Police removed the barricades near City Hall late Wednesday and said they would allow protestors to remain in the area until 10 p.m. New tensions followed the overnight clashes between Occupy Oakland protesters and riot police Tuesday that left the plaza empty of the protestors that had lived on the site for over two weeks.
Over 1,500 returned Wednesday to Frank Ogawa Plaza after the skirmish Tuesday. The protestors held a meeting and they voted to hold a citywide strike on Nov. 2 that would encourage workers and students to remain at home to show their support of the Occupy movement.
Following the meeting, over 1,000 protestors marched through Oakland chanting, These are our streets, while waving posters and upside down flags. Protestors tore down a fence around the plaza that was placed by police to clean and treat the grassy area, according to The Associated Press.
If it remains a peaceful demonstration, we will maintain a minimum police presence, Mayor Jean Quan announced at a news conference, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. However, she did not comment on what would happen if protestors re-establish their camp.
The comment came after interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan defended the tactics of the police department Tuesday evening. We are committed to allowing free speech, he said, but the First Amendment doesn't allow violence or endangering the public or property, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Late Tuesday, police tried to remove the camp following an incident where protestors threw rocks, bottles and paint at officers. Police retaliated by firing tear gas rounds and allegedly by using flash-bang grenades to clear the plaza, according to TIME Magazine.
Nearly 100 people were arrested and several protestors, including an Iraq veteran, were injured. Scott Olsen, 24, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, suffered a skull fracture from a police projectile that left him in critical condition.
I wish it didn't happen. Our goal is not to cause injury to anyone, Oakland Police Chief Jordan told the San Francisco Chronicle.
He also maintained that police had no choice but to protect themselves from the rocks, bottles and paint that Occupy Oakland protesters had been throwing. He denied the use of rubber bullets and beanbags, but said that other agencies may have used them.
Protestors feel the police excuses are nonsense.
They were trying to bait us -- these are riot police in full gear -- they didn't come to talk. And then when they had the slightest excuse, of course they all move in and drop the hammer, says Vale, 26, an unemployed Oakland resident according to TIME.
After the skirmish Tuesday, protestors maintained that the fight for economic equality is not over.
Yeah, look away you pig, Mike, 24, a contractor who took off work, shouted at an officer, reported TIME. Think you can shoot at us and that's it? We're f----- coming back.
By 6 p.m. on Wednesday, city officials reopened the plaza in a gesture of good faith and protestors slowly flocked back to the plaza. Police were nowhere to be seen, but TIME reports the atmosphere was uncertain and charged.
While police averted another showdown late Wednesday, the protestors have continued to rally Thursday against the violence of the police on Tuesday and around the victim of violence Scott Olsen.
Watch the protestors march after Occupy Oakland regrouped late Wednesday: