Occupy America Social Network
After an unsuccessful afternoon effort to occupy a former convention center, the more than 1,000 protesters elected to return to the site of their former encampment outside city hall. On the way, they clashed with officers, advancing down a street with makeshift shields of corrogated metal and throwing objects at a police line. Officers responded with smoke grenades, tear gas, and bean bag projectiles. After protesters regrouped, they marched through downtown as police pursued and eventually contained a few hundred of them in an enclosed space outside a YMCA. Some entered the gym and were arrested inside.
As soon as it became clear that I would be kettled with the protesters, I displayed my press credentials to a line of officers and asked where to stand to avoid arrest. In past protests, the technique always proved successful. But this time, no officer said a word. One pointed back in the direction of the protesters, refusing to let me leave. Another issued a notice that everyone in the area was under arrest.
As police rounded up protesters into vans outside the YMCA, several occupiers who managed to avoid capture retaliated by vandalizing city hall. Others protested outside an Oakland jail where the officer driving the bus I was escorted onto had promised to take us "if you don't piss me off." Instead, he had to drive to a county jail in Santa Rita about 40 minutes away. (Officers from at least seven outside agencies came to Oakland in response to the day's events.)
After spending about an hour locked up alone in a drunk-tank cellblock, OPD Sergeant Jeff Thomason arrived to release me, thanks to a call from Mother Jones co-editor-in-chief Monika Bauerlein. "You probably shouldn't have been in here to begin with," he told me apologetically as he escorted me in his personal car back to the scene of my arrest to retrieve my backpack where I'd stashed my steno pad. But for the time-being, it was unretrievable under a massive pile of occupiers' bags in the back of a police van.
At least five other reporters were arrested last night: Hanes, Ho, John C. Osborn of the East Bay Express, Yael Chanoff of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and graphic journalist Susie Cagle, who was previously arrested during the short-lived occupation of a vacant downtown building following Occupy Oakland's first port shutdown last November. Chanoff was taken to the Santa Rita jail. The others were all quickly released at the scene (an officer told Cagle that he was doing her a "favor").