At least 85 protesters were arrested early before daybreak on Tuesday in the Frank Ogawa Plaza, in front of Oakland’s City Hall, where the protesters had been camping for about two weeks, even as Riot Police raided the anti-Wall Street protesters' campsite.
Dirty, crime-ridden, rat-infested and vandalized were cited as reasons of the eviction.
Under cover of darkness early Tuesday, hundreds of police in riot gear raid the campsite of the anti-Wall Street protesters in Oakland, firing tear gas and beanbag rounds before wiping out the encampment.
Hundreds of officers and sheriff’s deputies from more than 12 agencies swooped into the encampment together with the police, who were bringing tear gas and beanbag rounds around 5 a.m., police said.
Eighty-five protesters, who were arrested, faced charges for camping or assembling without permission in Frank Ogawa Plaza, according to Oakland spokeswoman Karen Boyd.
Television news footage showed protesters being taken away in plastic handcuffs. No other incident came up, except some protesters complained of rough handling by police and officers fired tear gas and bean bags when one group of demonstrators cast rocks and bottles to officers, near the camp's kitchen area.
The police action in Oakland began around 4:40 a.m., with an officer warning the protesters through a loud speaker that they were illegally blocking the plaza and were subject to arrest.
Protesters had stayed awake through the night and expected the raid to take place. Several hundred people appeared ready to defend the camp about an hour before police moved in, placing dumpsters, boards, pallets and even metal police-style barricades around the plaza.
However, the campsite was in ruins within less than an hour after the police marched into the plaza. Scattered tents, pillows, sleeping bags, yoga mats, tarps, backpacks, food wrappers and water bottles could be seen everywhere on the scene. According to city officials, the plaza was contained at around 5:30 a.m.
By mid-morning, city workers had started collecting the debris. Some would be held for protesters to reclaim while the rest would be thrown away, the city officials said.
According to Boyd, the plaza remained cordoned off at midday on Tuesday for cleanup of debris. Returning to the plaza would not be allowed, until it was cleaned up. Demonstrations and protests in the plaza would be legal between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. but not overnight.
Lauren Richardson, a college student from Oakland, said the campsite was very neat and organized, for volunteers collected garbage and recycling every six hours. Water was boiled before being used to wash dishes. The rats had infested the park long before the encampment of the protesters, Associated Press reports.
It was very neat. It was very organized, Richardson said.
Many Oaklanders support the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, the mayor of Oakland Jean Quan said in a statement on Tuesday. However, over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions or control the ongoing vandalism, she added.
According to many protesters, the raid hasn't cooled down their passion. Instead, it has only served to strengthen their determination to continue the protests.
Meanwhile, the police also cleared a smaller encampment from a park near the plaza on Tuesday morning.
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