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West Coast Occupy Camps’ Increased Vulnerability to Police Raids and Eviction

As the Occupy encampments continue to grow along the west coast, city officials have been taking action to ensure they do not last long. In just the last week, we’ve seen a heightened increase in policy raids, violence and threats to shut down camps in Oakland, Berkeley, Portland and other locations across the US. Police and city officials are now taking an even more hard-lined stance against camping as a tactic in the Occupy Movement.

Occupy Oakland, which is celebrating its 5th week in existence, has currently been threatened by three eviction notices by the city of Oakland. The third, supported by mayor Jean Quan, states, “Your activities are injurious to health, obstruct the free use of property, interfering with the comfortable enjoyment of the Plaza, and unlawfully obstruct the free passage or use of a public park or square”. It indicates that if protesters choose not to leave the park, they will be subject to arrest and their belongings (tents, stoves, sleeping bags, tarps, etc.) may be immediately removed by the city of Oakland.

The eviction comes after Wednesday night’s shooting outside of OO, where a man was killed in an unrelated act of street violence. However, many reports and even Quan herself, have pinned this shooting as a direct product of the camp environment. This propaganda has given even further ground for the imminent eviction. Tonight, the encampment is on high alert as reports of a police raid are scheduled for late tonight or in the early morning hours Monday. In response, the occupyers  have scheduled a party, fit with music and dancing to celebrate the powerful capacity of the movement even in the face of an expected  threat.

Complete Text of the Occupy Oakland Eviction Notice – Click Twice

Just north east of Oakland, protesters at Occupy Cal in Berkeley were violently assaulted by police on Wednesday in front of Sproul hall while protesting and dissenting against massive budget cuts by the state of California on the CSU and UC systems. Students stepped toe to toe with police, peacefully, until police officers, after no provocation occurred, began jamming battons into the crowd to attempt to push them back. The students responded in chanting, “Stop beating students!” until the police backed down.

And just yesterday in Portland, Oregon, Occupy Portland was shut down and 50 protesters were subsequently arrested. Hundreds of protesters were forced by riot police into two encampments. Protesters are now reconvening to determine their next move.

The increased potential for violence has deterred many protesters from participating to protect encampments from eviction. However, this is the most crucial time for individuals to support the movement. Most raids and police provocation occur in the middle of the night and early morning hours, when camps are most vulnerable. Police and city officials feel comfortable allowing protests during the day in which masses of people can come and safely “make their voice heard”. The Occupy Oakland General Strike is a perfect example of this. However, when night falls and there are still campers exercising their right to assemble, the true position of city officials is exposed.

The Occupy Movement needs you in these most vulnerable times. Of course is it most convenient for supporters to visit their local encampments on days declared a General Strike or after getting off work to make it to the General Assembly. However, the wars being waged against Occupy encampments are happening after we fall comfortably asleep. The longevity of the movement will be determined by our ability as a collective, across the country to protect these camps’ right to assemble, right to protest and right to free speech in our publicly owned places.

As for tonight in Oakland, we commune and we wait.

Update: Hundreds of police first gathered at the Oakland colosseum to rally troops before the invasion of the Occupy Oakland camp. Protesters filled the intersection of 14th and Broadway before police in riot gear arrived at around 4:30 AM this morning. Many campers both before the raid and during, packed up their tents and belongings to move to Snow Park for safety.  Police circled the camp and stood off between protesters before marching on the plaza. During the police raid between the hours of 5AM and slightly after 7AM, over 32 people were arrested, many of whom refused to leave their tents in an act of civil disobedience. Most arrests were peaceful. Currently, the Snow Park encampment contains a little over 30 tents and many protesters have hopes of reconvening at Oscar Grant (Frank Ogawa Plaza).


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About Constance Gordon