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Jesse Mckinley and Abby Goodnough report: "After weeks of cautiously accepting the teeming round-the-clock protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street, several cities have come to the end of their patience and others appear to be not far behind."

Oakland police search tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza as they disperse Occupy Oakland protesters in Oakland, CA, 10/25/11. (photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Oakland police search tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza as they disperse Occupy Oakland protesters in Oakland, CA, 10/25/11. (photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Cities Begin Cracking Down on 'Occupy' Protests

By Jesse Mckinley and Abby Goodnough, The New York Times

27 October 11


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns


fter weeks of cautiously accepting the teeming round-the-clock protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street, several cities have come to the end of their patience and others appear to be not far behind.

Here in Oakland, in a scene reminiscent of the antiwar protests of the 1960s, the police filled downtown streets with tear gas late Tuesday to stop throngs of protesters from re-entering a City Hall plaza that had been cleared of their encampment earlier in the day. And those protests, which resulted in more than 100 arrests and at least one life-threatening injury, appeared ready to ignite again on Wednesday night as supporters of the Occupy movement promised to retake the square. Early Wednesday evening, city officials were trying to defuse the situation, opening streets around City Hall, though the encampment site was still fenced off.

But after about an hour of speeches, the crowd removed the fences. The number of protesters swelled to about 3,000 people, but the demonstration remained peaceful. Leaders led a series of call-and-response chants. "Now the whole world is watching Oakland," was one phrase that was repeated as passing cars honked in approval. The police had gone, compared with a heavy presence the night before.

The official protest broke up around 10 p.m. local time, peacefully, with protesters dancing, carrying American flags and generally celebrating what seemed to be a well-attended demonstration of some 3,000 people.

Shortly after the end of that protest, however, hundreds of demonstrators began to wander down Broadway, Oakland's central thoroughfare, in an unplanned march. The Oakland police, who had been noticeably absent during the protests at City Hall, began donning protective riot gear as demonstrators upped their rhetoric and tried to board Bay Area Rapid Transit trains. Several entrances to the BART system were closed, agitating protesters and adding to an increasingly tense atmosphere in Oakland, which had exploded in violence a mere 24 hours before.

The impromptu march continued west toward Oakland's waterfront as it became more apparent that there was little central organizing structure.

About 10:25 p.m., a crowd of a thousand protesters arrived at Oakland's police headquarters and began milling about. Some tried to put garbage cans in the street, while others beseeched the crowd to remain peaceful. The Oakland police manned the front door of their headquarters and maintained a loose perimeter.

At midnight, a much diminished crowd of perhaps 500 had marched back to Frank Ogawa Plaza, where violence broke out Tuesday night. Some were sitting in the intersection but the police kept their distance.

Across the bay, meanwhile, in the usually liberal environs of San Francisco, city officials there had also seemingly hit their breaking point, warning several hundred protesters that they were in violation of the law by camping at a downtown site after voicing concerns about unhealthy and often squalid conditions in the camp, including garbage, vermin and human waste.

Early on Thursday, a crowd of hundreds continued to chant, wave flags and beat drums. Rumors circulated suggesting that police officers were massing but few were visible. Dozens of tents remained in the plaza.

In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed ordered the police to arrest more than 50 protesters early Wednesday and remove their tents from a downtown park after deciding that the situation had become unsafe, despite originally issuing executive orders to let them camp there overnight.

And like many of his mayoral colleagues nationwide, Mr. Reed openly expressed frustration with the protesters" methods.

"The attitude I have seen here is not consistent with any civil rights protests I have seen in Atlanta," Mr. Reed said in an interview, "and certainly not consistent with the most respected forms of civil disobedience."

Similar confrontations could soon come to pass in other cities, including Providence, RI, where Mayor Angel Taveras has vowed to seek a court order to remove protesters from Burnside Park, which they have occupied since Oct. 15.

And while other, bigger cities, including New York, Boston and Philadelphia, have taken a more tolerant view of the protests - for now - officials are still grappling with growing concerns about crime, sanitation and homelessness at the encampments. Even in Los Angeles, where the City Council passed a resolution in support of the protesters, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa warned Wednesday that they would not be allowed to remain outside City Hall indefinitely.

Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, echoed that. "It's a daily assessment for us," she said.

More and more, mayors across the country say they have found themselves walking a complex and politically delicate line: simultaneously wanting to respect the right to free speech and assembly, but increasingly concerned that the protests cannot stay orderly and safe.

"We can do lots of different things to help them on our end," said Mr. Taveras, who estimates that roughly 200 people have camped out in Providence despite a city rule forbidding such behavior. "But we cannot allow an indefinite stay there, and we can't allow them to continue to violate the law."

The protests showed little sign of slacking. In Chicago, for example, demonstrators gathered Wednesday outside the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel requesting 24-hour access to Grant Park and demanding that charges be dropped against the more than 300 protesters arrested there in the past weeks.

"He's denying us our constitutional right to not only free speech, but peaceful continual assembly," said Andy Manos, 32, one of the protesters.

Even in Democratic Chicago, officials seemed to straining to allow for dissent, while maintaining order. "We've been working hard to strike a balance," said Chris Mather, a spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel. Ms. Mather added that the mayor's office had tried to set up meetings with protesters, who themselves said they were trying to find a permanent home for their demonstrations.

Indeed, some city officials said the tensions surrounding the Occupy protests have been increased by the fact that many of the groups involved have few recognized leaders.

"It's a significant challenge to deal with their decision-making process," said Richard Negrin, the managing director of Philadelphia, where tents form a protest village outside City Hall.

In Oakland, where one protester - Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran - was in critical condition at a local hospital after being struck in the head with a projectile during the chaotic street battle on Tuesday, city officials defended their actions, saying the police used tear gas after being pelted with rocks. The police are investigating what happened to Mr. Olsen.

As the protests continued, worries about possible violence percolated.

In Atlanta, Mr. Reed said the last straw came Tuesday, when he said a man with an AK-47 assault rifle joined the protesters in Woodruff Park. On Wednesday, after all protesters who had been arrested were released on bond, some said the man with the assault rifle - who was carrying it legally under Georgia law - was not part of their group and should not have been a factor in shutting them down. "We don't even know that guy," said Candi Cunard, 26.

Protest organizers said many of the troublemakers in Oakland and elsewhere were not part of the Occupy movement, but rather were anarchists or others with simply with a taste for mayhem.

"The people throwing things at police and being violent are not part of our "99 Percent" occupation," said Momo Aleamotua, 19, a student from Oakland. "They're not us, and they're not welcome."

Still, the scenes of tear gas in the streets and provocative graffiti - including one spray-painted message reading "Kill Pigs" in Oakland - have been seized on by some Republicans to try to make the protests a political liability for Democrats.

On Tuesday, for example, the National Republican Senatorial Committee circulated a report that two people living in the Occupy Boston tent with a young child had been arrested for selling heroin, and paired it with comments from Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic contender for Senate from Massachusetts, in which she said that her work as a consumer advocate had helped inspire the Occupy movement.

"She's not only standing with those breaking the law and being arrested," the committee's release read, "She's actually taking credit for them."

The fear that the group's political message was being lost also resonated with Maria Gastelumendi, who runs a sandwich shop in downtown Oakland.

As a small-business owner, Ms. Gastelumendi said she supported the protests - "There's been no bailout for us" - but worried that things might end badly. "The occupiers were very organized and very committed," she said. "But there's other people who are just opportunists."

Jesse McKinley reported from Oakland, and Abby Goodnough from Providence, RI. Reporting was contributed by Malia Wollan from Oakland, Ian Lovett from Los Angeles, Jess Bidgood from Boston, Robbie Brown from Atlanta, Kate Zernike from New York, and Steven Yaccino from Chicago. your social media marketing partner


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+24 # DPM 2011-10-27 11:28
The Republicans stand with the bank criminals and others that break the law. Let's chant THAT loud and clear.
If they want to link, by association, peaceful people to violent ones, then the Republicans are, themselves, CRIMINALS! Spread that around.
+14 # chizables 2011-10-27 11:37
It is not just the Republicans that stand with the bank criminals.
+7 # Michael_K 2011-10-27 12:12
Quoting chizables:
It is not just the Republicans that stand with the bank criminals.

That's right! So does O'Bama, and it makes me sick to see so many of his apologists here advocating his re-election.
-1 # CrassPip 2011-10-27 13:25
Quoting Michael_K:
That's right! So does O'Bama, and it makes me sick to see so many of his apologists here advocating his re-election.

And what serious alternative do you advocate? Obama hasn't been great, but the alternatives are just scary.
+1 # John Locke 2011-10-28 08:13
it has boiled down to this for decades, we vote for the lesser of the two its time to have a third party, a real for us the 99% "the Peoples Party...
-1 # readerz 2011-10-27 13:50
Obama is trying to make student loans and mortgages cheaper to repay. The trouble is, this is a drop in the bucket, and still doesn't affect the laws governing Wall Street in the Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.). I am for the reduction in payments and interest for loans, but without the reform, and prosecution of criminal activities, it will not make any difference. I share your frustrations; I personally think that Pres. Obama has a better chance in promoting his agenda (whatever that is) if there were some progressive candidates running against him in a primary, and lots of debates. As it is, there is no chance to discuss and debate with the President on important issues, and no chance for America to see the importance of the protests, because people won't be able to understand in the reporters' five second sound bites. So, I also blame the potential progressive candidates who really could be a microphone for the Occupy Wall Street movement, if they really decided to run for President in the Primaries.
+2 # John Locke 2011-10-28 08:15
Obama has No agenda except what his handlers tell him to do
0 # John Locke 2011-10-28 08:11
a point was well made we need a peoples party!!!!
+1 # John Locke 2011-10-28 08:11
The FB! and CIA have infiltrated the OWS groups, thats when you see violence as they try to discredit the movement... this is how the Government responds to a peaceful movement, infiltrate and discredit...
+16 # g geneva 2011-10-27 11:45
the democrats may end up trying to co-opt the occupy movement. ok, btu we won't settle for the comprimises they've made in the past. "the green party is not just an alternative, it is imperative" i'm surprised more folk aren't talking about the greens. it's not just about the environment...
+6 # Michael_K 2011-10-27 12:14
Quoting g geneva:
the democrats may end up trying to co-opt the occupy movement. ok, btu we won't settle for the comprimises they've made in the past. "the green party is not just an alternative, it is imperative" i'm surprised more folk aren't talking about the greens. it's not just about the environment...

Cleaning up the political ecosystem may be even more urgent than cleaning the planet's environment, and it is probably a necessary preliminary to cleaning the planet.
+4 # readerz 2011-10-27 13:56
I love the Greens, but... first there needs to be Constitutional Amendments to get rid of the Electoral College, winner-take-all , and change Senate and House rules and districting to reflect real populations. The Senate is such a joke: a large number of very small population states with more Senators than Representatives , and still it takes 60 Senators to confirm Cabinet or Justices, ensuring that these people will always be chosen and approved by the small minority landed aristocracy. The Greens will be an ineffective and non-existent 3rd Party until the Constitution gives us a democracy. We are no longer the 13 colonies folks; we've had 50 states for a long time, and the math gets worse and worse for democracy, as the Electoral College shuts out any possibility of a 3rd Party.
+2 # maveet 2011-10-27 20:44
The Australian system of preferences means we can vote Green, knowing that the votes will go toward a Labor vote if the Greens don't have the numbers. Allows 3rd parties to be meaningful participants.
+7 # angelfish 2011-10-27 11:52
Who knew that Americans have such a short attention span? NOT Really! Justice WILL be served on Election Day 2012! The People UNITED, will NEVER be defeated! Look for it on Election Day 2012! They forget that there are MORE of US than there are of Them! WE, the 99%, SHALL overcome!
-11 # Joan Manning 2011-10-27 12:19
When we protested in the sixties and seventies we marched on the public streets with assistance from the police, showed our signs, said our chants and then went home.

It seems to me that the longer the Occupiers stay in one place, the more likely they are to be infiltrated by trouble-makers and the more likely the powers that be will see that the protestors are removed. By that time they will be redundant, and newsworthy only for the trouble they allegedly cause.

The Right Wing bloviators are already shaping them into political ammunition.

I wish the Occupiers well, but I think that having made their point, it's now time to go home.
+4 # readerz 2011-10-27 13:59
They have not made their point if you yourself don't get that the point is about Wall Street, not the protesters themselves. You may be correct that they will be used as political ammunition, but which side will benefit?
+5 # noitall 2011-10-27 14:03
Our goals will only be served by a sustained and grown occupation. We haven't made our point. When our "representative s" are speaking our words to their fellow congressmen and voting accordingly, we will have accomplished our mission and on the path to a free, equal, and lawful government. We will be peaceful, we will be attacked, we will endure, we will then be on the path to winning if we persist peacefully. Get out in the street in your town Joan Manning. Recruit your people to go with you.
0 # Nominae 2011-10-28 05:05
We may have gone home, but we kept COMING BACK ! There is no point to any of it if the people go home and stay home before the change they demand has been made.

The protests of the 60's and 70's changed the political map and social map of the U.S. for 30 years. This time the System is better prepared to counter protest than it was in those days. This time the media is State Controlled. The weapon present protestors have that we did not, is 9 billion cameras to record the police brutality and the repression of Constitutionall y Guaranteed rights. We had to hope for a passing news camera.

These OWS people are doing exactly what has to be done in *THEIR* day. There isn't an absolutely direct correlation to the protests of yesteryear.
+13 # jwb110 2011-10-27 12:49
"As California goes, so goes the nation", said President Carter.

The nation better look long and hard at the history of police surpression of Constitutional Rights and the people who suffered from that surpression.
Th anti-War movement was driven underground by Reagan and his cadre and when it resurfaced it was violent. Reagan was to blame. He met the situation with violence and he reaped what he sowed and so did the entire nation.
Learn from history so the saying goes.
-7 # MidwestTom 2011-10-27 17:21
My memory is that after Nixon replaced Johnson he got us out of Vietnam and the anti-war movement disappeared. Then under Carter who followed Ford, we were humiliated by the takeover our embassy in Iran and the failed attempt to rescue the captives. Then after reagan was elected, but not yet in office, Iran released the captives. So where and when did Reagan violently suppress the anti-war movement?
+1 # futhark 2011-10-28 03:42
Reagan made political hay with an ignorant, misinformed public with his "cleaning up the mess in Berkeley" campaign. There was no "mess in Berkeley", just a lot of better informed citizens exercising their constitutional rights to protest against a sick, stupid, and ultimately counterproducti ve war and to campaign for programs extending civil rights to previously disenfranchised groups.

The denigration of student protest movements in the 1960s was one of the earlier examples of the Manipulated Media twisting the public's perception of events to the advantage of regressive politicians. Nixon did not "get us out of Vietnam". The American withdrawal was the result of a shift in public opinion against the war as it became better informed, largely through the agency of committed and sustained protests.
0 # conniejo 2011-10-28 08:10
I think you may need to reexamine your memories of those days. Nixon "got us out of Vietnam" - after EXPANDING the war into Cambodia - in large part because the anti-war movement's size exploded after four students were killed at Kent State on May 4, 1970, under Nixon's watch. After aggressively pursuing the war by involving Cambodia and Laos, Nixon finally realized the futility of what we were doing there. You might remember the talk of an "honorable" peace accompanied by pictures of frantic people getting into helicoptors from the roof of the US embassy, "honorably" leaving behind hundreds of Vietnamese people who had worked for the U.S. and whose lives were seriously endangered.

As for the Iranian hostage situation, recent access to formerly-classi fied papers indicate that Bush met with the Iranians during the hostage crisis and convinced them to wait until after the next election to release the hostages so that Carter would look inept and would lose. The lives of those people and their families were irrelevant to the Republicans, at that time represented by Reagan and Bush, whose goal was political control at any cost.

As Paul Harvey used to say, "and now you know the REST of the story."
+6 # noitall 2011-10-27 13:58
If WE are not acting like mature dissenters and being responsible to our peaceful cause, the police will certainly take the opportunity to accomodate. "Maturity" and "responsibility " means respecting all the details. Shit in a bag, you'd do it for your dog. Don't be lazy, walk to a designated location to excrete. Try not to live up to the stereotypes that they promote of us. It deteriorates the cause. If you see vandals or violence being committed by US, they ain't "US" and should be treated accordingly. They should be considered to be plants by the other side. Self-control PLEASE. We're all being watched. Actions against our mission are witnessed by us too. We see you acting as representatives of our cause even when you're being an A-hole, so be on your best behavior. Our goal is to grow this movement not to castrate it. These little bands of vigilantees that stray off on their own are viewed as being US no matter what they get into. Leave the breaking of laws up to the police and the other side. It will be obvious to the rest of the country and to the world. Our goal is to grow our movement. Don't become frustrated. Learn, Educate, Recruit, Attend, Educate. Those are our weapons that THEY fear. Nothing more scary than a patient, on-task foe. Our numbers scare the wits out of THEM. They will attack, THEN WE WILL WIN. Keep the PEACE! Let THEM break it and help US to WIN!!
+6 # Kayjay 2011-10-27 16:24
I agree with noitall that OWS needs to keep the peace, stay on note and persevere for change. Even though our nation was founded during revolution, most Americans are uncomfortable with protest. And when they see protest erupt into violent clashes, they TUNE OUT. We need more of the 99 percent to sign on.
0 # MidwestTom 2011-10-27 17:09
There s an video circulating of an interview with a person at Occupy Atlanta that is certainly not doing the movement any good. See Occupy Atlanta--what did she say? on Youtube. The Oakland situation reminds me of the demonstrations at the Democratic Convention in Chicago many years age, when 10's of thousands of us were tear gassed, beaten, and arrested. I did read where OWS now has $435,000 in the bank, which should allow them to go for a long time. Does anyone know how much they need per week?
+4 # Buddha 2011-10-27 18:31
That excuse of "concerns about unhealthy and often squalid conditions in the camp, including garbage, vermin and human waste" is just so much bullpucky. If cities honestly have those concerns, they could work with the occupiers to bring in porta-potties cleaned and maintained by the protesters (what has been done in the OccupyLA occupation). For a fraction of what these cities are spending on cop overtime and hazard pay, they could work WITH the protests to keep them clean, organized, safe for all. Just as the Bonus Army occupation of Washington in the 1930's set up their own organized "city" (before the US Army crushed them with cavalry and tanks), this can be done here. Cities just don't want the inconvenience and visible reminder of an ongoing 24/7 protest that they are complicit and an integral part of the entire corrupt system we are fighting against.
0 # Nominae 2011-10-28 05:17
So correct, and this time they will not need MacArthur and the Army. The DOD and the DHS have been "upgrading" police forces all over the country with "surplus" military hardware and the training to go with, to include small tanks, personnel carriers, etc.

All of the riot gear and the training is not being paid for by taxes from your basic Mom and Pop grocery stores. It is coming out of the DOD and DHS Anti-Terrorism funds.

Only, in these cases, the "terrorists" would seem to be the peacefully protesting U.S. Citizens.
0 # conniejo 2011-10-28 08:28
Right on, Buddha! I was at the beginning of October 2011, a partner movement occupying Freedom Plaza in DC. From the very first day, we identified people who would share the duties of cleaning up the plaza, going so far as to pick up every cigarette butt and to sweep the plaza free of sand and dirt. There were no rats in our food & other service areas, although I certainly saw rats around the plaza when I arrived the night before the movement there began. Rats are endemic to public places, but they can be kept out of the areas where people live by the presence of people & a concerted effort to maintain cleanliness. The Occupy movement's biggest problem is the presence of infiltrators who are there to discredit the movement. Remember the taped discussion between our (WI) governor & a person he thought was David Koch? Those with the power will do anything to hold it (see my comments above about the Iranian hostage situation). Those who are truly committed to the Occupy movement have pledged to non-violent civil disobedience & to working together to maintain the sites they occupy. The D.C. & national park service police have worked with the D.C. occupiers at Freedom Plaza as well as with the Occupy D.C. group to ensure living situations that are both healthy & non-violent. It's cheaper to help than to police the occupations. Note to occupiers: identify & ostracize troublemakers.
0 # CL38 2011-10-28 00:34
Shame! Shame! Shame!!
0 # Carlos33 2011-10-28 12:52
Educate the Police Forces in your community & where you are protesting. Tell them about the "National Debt going from 14.6 Trillion $$, to well over 100 Trillion $$$, & ALL due to the BIG Banks gambling debts, via the derivatives."

(The 1%'s answer,to O.W.S. 99%?)

WARNING; This could get to their head, & it might 'save them' from being useful idiots, for never having known.

And besides, "if I was protesting in ANY city, I would surely want to have the police, on my side"!

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