Occupy Oakland: Arrests may top 400; City Hall vandalized

January 30, 2012

The Los Angeles Times

Officials said Sunday that arrests from the Occupy Oakland protests the day before could reach 400 and vowed to seek restitution from those who vandalized City Hall.

Mayor Jean Quan said the city would seek monetary damages from protesters. In addition, the mayor said she would pursue “restorative justice” by asking that those deemed guilty be put to work picking up garbage and removing graffiti in East Oakland — a crime-ridden pocket where Quan has singled out 100 blocks for concentrated resources

Quan  condemned the local movement’s tactics as “a constant provocation of the police with a lot of violence toward them” and said the demonstrations were draining scarce resources from an already strapped city. Damage to the City Hall plaza alone has cost $2 million since October, she said, about as much as police overtime and mutual aid.

Police had their hands full dealing with protesters, some of whom smashed display cases, cut electrical wires and burned an American flag at City Hall.

PHOTO GALLERY: Occupy Oakland protest

Oakland has logged five homicides since Friday, added Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson. “If we have to take our law enforcement officers to pay attention to Occupy Oakland, then we are not serving the city residents who need us most,” Watson said.

News reports said 200 calls for police service had not been promptly answered Saturday night while officers were engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase with demonstrators.

Saturday’s Occupy action was publicized by the group as a planned takeover of a vacant building that would be “repurposed” as a “social center, convergence center and headquarters of the Occupy Oakland movement.” In an open letter to Quan on Wednesday, the group warned that if police attempted to thwart the takeover, “indefinite occupation” of Oakland’s airport, port and City Hall could follow.

The takeover effort was unsuccessful.

Police prevented an afternoon attempt by protesters to enter the city’s idled Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. Demonstrators then headed to the nearby Oakland Museum of California, where arrests occurred after an order to disperse was ignored. One officer suffered a cut to his face when a demonstrator threw a bicycle at him, another suffered a cut hand and a third was bruised, Watson said. At least one demonstrator was injured.

Later in the night, marchers entered the downtown Oakland YMCA, where hundreds of arrests took place. The City Hall break-in occurred about the same time, officials said.

Throughout the action, some demonstrators threw bottles and other objects at officers. In a tactic that officials said they had not previously confronted, protesters also moved in on the police line carrying elaborate shields. One such shield, on display at City Hall on Sunday, was about 6 by 4 feet and built of corrugated metal on wood panels, complete with multiple handles. “Commune Move In” was painted on the front of the shield.

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