On Tuesday night, Oakland took the first major action against an Occupy Movement demonstration, clearing out Frank Ogawa Plaza with police after demonstrators refused to clear the grounds as ordered. The city erected chain-link fencing to keep Occupiers from, well, occupying the plaza again. Less than 24 hours later, hundreds of protesters returned to the plaza, tearing down the fencing and daring Oakland to try it again:
The fences came down at Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza Wednesday evening during a general assembly meeting among “Occupy Oakland” protesters.
At least 500 protesters gathered at the plaza to reclaim the site of their encampment, which was raided by police early Tuesday morning. …
At 7 p.m., around 50 to 100 protesters succeed in tearing down sections of the fence on the opposite side of the plaza from where the meeting is taking place.
The group entered the grassy area, which city officials earlier on Wednesday said was in the process of being cleaned using chemicals.
So now what? A new KCBS poll in the Bay area shows that Oakland mayor Jean Quan didn’t win much support for her earlier action:
The poll, conducted Wednesday for CBS 5 by the firm SurveyUSA, showed 72% disapproved of her handling of the protests, which resulted in a violent clash with police on Tuesday evening.
In addition, the poll results showed 56% felt the police response was too harsh, while just 30% said the police response had been about right.
Only 11% said that the action wasn’t harsh enough, so Quan isn’t exactly losing favor with the law-and-order crowd. Now that the plaza has been reoccupied, Bay Area protesters have gone to San Francisco to block an attempt to shut down the protests there, too:
With public officials facing pressure from all sides in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and other “occupied” cities, the lesson from Oakland will most likely be that action will largely be futile without a large police presence extending for considerable time to come. Don’t expect too much action from municipal authorities in this case.