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Richmond police provide back up at Occupy Oakland general strike

on November 4, 2011

The Richmond Police Department assisted with crowd control at the Occupy Oakland “general strike” Wednesday evening, marking the second time in two weeks that they have provided back up to the Oakland Police Department.

Protesters make their way down Broadway Avenue last week. (photo by: Lexi Pandell)

Captain Mark Gagan said 12 Richmond officers were sent with the Contra Costa County Mutual Aid Mobile Field Force to support perimeter control. The group arrived on the scene around 8 p.m.

“We basically waited to see where we were needed and what was needed,” Gagan said. “Around 1 o’ clock, we were sent to the area of 20th and Broadway to basically assist with officers who were trying to deter property damage.”

Richmond Confidential’s sister site Oakland North estimated that around 10,000 protesters attended the Occupy Oakland protest Wednesday night.

Although the “general strike” was mostly nonviolent, there were reports of vandalism throughout the day. By 10:30 p.m., OPD reported that “anarchists” were roaming the streets and, by midnight, police released tear gas.

Reports suggest that 60 to 100 people were arrested.

A protester speaks out to fellow demonstrators on October 26. (photo by: Lexi Pandell)

Gagan said the protests were primarily peaceful when his team responded to OPD back up requests late on Oct. 25, but the atmosphere was different last night.

“There was much more disorder than we had seen the first time we went,” Gagan said.

Gagan did not personally observe any vandals in action, but said he saw broken windows, fresh graffiti and smoke in the air from fires. He said he felt there was a clear distinction between those demonstrating nonviolently and those taking part in civil disorder.

“You see a group of teachers with a sign that says, ‘Protect our future,’” he said. “And then 12 hours later, there’s someone lighting dumpsters on fire and smashing windows. Those certainly aren’t people from the same movement.”

Gagan said protesters seemed to ignore him and the other cops on the outskirts of the protest.

“The first time we were in there, the protesters were trying to draw attention to their issues, trying to talk to us about our financial futures,” he said. “This time they saw law enforcement as part of the landscape.”

The RPD established early on that they would only assist with perimeter security and traffic control. The group has not been involved in any direct contact with protesters or dismantling of tents. Gagan said their work last night primarily took place about five blocks from the epicenter of the protests at Frank Ogawa Plaza and consisted mainly of watching parking police and fire vehicles, and directing traffic to alternate routes.

“Richmond officers were sensitive to the concerns of our community and our leaders who don’t want us violently engaging protesters from Occupy Oakland,” Gagan said. “We are trying to balance our obligations to other law enforcement agencies to provide public safety while simultaneously making sure that our actions do not alienate us from our community.”

The RPD did not make any of the Wednesday night arrests.


  1. Poul Eess Kraims on November 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Occupy Oakland: second Iraq war veteran injured after police clashes

    Kayvan Sabehgi in intensive care with a lacerated spleen after protests in Oakland, a week after Scott Olsen was hurt. He says police beat him with batons

    Adam Gabbatt, Friday 4 November 2011 15.26 EDT Article history

    Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland.

    A second Iraq war veteran has suffered serious injuries after clashes between police and Occupy movement protesters in Oakland.

    Kayvan Sabehgi, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is in intensive care with a lacerated spleen. He says he was beaten by police close to the Occupy Oakland camp, but despite suffering agonising pain, did not reach hospital until 18 hours later.

    Sabehgi, 32, is the second Iraq war veteran to be hospitalised following involvement in Oakland protests. Another protester, Scott Olsen, suffered a fractured skull on 25 October.

    On Wednesday night, police used teargas and non-lethal projectiles to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland.

    Sabehgi told the Guardian from hospital he was walking alone along 14th Street in central Oakland – away from the main area of clashes – when he was injured.

    “There was a group of police in front of me,” he told the Guardian from his hospital bed. “They told me to move, but I was like: ‘Move to where?’ There was nowhere to move.

    “Then they lined up in front of me. I was talking to one of them, saying ‘Why are you doing this?’ when one moved forward and hit me in my arm and legs and back with his baton. Then three or four cops tackled me and arrested me.”

    Sabeghi, who left the army in 2007 and now part-owns a small bar-restaurant in El Cerrito, about 10 miles north of Oakland, said he was handcuffed and placed in a police van for three hours before being taken to jail. By the time he got there he was in “unbelievable pain”.

    He said: “My stomach was really hurting, and it got worse to the point where I couldn’t stand up.

    “I was on my hands and knees and crawled over the cell door to call for help.”

    A nurse was called and recommended Sabehgi take a suppository, but he said he “didn’t want to take it”.

    He was allowed to “crawl” to another cell to use the toilet, but said it was clogged.

    “I was vomiting and had diarrhoea,” Sabehgi said. “I just lay there in pain for hours.”

    Sabehgi’s bail was posted in the mid-afternoon, but he said he was unable to leave his cell because of the pain. The cell door was closed, and he remained on the floor until 6pm, when an ambulance was called.

    He was taken to Highland hospital – the same hospital where Olsen was originally taken after being hit in the head by a projectile apparently fired by police.

    Sabehgi was due to undergo surgery on Friday afternoon to repair his spleen, which would involve using a clot or patch to prevent internal bleeding.

    Thousands of protesters had attended the action in Oakland on Wednesday, taking over the downtown area of the city and blockading Oakland’s port.

    As demonstrations continued near the camp base at Frank H Ogawa plaza during the evening, a group of protesters occupied a disused building on 16th Street at around 10.30pm, with some climbing up onto the roof.

    There had been little police presence during the day, but more than 200 officers arrived after 11pm. Some protesters had set fire to a hastily assembled barrier at the corner of 16th Street and Telegraph, in a bid to prevent access to the occupied building, but police drove demonstrators away from 16th Street using tear gas, flashbang grenades, and non-lethal rounds.

    Sabehgi said he had not been in the occupied building, and was walking away from the main area of trouble when he was injured.

    He said he had his arms folded and was “totally peaceful” before being arrested.

    A spokeswoman for Highland hospital confirmed Sabehgi had been admitted. Oakland police were not immediately available for comment

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