Graphic eyewitness photo essay: Police attack Occupy Oakland


For more reports on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

Photographs by Jean-Philipe Dobrin, Oakland, California

October 25, 2011 -- Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the photographer's express permission. Unauthorised use of images is not permitted. Please contact before using images. All images © -- Hundreds of police staged a pre-dawn raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment in the city's main square October 25, firing tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets, and arresting at least 85 protesters, reported Socialist Worker's Alessandro Tinonga (read the full report HERE).

Later that day, about 1000 people gathered at the Oakland Public Library and then marched up 14th Street, picking up larger numbers along the way, to the site of the encampment, Frank Ogawa Plaza, which the Occupy protesters had renamed in honour of police murder victim Oscar Grant. Police were out in full force again to stop anyone from entering the plaza. When demonstrators refused to follow police orders to disperse, the cops once again fired tear gas and flash grenades at the crowd.

Photographer Jean-Philippe "J.P." Dobrin was also there. Here are his graphic photos of the day as it unfolded.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 14:11


Oakland Policeman Throws Flash Grenade Into Crowd Trying To Help Injured Protester

Footage from the Occupy Oakland protest, October 25th, 2011. After protesters ran to the aid of a badly-injured person, Oakland Police deliberately lobbed a flash grenade into the crowd. Whatever you think of the Occupy movement, police behavior of this kind is criminal and should be prosecuted.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 16:37


October 26, 2011 -- Oakland police repeatedly fired tear gas and flash grenades Tuesday night as protesters attempted to retake the Occupy Oakland encampment outside City Hall—only 12 hours after police tore apart the camp and arrested more than 90 people in a pre-dawn raid. Observers said that at times the downtown resembled a war zone last night.

Some protesters are being held on $10,000 bail. We speak to Rachel Jackson of the Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression about how the police are handling Occupy Oakland. We also are joined by John Avalos, San Francisco city supervisor and a candidate for mayor of San Francisco. On Tuesday, Avalos introduced a resolution supporting the right of the Occupy San Francisco protest to continue its peaceful assembly in public spaces.

Full transcript at

Submitted by John (not verified) on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 17:22


So here's what's happened in the last 24 hours:

It was clear early yesterday morning (around 3:00 a.m.) that the cops were massing and a police invasion was imminent. The occupiers started erecting "barricades" of wooden shipping pallets, trash cans, etc. around the occupied zone. Most of them - the young anarchists - also fashioned bandannas to hide their faces. People rushing around in the dark, rearranging barricades, their faces partially obscured. Almost all got caught up in the emotions of the moment. This included me to an extent, which is how I knew that others were also being caught up in the emotions.

It was extremely tense. I started walking around asking people what they were intending to do and whether fighting the cops really was wise. I expressed my view that there were only two instances where I thought one should fight them: If you simply have no other choice or if you think you can win. People agreed, but seemed reluctant to break the general flow.

In other words, there was not general and conscious plan.

At one point, a young black guy got into a loud shouting match with one of the young white anarchists. "Y'all aren't serious!" he shouted. He attacked them for their bandannas, saying this would just provoke the cops. Much of what he said was right, but his way of presenting it was wrong.
(Interestingly, I kept waiting for him to attack them for being white and not knowing about the cops, but he never did that.) I was standing some 20 feet away, just observing. I don't know why, but after several minutes he came over to me and started talking. I told him I agreed but that we were all under a lot of stress and it was important not to add to the stress. He immediately calmed down and we had a great conversation. I ran into him several times later in the day and now we're best buddies.

The cops arrived in a blitzkrieg and nearly surrounded the square literally in a matter of seconds. I have never seen such a massive show of force and I immediately decided that it was best to vacate the premises as quickly as possible. I and quite a few others found a corner of the square that wasn't blocked off and got out. We were quickly driven up the street to at least a block away. From that vantage point we saw all the police forces from the surrounding towns arriving. This included what looked like armored personnel carriers.

I wasn't able to see it, but the reports were that the cops used tear gas and percussion grenades before driving in and arresting those who refused to leave or couldn't get out in time. There is a report of one person with a broken hand.

Unfortunately, there was no plan to immediately regroup somewhere nearby so everybody more or less scattered. With the concentration of cops in the square, it would not have been all that difficult to conduct hit-and-run occupations of nearby street intersections. Later that morning, I went down to the other park that had been occupied. There were a few people - former occupiers - still there. There was also a clean-up crew from the City of Oakland. I went over to them and gave a little speech about how their pensions, etc. were under attack and how our occupation was also for them. This was completely unplanned and in retrospect I think I should have also commented that we know that in the past we, union members, have been too passive in allowing a select few to run our unions and how we can't afford to do that anymore and from there commented that we need to join together, that there should be a strike of all City of Oakland workers against what just happened and against the cuts in city workers wages and benefits.

Instead, as planned, we regrouped at 4:00 p.m. There were well over a 1,000 people there and the mood was very angry. Several speeches were given. I had met prior to the protest with some of the "insiders" who are the real leadership of this thing. I proposed to them that we go to the City workers the next day and start to make the links. Everybody nodded wisely and then the meeting proceeded.

The rally and march was something of a let-down. At one point, a few cops got into a scuffle with the crowd. They had arrested a couple of people, for what reason i don't know. Some people spray painted the cops and things got pretty ugly. The cops started shooting off tear gas and the crowd retreated.

The rest was simply a let down. The crowd marching from one point to another, now confronting a line of cops, then retreating to march elsewhere. I finally went home, but reports on the news showed a crowd of maybe 3-400 continuning on until late into the night.

Something has changed, and there were some huge opportunities here - especially to link up with the City workers. It hasn't been done, and it may be too late for now, but it will inevitably happen. This evening there is to be a march of parents opposed to the closing of some schools and the occupiers will be participating. We'll see what happens.

Submitted by MoveOn (not verified) on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 17:27


Update from a MoveOn email:

Last night, Scott Olsen, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, was struck
in the head by a "nonlethal" projectile fired by the Oakland police. The
round fractured his skull, leaving him in critical condition.

Olsen had joined with other members of Occupy Oakland to peacefully protest
the group's eviction that morning. When a group gathered to help Olsen after
he was hit, a police officer threw a flash bang grenade into the group from
a few feet away.

Deeply disturbing video of the incident was captured by a local news crew
and provides the clearest evidence yet of the lengths that authorities will
go to to stop Occupy protesters from voicing uncomfortable truths about our

Yesterday's eviction in the predawn hours and last night's violence against
protesters are only the latest attempts to silence the voices of those who
are speaking up for the 99%. But members of Occupy Oakland, who faced the
most brutal crackdown yet, refuse to be intimidated. They've called for
another peaceful gathering tonight to stand up for their First Amendment

To help defend their rights, we're scrambling to put together a rapid
response ad to run in Oakland urging Mayor Quan and the police to end their
brutal tactics and respect the protesters' rights. We want to make sure
everyone in Oakland sees the footage of the crackdown for themselves. Every
dollar we raise will go to pay for the ad, and if there's anything left
over, we'll donate it to a group doing good work helping our veterans as
they come home from war.

Submitted by JohnC Lawyer (not verified) on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 17:47


This is an example of brutally caught in action. Citizens could sue the authorities also for the violence. I can't imagine how scared the child was in that scene. Awful scenes!

Submitted by John (not verified) on Fri, 10/28/2011 - 02:58


Date: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:15 am ((PDT))

I just returned from downtown Oakland. The turnout at the general assembly
was overwhelming. The GA was held in the amphitheater of Oscar Grant Plaza.
The entire "seating" area was packed from side to side. The depressed area
between it and the stage was packed. The facilitators had to keep requesting
that people move back because the stage area was packed full as was the
walkway behind it and the City Hall steps.

We put a proposal to the crowd that one week from today we have a shut down
and general strike in Oakland. Many concerns were raised - whether we could
organize that in time, could we get workers to strike, etc. Boots Riley (of
Boots and the Coup - an excellent radical rap group in Oakland) made the
point that thousands of union workers are looking for some point of
inspiration. Others pointed out that we have to strike when the iron is hot.
In the end, the vote on the proposal went as follows:

"yes" -- 1,484
"abstain" -- 76
"no" -- 44

If comrades want to spread this message as far and wide as possible, and
launch a call for a global general strike/day of action on that date, I
think it would be great.


From Australia, I just watched your videos & saw the photos, just want to say I admire your bravery & resolve comrades & give you all my support, revolution and liberation is coming! THe cops will learn a painfull lesson they are on the wrong side & should be protecting you not the 1%.
regards in admiration
comrade Mark

Submitted by Greg (not verified) on Fri, 10/28/2011 - 05:54


Incredible pictures that really show what's going on with the movement. Although I hope everyone remembers to keep the protests legal and non-violent. It's important to set the moral high ground.

Submitted by ILWU members (not verified) on Sun, 10/30/2011 - 16:06



Demonstrators in downtown Oakland protesting the bank-driven economic crisis were brutally attacked by police from 18 Bay Area agencies on Tuesday Oct. 25. Mayor Quan, who was supported by ILWU Local 10 in the recent elections, ordered this bloody assault. Cops used potentially lethal weapons to break up the occupation of Frank Ogawa (now renamed Oscar Grant) Plaza just as they did in the port against anti-war protesters in 2003. That police attack was even criticized by the UN Human Rights Commission and ended up costing Oakland over $2 million in civil suits.

Then-Local 10 longshoreman Billy Kepo'o was hit in the hand by a police Oakland teachers march in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, Oct. 26. tear gas canister causing a bloody mess. Now, Iraqi war vet, Scott Olsen, was hit in the head with a police projectile, causing a fracture and putting him in critical condition in Highland Hospital. This is exactly what killed one of the strikers in Seattle in the Big Strike of 1934. That history of police violence against strikers is why our Local 10 Constitution bans cops from membership in our union.

Last year, Local 10 shut down all ports to protest the police killing of young Oscar Grant. This year ILWU has been supporting Occupy Wall Street. Just last Monday the San Francisco Labor Council declared the Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Wall Street "sanctioned union strike lines" offering the protesters an umbrella of union protection.

ILWU is under attack from PMA employers, not just here in the port of Oakland but especially in Longview, Washington. Our jobs and the survival of the ILWU as a fighting union are at stake. We heard the report of our Longview Local 21 brothers at our union meeting last week and we pledged our solidarity, just as we did for other unions under attack, whether in Charleston, South Carolina or Madison, Wisconsin.

At the same time there is an outrage at the bankers and the capitalist crisis which has caused massive hardship on the working class. Occupy Oakland protesters have called for a General Strike on November 2. Whether this actually means real strike action by workers depends in large part on union participation. Local 10 has always been in the lead in the labor movement and all eyes are on us. As a first step, in defending our union and others against economic and political repression, we need to mobilize our members to participate in the rally and occupation November 2 in Oscar Grant Plaza. Shut it down!


Anthony Leviege ILWU #9576, Ronnie Armour #9922, Troy Bell #9837, Tremaine Waters #9202, Richard Washington #9402, Anthony Manning #9986, Odis Rucker #9811, Robert Grissom #101284, Jack Heyman #8780 (ret.), Samantha Levens (S.F. IBU), Robert Irminger (S.F. IBU), Howard Keylor #220447 (ret.), Clarence Thomas #8718

-- October 28, 2011