For the second night in a row, California police attempted to evict the demonstrators of Occupy Oakland from their claimed home of Frank Ogawa Plaza, and when they met with resistance used force, including tear gas, flash bombs, and what protesters claim were rubber bullets. Close to 100 people were arrested in the morning as police tried to clear the area for “sanity and public safety concerns,” but by the afternoon, as many as 1,000 demonstrators (or 400–500 by police count) gathered to march back to the area they had renamed Oscar Grant Plaza in honor of the man killed by transit police in 2009.
At about 9:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday night, police stood behind metal barricades in riot gear as protesters chanted and surged forward, with some throwing objects, possibly rocks and water bottles, at the cops. Officers threatened the use of “chemical agents” if the crowd did not disperse, and then came the tear gas.
“It sounded like bombs,” one protester told the New York Times. “There was a stinging and burning in my throat, eyes and nostrils. My eyes burned like there was hot sauce in them.” The San Francisco Chronicle reports that protesters threw paint at the police while some chanted, “This is why we call you pigs.”
According to an Oakland Police Department press release, officers used only “a limited amount of tear gas for a small area as a defense against protesters who were throwing various objects at Police Officers as they approached the area.” Despite appearances to the contrary, police contend that no rubber bullets or flash-bag grenades were used, but that “the loud noises that were heard originated from M-80 explosives thrown … by protesters.” Their account does include the use of “four bean bag rounds.” The press release notes, “At this time, there are no reported injuries.” (Update: The New York Post cites city officials now reporting that two officers and “several others” were injured.)
Chaotic video, like this one from the Associated Press, makes any claim of no injuries hard to believe:
After a large showing at the outset, the Occupy movements beyond New York City have been largely quiet. But in addition to the battle in Oakland last night, at least 53 protesters were arrested at Occupy Atlanta on Tuesday as police worked to clear the park there as well.
During the clashes, President Obama spoke in nearby San Francisco, at a $5,000-a-plate fund-raiser at the W Hotel.
Update: The Bay Citizen is reporting that the night’s violence resulted in five arrests, bringing yesterday’s total to 102.