Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yesterday evening around six I walked through Snow Park, that for the last couple weeks had been an outpost of the Occupy Oakland protests. It was over spill from the full up Oscar Grant Plaza, but yesterday it was empty. The police must of taken it down, I thought, and when I got back home I looked it up via the Occupy Oakland Twitter Page and saw that yes, the helicopters I had been hearing all day were part of the police effort to evict the occupiers. And I also learned that people were assembling and marching downtown, about four blocks from my apartment so I put on my shoes and locked the door and found my neighbor doing the same thing. And we walked down there together to join the tail end of the march from the plaza down to Snow Park, and then back again.

An hour later, when we arrived back at the plaza it began to get a little tense. Lots of police officers were lined up around the plaza and the march halted, the organizers organized and then proceed another block to the intersection of 14th and Broadway where there was the biggest mass of police officers. I stood and waited and watched with the thousand (at least) or so others for a few minutes before a recorded announcement that told us the assembly had been declared unlawful, and that we had five minutes to leave before they would use force. Five tense minutes went by and then a few more, and then they fired tear gas canisters and most of us hurried down 14th away from the gas.

The march resumed down 14th and then circled back to the plaza, though in-between, I witnessed an over excited kid break a window with his skateboard, and at that point decided to head back to my place. When I turned down a side street there was a line of police in riot gear so I went back the march and went down a different street and made it home. I ate a piece of toast, had my picture taken as I looked out the window by errant marchers walking down my street, and then went back out, this time a little more prepared with a scarf to wear over my face just in case I got gassed, back to the plaza, and found my neighbor again. Occupied the plaza until others suggested we keep moving, occupied 14th and Franklin where my neighbor and I met up with Sarah, and we hung out there, in the middle of the street until they police fired tear gas again into the intersection of 14th of Broadway and we, along with the throngs, went back down 14th away from the trouble.

I went out one more time with Dara, around eleven thirty, and the crowd at 14th and Broadway had shrunk considerably. There was still a large enough mass to hold the intersection but this time we didn't stay around long enough to be gassed, and went back to our respective homes. These are just the facts of my experience. I'm not going to get into the why . But I will say, beginning at six, there's a general assembly (GA) at 14th and Broadway in Oakland. I don't know what exactly is going to happen but I can't imagine things will be any easier for anybody (protesters, police, citizens of Oakland) tonight. Regardless, I'll be there (I live there!), if for no other reason other than to be there.