Legal Observing at Oscar Grant Plaza, Occupy Oakland
November 14, 2011, 11:05PST
by Olivia X. LaRosa
I am an experienced Legal Observer, trained by the National Lawyers Guild. Word was the OPD was going to clear Oscar Grant Plaza at 4AM. I arrived at 14th and Broadway shortly after 11PM Sunday night 13th November to find a festive but prepared bunch of Occupiers. Critical infrastructure was removed to protect it for re-assembly after the raid.
These crowds are always peaceful, even if loud and playful, even if angry. The OPD, as of 5:45 AM, had not thrown or shot anything at people.
(Update: no physical injuries to the Occupiers have been reported thus far. Witnessing the police state in action? Priceless. -ed 11/14/11 11:07PM)
I think it was a psyop (some call it psych-ops or psych-out) because a helicopter showed up around 4AM, when the raid was rumored to begin, circling high at first. People had been in the intersection of Broadway and 14th since 2AM, rallying, chanting, and gathering their love for the confrontation ahead. That’s 4 hours of tense waiting in the middle of the night when people would rather be sleeping.
A second helicopter arrived sometime around 5AM and descended to shine a light on the Occupiers and drown out communication.
By this time the OPD had created a perimeter of several blocks around Oscar Grant Plaza. At 15th St. a line of absurdly riot-gear-garbed OPD blocked the entrance to the street. How do I know? My van was parked on 15th St. They kept me from leaving for an hour. (1)
I felt real fear, something that I have rarely felt at a left-wing protest. I felt fear on account of the inimical forces of the police state ready to tear-gas me, throw a flash-bang grenade at me, shoot me with a steel mesh bag filled with BBs (affectionately known as beanbag projectiles), or a 1″ x 2″ hard plastic slug deceptively described as a rubber bullet. I have a rubber bullet, collected at D2K. I witnessed several police riots there.
The plastic slugs are now leaner and meaner. A young man walked up to me and lifted his shirt. You may find that odd. I didn’t since I was in full Legal Observer regalia. He knew I had seen some things.
I saw a deep purple bruise at his waist that extended six inches in each direction from the epicenter of impact. I took one look and said,”Damn, man.”
He then held out his hand to show me a plastic projectile about the size of an almond M&M. He said, “That’s what hit me.” That is not a non-lethal weapon. It isn’t even a less-lethal weapon. It is a lethal weapon, and it is being used on American citizens.
That’s scary. man.
I got to bed around 7AM and slept until 12:30PM when the phone rang. Of course, the caller hung up 🙂
Please forward with my whole-hearted permission.
(1) I wheeled up in my chair, which I use to protect the damaged joints in my legs during protracted times outside my environment, especially at protests. I greeted the first officer, and turned to go to my van, parked three spaces down. He glared at me and said, “you can’t go in now.” I said, “but the car’s right there.” He said, “too bad, go around the block and come in the back, or wait.” I said, “I’m handicapped. I can’t go around the block.” He stood his little tin-horn 12 x 12 inch ground, and I found a nice young couple to take me on that journey. Of course, OPD freaked out when I entered at the back of the block, but I was finally able to leave. I heard some discussion about what the tin-horn commando had done to a nice white lady in a wheelchair. It was double-plus-ungood for OPD because I was wearing my lovely fluorescent lime National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer Hat. Therefore they know that somehow they are going to experience regret.
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