The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Oakland, California and Atlanta, Georgia turned violent yesterday. The mayors of both cities moved to rescind executive orders allowing Occupy Oakland and Occupy Atlanta from using public parks to encamp in. In Atlanta, police arrested 52 protesters, including one man armed with an assault rifle. In Oakland, police were forced to fire tear gas to break up a large crowd of angry protesters. An Iraq war veteran, Scott Olsen, was severely injured when struck in the head by one such munition. The mayors of Oakland and Atlanta cite their reasons for cracking down on the protesters stem from rampant lawlessness, and other civil and health code violations.
The action began Tuesday morning in Oakland, when police moved into the Occupy Oakland encampment at the Frank Ogawa Plaza, arresting 97 people. Some 170 were removed from the site. Reports of criminal assault, including one incident where a protester allegedly had a dog attack a reporter, has become too much. Health conditions had also became a major concern due to a lack of sanitation facilities. Some 500 protesters then marched on the main branch of the Oakland Public Library, then proceeded towards the park to reclaim their encampment. As police blocked them, about 100 protesters then marched on City Hall that evening. Police gave three orders for the group to disperse before firing tear gas. Protesters claim that police also fired rubber bullets and explosive ′flash-bang′ grenades. Oakland police deny these charges.
In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed ordered police to clear the Occupy Atlanta protesters from Woodruff Park Tuesday evening. He states that conditions were unsafe, as the encampment were using propane heaters and had tanks of propane stored improperly inside tents. An electrical generator had also been smuggled into the park without permission. Police then grew concerned when one protester was walking about the encampment with an AK-47 assault rifle. Mayor Reed had originally gave the Occupy Atlanta group permission to remain in the park past the normal 11pm curfew only for ten days, from October 7 through 17. He had granted an extension due to a music concert held there this past Saturday. The park was cleared out following the 52 arrests and barricades and police and kept protesters from returning today.
We are seeing more and more cases throughout the country as these various offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street protests grow more brazen and violent. Criminal activity has soared in many cities, including New York, as police resources are siphoned away to monitor the encampments such as at Occupy Oakland and Occupy Atlanta. Park facilities normally open to the general public have become unsanitary nests and dangerous as muggings, rapes and other forms of assault increase. The mayors of Oakland and Atlanta have acted to restore order and clear these public spaces for the general public to use again. Protesters grew violent, particularly in Oakland, where police were forced to fire tear gas to disperse a crowd. There, and Iraqi war veteran, Scott Olson, was severely injured by being struck in the head by a tear gas grenade.