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OWS Camp crackdown coordinated by US city mayors

Published time: November 15, 2011 17:28
Edited time: November 16, 2011 17:19
A man is arrested as police clear the private park next to Juan Pablo Duarte square of Occupy Wall Street protesters following their early morning eviction from Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011 (Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP)

A man is arrested as police clear the private park next to Juan Pablo Duarte square of Occupy Wall Street protesters following their early morning eviction from Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011 (Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP)

If you thought the recent crackdowns of Occupy encampments across the country was more than a coincidence, there is a good chance you were right. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan admits to talking to other cities before the massive coast-to-coast evictions .

In an interview this morning with the BBC, Mayor Quan reveals that she spoke with officials from other cities over the phone before a Monday morning raid that led to the eviction of hundreds of Occupy Oakland protesters and the arrests of many.

“I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation,” says Quan, who goes on to claim that the movement, in her opinion, had transition from a political movement to one marred by anarchists.

“What had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment that was no longer in control of the people who started them,” says the mayor. Perhaps the greatest blow to her city’s own Occupy Oakland movement, however, came after repeated raids from local law enforcement agencies — often more than a dozen area forces working in conjunction — to infiltrate demonstrations and beat and arrest protesters.

After weeks of an occupation in the city’s Frank Ogawa Park, an early morning raid on Monday emptied the square as around 20 protesters were arrested before 6:30 a.m. local time. Among those detained were members of a prayer group who had gathered to praise in song as police apprehended them.

The mayor goes on to say that protesters in the movement are “looking for more stability” and blames anarchists that have co-opted the movement for hijacking the cause and disrupting any attempts at achieving peace. To protesters, though, the violence coming out from Occupy encampments for the most part has been carried out by law enforcement agencies. In Oakland alone, two American military veterans have been seriously injured by police action since police raids on the Occupy encampment there began.

Mayor Quan’s admittance that she spoke with other city leaders opens up speculation that a series of raids in recent days were more than a coincidence. Crackdowns in Albany, Denver, Salt Lake City and elsewhere in only the past few days suggest that coordination among the mayors of those towns could have caused for the mass evictions which have been ongoing since Saturday.

As Oakland became a western hub of sorts for the Occupy movement domestically, Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan where the movement began almost 60 days ago suffered a police crackdown in the early morning hours of Tuesday. As of this afternoon, hundreds of protesters are gathered outside a New York City courthouse awaiting a ruling regarding whether or not they have a right to return to the park that has been the home for many of the demonstrators during the last two months.

Calling into question the choice to protest in private parks, such as Zuccotti, Mayor Quan adds, “the Occupy movement itself is having a hard time controlling the encampments” and suggests that the group will reestablish their demonstrations in different locales.

Following the raids in Oakland and New York, protesters have already begun retaliating and attempting to re-occupy their prior encampments while at the same time trying to spread the demonstrations to neighboring locations.

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