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Police State in Oakland? One Reporter's Arrest Contradicts Official Story

Oakland has spent more than $1 million on Occupy policing, but nearly all of that overwhelming force has been used against innocent people.

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On the other side of the line, occupier Scott Campbell was filming the police just a few minutes later when one of them shot him in the thigh with a "less lethal" projectile. "The dispersal order I heard said, go south down Broadway," Campbell told me later. 

The next LRAD dispersal order at 16th and San Pablo called for demonstrators to move into the plaza -- where the front line had set up in the middle of a parking area technically inside the plaza limits. That's when things got  really confusing.

Over the course of two hours sitting handcuffed on a curb before being transferred to jail, I asked arresting OPD officers what their dispersal orders had been in the minutes before and after 1 a.m. They smiled and laughed. "We told you guys a million times, go back into the tents," they said. 

"Not the plaza?" I asked.

"The tents, the tents," they emphasized. 

No one I spoke with since Wednesday night heard this order, or understood it when discussed.

Kate Sassoon crossed the barricade at the north end of the plaza around 1 a.m. because she couldn't hear the garbled order.  "I didn't hear where to disperse to or the time limit," she told me. "We were all in the plaza, so I felt like, everyone is safe here, what is going on? Why are you threatening us? This was supposed to be okay here."

The distinction between the north section of the plaza and the "tents" of the south area of the plaza was unprecedented in city policy toward the occupation. That trust in the city's previous statements about "the plaza" inclusive was what made Sassoon, myself and many others in the north plaza feel secure in their safety even when faced down by lines of police in riot gear.

The Oakland Police Department arrestee lists my arrest as occurring at 1:00 a.m. which is impossible, as I tweeted at 1:11 a.m.: sounds like they are declaring unlawful assembly at north end of plaza. 

As I hit send, a teargas canister was thrown down a side street just north of city hall, followed by a line of police running, yelling and firing on individuals in the very spot where just a few hours earlier people had been barbecuing hot dogs. 

I ran for cover in a nearby doorway with medics, legal observers and many scared occupiers as two police lines marched on the plaza, firing tear gas, flash bangs and "less lethal" projectiles in rapid succession. When they approached the entrance to our doorway, people screamed, "Peace, we want peace!" and "Don't shoot!" with hands up. 

"We don't want to hurt you guys, we hope you don't want to hurt us!"

A minute later we were all face down on the ground.

When I told my arresting officer that I was press, I was first told, "We'll take care of that in a minute." That next minute turned into 15 hours in two different jails. 

First, we were split up by gender for transport a few blocks south to be booked. This took three hours. Upon arrival at North County jail, we were searched by Alameda County sheriffs ("Do you have any weapons of mass destruction?" they asked while grabbing at our breasts) and urine tested for pregnancy. That night bled into day, when all 25 women were transferred to another jail 40 minutes outside Oakland, because no jail in the city is technically equipped to handle female inmates. 

Upon transfer to Santa Rita jail, demonstrator Andrea Barrera was denied her prescription antibiotics and threatened with recourse. "Maybe I'll accidentally lose your paperwork and you'll be here all week," Sheriff Fox told her, only one of many times such a threat was made against us "prisoners." Barrera did not receive her medication until her release.

 
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