Mayor Jean Quan released a written statement tonight addressing “Occupy Oakland” demonstrators.
Quan apologized in her statement for writing the address rather than speaking directly to the crowd as had been expected. She said that she had planned to speak at the “Speak Out” segment of tonight’s Occupy Oakland assembly, but it was canceled.
The mayor in her statement apologized for the outcome of Tuesday night’s demonstration–where a heavy police presence kept protesters out of the plaza with tear gas, smoke grenades and rubber bullets.
“It was not what anyone hoped for, ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened,” the statement read.
She said city officials have started an investigation into the use of force by police Tuesday night.
Quan thanked the demonstrators for Wednesday night’s peaceful protest and said she would continue to order “a minimal police presence.”
The mayor pledged to support the Occupy movement but asked for several things in return: direct communication between Occupy Oakland representatives and city staff; that demonstrators maintain healthy and safe conditions at gatherings and that they provide access to public safety employees in case of emergency.
The final request was that the demonstrators abide by the hours set aside for demonstrations at Frank Ogawa Plaza–between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.–and not camp out overnight.
Earlier today, a few tents were being pitched in the plaza and it appeared that demonstrators were restoring their encampment.
“From what I can tell the encampment is starting to be rebuilt,” Brian Glasscock, 20, said this afternoon.
Glasscock was one of around 100 demonstrators who were arrested during a police raid on the plaza encampment Tuesday morning.
Quan in her statement also mentioned Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran injured during Tuesday night’s protest. She said she visited with Olsen and his family today “because I was concerned about his recovery.”
According to a statement by Iraq Veterans Against War, a group Olsen was active in, the 24-year-old suffered a fractured skull when he was hit by a police projectile during the protests.
Prior to tonight’s Occupy Oakland general assembly meeting, demonstrators gathered at a vigil for Olsen at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Several of Olsen’s friends spoke, including one of the people who rushed to help Olsen when he was injured. She was one of many who criticized the officers’ actions and response Tuesday night.
“We were all shouting for medical assistance and instead of giving us that, there was a flash grenade thrown into the crowd,” she said.
Olsen’s friend and fellow veteran Keith Shannon lauded his friend’s selfless character. “Scott Olsen is the perfect example of someone who cares for everyone, even in a situation that doesn’t directly affect himself.”
When the general assembly meeting began a short time later, one speaker suggested that the city lower flags to half-mast “to recognize the violence the city of Oakland did to Scott Olsen and other citizens.”
Erika Heidecker, Bay City News