Oakland – Flashpoint for Violence
Oakland California is like dry brush and timber, kindling for explosive civil disturbance, ready to ignite. I felt the heat when I had my office there in the late 1990’s. Even after a firestorm struck the Oakland Hills and burned expensive homes there, the city below where poor people live and who have diminishing prospects remains smoldering.
Mayor Bob Bobb did what he could to improve the situation with strong law enforcement. Jerry Brown came after to boost collaboration among the diverse inhabitants. But the jobs were not and are not there to support community growth and development. Then, Congressmen Ron Dellums came back to run the place, but he was too old and tired to do much good. Now, Mayor Jean Quan applies here assets. A large part of the city is Asian and Asian businesses are thriving there.
Gentrification is part of the answer, but when the national economy and state economy are down, Oakland, at the bottom of the list has too far to go and many people see no hope.
“Occupy” is a lit fuse on the Oakland brush pile.
“About 300 arrested in daylong Occupy Oakland protests; police say some broke into City Hall
By Associated Press, Updated: Sunday, January 29, 6:07 AM
OAKLAND, Calif. — Dozens of police maintained a late-night guard around City Hall following daylong protests that resulted in 300 arrests. Occupy Oakland demonstrators broke into the historic building and burned a U.S. flag, as officers earlier fired tear gas to disperse people throwing rocks and tearing down fencing at a convention center.
Saturday’s protests — the most turbulent since Oakland police forcefully dismantled an Occupy encampment in November — came just days after the group said it planned to use a vacant building as a social center and political hub and threatened to try to shut down the port, occupy the airport and take over City Hall.
An exasperated Mayor Jean Quan, who faced heavy criticism for the police action last fall, called on the Occupy movement to “stop using Oakland as its playground.”
“People in the community and people in the Occupy movement have to stop making excuses for this behavior,” Quan said.
Protesters clashed with police throughout the day, at times throwing rocks, bottles and other objects at officers. And police responded by deploying smoke, tear gas and bean bag rounds, City Administrator Deanna Santanta said.
Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said about 300 arrests were made.
“These demonstrators stated their intention was to provoke officers and engage in illegal activity and that’s exactly what has occurred today,” Santana said.
The group assembled outside City Hall late Saturday morning and marched through the streets, disrupting traffic as they threatened to take over the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center.
The protesters walked to the vacant convention center, where some started tearing down perimeter fencing and “destroying construction equipment” shortly before 3 p.m., police said.
Police said they issued a dispersal order and used smoke and tear gas after some protesters pelted them with bottles, rocks, burning flares and other objects.
The number of demonstrators swelled as the day wore on, with afternoon estimates ranging from about 1,000 to 2,000 people.
A majority of the arrests came after police took scores of protesters into custody as they marched through the city’s downtown, with some entering a YMCA building, said Sgt. Jeff Thomason, a police spokesman.
Quan said that at one point, many protesters forced their way into City Hall, where they burned flags, broke an electrical box and damaged several art structures, including a recycled art exhibit created by children.
She blamed the destruction on a small “very radical, violent” splinter group within Occupy Oakland.
“This is not a situation where we had a 1,000 peaceful people and a few violent people. If you look at what’s happening today in terms of destructing property, throwing at and charging the police, it’s almost like they are begging for attention and hoping that the police will make an error.”
Dozens of officers surrounded City Hall, while others swept the inside of the building looking for protesters who had broken into the building, then ran out of the building with American flags before officers arrived.”