Sunday, November 13, 2011

Updated: Some Occupy Oaklanders Leaving City Hall Encampment

By Robert Gammon
Sun, Nov 13, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Updated below: Some Occupy Oakland protesters who have been camping in front of City Hall have been pulling up stakes and leaving the encampment. A few of the occupiers, although it's not exactly clear how many, have decided to relocate to Snow Park in Oakland, a second encampment that has been much more peaceful. These occupiers plan to stay at Snow Park until they decide on where they want to remain for the long term.

The protesters who have been leaving City Hall plaza are said to have grown increasingly concerned about safety, particularly after the fatal shooting near the encampment on Thursday. And those who are nonviolent have grown frustrated that Occupy Oakland has not condemned or expelled those who advocate for violent, so-called Black Bloc tactics against property and police.

From Mayor Jean Quan: "Over the last few days, we have made real progress in encouraging groups of protestors to voluntarily leave the encampment and on behalf of the City of Oakland, I want to thank those who have responded to my call to voluntarily leave. Thank you, too, to our community leaders who have also called for the encampment to come to a peaceful conclusion."

Quan has repeatedly urged protesters to voluntarily leave City Hall plaza and possibly find a new place to occupy — away from small businesses, some of which have been impacted by the encampment. The city also appears ready to clear the City Hall encampment for a second time, after issuing formal eviction notices Friday and Saturday.

It’s not clear exactly what the occupiers who are remaining at the encampment will do once police forcibly clear them out. Some protesters and those who are sympathetic to the cause hope that the occupiers will move to a new encampment that will not affect small businesses.

In a statement this morning, Quan also said that city staff would "continue to connect the homeless and hungry with services. They will again provide information about transportation to area shelters open today."

If an alternative encampment is established, some progressives hope that the impending police action at City Hall may not be viewed as breaking up Occupy Oakland, since the occupiers will have another place to go.

Update: The mayor's office said the encampment is down to about 150 tents — from a high of about 185. City officials also hope that more occupiers will follow the lead of those who have decided to leave or relocate.

Update 1:08 p.m.: The Express just counted 135 tents at City Hall plaza. That means there are about fifty fewer tents there than about a week ago. In addition, several tents today appeared to be abandoned. Also, there are now 44 tents at Snow Park next to Lake Merritt.

Update 1:15 p.m.: Also, an ad-hoc group of labor activists is talking seriously about establishing a union picket line at Occupy Oakland at City Hall plaza. The activists plan to take the proposal to the Occupy Oakland General Assembly tonight. The activists hope that if they establish a union picket line, then Quan will hold off on ordering police to forcibly clear the encampment. However, it was not clear whether the activists will be able to gain enough support in the labor community to keep the picket line going around the clock.

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