Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nov. 5 protest in Oakland ends in mass arrests for 152 people

Ex-BART officer Mehserle sentenced to two years in prison for fatal shooting of unarmed man

Nov. 5 protest in Oakland ends in mass arrests for 152 people

As night fell arrests became free flowing. Information, not so much.

When the rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza was over people began to walk down 14th Street. Several turns were made and folks ended up trying to walk from Oak Street down 10th Street. At this point protesters were roughly 15 blocks from where they began, largely without incident. Just past Laney College protesters first met with a line of riot police. An alternative route was discovered and folks were then able to get closer to International Blvd. From there every few blocks protesters were met with riot police.

People were trying to walk to Fruitvale BART station, they were walking peacefully. There were elders, youth, people in wheelchairs, reporters, no one was trying to be violent or cause any problems. In total there were approximately 200 people in route to the BART station where Oscar Grant was killed. Previous estimates said that there were 300 or so people at Frank Ogawa Plaza earlier in the day.

After the group met police riot lines several times, a few water bottles were thrown and a few windows were broken on parked cars and in one AC transit bus.

Every few blocks police in riot gear would either run up or were already there--- until they got everyone penned into one block on 6th Ave. between 17th and 18th.

Police penned everyone in before anyone realized it. Various reports claimed that an officer was run over by a car. Another officer claimed that something was taken off of his belt. However, there was no way to get information in or out of the area in which everyone was penned. Several people began shouting for everyone to use their cellphones to call the police, to ask if there was a police commander or information officer available.

Police did not clearly issue a dispersal order. There was a bit of chaos as people obviously did not want to be penned in, did not understand why they were being penned and did not know how/if they could leave. When the
loud speaker arrived, they said that the area had been declared a crime
scene. There was no indication if, where or how people who had been
peacefully marching could get out. They only said the same thing over and over-- "This area has been declared a crime scene. Please comply with officers. You will be arrested." (See video below.)

People asked the officers how to get out, the officers either did not speak, said someone else was coming to let people know or simply that they did not know.

Officers began taking people down to the ground and then pulling them behind police lines. After several people were assaulted in that manner, the police began
telling everyone else to be calm ... they began grabbing each person and
plastic cuffing them without slamming them to the ground or jumping on them.

Some members of the press were allowed to leave if they identified themselves at that point.

From the press staging area you could see the officers wrangling people who were cuffed into a line one by one. OPD's Public Information Officer Thomason then briefly described the eveing from OPD's perspective.

Rachel Jackson speaks to the few official press people left just before
police began making arrests. At this moment no one knew where they could
go, how to get out nor what was going to happen.

Loud speaker
announcements were made that the area was declared a crime scene. There
was never any indication to disperse, no dispersal order given, no
declaration of martial law or anything like that at all. No one was
allowed to leave once the police penned people in. Prior to that people
were marching toward Fruitvale BART peacefully on city streets, they
were met with riot gear police every few blocks until they were trapped
in a culdesac type neighborhood.

Officer on the loud speaker began announcing "This is a crime scene."

people came from the other end of the block stating that the officers
down there had told them to come up front to be let out. They were not
let out. A few press people had been let out just before that, but
people were not read a dispersal statement and were force to stay where
they were and wait to be arrested.

OPD Public Information Officer answers reporter's questions from OPD's perspective:

At this moment there were 16 people booked and near 100 more in
plastic cuffs standing in a line with an officer next to each one. There
were several people that were taken down to the ground and dragged
behind police lines before everyone else was told they were being

Oriana Bolden is a community organizer-turned-filmmaker-turned-non-profit management professional-turned-television news reporter-turned medical school student-turned-video production instructor-turned-filmmaker. She is currently posing as a multi-media journalist.

Over 100 arrested following Mehserle Sentencing

By mtd

OAKLAND, California – As of 9pm November 5th, around 153 people have been arrested around East 18th St and 6th Ave in Oakland following the sentencing of Johannes Mehserle. The former BART cop was given 2 years for involuntary manslaughter – minus time served – for the murder of Oscar Grant. Mehserle may be released in as little as 7 months. The judge presiding over the trial decided not to apply a firearms enhancement charge, which would have increased the sentence to as high as 14 years. The police immediately declared the organized march unlawful and began trapping the crowd for mass arrest. At least one National Lawyers Guild legal observer has been arrested. During the march, protesters smashed shop and car windows, and one man was arrested for allegedly unholstering an officer’s gun and pointing it at him.

According to several observers, police did not issue a dispersal warning (and allow protesters to leave), but in fact corralled protesters and even some observers and then serially arrested them. One witness that had followed the crowd through out the course of the evening explained that as the marchers left downtown Oakland, they began to head towards the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was murdered. Repeatedly, police blocked the marchers off, riling the crowd. At one point, as the crowd passed Laney Community College, the police cut them off in an attempt to summarily arrest the entirety of the crowd. In response the bulk of the crowd tore down a temporary fence and scrambled through a construction site to circumvent an assured arrest. It was only later, after a string of antagonizing by police, did some marchers get arrested.

Update: Some, if not most, of those arrested last night are being released today. According to what the police at the jail were saying, the number of people arrested may be closer to 250 or even 300.

We have also gotten word that many of our comrades from Advance the Struggle have been arrested tonight, and we would like to express our solidarity with them, and with all who have been arrested.

Photos from JoshWolf/Indybay.

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