Occupy Oakland, the loosely organized off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street that gained national media attention last year because of the lengthy war they waged with Oakland police over the occupation of Frank Ogawa Plaza, is commemorating the one-year anniversary of the melee that started it all today. At least some protesters intend to gather at the Plaza today, which die-hards still are calling Oscar Grant Plaza, to potentially "re-take" the place, which has a newly resodded lawn and which has been fenced off for several months.
The OPD raided the Occupy Oakland camp on the morning of October 25, 2011, a move that proved controversial and which led to an effort to recall Mayor Jean Quan. The raid subsequently led to an angry protest that night throughout the downtown area that culminated with tear gas, multiple injuries, and multiple claims of police brutality which are still being litigated and sorted out.
What will today's plans mean for downtown Oakland? It's hard to say. The movement, and Oakland's branch in particular, have lost momentum and a fair amount of support in the last eight months or so, and Occupy has generally splintered into multiple groups with different missions. An entire faction of those who still attend Sunday night General Assembly meetings, billing themselves as Beyond the Barricades, are declaring Occupy Oakland dead after this past Sunday's contentious meeting at which there were obviously disagreements over how to commemorate this week. That group writes:
To those who wish to return to the Plaza this Thursday to stake a tent or conduct one more FTP march, we pose these questions: What will you do if you succeed? Why is nostalgia more important than defense of the G-Spot or any of the other housing sites that will be fought over? Why should you risk arrest on that night rather than march in solidarity with the family of Alan Blueford and others on November 10th? Will you be there when picket lines go up at the Port in coming weeks?
So, even within Occupy Oakland you have a collection of people who will be sitting out today's events.
The last significant protests Oakland has seen occurred on May 1 and on January 28, and the OPD has complained that the majority of protesters are just opportunists who arrive from outside the city in order party, anarchist-style, and clash with police.
The gathering begins today at 3 p.m. outside City Hall, with a planned march at 7 p.m. Downtown Oakland businesses are staying open today, however the YMCA, which was the site of one night's chaos last year, is closing at 6 p.m. The HuffPo reports that at least 100 protesters are expected.