Demonstrators throughout the Bay Area are celebrating victories as police have tentatively withdrawn opposition in Oakland and San Francisco, and protests in both cities continue to grow.
Around 2,000 “Occupy Oakland” demonstrators reentered Frank Ogawa Plaza for their general assembly meeting Wednesday night with few police in sight, sharply contrasted with the heavy police presence Tuesday, which kept protesters out of the plaza with tear gas, smoke grenades and rubber bullets.
Today, a few tents were being pitched in the plaza, and protesters anticipated that further action would be decided at tonight’s meeting.
“From what I can tell the encampment is starting to be rebuilt,” said Brian Glasscock, 20, who was arrested during a police raid on the plaza encampment Tuesday morning.
“We’re in desperate need of tents, Oakland police stole all of ours,” he said.
But support is on the way: protesters announced at their meeting Wednesday that “Occupy Wall Street”–the New York protest that inspired the local “Occupy” encampments–has donated $20,000 and 100 tents to Occupy Oakland.
City officials seem to have reversed course on how to handle the Occupy Oakland demonstrations, after telling protesters to leave the plaza last week, and forcibly evicting them early Tuesday morning.
At a news briefing Wednesday night, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and interim police chief Howard Jordan expressed a renewed commitment to facilitating and communicating with protesters, after the raid on the camp and subsequent police confrontations drew international media attention.
Quan said that after the heavy police presence Tuesday, officers would only move in if the protests became violent and out of hand, seemingly opening the door for protesters to move back into the plaza.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, rumors that a police raid on “Occupy SF” was imminent Wednesday night drew hundreds of supporters to protect the encampment in Justin Herman Plaza.
San Francisco police Officer Carlos Manfredi said that while police were mobilized to deal with demonstrations, the intention was not to raid the encampment.
“In light of what was occurring over in Oakland, we didn’t know if there was going to be any spill over,” Manfredi said.
He said that police did not have any immediate plans to raid the encampment, but remain concerned about sanitary conditions and open flames from propane stoves.
“Right now we’re just monitoring it on a case by case basis,” Manfredi said.
But some protesters said today that they think the large crowd deterred a raid by San Francisco police, who wanted to avoid a confrontation with protesters.
“I think the sheer amount of people prevented any kind of police interaction last night,” said Derk Pippin, a protester with Occupy SF.
Pippin said he stayed with the protest until 5 a.m. today, and that the nonviolent protests through the night were inspiring to him and the other protesters gathered.
“It was just a wonderful win for peace and advocates for peaceful protest,” Pippin said. “It was one more good galvanizing day for us.”
Protesters in Oakland are planning to reconvene in Frank Ogawa Plaza once again tonight, to discuss the future of the Occupy Oakland demonstrations and to prepare for a general strike called during Wednesday’s meeting.
The demonstrators are asking workers and students to leave their positions on Nov. 2 and join a march through downtown Oakland. The first planning meeting for the strike will be held in front of Oakland’s City Hall tonight at 5 p.m.
Scott Morris, Bay City News