As many as 3000 protesters gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza Wednesday evening where a vote was reached in favor of a citywide strike Wednesday, Nov. 2 as a show of support for the Occupy Oakland movement.
On Tuesday morning, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan sent police officers to the grassy section of the plaza to dismantle the Occupy Oakland encampment. The removal process turned violent hours later when the peaceful protesters who marched the streets of downtown Oakland clashed with 500 police officers in riot gear shooting rubber bullets and bean bags at the crowd and setting off tear gas.
“We are committed to allowing free speech, but the First Amendment doesn’t allow violence or endangering the public or property.” Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said in defense of his department SFGate reported.
Jordan said his department used the beanbags but not rubber bullets, but that other agencies may have used rubber bullets.
Several people were confirmed injured including 24-year-old Scott Olsen, Veteran For Peace member and Marine Corps veteran twice deployed to Iraq.
Olsen was taken to the hospital where he remains in stable but serious condition with a fractured skull after being struck by a projectile fired into the crowd by the police.
“These Occupy movement participants are telling us something we need very desperately to hear. They should be listened to, not arrested and brutalized,” Veterans For Peace said in an official statement.
Filmmaker Michael Moore agrees tweeting, “Peaceful assembly is an absolute right guaranteed by our constitution. This cannot be changed by a newly militarized police force. I am saddened & angry at [Occupy Oakland’s] treatment by the police. I will come tomorrow to Oakland & stand with you.”
Investigative journalist Barrett Brown is taking things into his own hands and offering a $1,000 reward (money continues to pour in and is now well over $2,000,) “no questions asked, for the name of the officer who threw a flashbang at Scott Olsen.
“These are among the most disturbing and criminal acts to have been proven on the part of U.S. police since NYPD officers were outed as having routinely planted drugs on suspects earlier this month. The time has come to retaliate against Oakland police via all non-violent means, beginning with documenting of individual officers and particularly higher-ups involved in the department’s conduct of late.”
Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons reminds protesters violence is not the answer.
“I’m hearing reports from the field about throwing bottles and cans in Oakland. I understand the frustration – I over-stand it! But real change – the change that got blacks the right the vote, that freed South Africa, that ended Vietnam – they were all NON-VIOLENT. For a reason. They had MORAL POWER,” he writes in the Global Grind.
I saw today a young black man, the newly designated Acting Police Chief of Oakland, and he was scared. We need to bring these people on our side, not fight them. If they are ordered to fight us, we will not fight back. We will call for the removal of those leaders who are forcing them fight their own brothers and sisters.
They will provoke you. They will vilify you. They will shoot our heroes in the head with rubber bullets. They will burn our eyes with chemicals. But, real courage is staying true to the principals of non-violent complete radical change for the 99%. Every bottle we throw is a bullet in the heart of our own movement. FIGHT RIGHT OR GO HOME!”