Brutal arrests at Occupy Oakland

Police officers in Oakland, California arrested upwards of 75 protesters early this morning as they launched a crackdown on participants in the local Occupy Wall Street offshoot.

Occupants at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland were met with hundreds of police officers from at least 10 law-enforcement agencies at around 4:30 am PT this morning. Using a public address system, an official informed that crowd that “It has been determined you are illegally blocking Frank Ogawa Plaza and are the subject to arrest.” Hundreds of protesters with the Occupy Oakland movement had been camping out in a mass demonstration in the city park for two weeks now, but were informed that anyone staying following police orders this morning would face arrest.

Protected in riot helmets armed with flash grenades and rubber bullets, cops began a raid on the 150 or so tents shortly after this morning’s announcement. Think Progress reports that authorities on the scene fired projectiles with shotguns and other sources say this morning that police also used sound-guns on protesters. To an ABC affiliate, however, officers say that their own actions, for the most part, were pretty peaceful.

"We want the best for you guys, that's all," Aiyahnna Johnson, a 30-year-old resident of Oakland, told two arresting officers as she was led away in cuffs.

Demonstrators told the police that they would be back soon and that the Occupy Oakland camp would not be shut down.

Around an hour after arrests began, some members of the group relocated to the corner of Franklin and 14th in Oakland, but were met shortly after there by more police. A smaller encampment at nearby Snow Park in downtown Oakland was also raided by the cops, yielding around four arrests.

Officers on the scene included authorities from the California Highway Patrol and nearby cities of Vacaville, Hayward, Fremont and Union City, CA.

This morning’s attack from the Oakland PD came as a surprise after Mayor Jean Quan had originally appeared supportive of the protests, noting that, sometimes, “democracy is messy.” The city had originally said that demonstrators could continue their occupation of Frank Ogawa Plaza, despite laws that would normally prohibit the camp. In recent days, however, officials have cited concerns over sanitation and fire hazards as among the reasons for the forced evacuation.

"People are going to keep coming back. What are they going to do, send cops in every night and waste taxpayer dollars?" asked Gabe Meyers to the San Francisco Chronicle. Meyers has been camping at the demonstration but was not detained by police during this morning’s raid. Less than two hours after arrests began, however, cops began erecting barricades around Ogawa plaza to curb further protests.

"The cops are the 99 percent, but they're doing the work of the 1 percent. Wall Street is proud of them every time they clear out an encampment,” Meyers added.

Three hours after the raid began, a reporter for the website Red Green and Blue wrote, “It’s all over. The parks are full of trash, protesters have been moved off. There will be quite the cleanup to do now, since the police trashed everything.”

Protesters intend to reconvene this afternoon to regroup at the main branch of the city library.