Occupy Oakland

November 11, 2011 by staff 

Occupy Oakland, The shooting death of a young man Thursday evening near Occupy Oakland is bringing more attention to the tent city and prompting calls for campers to leave quietly.

On Friday morning, the Oakland Police Officers Association joined the chorus with an open letter to the campers, asking them to “leave Frank Ogawa Plaza peacefully and immediately so Oakland police can get back to work fighting the devastating crime that’s occurring in our neighborhoods.”

Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, OPOA president, said the letter was sent out mainly because of Thursday’s violence.

“In light of yesterday’s violence, enough is enough. What more needs to happen? We would like to see the protesters leave peacefully,” Arotzarena said.

The scene was relatively quiet early Friday morning around Occupy Oakland and a shrine was set up near the spot where a man was shot and killed the previous night. The coroner’s office not yet released the name of the man, pending notification of next of kin, and officials are only saying that he may have been in his 20s.

The shrine, however, names him as “Alex”. Lit by about 100 candles, it carries messages pinned to poster board that say “We love you Alex,” “You will not be forgotten,” and “Go in light and love.”

There’s been no significant change in the number of tents on Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, despite Mayor Jean Quan’s plea late Thursday for the campers to leave on their own in the wake of the shooting.
The man was shot and killed at about 5 p.m., Thursday just yards from the entrance to the Occupy Oakland encampment, apparently after a fight with other men.

The killing, which came as hundreds of occupiers prepared to celebrate the camp’s one-month anniversary, prompted Quan to call for the campers “to leave voluntarily tonight.”

The violence occurred on the same day as UC Berkeley police defended their crackdown on Occupy Cal.

Oakland City Council president Larry Reid condemned the shooting and said it was yet more proof that the tent city needed to be dismantled. “We can no longer continue to sit back,” he said. “This has raised the red flag even more.”

According to witness accounts, a small fight broke out in the camp between two young men.

“I heard gunshots, and everybody started running,” said Kevin Jenkins, 24, an Oakland native who witnessed the shooting.

After the initial fight, one of the young men called several friends or family members from outside the camp and asked them to come and help him. The victim had visited the camp often, said his cousin, Madea Williams of Oakland, who said she lived in a camp tent.

When the friends arrived, the dispute escalated into pushing and shoving near the portable toilets adjacent to the plaza.

According to one witness and Occupy Oakland supporter, Rachel Tolmachoff, 55, of Pleasant Hill, a group of occupiers then intervened and tried to get the people involved in the fight to move on. A short time later, they heard between four and six gun shots and saw several men run by.

One of the men involved may have run down to the BART station on 14th and Broadway.

Mike Tarmo, 31, a native of Sierra Leone, said he also saw the shooting. Tarmo claimed that the group of outsiders simply walked up to a man standing on the steps of the plaza and started beating and punching him. The occupiers tried to step in, Tarmo said. “There were 20 Occupy guys going to help him, saying, Stop! Stop!” Tarmo said the victim of that physical assault was the same person who got shot.

Jenkins, the other eyewitness, said the victim was an innocent bystander. Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said at a news conference that the victim may not have been involved in the dispute that broke out in the camp earlier.

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