Jean Quan's About-Face: Oakland Mayor Now Supports the Occupy Movement, Orders "Minimal Police Presence"
This is rather incredible. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan released a statement late last night saying she now supports the Occupy Oakland protesters and will minimize police presence for the time being. The statement comes less than 48 hours after local police used excessive force against protesters, including rubber bullets, stun grenades, sound cannons, and tear gas. One protester, an Iraq war veteran named Scott Olsen, was shot with a projectile at close range, fracturing his skull and landing him in critical condition. [Update: Olsen's condition has since been upgraded to fair.]
Quan's statement, via the San Francisco Chronicle:
We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.
I want to thank everyone for the peaceful demonstration at Frank Ogawa Park tonight, and thank the city employees who worked hard to clean up the plaza so that all activities can continue including Occupy Wall Street. We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.
99% of our officers stayed professional during difficult and dangerous circumstances as did some of the demonstrators who dissuaded other protestors from vandalizing downtown and for helping to keep the demonstrations peaceful. For the most part, demonstrations over the past two weeks have been peaceful. We hope they continue to be so.
I want to express our deepest concern for all of those who were injured last night, and we are committed to ensuring this does not happen again. Investigations of certain incidents are underway and I will personally monitor them.
We understand and recognize the impact this event has had on the community and acknowledge what has happened. We cannot change the past, but we are committed to doing better.
Most of us are part of the 99%, and understand the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. We are committed to honoring their free speech right.
Finally, we understand the demonstrators want to meet with me and Chief Jordan. We welcome open dialogue with representatives of Occupy Wall Street members, and we are willing to meet with them as soon as possible.