Occupy Protesters In Oakland Ponder Next Move
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And across the country in Oakland, California yesterday, people marched on the downtown plaza from which they had just been evicted. Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.
RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Clean-up crews had barely begun their job of clearing out the remains of the Occupy Oakland camp when Mayor Jean Quan said the conditions there had forced her hand, especially after a camper was shot and killed last Thursday.
MAYOR JEAN QUAN: We had to bring the camp to an end before more people were hurt.
GONZALES: Still, the City Administrator, Deanna Santana, said since Frank Ogawa Plaza is a public space, it necessarily has to remain open to anyone who wants to conduct a peaceful protest.
DEANNA SANTANA: Going forward, the plaza will be open for demonstrations and peaceful assemblies. It will absolutely not be open for lodging.
GONZALES: That virtually guaranteed that the Occupy Oakland protesters would be back.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)
GONZALES: Late in the afternoon, several hundred protesters regrouped at the public library, just a few blocks from their old camp. At an open mike rally, they heard Jeremy Demeros, who had been arrested earlier in the day, say that the Occupy Movement is still alive and well.
JEREMY DEMEROS: You are free to act now.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: You are free to act now.
DEMEROS: So what are we going to do?
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: So what are we going to do?
GONZALES: But there was no immediate or obvious answer. Sixty-four-year-old Gert Thorn, an unemployed architect, said he hoped the Occupy Movement would get Washington's attention, camps or no camps.
GERT THORN: I don't know what happens next. In my naive way, I'd like to think what happens next is that, actually, politicians might be responsive. But that's really hard to believe, because they have a vested stake in the system as it exists now.
GONZALES: And the lack of a clear direction forward seemed to frustrate others in the crowd, especially among those old enough to remember the '60s, like Osha Newman.
OSHA NEWMAN: You know, it might have been better - you know, you can say, look, we're going to occupy this space. We're going to wait for three weeks, and then we're going to leave. And in those three weeks, we're going to figure out what we're going to do next, rather than have it sort of gradually devolve and then have the cops do it for us.
GONZALES: After an hour of strategizing, the Oakland Occupiers marched from the library back to the downtown plaza, where they had been evicted about 12 hours earlier. Under the watchful eye of the police, they did not attempt to re-establish their camp.
Around the country, Occupiers in other cities are struggling with the same question of what to do next after a police crackdown. In Salt Lake City on Saturday night...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Show me what a police state looks like.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: This is what a police state looks like.
GONZALES: Police emptied Pioneer Park, much to the chagrin of protester Keith Ellis.
KEITH ELLIS: It crossed my mind when I heard about arrests in Oakland that I was proud of Salt Lake City for not being that way. I was proud to be from a place where they understand it's a peaceful protest. And so to hear this today was really dismaying.
GONZALES: In Portland, Occupiers temporarily held off the police who had ordered a shutdown on Sunday. Occupier Charles Baskin says campers temporarily seized the opportunity.
CHARLES BASKIN: Basically, we've got to rebuild this camp. I mean, there were issues, obviously, with this camp, this - the homeless element, the criminal element. And we've have this chance to restructure it, and it's right here. I mean, already, people are, like, chanting clean up, clean up, clean up.
GONZALES: But the Portland police returned, sweeping everyone out of the camp and arresting 50 people.
Back in the San Francisco Bay area, attention today will be directed at the UC Berkeley campus, where students are staging a rally in support of the Occupy movement. Last week, a similar action ended with a few dozen arrests after police used batons when students would not to disperse.
Richard Gonzales, NPR News, Oakland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.