More than 50 officers from Solano County were part of the police contingent that cleared the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall of protesters and sparked a national controversy.
Solano officers from Vallejo, Benicia, Vacaville, Suisun City, Dixon and the sheriff’s department were sent to Oakland late Monday night and joined a force of more than 300 police who removed protesters from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
But the Solano officers were no longer on the scene Tuesday evening when protesters returned to the plaza and officers fired tear gas and smoke grenades in response, Vallejo Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jeff Bassett told the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper.
The police action against the Occupy Oakland protesters has added to the controversy over similar protests in cities across the state and country.
Occupy protests are continuing in New York, where the movement began, and have spread to Georgia, Oregon, Texas and other states in addition to California.
But Solano County officers had no clue that the Oakland scene would become violent based on the eight morning hours they were in the plaza.
“It was fairly uneventful,” Basset told the newspaper.
“The only people arrested were those who refused to clear the area, and they pretty much gave up with a whimper.”
The spokesman for the Solano County Sheriff’s Department, Sgt. Walt Gilliam, said he was surprised that the scene deteriorated after the Solano officers departed.
“It was surprising,” Gilliam said.
“It looked like it went smoothly the morning before.”
But Bassett told the newspaper that sanitary conditions at the protest encampment were “horrendous” and said he was surprised that the protesters were permitted to stay for weeks.
“It was enough to make you vomit,” he said. “There was … garbage everywhere, it was just disgusting.”
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has since apologized for the raid and said officials were investigating the police response.