“Welcome to Oscar Grant Plaza: This is an occupation, we have not asked for, or received any permits, nor do we allow the police inside. You are entering a LIBERATED (illegal) SPACE. Enter at your own enjoyment!”
-National Lawyer’s Guild phone number: [number]
Well, some crazy goings-on have occurred recently!! Occupy Oakland has been thrust into the international spotlight, thanks to the police raid of Oscar Grant Plaza, ground zero of the Occupy Oakland movement. A 24-year-old Iraq War vet named Scott Olsen remains hospitalized after being struck in the head last Tuesday night with either a tear gas canister or a rubber bullet (my money’s on the canister) fired by police. Read more about the incident here.
Two weeks back, my roommate and I visited Oscar Grant Plaza to check out the scene. At that point, Occupy Oakland was a mere four days old, and the atmosphere was charged with excitement and hope. As we walked along the makeshift boardwalk laid down between tents, I could hear snippets of political conversations all around me — denouncements of the one percent and proclamations of how broken the financial system is. I took my camera along, and attempted to capture some scenes with my crappy flash (grrr…must…upgrade!). I’ll highlight some of my favorites here…
So last Tuesday the police did succeed in removing all the protestors and their belongings, and also erected a chain-link fence around the spot where the tent city was situated. Despite the tear gas and alleged “unnecessary roughness” on the part of the Oakland police, protestors returned to Oscar Grant Plaza on Thursday, tore down the fence, and refashioned it into a work of art (duh). My roommate and I returned to the Plaza last night to see what was up. I’d say there were probably a couple hundred people there, maybe more. The crowd clearly was reinvigorated, which doesn’t surprise me considering the international attention Oakland has received as of late. Last Friday Egyptians marched from Tahrir Square to the US Embassy to show support for Occupy Oakland. Egyptian blogger Mohammed Maree (@mar3e) tweeted images from the march like this one:
[If you’re interested in more photos of Egypt’s march, click here]
There was a planning meeting going on to prep for Wednesday’s Citywide general strike, which was really interesting to witness. There were two choppers overhead, so the crowd was having a hard time hearing the speaker. “Mike check!” someone would yell from the crowd, and everyone would begin repeating the speaker so all could hear. Pretty effective method, actually. I didn’t bring my camera with me this time, because frankly I felt pretty invasive last time. I did grab a shot of the tents as we were leaving though (tents that are multiplying in number once again) …
Managed to grab a poster on our way out too …
Clearly it’s an exciting time to be in Oakland! I’m very interested to see what comes out of all of this; on a national-level, but especially on a local city-level. The Scott Olsen incident reflected very negatively on Mayor Quan, and she’s now released a statement saying the City supports the Occupy Oakland movement. I feel like some good could come of all of this after all. So, we’ll see.
On an unrelated yet relevant note …..Happy Halloween! XD
p.s. Check out all my Occupy Oakland photos below, and read more about the movement here.