Police outfitted in riot gear entered the Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza at around 5 a.m. PT to evict protesters who had called the plaza next to City Hall home for more than a month.
The police were met with little resistance and according to the San Jose Mercury News ”many protesters had packed up their tents before the eviction [and] … [b]y the time police pressed into the camp … few occupiers remained.”
“It feels pretty sad because we built a community here, and now they can just come and destroy it,” 28-year-old Lara Bitar told the San Jose Mercury News. “At the same time, this movement is about more than just the space here.”
Authorities had issued several cease and desist orders over the weekend and according to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who says she supports the Occupy movement, this morning’s raid was conducted because the movement in Oakland had changed.
“Occupy Oakland began to take a different path from the original movement,” she said. “It was no longer about the abuses of the financial system or foreclosures or the unemployed. The encampment became a place where we had repeated violence and this week a murder. We had to bring the camp to an end before more people were hurt.”
On Thursday, a man was shot and killed close to the the plaza.
Quan had allowed protesters to retake the plaza after an Oct. 25 police raid to clear the area turned violent. She said today that demonstrators would be allowed to return to the plaza, but they could not sleep there.
“We’ve been consistent that they can use it as a free speech location,” Quan said. “They can gather tonight, but no camping is allowed.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.