it would no longer be a free-standing structure. Other people followed to carry coolers, water, boxes and other food supplies, and we started marching around with the food. A few officers told us that if we set the table down we would be cited. When one of the women helping carry the table asked what we would be cited for, she was arrested. The table never touched the ground and the rest of us carrying it decided to move it offsite so it would not be wasted.

While we were waiting for a car to pick up the table and food supplies, DPW came by with a cart full of belongings to throw in a dumpster. One of the workers saw a suitcase and sleeping bag and didn’t feel comfortable throwing away what might be someone’s only belongings. We asked if they could set the belongings aside, so we could pick them up on another trip. The one worker gave us the suitcase and sleeping bag so we could return it to its owner, and we thanked him. When we asked about other items like folding chairs that were being thrown in the trash, another DPW worker yelled at us, “Sort it out once it’s in the dumpster, I just want to finish my work and go home!”. We managed to save a few other items, but not many. The owner of the car was going to return to the GA today, so that people can get their stuff back, but mainly it was just food table items.

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