A GENERAL STRIKE IS BEING CALLED FOR
NOVEMBER 2, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
(10-28) 11:57 PDT OAKLAND -- Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was booed off the stage by Occupy Oakland protesters Thursday night as she tried to speak at their general assembly.
Quan was standing in line to speak at the forum on Frank Ogawa Plaza around 11 p.m. when the group began booing and chanting, "Go away."
Quan, who has taken heat for the police action Tuesday night in which officers fired tear gas at Occupy protesters, walked into City Hall without saying anything.
Police removed demonstrators from the plaza outside City Hall early Tuesday with relatively little trouble, only to launch tear gas and seriously injure one demonstrator when protesters returned that evening. Police officials said they had acted in response to instances of protesters throwing objects and paint at officers.
The clash attracted international attention, and Quan, who was in Washington, D.C., on a lobbying trip when it happened, was criticized for saying she hadn't known exactly when police were going to clear out the Occupy camp.
In a video message she posted on her Facebook page, Quan said she was "deeply saddened about the outcome" Tuesday night. "It was not what anyone hoped for, ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened."
She added, "When there's violence, there are no winners - it polarizes us and opens old wounds."
Quan recorded the message Thursday night in City Hall, before her attempt to address Occupy Oakland directly. Chants and cheers from the demonstrators could be heard in the background.
The mayor added, "We're asking you, again, not to camp overnight," and said protesters needed to keep the plaza clean and open to public safety workers.
Quan told KQED-FM that she had posted the message on Facebook because she didn't think she'd be able to speak at the rally.
The mayor's failed attempt to address the crowd came at the end of a day in which Occupy Oakland protesters reclaimed the battleground plaza at 14th Street and Broadway. City officials had said they would not allow people in the plaza between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., but the dozens of people who pitched tents there Thursday slept overnight undisturbed by police.
Protesters resurrected the camp's "Kid Zone" and planned to bring back its kitchen and medical tent. As the day wore on, they danced, received acupuncture and massage treatments and talked about plans for a citywide strike Wednesday.
Many said Tuesday morning's raid on the camp had hardened their resolve to live in the plaza as part of the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement.
"That's what this whole thing is about - occupying public space," said Josh Chavanne, 29, of Oakland, one of several people who have moved back into the plaza. "We're here because many of us believe it is our right as human beings to decolonize property."
But the rebuilding effort - and the lack of immediate action by the city - frustrated some officials who warned that allowing demonstrators to dig in again would lead to inevitable conflict.
"We can't just be observers," said City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who said downtown businesses had lost money since the occupation began Oct. 10. "We have to enforce the rules and the laws for everyone. Unfortunately, I don't think the mayor and some other people agree with that, and so here we are."
De La Fuente said he agreed with the Occupy movement's pursuit of economic equality, but added, "I do not support doing it at the expense of other people and violating other people's rights."
City officials said they were assessing what to do about the fledgling rebuilding effort, but declined to speculate on what would happen if the camp returns in full flower.
"Right now, as long as it's nonviolent, the plan is to let a peaceful protest take place," said Sgt. Jeff Thomason, a police spokesman.
Chronicle staff writer Justin Berton contributed to this report.